Mad about the dynamic cast of characters on 'Mad Men'

By Tatiana Craine

How do you make a floor wax commercial that’s both touching and sells the product?Get good ol’ Don Draper and company on the account, that’s what.

For the past four seasons, “Mad Men” has captivated audiences dying for a nostalgic, bittersweet taste of yesteryear. Without a doubt, the show has also revived the cable network AMC since its premiere in 2007. Set during the turbulent 1960s, “Mad Men” touches on various hard-hitting topics including sexism, adultery, homophobia, bigotry, racism and substance abuse. However, the show doesn’t necessarily preach or castigate anyone about these issues. The characters face difficulties, adversity and pain, but they’re also able to move on and up to bigger issues and other endeavors.

Known for its cinematic appeal, “Mad Men” appeals to just about anyone interested in the era, the advertising industry and the fashion. With its clean, visual presentation and its long, thought-provoking plotlines, the show delves deeper into the human psyche than most others on television while still maintaining its razor sharp wit and emotional core.

After this season’s monumental twist and cliffhanger, fans of the show are certainly curious (if not shocked and baffled) about what the next season holds in store for the Sterling Cooper Draper Price family. The show follows a veritable host of big personalities packed into one tiny advertising agency after the next. Keeping track of all these dynamic characters from season to season is hard enough, but here’s a little cheat sheet to help you through the end of the fourth season.

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) One of the founding members of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Don has been in the advertising industry for years. Serving as Creative Director at Sterling Cooper, Don made a name for himself as a brilliant ad man with a penchant for classy (and loose!) ladies, drinking and smoking. Recently divorced, Don lives alone in the city and has been seen around town with various women over the years from a department store owner to his secretaries to the new research consultant in the office that’s not afraid to stand up to him. Not only is Don the most handsome and charismatic man on Madison Avenue, but he’s also the most mysterious with a past that haunts him through every episode.

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) Peggy started working as Don’s secretary during the show’s first season, steadily climbing her way up the office ladder until she won a coveted position as a copywriter for the firm. Not only did she have to deal with office politics and sexual advances at every turn, but she also had to grapple with a secret pregnancy. Now a copywriter at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and one of Don’s most trusted colleagues, Peggy is beginning to explore her feminist side.

Roger Sterling (John Slattery) As seen in this season’s episodes where he dictates his memoirs on tape, Roger hand-picked an overzealous Don Draper out of a fur sales shop and plopped him into the world of advertising-both a blessing and a curse, though more the former. After a long affair with office manager Joan and divorcing his wife, he marries one of Don’s secretaries Jane. He relies on his Lucky Strike account to keep the company afloat.

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) A young, annoying upstart at the show’s birth, Pete has matured into a true ad man as one of the founding members of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce while dealing with account management. Though he’s married to Trudy, Pete shares an illegitimate child with Peggy from some late-night shenanigans during the first season. He’s always trying to one-up himself, his colleagues and most importantly Don Draper.

Joan Harris, nee Holloway (Christina Hendricks) The office manager and secretarial pool head, Joan has strived to break free from the title of “glorified secretary” more so than Peggy. Buxom and curvaceous, Joan glides around the advertising agency office with authority and know-how that’s not always well-received. She engages in a longstanding affair with Roger, but tries to sever romantic ties completely when she marries a surgeon-a task that doesn’t quite work out.

Betty Francis, formerly Draper (January Jones) Seemingly stuck in the perfectionist world of a 1950s American housewife, Betty lives as Don’s submissive, impulsive and emotionally volatile wife. The mother of their three children, Sally, Bobby and Gene, Betty has issues coping with motherhood when things don’t turn out according to plan. After a brief flirtation with Henry Francis and discovering her husband’s infidelity, Betty leaves Don for Francis and what she hopes is a flawless life.