Goodnight, both of you

 Posted by on July 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm  Characters, Season 4
Jul 302010

I watched this scene repeatedly and wondered about Don and his children, and how much he misses them. When he comes home from work and Celia asks if his kids are coming, he says no, and then becomes impatient with her about the location of his his shoe kit. He now also has pictures of his children in his office. Bobby greets Don excitedly when Don picks up Sally and Bobby, and Sally gives Don a smile when she says goodnight to him. He pauses and looks at them in the dark after saying “goodnight, both of you.” A genuine moment of a man who misses his children, and genuinely seemed to miss saying that to them every night.


  30 Responses to “Goodnight, both of you”

  1. It was also very touching & revealing when he asked Betty where the baby was. Her response that "Carla took him" because Don "wasn't going to" may suggest something more there than we, the audience, know about. Or, was Betty simply jabbing at him out of their bitterness towards each other?

  2. Well, not every night. Every night he wasn't out late sleeping with other women.

  3. Don is softer than Betty in many ways, but he was also absent a lot even when he was married to Betty, sleeping with his daughter's favorite teacher, or bedding a beatnik, or the aggressive wife of a comedian. I don't see how we can be so forgiving of Don. The best way to love your children is to love and honor their mother (or father).

  4. I noticed the pictures of Don's kids in his new office too, and thought it was very telling. He never had anything like that in the old office at Sterling Cooper.

  5. It could be that SC didn't allow personal items on employees desks. I can't remember if the others had lots of personal pics. I remember my dad's company only allowed one framed photo on his desk.

    sjw: amen! i couldn't be a good mom if my husband wasn't good to me.

  6. It feels like history is repeating itself with Don.

    Remember Helen Bishop? Her husband was very keen to see his kids, too. Perhaps it's one of those "don't know what you've got til it's gone" things for Don.

  7. I didn't say I was forgiving of the things that he did; but I do think he does genuinely miss his children. And softer is a good way to describe Don with his kids.

    I remember a conversation Connie had with Don about having pictures of his children and the Bible. I'm paraphrasing, but I do remember Don's remark back to Connie was funny. Regardless, it's nice to see Don has any pictures up in his office.

  8. Connie complained that Don's desk had no Bible and no family photos, and wondered why Don was waltzing in late. Don said, "Maybe I was home with my family reading the Bible."

  9. He has the photos on his desk because he no longer sees his children that frequently. It doesn't make him a softer or better parent. I know people here are very quick to defend Don, and I see why he's a sympathetic character in a lot of ways (hell, I sympathize with him a lot of the time and I'm definitely not a Betty fan) but he was (and now remains) an ABSENT parent. Just because he was vaguely, occasionally warm towards his children when he was around doesn't absolve him of the poor parenting he displayed back when he was still married to Betty. Betty takes disciplining too strongly sometimes but, in her defense, she rarely had a partner at home who could reinforce what she was saying. It was classic "good cop vs. bad cop" with her being the bad cop. I'd rather have a strict parent (and frankly, Sally isn't an angel) than a disengaged and detached one.

  10. It's a good observation.

    At SC, Pete had a picture of Trudy prominently on his desk.

  11. I sensed that Don was trying not to play favorites when he said, "Goodnight both of you." Of course, he is closer to Sally and he has spent ample time yelling at Bobby. But now that he is not at home, he needs to show his love to both equally to spare Bobby any further trauma.

    I am so looking forward to a heart to heart between Don and Sally about Henry Francis. That seems on the horizon.

    That said, I do not forgive Don in the slightest. He cheated on a family, not just a wife.

  12. This was the most poignant scene in this episode – I tried to see Don's face, but the backlight was too strong – it seemed he was choked up after he wished them a "goodnight." I feel sorry for Don a lot – so damaged, and sometimes trying os hard, but without the proper tools.

  13. sjw #3 – bravo.

    There were a few key, perhaps telling moments between the kids, particularly Sally, and their parents.

    The first of course was Thanksgiving Dinner at the Francis house. Sally's poor behavior was exacerbated by Betty's embarrassed attempt to cover. Clearly the Betty/Sally dynamic in effect.

    The second event was when Don picked the kids up and kissed Sally on the head. She wiped it off. This could be many things – pre-adolescent kvetching, a show for Betty and/or Henry, or leftover moodiness from whatever happened just prior to Don's entrance. But we know it wasn't meant for Don.

    The third was at Don's, as Lianne relates. Sally's genuine comfort around Don is so counter to her unease with Betty. Whether or not Betty is a bad parent is not the issue. Sally adores her dad without reservation. They have a connection that will be a meaningful part of Sally's development.

