Sunday Open Thread: Souvenir; Wee Small Hours Posted by Deborah Lipp on November 6, 2011 at 4:00 am Season 3 Nov 062011 This morning, AMC is showing Souvenir and Wee Small Hours. Thank you for confusing and yet delighting us, AMC. Discuss! 44 Responses to “Sunday Open Thread: Souvenir; Wee Small Hours” Melville says: November 6, 2011 at 5:28 am Yay for AMC not being idiots after all! Peg4prez says: November 6, 2011 at 8:08 am Alll right! How unexpected! And tks for the notification…. Without referring to my ep guide….is this a continuation of where AMC left off, before Halloween? Or did they skip an/some eps? Deborah Lipp says: November 6, 2011 at 9:12 am Um, Peg, you know there’s an Episode Guide built into this site, right? Yes, it’s a continuation. Despite what their own website said, they didn’t skip any episodes. Aurora says: November 6, 2011 at 8:25 am It is a continuation; AMC is airing two episodes a week until the end of season three. After that they start over with season one. I guess they are passing season four for now and will air it in the next cycle of repeats (to time it with the premiere). I loved seeing Souvenir; it was one of those episodes that I kept rewinding when I borrowed the set. I loved seeing Don and Betty together in Rome, yet in so many ways it was the beginning of the end for them. Betty was tired of pretending and was looking for a distraction with Henry, and I guess Don didn’t want to fight for his girl. I really think Don should have done something after she rejected the charm; he could have talked to her, made a move on her, anything. But he just let her go -and then he moves onto that silly ‘teacher’. If a teacher today did what Suzanne F. did and got caught, she’d be fired in a second (probably fired back then too). I guess her job wasn’t that important to her if she was willing to compromise it over a fling. It hurt to see Sal go so quickly – I keep wondering if he will come back. It seemed very open-ended when he left. He is very good at his job, and Lucky Strike is no longer associated with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Peg4prez says: November 6, 2011 at 8:42 am Tks Aurora- Can’t wait for Betty’s updo, the Italian poachers, etc… Peg4prez says: November 6, 2011 at 8:46 am By the way, ya’ll- I just got a book “The Ultimate Guide to Mad Men The Guardian companion to the slickest show on television”. So fun to read, (contains blogger’s reactions as the series aired over in Great Britain) and now will align with AMC’s schedule. I like hearing the English point of view, especially about Layne and Co. tilden katz says: November 6, 2011 at 10:39 am Betty worth fighting for?…………please, don’t get me started. Thank god Henry felt her up on Derby Day and gave her someone else to pine on. Loved Ms. Farrell. Sensitive, sensual, exciting, a jogger 10 years before it became cool. Should I continue? I could go on and on. Aurora says: November 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm Adultery aside, the fact that Ms. Farrell crossed boundaries in involving herself with Sally’s mourning over Grandpa Gene shows a lack of professionalism, but to each his own. And I wouldn’t say she was ‘sensitive’ to Betty or Sally’s needs (both would be destroyed if they knew about the affair). tilden katz says: November 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm I’m glad someone considered darling Sally’s feelings after she lost her beloved Grandpa. Her parents just were not there for her. Made my feelings very clear on this: monogamy is basically a neurological disorder and by far the most overrated ‘virtue’. That said, Ms. Ferrell would’ve have hurt Sally had she somehow known. Touche, Aurora. tilden katz says: November 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm I will close with this. Would you rather be with someone who when on her BEST behavior tells her black maid, “Maybe its not time for civil rights”. Or, someone who wants to read out loud a speech that excoriates white separatists to the children of white folks? Further demostration of how far ahead of her time she was. I know its easy to take potshots at a dim bulb like Betty. Uninspiring Betty who only runs with the herd, and would never deviate with an independent thought (just not proper). By contrasting both ladies in some small, rather insignificant ways, it makes Don choice of who to spend time with after Souvenir simple. Aurora says: November 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm I guess I don’t see Betty as lacking in ‘independent thought’. This is the woman who we have seen reading on her own in quite a few scenes, looking for ways to enrich her life (getting involved with the Pleasant-ville Reservoir – though part of that did have to do with seeing Henry). This is a woman who bucked family values and divorced her husband, going to Reno because she was sick of her life. I’d say that she is a layered character (especially in S2 and 3). S4 was hard to watch Betty-wise, she was painted as such a villain in so many different instances. I’d like to see character redemption for her in S5. I don’t know how much Don cared for Ms. Farrell. He let her go after Betty confronted him with his secret identity, and he didn’t seem to think about her too much after that. If he cared for Suzanne, he could have had a truly serious relationship with her, but that would involve going public, people finding out, etc. He didn’t want to do that. I don’t think he saw her as ‘long-term’. Deborah Lipp says: November 