After a near eight year reign, the sensational Mad Men will be coming to a close this weekend. While it was never meant to be the most exciting show in terms of action, it still introduced us to some of the best character development ever seen and some of the most shocking, hilarious and truly poignant moments in TV history.
To celebrate/commiserate Don Draper and Co’s. departure, Paula Kenny picks out the most random moments that shocked viewers – and raised eyebrows to say the least.
(Warning: Major spoilers – obviously)
1. Lawnmower in the office
A scene that cannot help appear on everyone’s top moments list, this is as funny as it is gross. The Putnam, Powell and Lowe executives fly in from London with the young, enthusiastic Guy Mackendrick ready to take over Lane Pryce’s role. Joan’s surprise leaving party happens to be the same day, so revelry is high in the office and a ride on lawn mower is introduced into the hijinks. While everyone takes turns riding it around the office, the hapless secretary Lois runs over Guy’s foot – resulting in the bloodiest moment in Mad Men history.
The almost slapstick reactions of the onlookers (Joan bandaging the severed foot, Peggy fainting, everyone covered in blood) counteracts the absolute horror of seeing a man lose a foot to a lawnmower. Unforgettable.
2. Betty vs. The birds
On first introduction, Betty Draper is the archetypal 50’s housewife – impeccably dressed and always ladylike – and we were forgiven in thinking she was a naive pawn to husband Don’s cheating ways.
At the end of Season One, Episode 9 however, we see a much darker side to Miss Draper as she unleashes her son’s BB gun on the neighbour’s pet pigeons, after a threat to shoot Sally’s dog. An extreme reaction, but an absolutely delicious insight into someone who becomes a complex and difficult character.
3. Betty, Henry and Sally’s Friend
A moment that flies under the radar, but is ultimately one of the most disturbing in Mad Men history. Season Six, Episode 1 and 2, sees Sally Draper’s friend Sandy stay over for a sleepover. After impressing everyone with her musical skills, Henry and Betty converse about the young violinist at bedtime. Betty accuses Henry of fancying the 15 year old and then things get really weird when Betty breezily suggests, “She’s just in the next room. Why don’t you go in and rape her? I’ll hold her arms down.”
It’s a ‘did I just hear that moment?’ made even worse when she ignores husband Henry’s horrified expression. She brushes off the whole thing by saying “you wanted to spice things up”, but joke or not, it shows how sinister Betty’s mind really is.
4. Ginsberg loses a nipple….
Micheal Ginsberg, the eccentric copywriter of Sterling, Cooper and Pryce, provided the comic relief for the show ever since we were introduced to him in Season Six. We see him grow increasingly more unstable until Season Seven, Episode 5 when he has a full mental breakdown caused by the new IBM computers.
Ginsberg has convinced himself that the humming from the computers is sending out messages, making everyone homosexual. He later calls to Peggy’s house begging to “reproduce”, which she politely declines and throws him out. The next day, Ginsberg arrives in Peggy’s office carrying a jewellery box and Peggy assuming it is a symbol of apology gracefully accepts. Once she opens it however, we are presented with Ginsberg’s nipple wrapped in cotton, a moment which makes Peggy and the audience recoil in horror. Peggy holds it together long enough to call the men in white coats and Ginsberg is carted off in restraints. A truly shocking moment and one that could not have been predicted.
5. ….and Ken loses an eye
Ken Cosgrove had taken a minor character role by Season Six; having gone to Detroit to work on the Chevy account not much was seen of him. But in Season Six, episode 12, in one last ditch effort to impress the vehicle company, Ken agreed to go hunting with them. Big mistake.
In a shocking scene, we see one of the executives shoot Ken square in the face, prompting a lot of people to think he was dead. But no, call it good or bad luck, we later see Ken stroll into the office with an eye patch, becoming the brunt of many jokes both on and off the show.
6. Pete’s mother elopes
The mysterious Bob Benson offers Pete some assistance in looking after his fragile mother, who is suffering with dementia. Unable to look after her himself, a vulnerable Pete accepts Bobs offer of Spanish carer Manolo. But Manolo and Mrs Campbell’s relationship becomes intimate, and when Pete learns his fragile (and wealthy) mother has gone missing while on a cruise with the nurse, it is Benson who feels Pete’s wrath.
We later hear Bob shouting down the phone in Spanish, which prompted the question no one got an answer to: Just who is Bob Benson??
7. Betty’s relationship with Glen
Betty Draper could easily have her own bizarre moments list, as her behaviour becomes more and more inappropriate as time went on. One of the more extreme examples of this odd behaviour was her relationship with the very young neighbour Glen Bishop. Here we see Betty flit between being an adult and being a little girl who loves attention, as she frequently spends more and more time with Glen.
Glen later becomes close friends with Sally, and as we’ve seen in Season Seven, Episode 10, this may have been so he can get closer to Betty. As he arrives at the Drapers’ house to tell both women he’s shipping off to Vietnam, Betty openly flirts with him but dismisses his advances once their alone. Glen hints that he only enrolled in the army to impress Betty, but as he leaves rejected and frightened, we learn Betty’s childish behaviour has very real consequences.
8. Roger’s daughter joins a commune
In an effort to prove what a strange time the 60’s truly were, Season Seven Episode 4 sees Roger Sterling’s strait-laced daughter Margret abandon her husband and son and join a hippie commune.
After her husband gets drunk with grief and winds up in jail, it is up to Roger and ex-wife Mona to try and bring their daughter back to reality. Margret (now called Marigold) is almost unrecognisable in her unwashed hippie gear and Mona leaves disgusted at her daughter’s new way of life. Roger, having embraced the drugs and free love attitude himself of late, decides to stay the night and see what all the fuss is about. The result is a touching look at their father/daughter relationship but one that ultimately ends badly – with Roger trying to wrestle her into his car, only to end up muddy and defeated.
9. Cooper’s sing along
The mid Season Seven finale ended on a sombre note, with one of the show’s leading characters Bert Cooper passing away. Don, prone to the odd hallucination here and there, is easily the most affected by Bert’s death, having been so close to him right from the beginning.
While alone in the office, Don envisions Cooper singing ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’ and dancing with the secretaries. It’s a surreal, light hearted moment amongst a great tragedy and a reminder of what makes the show so brilliant.