Mad Men is, without a doubt, my favorite TV drama that has run in the past couple of years. The story, the setting, and the costume design all immerse you in the culture of the 60s. It suceeds in helping you to understand the motives and ideas that each character presents to the audience.
Never before have I been more interested in how a life falls apart until I was introduced to Donald Draper. However, as great as Jon Hamm's performance was, it was the rest of the cast that really kept me coming. There was a never boring moment in Mad Men due to how well written each character was.
It's really hard to come up with a list of favorites because every character brought something very important to the table, but these characters had me hooked every time they were onscreen.
5. Salvatore Romano
My mom would come out to the truck with us. She'd break the popsicles in half, then give it to us like Jesus at the Last Supper.
Sal has always been a favorite of mine since he first appeared onscreen. An artistic genius struggling to be more important in a world that is moving away from sketches and into photography and film, Sal provides witty commentary and sass when interacting with the rest of Sterling Cooper's staff. He also struggles with his undisclosed sexuality, but admirably, he does not let it interfere with his marriage or his career.
Unfortunately, after avoiding the advances from Lee Garner Jr., the head of a multi-million dollar account, he is fired by Don Draper. This was devastating to me as Sal was really the only man at Sterling Cooper to not be a total sleazebag even when a woman tried to throw herself at him. He was just a man that enjoyed his career as well as the people around him.
4. Sally Draper
Don’t worry about me finding a man. I already have you to keep me in line.
Sally is a very special character to me because we see her grow up throughout the course of the series. Starting off as an innocent child who is oblivious to the world, she quickly grows up and becomes the typical rebellious teenager. From seeing her parents divorce to stumbling into a room and seeing her father with another woman, it's no surprise to see Sally become independent of her volatile family and the environment they put her in.
What I admire about Sally is her bravery. Despite her mother being a strict and intimidating figure, Sally isn't afraid to stand up for herself. She's even capable of getting to her dad's New York office all by herself from home. Even though she succumbs to peer pressure a couple of times, she's a free thinker and entirely capable of taking care of herself
3. Peter Campbell
Say yes with your voice, not just your eyes.
I particularly enjoyed watching Pete change as the series progressed. From the way he talked to the haircut he got, every change meant a better and more sophisticated Peter Campbell. He brought a sense of liveliness to the office of Sterling Cooper. He was a young and ambitious accountant who longed for a place at the top. Even when he got there, he had the same drive to push the agency into a more successful position.
Peter knows what he's worth and he proves his value to the agency. He brings in big clients that even the older guys at the office can't get their hands on. Once he's made a partner, his hard work shows just how irrelevant Roger Sterling is, which means Campbell is very capable of being a threat.
If I had to pick a role model out of the Sterling Cooper office, it'd be Peter Campbell, even if he is filled with immoral compulsions and decisions as much as the rest.
2. Lane Pryce
I've been here ten months and no-one's ever asked me where I went to school.
An Englishman caught in the middle of New York, Lane Pryce attempts to bring order into a chaotic office. He first appears as a stone-cold businessman and that's really what he is. He's willing to do whatever it takes to keep the young agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce afloat, even risking bankruptcy for his own family.
Out of the previous characters I've mentioned, Pryce's character development is probably the best. He comes out of a shell and makes friends with the office staff because he becomes used to the atmosphere that differs severely from England, something his wife never does. I love that he can have fun and tell jokes one second, but go back to calculating profit the next.
Pryce is part of my favorite scene in the entire series, where he gets drunk with Don in a movie theater. That whole episode shows that Lane is amicable and friendly, whether the moment includes alcohol or not. He definitely would have been number one on this list if he was on the show longer in order to give us more moments like that.
1. Roger Sterling
You don't know how to drink. Your whole generation, you drink for the wrong reasons. My generation, we drink because it's good, because it feels better than unbuttoning your collar, because we deserve it. We drink because it's what men do.
Roger Sterling has to be my favorite character in the entire series. His ability to charm every client he meets is extremely impressive. He could probably sell a melting red popsicle to a lady with white gloves on.
Although he gives off a charming aura to his clients, in his office, he is a very blunt, proud, and honest man. Often times, he seems to think that there's nothing wrong with what he's said even though he just made a secretary cry. It's this ability to see things how they truly are that makes him such an effective leader of the agency, but he still struggles with being a relevant asset since he no longer brings in clients. He only maintains good relations, but that can be done in many other ways.
Roger's uncanny ability to produce memorable anecdotes and one-liners are what keep the conversation in the agency's office fresh and interesting. Even in old age, Sterling doesn't have a problem fitting in with his younger subordinates.