Is Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner secretly a nostalgic Millennial? It sure seems that way, considering the actors who have popped up on Mad Men lately. Sure, big-ish names like Julia Ormond have made appearances on the show – but their numbers are dwarfed by the veterans from Gen Y touchstones like The Secret World of Alex Mack, Clarissa Explains It All, 10 Things I Hate About You, Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even Saved by the Bell who have been invading AMC’s flagship series for years. This might indicate that Weiner and his casting directors love the late ’90s and early ’00s just as much as they love the ’60s. (Also, they’ve apparently got a serious thing for The WB. Are you listening, James Van Der Beek?)
Have you been wondering where you’ve seen Trudy Campbell’s dad before, or why Ken Cosgrove’s wife looks like she might dissolve into a sentient puddle at any moment? Never fear – EW is here to help. Here’s a rundown of Mad Men’s most recognizable and surprising guest stars – with an accent on the long-lost Millennial entertainers:
The current 30 Rock page played a switchboard operator in Mad Men’s very first episode. She didn’t stick around past the premiere – but you know who did?
Stephanie Courtney, a.k.a. Flo, the Progressive Insurance lady
Courtney got advanced lessons in retro hair styling during Mad Men’s first season, when she played Lady Chatterley-loving switchboard operator Marge.
Strange but true: Trudy Campbell and Clarissa Darling of Clarissa Explains It All have the same dad. If Mad Men character Tom Vogel never breaks into an architecture rap, I’m going to feel cheated.
The actress who plays Roger’s daughter Margaret got her start as an eighth-grade bully in a Lifetime Original called Odd Girl Out. (The movie is pretty much Mean Girls, except not intentionally funny and not nearly as well-lit.) It’s entirely likely that this only matters to me.
Before she time-traveled to ’00s-era Seattle, Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. April Kepner played closeted Sal Romano’s increasingly suspicious wife, Kitty. Hopefully, by 1966 she’s seen the light – and moved out west, where hunky surgeons wait.
In season 2, Moreau played a call girl who had a dalliance with Roger Sterling. But if you’re like me, you’ll always remember her as Katie, the hottest girl at Wet Hot American Summer’s Camp Firewood. I want you inside me! I mean… hey, what’s up? From before.
The voice of Lisa Simpson played a nurse in season 3’s hallucinogenic “Betty gives birth” episode. Spoiler alert: Her own speaking voice sounds exactly like Lisa’s.
The former Jack & Bobby heartthrob played cute, sexist copywriter Joey Baird in season 3. Fun fact: John Slattery (Roger Sterling) and Jessica Paré (Megan Draper) also starred on that short-lived WB drama, as did Bradley Cooper. Is there a secret Jack & Bobby bump?
Thought season 3’s Saint John Powell looked like a man who would marry a half-woman, half-donkey creature? That’s because Shaughnessy also played Fran Drescher romancer Maxwell Sheffield on The Nanny.
Strong has had memorable turns on Buffy (as ambitious geek Jonathan), Gilmore Girls (as Yale newspaperman Doyle McMasters), and Mad Men (as awful ex-copywriter Danny). The dude also happens to be an Emmy-winning screenwriter. Some kinda superstar, eh?
Susan May Pratt
When Joan went to an abortion clinic in season 4, she met a young mom whose teenage daughter is terminating her pregnancy. That mother is played by Pratt, a ’90s and ’00s MVP who’s best known as acid-tongued Alicia in Drive Me Crazy, Shakespeare-obsessed Mandella in 10 Things I Hate About You, and – most memorably – the best goddamn dancer at the American Ballet Academy in Center Stage.
And speaking of 10 Things: Ken Cosgrove’s wife, Cynthia, looks an awful lot like Bianca Stratford. That’s because she’s played by Oleynik, who first won over Millennial hearts as GC-161-drenched Alex Mack in Nickelodeon’s The Secret World of Alex Mack.
Much to Annie Barrett’s delight, Angela Chase’s mom appeared as the psychologist who dropped acid with Roger and Jane Sterling. Her so-called life in the 1960s is much more exciting than her so-called life in the 1990s.
Nobody could resist Rory Gilmore’s baby blues on Gilmore Girls – and neither could Pete Campbell, who had a brief affair with a character played by Bledel on last night’s episode. Don’t tell Jess and Dean.
Blink during last night’s episode, and you missed Saved By the Bell’s Mr. Belding playing a Cool Whip test-kitchen scientist. Apparently, the food is a lot better in the Cool Whip cafeteria than it was at Bayside High.
Did I miss your favorite cameo? Feel free to add it in the comments.