Photo: Frank Ockenfels/AMC.
It's all about staying true to the characters and the time period, Veith says, even when that means adding details that make the writers cringe—say, putting a cigarette into the hands of an expectant mother. "We always have to remind ourselves that we can't judge these characters. We try not to protect them," she says. "Women did smoke back then while they were pregnant. They knew it was wrong on some level, but they didn't think it was that wrong. No one's going to chastise another woman for doing it. So while it's horrible for us to watch, it's important for us not to change it, because it happened."
While the Mad Men writers try to check gender at the door when they enter the writers' room, both Veith and Jacquemetton recognize that theirs is a highly unusual situation. According to a 2006 report from the Writer's Guild of America, women are under-represented on TV staffs 2 to 1. "I don't think [having so many women] influences the way the female characters are written, but I think you have a larger pool of experiences to draw from," Jacquemetton says. "If you have a predominantly male staff, it's their point of view of how a woman would react as opposed to the actual experience of being a woman."
"Occasionally, we'll embarrass one of the guys by pulling the curtain back too far, and then they're shocked to see how the female mind operates at the basest level," Veith jokes. "But we sort of delight it in, and that's when we know that we're possibly saying something new."
They claim that, when it comes to the job, being female is secondary. Still, when Jacquemetton mentions her anticipation of the upcoming season debut, you can't help but notice she chooses different words than her male counterpart might. "It's always like birthing a baby when you finally get to the premiere."
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