AMC’s Mad Men, a beacon in the glory era that was the golden age of television, wasn’t built upon its catchphrases. It still, however, produced more than a few memorable lines, from Peggy Olson squawking “Pizza House!” to Pete Campbell’s terse, meme-friendly verbal lashing of Bob Benson in the sixth season finale. How’s your day? How did that date go last night? How are those French cooking classes coming along? Say it with us:
Vulture offers an intense breakdown of those three syllables, explaining how the phrase first came up in the writing room and the importance of it being said in the elevator, an enclosed space perfect for buttoned-down Mad Men characters to express their true feelings. If, like many of us, you’ve forgotten what preceded Pete Campbell’s finest moment, it was “just after learning that his mother mysteriously toppled off a cruise ship while on a vacation she’d taken with her male nurse turned spouse—whom Bob himself had recommended.” As Vincent Kartheiser himself remembers his character’s reaction to the terminally polite Benson: “It wasn’t like I was dressing him down so much as I was expressing my anger toward him…being reactionary to the outlandish situation he had helped create.”
Despite the phrase’s specific origins, like all catchphrases, it has transcended to the universal. Kartheiser tells Vulture that he and his wife, actress Alexis Bledel, used the phrase a lot when they first moved in together “as answers to questions like ‘How’s dinner coming?’” Just like the rest of us.
Fortunately for James Wolk, though, he got his own meme in the bananas summer replacement series Zoo a few years later.