  14. #11 — Don always came to Bobby's defense — remember when he said how mercilessly his father beat him, and how he laid in bed, thinking about murdering him — and he wasn't half as good as Bobby?

  15. It's sad what divorce does to a family. I'm glad my parents decided to part ways when I was already grown. (And they did it amicably.)

    With regard to the comments about Don unfairly getting more credit for his parenting than Betty: I agree to some extent. I think in Season 3 Betty seemed especially detached from the children. When I watch Season 1, she seems much warmer and more involved with them, IMO.

    Most of the time Don seems very glad to see the children. But I almost forgot that in Season 1 (at the time Pete was threatening him), Don came to Rachel and asked her to escape with him to California. She said, what about your children? He said, "I'll provide for them." She said (in disbelief) "And live in California." She reminded him that he grew up largely without a father; did he really want to willingly put his children in the same position? And yet, at the time, he didn't say, You're right, I won't do that. It wasn't until she asked him to leave that he realized the plan wouldn't work and abandoned it.

  16. I think this scene is so striking because it effectively shows how much Don loves his kids and wants them in his life, but also how he struggles to translate that love into actions. As the daughter of two baby boomers who were very into hands-on parenting, mostly as a reaction to the Draper-like upbringing they both received, I don't think I was ever put to bed by my dad as a kid without hearing the words "I love you." I know that's just not language that would be as typical of Don or dads of his generation, but his care for the kids is so obvious as he puts them to bed, offering to show Bobby how to sew a button, letting them know the bathroom light is on just in case. It would have felt so natural to me to hear those three words as he turned off the light. Whether it would be natural for Don or not, there's a palpable hole after "good night" where he's searching for something to add that would express the depth of his feelings to them. Maybe he consciously considers adding "I love you," maybe he doesn't. Either way, the "both of you" is both touching and heartbreaking. It's full of emotion, inflected just as if he were saying "I love you" instead, and yet the words he chooses are empty of meaning in and of themselves. (Unless, uh, he's afraid they'll think he was only saying good night to Bobby.)

  17. Don loves his kids, but doesn't know how to be a father. He knows what not to do, but has no idea what to do. Betty may be angry at Don, but at the end of season 3, acknowledged that he will always be a part of their life. Whatever was going on between them, they tried to keep it from the children. It failed, but the attempt was made.

    I wonder how long before Sally discovers, if Mom says no, ask Dad. I could see her playing Don and Betty against each other.

  18. @ RetroGirl – I think she's already subconsciously realized this. Even when Don was announcing that he was moving out at the end of last season, she immediately assumed that mom may have made him move out. She (and to a lesser extent Bobby) already view Dad as the good guy, the guy who won't make them eat stuff they don't want to eat and won't make them stop playing with toys they don't want to play with, etc etc. I don't doubt that Don loves his kids but I agree with you – he has no idea how to be a father. And I agree – Sally does adore her dad. It'll be interesting to see how she reacts if she ever finds out about his past and perhaps more relevant to her, his philandering. Will she lash out at him or will she just blame mom for that too?

  19. @ 18 Sally2- I think Sally's reaction to her father's philandering will depend on how old she is when she finds out; if it happens within the next few years, she'll blame her mother, because in Sally's mind everything is Mom's fault and Dad is a knight in shining armor who can do no wrong. If it happens when Sally is closer to 20 and the Women's Rights/Liberation movement is in full swing, she'll have a very different view of it.

    The big question is how will Sally find out, if she does.

  20. I agree with #17. For all his yearning, Don ends up working and having the kids watch tv.

  21. I think Don is able to have that tenderness with the kids because of the limited time they have together. Sally and Bobby probably look forward to those visits and are on their best behavior with Don, whereas with Betty, she has to deal with the kids full time, good and bad. With Mommy, they're at home, same old, same old. Seeing Daddy is a special treat.

    Don obviously loves them very much, but I think he really only appreciates them when they're around, and tends to forget that they need him as well. He loves and misses them, but I don't think he realizes how difficult it must be for them not having him around.

  22. Please, Don, take the kids to a museum — NYC has so many and the creative inspiration might energize your ad campaigns. A subway token costs only 15 cents and you can take the 8th Avenue Line from Waverly Place to the Museum of Natural History at 81st Street. And if you have a picnic in Central Park afterwards, don't litter!

    You might also try taking them to SCDP on a Saturday. You could get some work done while they fascinate themselves with the water cooler, the dictaphone, the IBM selectric, the xerox, and some skyscraper views. It's a memory they'll treasure forever.

