When Mad Men ended, it marked the conclusion of one of the greatest shows on television, as well as one of the godfathers of the second “Golden Age” of TV. Creator Matthew Weiner’s drama spawned many imitators, but no one was able to precisely recreate the magic that made Mad Men so compelling, so inspired, and so emotional in a similarly themed show. Obviously one of the first questions Weiner was asked at the show’s conclusion was whether he’d be doing a new TV series or moving to a different form, and the answer is actually something in between.
A few months ago we learned that Weiner had sold his next TV project to Amazon, an anthology series. Beyond that details were nonexistent, but now that a writers room has been opened, Weiner is ready to spill on what this new series is about, its unique structure, and connections to Mad Men.
The show is called The Romanoffs, and it’s an eight-episode anthology series where each episode has a new setting, a new story, and a new cast. So unlike American Horror Story or American Crime Story, this isn’t one story that stretches for an entire season. Instead, it follows the lives of people who believe themselves to be descendants of the infamous Romanov family. Speaking with THR, Weiner explains:
“We’re doing an actual anthology — and I say it that way because the word is used for different purposes now than it was when I was growing up. They’re contemporary but every single episode — and there will be eight — has a different cast, a different story and a different location. The thing that holds them together is that all of the stories involve people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Romanov [family, the last imperial dynasty to rule Russia. The mystery surrounding the family dates back to 1918, when revolutionaries brutally murdered the czar and several members of his family. The remains of one of his daughters and his only son were never found, and in the years since people around the world have claimed to be a Romanov survivor.] And that’s the title of the show, The Romanoffs. [Weiner’s spelling choice reflects the pronunciation as well as the way the family name was commonly spelled until recently.]”
And while the show is rooted in history, Weiner says his idea is to tackle very modern issues of connectivity:
“The reason that I picked the Romanovs is that in an era where we have social media and so much theoretical connection to each other it really seems like we’re further apart than ever. And I love this idea that these characters believe themselves to be, whether they are or not, descendants of this last autocratic family who are part of one of the great true crime stories of all time. I also love that it’s the chance to talk about nature v nurture, what they have in common and what is left of a grand heritage.”
Weiner says at maximum four of the stories will be set in the U.S. while the other four will be set outside the country, and the plan is to shoot those episodes abroad too. Weiner plans on directing four of the episodes himself, but he’s been staffing up the series with plenty of Mad Men alums:
“We don’t have scripts yet, so we haven’t cast it. But of course I’d love to work with the people who I worked with on Mad Men. And by the way, behind the scenes, my producing partner is Blake McCormick, who was on Mad Men, and in the writers room, Semi Chellas is an EP and in charge, and Marie and Andre Jacquemetton are back. And in terms of production, I’m going to try to get everybody who is available. They’re scattered to the winds with their success and, deservedly, their talent, but I’m basically trying to get every single person who was involved with that show. As I said when Mad Men ended, I want to work with these people for the rest of my life. But we have a lot of new people — or people new to us — as well.”