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm Yeah, Betty is smart. She’s full of fear disguised as self-righteousness, and she’s spoiled, but she has a brain. tilden katz says: November 6, 2011 at 6:57 pm Ms. Farrell was for more interesting to this viewer than she was to Don. Also, I am not stating a case for DD to go long term with her, but if he went there and had to choose, it would be obvious. Francine (lawdy I love me some Anne Dudek) got involved with the Junior League and Betts would not have had a clue. Henry was about, oh, 95% of the reason she offered her help. Betts also was not totally brave in her seeking a divorce, and risking walking lady Helen Bishop shame as Henry provided a soft landing. She’s human. She does things for selfish reasons and looks out for No.1. No problem with that. Enduring image of Betts’ mommie dearest S4 was her all alone in darling Sally’s room. The little girl lost cliches that are supposed to inspire sympathy almost had me…………almost. Meowser says: November 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm I might have said this before (what, an autistic repeat herself?), but Don is the kind of man who might thrive in an open marriage…IF he didn’t expect “his” woman to have total fealty to him. He can deal with his mistresses having other relationships, but look out below if there’s another man they like better than him. Like a lot of alpha men of his period (and maybe this one too?), he expects things to be “open” on his end, but not on hers. Unfortunately, women who look the other way for too long often wind up snapping, and that’s what Betty did. Souvenir’s a great bookend to Shoot as far as Betty’s story is concerned. You get more confirmation here that what really makes her tick is being noticed for her own beauty and sophistication, not as a man’s appendage, and she doesn’t get much of that being parked out in the burbs making peanut-butter sandwiches all day. Which is why having a better husband doesn’t make her happy; she even spells it out for Don. “I hate this place, I hate our friends, I hate our life.” She could escape Don for another man, but she couldn’t escape the stay-at-home mom trap she abhors. JohnR says: November 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm #14 Meowser Autistic or perhaps better described as Asperger’s? And have you viewed on Hulu ‘Alphas’? It’s really a good show. [and the there are some reviews of it here at the Basket] Hawk says: November 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm “…full of fear disguised as self-righteousness…” “What do you want me to say?” RetroGirl says: November 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm For me the best moment of “Souvenir” is Betty all dolled up with her hair in the up-do. If you look up va-va-voom in the dictionary, that is the picture that should be next to it. For me the stand-out moments in “Wee Small Hours” are Harry messing up, and the last time we saw Sal. tilden katz says: November 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm Great points Meowser. Solution to Betts’ problem with no name malaise: get a job honey. You have a degree, put it to use. Oh, I forgot she’s too good to stoop to doing what the rest of us do, bein an important housecat and all. Just revolting. Meowser says: November 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm Tilden, she lives in 1965. Until about 15 or 20 years ago, and especially back then, women with preschool children who worked outside the home (when they didn’t “have to”) were considered she-monsters by most people. Even if they had college degrees. Most women with young kids and breadwinner husbands couldn’t even get hired. (Yes, back then they were allowed to ask if you were married and had kids, and what your husband did.) The rare exceptions were the few women who had high-professional-level jobs like doctor or professor, and even they got reams of crap for trying to work and raise kids simultaneously. Anyway, what kind of job is she going to get, never having drawn a paycheck for anything but modeling, which she’s now too old to do, and being out of college for more than a decade? Nobody would ever, ever, ever have considered it “character building” for someone like Betty, who has a breadwinner husband, to get some menial retail job that would barely even pay for Gene’s daycare. In 1966, NOW was considered radical for advancing the idea that having a baby shouldn’t be an impediment to working, and even they were about institutional solutions rather than individual ones. Aurora says: November 6, 2011 at 10:08 pm Thanks Meowser. I still see potential for Betty, she could challenge herself eventually, become more evolved in her own way. I tend to watch Mad Men for the women (though I love the men too). Betty and Peggy are possibly my two favorite characters on the show. Two different women, both with fascinating stories (at least IMO). Meowser says: November 6, 2011 at 10:12 pm JohnR, I’ve not seen Alphas yet, it sounds promising. My diagnosis is Asperger’s, yes. Meowser says: November 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm By the early 70s, things will probably change a lot in Bettyland. It will start to become more acceptable for suburban women her age to get jobs, go back to school, etc. And her kids will be older, too. (My mom went back to work when I was 7, in 1971.) In fact, her friends might even egg her on to do just that. Right now, though, she’s kind of trapped. jzzy55 says: November 