Besides powerful protagonists with hush-hush psychological problems, characters with a fondness for large, American cars and nearly empty highball glasses in every scene, "Mad Men" shares one other major thing with "The Sopranos": a cast full of characters who are by and large pretty terrible people.
Not since Tony, Paulie and Christopha' has a major cable drama revolved around such a group of people who, try as the script might to fool you, are all generally miserable inside.
But, like their neighbors in New Jersey, there are members of this other crew of suited hustlers that you can't help cheering for. With the final season of "Mad Men" debuting Sunday night, here are nine characters you can feel (at least kind of) comfortable liking, ranked in order of redeeming qualities.
9. Ted Chaough: Yes, of course, he wanted to leave his wife and kids for Peggy. But since that may be this otherwise sunny, surprisingly decent character's only major flaw (albeit a pretty monstrous one), he's good enough to crack this list. Like we said, none of these people are made of sunshine. This is what passes for a solid citizen.
8. Don Draper: He's awful. Clearly. His regrettable parenting is eclipsed only by his even more deplorable relationships with and treatment of every woman in his life. Except for Anna Draper, who's dead now, so look where that got her.
But, you know, we're all pulling for him to get it together, total waste of time that it may be, and acknowledging he's a lot more fun when in full-on self-destructive mode anyways. The man may be a sliding doors, cold-hearted lost cause, but c'mon Don, at the least, like, just be nice to Peggy for once? If you're allowed back at the firm that is. Hey, speaking of whom...
7. Peggy Olson: Someone just give this girl a hug already. Perpetually heartbroken and disrespected despite being constructed out of 100% awesome, she had sex with (and become pregnant by) scumball Pete Campbell in the show's first season and things have never improved from there. Though she did get to spear Abe with a crude bayonet last season, so that was fun.
6. Ken Cosgrove. Nice guy. Took a bullet and a joy ride with drunk car execs for the team. But most importantly, this:
5. Megan Draper: Too bad she's clearly going to die this season.
4. Roger Sterling: Possibly the biggest jerk on the show. Also -- not possibly but undoubtedly -- the one with whom you'd most want to have a drink or seven and, oh what the heck, reach dramatic decisions about your marriage after sharing a few tabs of LSD while you're at it. In a show choking on its own abundance of brilliant lines, Roger reliably delivers the sharpest and funniest ones. And if you didn't feel awful for him after a dead-eyed Joan casually accepted his birthday gift for their child then you have more ice in your blood than " Grandma Ida." Speeeeaking of whom...
3. Sally Draper: If Peggy needs a hug, then Sally needs a hug, some more therapeutic go-go boots, a few rounds on Dr. Melfi's couch (can we merge these shows already?) and whatever voodoo exists to make her unsee her dad having sex with another woman and her dad's best friend having sex with her dad's mother-in-law.
The sum total of six seasons of scarring experiences and being her dad's substitute barkeeper began to emerge last season as sweet Sally started going all bad girl. Having already endured so much, so young, the preternaturally hardened former smoker will either be dead by 25 or a senator.
2. Glen Bishop: The former Betty Draper was right: Glen is to be feared. By all who are evil. He is Sally's knight in oversized jackets, all heroism and counter-culture warrior-in-training. We could do without that sad, wispy mustache, but that might be the only regrettable decision we've ever seen Glen make. Though it serves to remind us he's still just a kid -- and yet capable of much better decisions that those square adults trying to keep him down.
_So even the mustache is actually OK! Glen is the best! _
1. Joan Harris: Except for Joan. She had this spot in lockdown the moment the partners asked her to sleep with that slick-haired, "uuuugh"-inducing Jaguar exec (classy gift with that necklace though!) to land a big account. The surrounding indignities inflicted by her ex-husband, Roger, every drooling dude to ever walk through the office and the universe at large make this single mom sex symbol easy to cheer for.
Alternately tough, kind, vulnerable and very, very much in control, she's risen to an impressive position in a manner that's both respectable and pretty messy. Kind of like "Mad Men" on the whole.
Honorable mention: Michael Ginsburg, Bobby Draper, Betty Francis (just kidding), Stan Rizzo, Pete Campbell's mom (RIP?)
Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN