Ahead of the series finale of Mad Men this Sunday, we asked a handful of Mad Men writers to share the best scene they ever wrote. From Mad Men’s most foul villain to Don’s unexpected insights on fatherhood, they explain why these scenes are the ones they keep close.
“In Care Of,” season six, episode 13
“My favorite scene is when Betty calls Don to tell him that Sally got drunk at school. I loved getting to write this scene because it’s so simple, but covers so much emotional ground: Betty questions her own maternal instincts; Don has to confront the damage his behavior has done to his children; and Megan has to hear the man who just promised her a new life comfort his old love.” —Carly Wray
“The Other Woman,” season five, episode 11
“I love the sequence in ‘The Other Woman’ where Don pitching Jaguar is intercut with Joan keeping her assignation with the client who has promised them the account if Joan will go to bed with him. At the beginning and end of it, we see Don tell Joan she doesn’t have to go through with it — but only the second time do we realize by the time he told her that, the deed was done. It was the only way we could find to tell the story so that we cared equally to watch Joan’s decision and Don’s pitch, and no one was sure it would play. The performances by both Christina and Jon were exquisite, and of all Mad Men‘s villains, Herb Rennet, the Jaguar client, was one of the most foul. —Semi Chellas
“The Milk and Honey Route,” season seven, episode 13
“My favorite two scenes were from last Sunday’s episode, ‘The Milk and Honey Route.’ The first is the last motel room scene between Don and the young Don/motel worker, Andy, where Don advises him not to take the money or he will never be able to come back home. My other favorite scene is when Don gives his car to Andy and simply sits at the bus stop with a smile.” —Janet Leahy
“At the Codfish Ball,” season five, episode seven
“Megan finds out at dinner that Raymond from Heinz is planning to fire them, and whispers it in Don’s ear. We’d invested time in Raymond (and his wife), and Don and Peggy had come up short twice already with Baked Beans pitches, so we knew that winning would be a nice victory. But we also knew that we needed a new way to see a pitch, and to feel the immediacy of the stakes, so we wanted to force Don to pitch it informally over dinner with the wives. It was a fist-pump moment for Don, and it was a victory for Megan, who thought up the campaign — and the beginning of her realization that advertising wasn’t for her.” —Jonathan Igla
“The Flood,” season six, episode five
“My favorite is the scene in ‘The Flood’ when Don tells Megan about fatherhood. He describes a transition from acting like a father to feeling like a father: ‘When you are a man with a child, you want to be a man who loves children. The baby comes out and you act proud and excited. And you pass it around and hand out cigars, but you don’t feel anything. Especially if you had a difficult childhood. You want to love them, but you don’t. The fact that you’re faking this feeling makes you wonder if your own father had the same problem. Then one day they get older, and they do something, and you feel that feeling that you were pretending to have. And it feels like your heart is going to explode.’” —Tom Smuts
“The Better Half,” season six, episode nine
“One of my favorites is the Don and Betty scene from “A Better Half.” They’re visiting Bobby at his sleep away camp and wind up sleeping together, even though each of them is remarried. Afterwards, they have this candid conversation. It’s the first time Don and Betty are truly honest with each other, and Betty has the control here. She’s different, and Don isn’t. I love that this scene changes their relationship and finally reveals what was underneath all along.” —Erin Levy
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