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm SOME women went to work, but many did not. It was still considered declasse and/or eccentric for a woman to work. It implied that her husband and/or their assets were insufficient to support their lifestyle. Some women did go back to college or started college, but Betty already has a degree. However, many affluent women had been doing, and continued to do, meaningful volunteer work, work that was important to communities large and small. Betty, however, does not seem like the volunteering type. Notice that her brief involvement in politics swiftly veered into the personal and stayed there. THe only activity we’ve seen her do outside the home with any passion is riding. tilden katz says: November 7, 2011 at 1:20 am With the last shred of Henry’s decency and patience being tested, ol’ Betts is gonna have to do something. Adapt, or die. It may be she reaches out to Walking Woman and actually develops a bond. She’s going to have to stop caring what people think or her thick-headedness will put her on the train to spinsterhood. Albeit, still-hot spinsterhood. Do any of us really want to see Betts reduced to scenes such as the following—–she personally delivers the kids to Don on a Friday night that she knows he will be alone cause DD told her Megan is back home attending a funeral. She starts to openly weep and tell Don she still loves him. We cut to a figure emerging in the living room with a towel around her head. Its Megan standing there, stunned after hearing that. Betty runs off into the night, paralyzed by embarrassment. Yuck. Meowser says: November 7, 2011 at 2:32 am If Betty went back to school, given that she has a bachelor’s, it would probably be for an entirely different field of study (maybe one that would directly lead to employability, which an old degree in anthro wouldn’t), or maybe even a master’s degree. As for her volunteer activities, I’m pretty sure Henry (being active in politics) considers her to be a “political volunteer” by accompanying him to all those meetings and fund-raisers and such. How much more she could do with a 2-year-old around, I don’t know. Even with full-time help, taking care of three young kids, one still in diapers, is no snap. (Which makes me wonder if they’re going to make Betty have another kid since JJ had one. One more baby and her head might explode.) Aurora says: November 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm I don’t think her pregnancy is being written in (or mentioned). Betty could become politically active; she proved to be a competent fundraiser/activist for the Reservoir situation, and having meetings for political causes. She really can’t do a great deal with her anthropology degree (volunteer at a museum maybe??). I don’t see her working behind a counter at a store. She could go into modelling again, she’s pretty enough, and seeing her compete with younger versions of herself could be entertaining. Ortho B. Gon says: November 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm Henry definitely does not want a child with “Betzoff”. So that storyline can be forgotten. Lady K says: November 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm I don’t think Betty is written to be as fun or witty as many other characters. However, I don’t think she is a worse person than most of the other characters on the show. Less fun? Yes. More evil? Not really. She certainly has a lot of flaws, but most characters on the show have serious flaws. Betty’s underlying story is always stressful: her mom died, her dad died, Don cheated on her, Don didn’t tell her that behind-the scene politics cost her the modeling job and she loses her confidence, her psychologist shares her private sessions with Don, her doctor won’t give her an abortion, the neighbor kid who she thought was cute intentionally walks in on her in the bathroom, her husband doesn’t know how to support her (or Sally) when Grandpa Gene dies, Don was lying to her about his identity for years and years, she can’t rely on Don to bring back Sally’s birthday cake and he embarasses her in front of all the neighbors, her husband surprises her by bringing the boss (Rodger) home to dinner and then Don gets rough with Betty and blames her because Roger flirts with her, Don calls her ‘desperate’ because she wants to wear a bikini, and Don waltzes in and out at late hours and reaches for the bottle as soon as he gets home. Then Sally blames Betty 100% “for making daddy go away” and Don gets engaged to a beautiful secretary. No, Betty isn’t an innocent little victim, but she has had a lot of major life struggles in a very short period of time. Some of them were entirely not her fault (the deaths of her parents, Don lying to her all through their marriage). Some of her problems are partially the result of her own choices, but many of her choices were limited by forces outsider her control. Betty wanted to work, and she had a really good modeling lead. Behind the scenes politics between Don and the ad world cost her that job, and Don let her believe that she had been fired because she wasn’t good enough. Betty probably thinks it is not appropriate to tell Sally the facts about Don: that he’s Dick Whitman, that he cheated on Betty while they were married, that Don lied to Betty the whole time they were married, etc. But as a result, Sally thinks that Betty “made daddy go away.” I get it that Betty isn’t funny, witty, lovable or positive, but I am often surprised how audience members really seem to