Weiner said 1968 was like "9/11 for an entire year."
The creator of "Mad Men" was asked if focusing on the late part of the '60s was more difficult than earlier years, eliciting a carefully considered speech on the historical context surrounding his show. "A lot of the reasons I started the show in 1960 was because it was so much the height of the '50s, and I felt there was a sort of constricted social environment based on manners that we've watched disintegrate and erode throughout the decade. The weirdest thing about getting to the late '60s is it feels more and more like today. It does not feel even slightly anachronistic. There's nothing to laugh at by the time you're in the late '60s. It's very similar to right now.
"1968 in particular was the climax for me of the intersection of national and world events and the private lives of the characters. I think that they only poke through occasionally in our lives. Writing a show for right now, you could have someone having a conversation about the Malaysian airlines plane because we're obsessed with it and you hear it talked about all the time, but we're at war. There's an economic issue. None of these other things affect our lives in a conversational way on a daily basis as much as, 'What's a good restaurant?' 'You can't believe what my wife just said to me.' 'My kids don't call.' Those kind of things.
"1968 was a chance, I felt like it was 9/11 for an entire year. Just being inundated with social catastrophe, and I felt like by the end of it [with] Richard Nixon's election and a return to -- obviously the world has changed permanently -- but a return to a state of normalcy, it really feels like all the radicalization of that period just retracted all the way through until you get to around my childhood in the 1980s. That's the weird thing about it. It feels like 1960 is a lot closer to 1980 than 1970."
Even creators of great television shows watch reality TV and binge on "Downton Abbey."
Weiner said some of his favorite TV shows are because of his kids. "I'm into 'Top Chef,' 'Chopped,' and 'Project Runway.' And because I have four boys, I've seen more 'Dr. Who' than most people can imagine. The last time I really had a chunk of time, I binge-watched 'Downton Abbey. I haven't seen 'True Detective' yet, but I will. I watch 'Boardwalk' [Empire]. I watched all of 'Orange is the New Black.' I love that show."
Peggy may have to -- nay, get to -- make decisions in season seven.
After saying he didn't want to talk about Peggy's story "at all," Weiner did offer up a few notes on his co-lead character. "Peggy's story is a constant mix between what is good for Peggy as a person and what is good for Peggy's career, and they have not gone together at all. I think she only knows how to pay attention to her job, and that may become a story for the season."
Later, Weiner said, "It's interesting to see that Peggy is still earnest and naive about things, but what a powerful person she's become in terms of knowing her gifts and making decisions. I think she would say about herself she's not a political person, but everything she does is pioneering. The story for us was the story of the time last season, in that she didn't have any decisions to make, and hopefully she's reaching a point in her life when she'll actually be able to make some choices."
Weiner has not finished writing the series. "I have finished writing the first eight scripts which is seven of nine scripts, actually," he said. "So there are five more to finish just the writing of, just the drafts. Which means we're still breaking stories for them, but we have a pretty clear road map."
When asked if he would have changed anything had he known the show would last seven seasons, Weiner said, "I would have quit. It would have [seemed like] an impossible mountain to climb."
"Looking at the real history, guys like him did great," Weiner said regarding Roger Sterling.
For more on "Mad Men," check out Indiewire's recent coverage of the cast's Q&A at Paleyfest.