With the fourth-season premiere coming, we pause for a highly
charged look back.
When Mad Men returns for its fourth season next week, pulses will surely quicken — with its cast of knock-outs and pre-sexual-revolution setting, Mad Men might be the most sexually tense show on TV. While it was hard for us to narrow them down, these are the ten sexiest scenes in Mad Men‘s three seasons so far.
1) Betty picks up a stranger at the bar (Season 2, Episode 13)
Betty Draper is easily the most put-upon character in Mad Men (and that’s saying a lot). For years she’s put up with Don’s philandering (see below), and from what we can tell she’s never cheated herself — until the second-season finale, that is. After finding out she’s pregnant, Betty does some impulse shopping and gets busy with a random stud at a bar, in a setting charged with the risk of getting caught. Maybe she and Don have more in common than we thought.
2) Joy seduces Don (Season 2, Episode 11)
"Why would you deny yourself something you want?" That’s the kick-off to this adventure, and even though Don and Joy don’t consummate their — brief, very odd — relationship until later, the sexual attraction between Don and the wealthy bon vivant is readily apparent here. Many of Mad Men‘s innumerable come-ons have been off-putting and demeaning. But this one — coupled with the indescribably glam image of Joy in movie-star garb in her convertible — encapsulates for Don the irresistable sexiness of escape.
3) Don and Betty roleplay in Rome (Season 3, Episode 8)
Don and Betty are not the ideal married couple. We see this quite clearly. But there are still a few times when we’ve seen them shine the way they must have before things got bad. Take their trip to Rome, during which Betty — with her working Italian — flirts with two men while Don waits for his moment to steal her away.
4) Peggy shuts down a suitor (Season 2, Episode 2)
Failed seduction — not very sexy, except in this case, when it shows off a newly wised-up Peggy coming into her own. She’s willing to seize a little fun for herself, making out at a party, but she knows she’s out of this guy’s league, and crisply shuts him down when he asks for more. Self-respect is an alluring thing.
5) Betty gropes her washing machine (Season 1, Episode 11)
Much of Mad Men‘s allure comes from lust bubbling up through rampant sexual repression. And no relationship is as repressed as Betty’s relationship with Don. After a run-in with an attractive salesman, Betty then has a close encounter with her washing machine. Admittedly, the washing-machine-as-vibrator thing is a bit of a ’60s-sexual-repression cliche. But in this case, it’s also sexy as hell.
6) Peggy and Pete sneak a quickie in the office (Season 1, Episode 8)
Peggy and Pete sometimes feel like the least erotic pseudo-couple on the show, but when they find themselves alone together at the Sterling-Cooper offices, their encounter — glimpsed partially through the frosted walls of Pete’s office — was surprisingly hot, given how awkward most of their past together had been.
7) Don and Rachel kiss on the roof (Season 1, Episode 3)
Don Draper has had a lot of mistresses — at least five, but who knows how many affairs happened off-screen? And while we knew Don was a philanderer from the end of the pilot episode, this was the first time we really saw Don’s seduction techniques from the start. Between the marvelous location and the howling of the corporate watch dogs, it’s easy to get swept up in the illicit romance of it all as Don and Rachel finally kiss.
8) Joan and Roger meet in a hotel room (Season 1, Episode 6)
Joan and Roger may have been the couple viewers rooted for the most — the sexy secretary and the also sexy ad-firm partner, not married but with crackling chemistry. Even after their daytime go-around in the rented room, they couldn’t keep their hands off one another, and who could blame them? They’ve both moved on since then, but most of us would love to see them get back together.
9) Don and Bobbie hide from the rain (Season 2, Episode 3)
Don and Bobbie share one of the most notorious scenes in Mad Men history, a business negotiation in which Don goes to extreme lengths to get the, uh, upper hand. But this scene is more erotic, as two strong personalities fight for dominance in the shared space of a beautiful early-’60s car. Don may have been trying to resist temptation at this point, but can you blame him for giving in here?
10) Sal almost makes it with a bellhop (Season 3, Episode 1)
This was perhaps the scene you’ve been anticipating for the entire series. Joan is a fox; Don is an Adonis. But both of them got busy on regular occasions. It was poor, closeted Sal who was most contained, so the moment that facade drops was extra-hot. Cooped up in a hotel room without air conditioning, Sal finds himself tipping the bellhop in a very nontraditional way. Sure, the moment is interrupted, but be honest: you wondered for a second if you would see an actual penis on cable TV, didn’t you?