hate her. (And by extension some people really seem to hate January Jones.) I agree with Meowser that “just get a job” is advice people give in 2011 –modern advice that would not be easy or obvious in a 1960s upper-middle class world. Though the percentages have shifted, there are still people who believe that kids should have a parent at home while they are little. And there were many industries that fired women as soon as they got married. Unfortunately, Betty’s basic story is that of Hera to Don’s Zeus. Who wants to be Hera? The goddess people make fun of for being jealous while her husband (or EX husband) runs around like James Bond with a different beauty every couple of episodes? I don’t expect a complete personality makeover for Betty, but it really is boring to have her be a one-dimensional jealous lady all the time. She really wasn’t always a grouch in season 1. I wish there was a believable way to have things change just enough–so that she could have more balance in the way she is portrayed. I think some people just love to hate her— but the facts regarding her behavior aren’t really much worse than the actions of many other characters on the show. tilden katz says: November 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm What compelling story arc does Betty offer if she stays stuck in the mud, anger beneath the surface, pouting veneer, tired of her life self? Don was a serial liar and she replaced him with a total mensch, but the gilded cage syndrome still applies, so she pouts. Don over the dubious objection of his accountant makes her the executor to their children’s trusts, also let her live with ANOTHER man rent free in his house. Talk about cuckolding. She’s taken care of practically in perpituity, but its what she was brought up to be, so, big whoop. Cue pout. She can have round the clock child care if she wishes, and deal with them in a limited dose. She is in the enviable position where she can work for the pure enjoyment/fulfillment of it, not just to complete the pedestrian task of being able to eat. But society is mean in 1966, and a beautiful, educated, white woman of means is not allowed to work. Aw, really? She has no social strata connections that can make this viable? Or, the poor thing is stuck in neutral, and basically fucked. Pout. We’ve seen this for 4 seasons and its exhausting! What is her character going to do to move her story forwards, backwards, sideways in order to justify precious screen time? JJ’s giving birth probably means at least 1 Betty free ep this year (Woohooooooo!). Betts’ slow burn routine has to ignite into implosion/lush life/unseemly demise, or defuses into something new and unforseen. I’m actually rooting for Mrs. Francis. Lady K says: November 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm It’s fun to debate with Tilden! But I think you like getting people to debate you. You may think that Betty is the only person who gets help from someone like Carla, but I think you are missing something. Nearly every man who works in the ad business gets waited on all day–at work and at home, by men and by women, by white people and by people of color. If you are an ad man, a woman makes your coffee for you, mixes your drinks for you, writes your letters (even their own letters of recommendation), covers up your affairs, buys your Christmas presents for you, saves your ass by arranging an appropriate holiday party for a client, helps you get home when you forget your keys because you are drunk, provides romantic favors, hides your illegitimate children for you, collects your mistress and lets her sleep at her apartment after a car accident, helps you to the toilet when you are ill, takes care of your children if they happen to show up at work, handles disasters like dead bodies and severed feet, and so on. And those are just things secretaries do. Then the ad men go home and have a warm dinner waiting, a woman who has primped, and they are safe in their expectation that under no circumstances is the man ever supposed to cook, clean, or do anything related to childcare (unless it happens to be fun and the child is cute and behaving) and it is normal to tune everyone out and drink, read the paper, or watch TV. Look–it is possible that Betty is a total wasteland of a human being that has no right to exist, no right to expect anyone to treat her nicely, no right to expect that her husband of many years actually tell her his real name, and who implodes into a vicous pyscho. It is possible that she has always been a horrible person with absolutely no hope for any decent emotion. But even people we dislike are rarely so uniformly, 100% awful. Yes, she was raised with some money. Yes, she had access to creature comforts with Don. Yes, she has access to creature comforts with Henry. She is not the only woman in this position in this time period (Jane has more, Mona had more, Trudy had more and may get more). It is an age-old cliche that money cannot by happiness, but the fact that it is a cliche doen’t mean it doesn’t apply hear. So what that Betty has money? She is still unhappy. But I disagree that any rich woman who is unhappy must–therefore–be pouting. Why do you assume that any and all negative emotions experienced by Betty are only “pouting”? Pouting is what little kids do when they do not get their third piece of cake after they try yelling at mom. Sometimes Betty does pout, but many times she is legitimately angry or legitimately disappointed or legitimately sad. Pouting is what Pete