“New Business,” the April 12 episode of Mad Men, featured one of the show’s more awkward scenes in an elevator, or anywhere else for that matter. And that’s really saying something, considering the show has perfected the art of big drama in an small spaces. (In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, the show has had nearly 60 elevator scenes.)
In the scene, Don (Jon Hamm) and his flavor-of-the-week Diana (played by Elizabeth Reaser) run into Don’s neighbor/former fling Sylvia (Linda Cardellini) and her husband Arnold (Brian Markinson), who shared his thoughts on Don’s many conquests, all while riding what can only be described as the world’s slowest, most stiflingly confined elevate in history. It was uncomfortable to say the least.
But, perhaps most shockingly, it wasn’t the most surprising thing to happen on an elevator in Mad Men. As we wind down to the final episodes of the Emmy-winning drama, we wanted to look at the five essential elevator scenes from Mad Men. From the sexy to the scary to the surprisingly hilarious, these are the elevator moments we’ll always associate with the series.
Joan, Peggy, and Faye Leave a Lasting Impression
It may be a man’s world, but in the world of Mad Men, the women reign supreme. Three of the show’s most vital, strong, complicated, and intelligent women — Joan (Christina Hendricks), Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), and Faye (Cara Buono) — got an iconic parting shot that said so much about them without having to say anything at all. They all looked like a mixture of defiant, defeated, hopeful, powerful, sad, and yes, beautiful (the name of the episode was titled “The Beautiful Girls”), because that’s exactly what they are, and so much more. We’d all only be so lucky to ride in an elevator with them.
Don Stares Down His Fate in an Elevator Shaft
Don faced everyone’s nightmare (and teased every theorist who thinks he’s the falling man in the opening credits) when he almost plummeted to his death in an elevator shaft in the Season 5 episode “Lady Lazarus.” After bidding wife Megan (Jessica Pare) adieu at the elevator bank, he waits to catch the next one. The door dings and Don walks towards the elevator, only to discover there is none. Don looks down into the pits of hell (or in this case, the elevator shaft) to realize he was one footstep away from an untimely demise. We usually roll our eyes when Don runs to have a drink to shake something off, but in this case, it was totally warranted.
Pete’s “Not Great, Bob!” Outburst
The reaction that launched a thousand memes and GIFs, Pete’s (Vincent Kartheiser) response to bizarro mystery man Bob Benson (James Wolk) was one of the funniest one-liners ever uttered on the series. From Pete’s annoyance that he even had to ride on an elevator with Bob to his pitch-perfect reaction, it’s comedy gold, and it all takes place in an elevator.
Pete’s Market Research with Hollis the Elevator Operator
If Pete’s “Not great, Bob!” outburst was the character at his most likable, then the Season 3 moment with Hollis the elevator operator is him at his most punchable. Mad Men has often tackled the complex issues of race during the 1960’s (much like it does with sexism), and it was on full, unflinching display when Pete cornered Hollis to ask him why he, as an African-American (Pete used a far more offensive phrasing), bought a certain brand of television. Pete assured it was nothing more than “market research” but his ignorance towards Hollis spoke the loudest volume of all. Watch the scene here.
Don Leaves Ginsberg With Some Parting Words
Poor Ginsberg. As if the guy didn’t have it hard enough on the show, he was on the receiving end of one of Don’s most stinging putdowns ever uttered on the show, let alone in the elevator, “I don’t think about you at all.” There have been plenty of jaw-dropping send-offs in the Mad Men elevator (including Joan’s biting observation to Peggy that, “No matter how powerful we get around here, they can still just draw a cartoon” ) but this one left a lasting, gut-wrenching impression. It’s even more painful to watch now, knowing the tragic fate of Ginsberg.
[Photo Credit: AMC]