Five Mad Men Spin-Offs We Would Totally Watch

So the Mad Men season three finale airs on Sunday and it's promising to be a corker. The characters are perched precariously on the brink of a new and frightening America. Marriages are crumbling, secrets are being unearthed, and minds are stumbling into whole new ways of thinking. It almost feels as though the show is... gulp... wrapping up. Don't get scared, it's definitely not. But what if it were? If you wanted to see a Mad Men character developed further in some sort spin-off—the way we followed Frasier Crane out of the Boston bar and over to Seattle—who would it be? Where or when would it be set? Here are some of our ideas.

Carla

How the other half lives

Though the Drapers' black nanny/maid Carla has been a presence since the first season, she loomed a lot larger in this year's episodes. She became something gently symbolic, a haunting and evocative reminder of the other, bigger conflicts raging outside of the Draper household. So we'd totally watch a show all about who Carla is—a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead about strata of class and race in 1960s New York. Where does Carla live? How is she with her own children? What does she say about the Drapers and their selfish, inward lives when she's out of the uniform and home with her family? We haven't had many shows about the black civil rights movement told from an African American perspective—though the terrific I'll Fly Away comes to mind (also about a housekeeper), many of the rest of these stories are told from the lens of confused white middle class suburbia. A Carla spin-off could offer some much needed balance.

Sal

Birth of a movement

Think of Sal's spin-off as the TV version of the recent (and soon-to-be ongoing) off-Broadway play The Temperamentals (featuring Ugly Betty's Marc!). Basically, once the closeted art director has stopped reeling from the whole Sterling Cooper firing him thing, and when he blessedly untethers himself from his poor wife, he gets in with a group of smart, driven gay men who are tired of living in secret. Thus, through Sal's eyes, we see the foment of the gay civil rights movement, up to Stonewall and beyond. Love, life, revolution—all that good stuff would be bundled up into a stirring, rabble-rousing drama series. Plus we'd finally, finally get to see Sal a little happy and in love. Maybe with some dashing, tweedy Columbia professor. Or a beatnik-turned-hippie intellectual. Oh the possibilities!

Pete & Trudy

Are you going to San Francisco?

During last week's Kennedy assassination episode, we reveled in the brief moment where stuffy weasel Pete Campbell seemed to suddenly blossom into someone more thoughtful and compassionate. He spoke about his disgust with the unfeeling corporate world, with cynical conservatism. His timid sparrow of a wife Trudy got on board with him, staging their own little boycott against a tony society wedding. Is our once-prudish young couple turning into a pair of hippies? We hope so! Their spin-off would find them entering the world of free love and anti-war rebellion, from the smoky enclaves of Central Park to the wastoid recesses of the Haight. Think Hair, only probably with less singing.

Sally Draper

Mr. Warhol, I presume?

This season we learned that Don and Betty's daughter is a mite bit... troubled. Well, maybe not troubled exactly, but she certainly marches to the beat of her own drummer. So we think it'd be pretty fascinating to take a look at a teenage/early-twentysomething Sally on the loose in New York City. We envision her stumbling through the cokey heyday of disco and Studio 54, rubbing elbows with the glamorous cultural elite, haunting The Factory like some skinny wraith. As a rich girl from Ossining, she wouldn't really need to work. No, her Barnard degree is all for show. She spends her time merely trying to survive the Me Decade, unaware that the whole post-war party is swiftly going to dissolve into the bleak Reagan years.

Roger

Paris, je t'aime

Remember a couple weeks ago when bossman Roger and that dog food lady reminisced about their heady days as young expats in pre-WWII Paris? Wouldn't you just love to see more of that story? Well, we would. Cast some suave kid to play the young Sterling, haul the crew to Paris, and just have at it. Romance, philosophy, the impending clouds of the world's near-destruction, fabulous costumes... It could all be done in a beautiful, wistful manner befitting the most beautiful, wistful city in the entire world. Think The Talented Mr. Ripley set in 1930s Paris instead of 1950s Italy. And, you know, with a lot less killing.