Campbell does when Ken gets published and he doesn’t. Pouting is what Lee Garner, Jr., does when he gets poor Sal fired because Sal won’t let him sexually harass him. Pouting is what Peggy does when she doesn’t get enough credit for her ideas. Pouting is what Don does when Faye doesn’t want to break her code of ethics to get him accounts. Pouting is what Rodger does when he seems jealous of Don getting the CLIO. Pouting is what Joey does when he doesn’t like Joan telling him to clean up after himself. Pouting is not what I call it when a person is upset that their former spouse lied to them very seriously and blatantly for years and years and years. Pouting is not what I call it when someone is upset that her mother died. Pouting is not what I call it when someone is upset that her father died. Pouting is not what I call it when someone is upset that their former spouse never admited the truth about an infidelity. Pouting is not what I call it when someone doesn’t want to leave her home of many years–especially if she felt that her husband had been very unfaithful. I know that Betty is often unhappy and depressed, and she is often irritable. But I do not think it is fair to write off all of it as pouting. It is like you are seeing her as a child because you WANT to see her as a child so you can minimize all of her legitimate anger, rage, disappointment, loss, and pain. In 2011, grief counselors and others recognize that irritability is strongly linked with grieving and difficulty adjusting to major life changes. I think it is quite possible that in 2011 Betty would talk to a doctor who would prescribe an antidepressant for a couple of months. She would be referred to counseling in a non-judgemental, matter-of-fact way. I think it quite possible that Betty has some undiagnosed and untreated depression. In the 1960s, I don’t think her depression would be noticed or treated unless it got very, very bad. Even then it might be “too embarassing” to seek that kind of help. I do not think it would be utterly impossible for Betty to work. But I think it is a lot harder for her to find work than you are wanting to admit. Also, I do not think it is “obvious” to Betty or to Henry or to Don or to her kids that “getting a job” would make her a better wife or mother (which is what her ‘job’ is to them). In order for Betty to get a job, she would first need to believe she wanted a job and that it would be good for her to get a job. But that is projecting 2011 back onto the 1960s. In fact, Don did not want Betty to work and stopped her from doing it. I do not know what Henry or her kids think, but she is still caring for a very young child (age 1?). I think that most of the people she encounters in her life will not expect or suggest that she work while Gene is so little–and they might even judge her quite harshly for leaving a very young child and for not assiting a political husband. I never said Betty was a saint. I said I don’t think she’s significantly worse than many other people on the show. Many other people on the show are spoiled or get waited on or come from money. I think your main problem with Betty is that she seems very unhappy despite her wealth. You seem to think “she has everything” and therefore she has absolutely no right to be anything but happy. It isn’t just that she is unhappy, it is that you blame her and judge her for the fact that she dares to be unhappy even though she is rich and taken care of. You seem to think that her wealth should make her immune from the sadness of death, disappointment, confusion, and failed dreams. The truth is that Betty thought she made the “right” decisions–she thought she had everything. But it turned out that she had absolutely nothing but a lie. It was a horrible shock and it freaked her out and she had all the hand shaking and sought out a psychologist (who broke her trust). 1. She lost her mom. 2. She lost her belief that Don loved her. 3. She lost her belief that Don loved his kids and her enough to get the cake for Sally’s party. 4. She lost her belief that she mattered and was important and deserved respect. 5. She lost her belief that she was good enough to be a model. 6. She lost her belief that she enjoyed being a mom. 7. She lost her belief that Don trusted her (his freak-out about Rodger). 8. She lost her belief that her dad would always be strong and act like himself. 9. Then she actually lost her dad. 10. She lost her belief that Don could really change and be faithful after his former mistake. 11. She lost her belief that Don was Don Draper and discovered he was Dick Whitman. But wait! She has Carla! She has Carla and money, so she has no right to complain about anything and we should judge her for being unhappy! Seriously? Come on! People can seriously grieve the death of a family member for more than a year. Divorce (even if it is your own choice) can often take a year or more to grieve. If the grief is not dealt with, it can go on and on and on. People do not only grieve death. People grieve the loss of a dream–the loss of the belief that they are in love with a wonderful person. The loss of the sense of identity that comes from a divorce. If you have ever been to any sort of grief counseling, you realize that you don’t just “get over it” like that with the snap of the fingers. Even if some people manage to do that (if they aren’t bottling it all up for later), that by no means translates that “everyone ought to be able to cope with it all in a week or two.” The fact that Betty has