Stairlifts in Popular Culture
Five centuries after Henry VIII, stairlifts had become commonplace enough to appear on TV and in movies, often in comedic settings. In the 1984 horror/comedy film, “Gremlins,” the title characters dispatch Mrs. Deagle — the film’s Scrooge-like villain — by tampering with her stair chair, which flies up her staircase and out the window.
Moreover, during the final season of “Seinfeld,” the episode “The Butter Shave” featured a plotline involving George Costanza faking a disability at work. Among his “perks” is using the stair chair at the office.
The travel website Kayak featured a stairlift last year in an ad that caused the company some trouble. It features a man who’s so bogged down in searching inferior travel websites that he has no time to do anything else, including using the stairs, so he’s taken over the use of his elderly mother’s stair lift.
A scene from Kayak.com’s controversial commercial:
The commercial shows the mother struggling to climb the stairs as the man’s wife suggests he just use Kayak. The website ended up getting a number of complaints from people who said it depicted elder abuse. Such complaints apparently led Kayak to pull the ad in Canada.
Stairlifts got a somewhat more dignified reception earlier this year on AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” In the episode “Alpine Shepherd Boy,” main character James McGill meets with an elderly client who uses a stair chair. The show uses the scene to illustrate McGill’s attempts to get into the field of elder law. Her stairlift is simply a fact of life.