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April 8th, 2013
05:37 PM ET

What is 'Mad Men' about? Actors of the show weigh in

On Sunday, viewers of the hit show "Mad Men" learned it was taking some dark turns, hopefully shedding some light on why and what the show is really all about. On Friday we introduced you to the show's creator Matt Weiner, and today we want you to meet the cast.

Actors Aaron Staton, Ben Feldman, and Jay Ferguson play Ken Cosgrove, Michael Ginsburg, and Stan Rizzo on "Mad Men," characters that are hustling at an ad agency set in the 1960's in the middle of social upheaval.

Reporting to work at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce "is surreal," says Feldman.

Up until Sunday night, the hit show has been off the air for 10 months. Plot twists and spoilers were guarded like state secrets on our visit. Photos leaked online ahead of the season six premiere document new looks - part of the new direction of the show, and a deeper dive into the 1960's drug culture.

Getting the history and the context right has been a militant focus on the set, down to the last detail. But the actors, no surprise, do not actually smoke pot on set.

"It is an herbal blend of disgusting, terrible things," says Ferguson, who plays Stan Rizzo - a character who frequently lights up on the show. "It's terrible tasting, terrible smelling and, uh, you know, it's a bummer."

As season six kicked off, the show took a dark twist. The lead character, ad man Don Draper, continues his long search for happiness.

Is that the what "Mad Men" is about?

"It's about a group of people trying to find happiness by creating it for themselves," says Staton, who plays Ken Cosgrove. "We watch them, fail and sometimes succeed, and sometimes that success is short-lived ... I think sometimes it's really funny to watch people fail at trying to create happiness, because you know, you see it unfold and you're like, 'Why?'"

"Everybody is striving for success, happiness, love. Everybody gets their heart broken. People die," said Ferguson. "And that is, to me, the essence of the show on ... different levels and different episodes."

"You take a place like this and you shove all these crazy characters into it, and they've all got to work together, and some socialize, some don't, some like each other, some don't," added Ferguson. "And it's kind of the wheels that the show spins on, I think."

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