And there are loads of other possibilities. We certainly wouldn't object to something about Joan, or even one of the other ad guys. What about you? What eras and characters would you like to see the terrific Mad Men creative team explore?

Comments (24)
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Nov 17, 2009
Pete and Peggy's illegitimate child searches for his/her parents and meets Dr. Harris and his wife Joan who aid in the search, I just want to see what Joan would be like in the 70's.
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Nov 07, 2009
All of that seems very interesting, but I'd like to see a Joan Holloway spin-off most of all!
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Nov 07, 2009
Is the show really that good?
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Nov 06, 2009
What a brilliant list. I want them all. I want the Paris 30s and the black NY 60s and the white SF 60s and the gay 70s and the disco 70s (maybe there's a crossover! Sal and Sally doing coke in the bathroom at Studio 54!). Matthew Weiner, are you listening?
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Nov 06, 2009
sounds good! I would add Joan to the list, though!
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Nov 06, 2009
Wow this list is awful.
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Nov 06, 2009
There's only one interesting person (as for me), it's Joan.
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Nov 06, 2009
Sally would've dropped out of Barnard (and be more upset about letting down the softball team than not getting her Degree in Women's Herstory)
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Nov 06, 2009
sequoa-- Thanks for your really reasoned and detailed response! The exercise of this post was, at its heart,, silly. I don't actually think any of these shows will or should be produced. It's just fun imagining, really. Your initial comment just seemed kind of unexplainably harsh. That's all. So thanks for responding like an adult and I totally hear your criticism. It was just for fun. I'd like my Mad Men intact and then over. Like the Sopranos.
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Nov 06, 2009
A very interesting column. Nice perspective.
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Nov 06, 2009
One of your best articles ever, Richard. For my vote, I'd watch either Carla's, or maybe Sally's spinoff. I must admit, I would watch one about Joan first, so was sorry you left her out. Too obvious a show, was it? Or simply not as big a fan?
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Nov 06, 2009
No Peggy spin-off? She's more interesting than Roger for sure.
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Nov 06, 2009
I thought this show was canceled.
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Nov 05, 2009
@RichardLawson: I thought your ideas sounded insanely ridiculous; you know, this just didn't feel like your take on Mad Men keeping in mind you write the 'He Said-She Said' column (which is pretty awesome btw). These ideas look more like a list of your favorite characters who don't get enough screen time, or the ones who are overshadowed by the omniscient Don Draper. These characters can be a gateway to some huge historic events - for instance- Carla for the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement, and Sal for LGBT rights. These characters are simply instruments of creative expression and platforms to explore historical events from the characters' perspective. I don't see a TV show in these, as they will end up being a cheap rate versions of Mad Men, and will never reproduce the same greatness of Mad Men.
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Nov 05, 2009
I'd watch a Joan spinoff. She's my favorite character and hasn't been on the show enough lately.
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Nov 05, 2009
Definitely would watch them all
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Nov 05, 2009
Lois also deserves her own show.
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Nov 05, 2009
Richard, how 'bout a Betty spinoff? Just Betty, with her awesome clothes and determined sadness; making it in the world, coming a tad late to the revolution party, but arriving nonetheless, and in a fierce OnSommm. I see her as a gay divorcee, hosting parties for various causes in her riverside drive coop. Included would be some spy intrigue with her romancing various congressmen to get secrets and extort civil rights change in the legislature...oh the possibilities! : ))))
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Nov 05, 2009
Sounds good... i think...



XO XO



:):):):)
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Nov 05, 2009
yes sequoa, enlighten us with your obvious brilliance :-/ What kinds of articles would you like to see instead o wise one?
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Nov 05, 2009
Chauncey the Dog. 'nuff said.
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Nov 05, 2009
these ideas are odd. would they even make it onto paper?
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Nov 05, 2009
Stupid how, sequoa?
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Nov 05, 2009
what an incredibly stupid article...
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