  23. And he was angry (his usual emotion, but an emotion nonetheless) when Betty didn't have "the baby" at the house. No one said, Gene (that's the baby's name, isn't it?)

  24. Don is an exemplary father – for 1964. That is probably the reason I tend not to judge him, or any of the characters, for their prejudices and failings. They are products of their time, and Don is actually doing more than was considered necessary in the raising of his children.

    My parents married in '62 and my father admits he never touched a diaper. When my sister had her first son, my father likewise admitted he could not remember either of us that young – although we have the pictures to prove he was there. It was simply too easy for him to hang out with his friends, go bowling, have an entire social life that did not necessarily include my mother, because she was expected to stay home and deal with the kids. That dynamic – to maintain specific gender roles/lines – was present even through my mother's own feminist awakening in the 70s. I was expected to do "women's work" – dishes, laundry, etc. – that my father was not (of course, my sister also was expected to mow the lawn, rake the leaves, shovel snow, just like me).

    I don't think we should fault the characters too much when they are behaving exactly as they were expected too, if not better. That doesn't mean they're right, or that their behaviors don't have horrible consequences we can predict, I just think it lessens the responsibility a bit.

  25. #24 Phil, I agree. Part of the trap of being a viewer of MM in 2010 is to superimpose our mores on those of nearly 50 years ago. I think a major part of what Matt's doing with MM is to show us how we got from there to here and how things have changed–and also, most importantly, how they haven't.

    I also think there's a major divide in the viewing audience, between those who actually had some actual experience being in the MM generation, even if, like me, they were only young children, and those who came after. Those who came after, it seems, have a hard time, believing how different things were. Yes, sometimes the show manipulates the behavior of its characters for dramatic effect; it is just a tv show after all–but I love how it by and large refuses to superimpose 2010 sensibilities on those of the early '60's. And parenting like everything else MM chronicles, was a lot different, whether we fully accept it or not. I love that Matt keeps refusing to deliver up what the viewership wants–or thinks it wants–but remains true to his vision and tries to recreate things the way they were for a certain part of America 50 years ago.

    And btw, by depicting all those differences and being so steadfast to the story he wants to tell, I think Matt's also showing how those differences did indeed have consequences. Nobody gets a free pass out of jail on MM.

  26. I keep thinking of where Sally is going to be in another six years. If she's 8 or 9 now then she will be the perfect age to wind up in Haight-Ashbury or Greenwich Village

    with "flowers in her hair" as a runaway teen. I doubt a private school elite life will settle well with her, coming for a divorced family, she'll bounce for sure!

  27. I agree with #24 – Don is doing about as well as any father of the period, I'd say exceptionally well considering the role models he had (Archie and Mack.) He's only an absentee father compared with fathering today. Raising children was considered mother's work; father was there to back up mother in the discipline department (hence the ever popular "just wait until your father gets home!") and maybe handing out allowances once a week. As Charles Emerson Winchester poignantly explained it to Hawkeye Pierce in one episode, "I had a father, Pierce, while you, you had a dad." In the 50s and 60s most people had fathers, not dads.

    As for Betty being stuck at home all the time with the kids, heck no – she had Carla or Francine whenever she needed to go out for a hair appointment or get groceries or go off to the stables for horseback riding or to have lunch with friends or shopping in the city. Sweet Marie, she had more spare time in a week than my mother in a month. Of course my mother (and father) raised 9 of us with no help beyond the occasional grandmother's visit (usually the twice a year they went out of town for a weekend) – and my mother worked part-time six days a week besides. In Betty's world, she turned to her family's maid for comfort more than her parents, so it probably seems natural to turn them over to Carla, and burdensome for the kids to turn to her.

  28. @ 27 Floretta-I love the "M*A*S*H" episode you referenced, especially that scene. It provides a clear glimpse into their backgrounds, and shows how that in turn shapes the characters we know. Weiner does this to some extent as well.

  29. What I thought was interesting was that the pilot, after showing us Don at his philandering best, ended with a very long shot of Don looking at his kids sleeping. Not Betty. A key shot for the series as a whole. He may be a lousy father at times (benign neglect but not the more-damaging psychological freezing out of Betty), but throughout the series we've been given example after example of how much Don *genuinely loves* his children. That may, over time, prove to be his saving grace

  30. Just as I had feared, Weiner is turning Betty into Mommie Dearest. I'm so disgusted. And if this means I'll be more inclined to like Don as a parent more, I won't.

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