round-the-clock child care has absolutely no impact on whether or not she is grieving the loss of her mom, the loss of her dad, the loss of her belief that she was married to a great guy named Don Draper. Do I wish she could “get over it” quickly and have a vibrant, dynamic life? That would be nice, but I hardly find it suprising that –with all the major life changes–she is unhappy and stressed out. Do I want to be friends with her? Not especially. But she has real troubles that should not be trivialized just because we happen to think it’s fun to watch Don bed another hot chick every week or so. Meowser says: November 10, 2011 at 3:31 am Wow, Lady K, you are just kicking a$$ all over this thread. Thank you. I have no doubt that Betty is depressed — I saw women acting like her all the time growing up, women with much less financial advantage than herself, and yeah, you’d better believe that’s how women acted in those days when they were trapped. They behaved like assholes a lot of the time, and worse, usually to people who ranked lower in the social pecking order than themselves (children and employees), who couldn’t give them backtalk without repercussions. And she IS trapped. A 2011 Betty probably has far more options than a 1965 Betty for improving her own life; all Betty has, so far, is the bill of goods she was sold, about how if you were beautiful and decorous you’d have everything you needed forever. And all she will remember of second wave feminism in its early stages is a bunch of women who don’t wear bras or makeup or shave their armpits and bristle at mother-in-law jokes; she will not have her “click” moment for years to come, if she ever does, because she’s still invested in the bill of goods and the dream dies hard. Remember S1 Betty saying she wanted to be put on an ice floe when she lost her looks? She wasn’t joking. She meant it. That is really frigging sad. Meowser says: November 10, 2011 at 3:53 am Oh, and also: It’s very true that more money doesn’t make depression go away. I had my worst — most dangerous — depression when I (briefly) had 6-figure household income. Some of the highest rates of depression are still among affluent women. More money means better access to treatment, yes, but there was not much in the way of really effective treatment for someone like Betty in 1965, someone who was depressed but not (yet) suicidal. Especially when she was not actively seeking help, as there was still HUGE stigma against getting any sort of mental health treatment then, and it probably took everything she had to put her ego aside to see Dr. Wayne. Taking Dr. Edna up on talking to her colleague Dr. Evelyn Shapiro might help her, sure…but how can you blame Betty for not trusting shrinks after the Dr. Wayne fiasco? tilden katz says: November 10, 2011 at 6:24 am ‘Betty is a total wasteland, who has no right to exist’. Wow. Hard to believe that I cause that impression. I know I’m not Anne B or anything, but to be patted on the head like that with an egregious over-simplification of my comment is mystifying. Guess I deserve that. Yet, it makes me want to up my game, and reach for brilliance, so I can justify occupying space here, and make statements that are adding something new to the discourse. The unloved contrarian gets it. I do unfairly see Betty through modern light. It’s only because I juxtapose her with my mother, that I find her so lacking. I was raised by a single immigrant mother with 4 kids and a 6th grade education. She had two jobs which weren’t enough to ever leave us with extras. My older brother and I became de facto parents at night to our roughly decade younger siblings, 3 school nights a week. Some nights my bro and I were scared, but we knew we had to come through for our little brother and sister and never let on. Who the hell had money for baby sitters? She was abandoned by two baby daddies. I saw her get smacked up by my dad twice when I was about 5, and I was less than twenty feet away. It made me a VERY nervous child, I always felt like the walls were going to close in on me. She was always a little bit, to a lot sad and made me always want to hug her, but I never did. I was afraid that if I did she would die or go away so I could be punished for not doing enough to help her. The ‘I wish I was older’, line Glen says to Betty resonates to no end for me. As a child often does, I made a great promise to NEVER hurt any woman, and be better, for her sake. We all have our sad stories, I would guess they each cause their own level of pain. I would never say money causes happiness, or makes unhappiness impossible. It’s an intellectually flaccid statement, to say the least. Betty has advantages. It is an absolute meat grinder to see her almost choose to do nothing about her situation, and stay miserable. I wrote about my mom because she raised 4 productive citizens out of the ghetto, while always trying to get ahead in her limited way. I can not abide one more season of that character in stasis, the tortured Hitchcock iceberg blonde with nary a thing to do. A pity. I don’t begrudge her coming from money. Her seeming lack of will represents a deep character flaw that I find offensive. It IS immoral if you don’t actively seek to try to make yourself happy. I believe Betty is quite comfortable feeling sad, however ridiculous that might sound. Malaise forever. jzzy55 says: November 10, 2011 at 10:30 am Great post Tilden. Thanks for sharing (and I’m not being snarky). It’s fascinating how we all bring our personal stuff to … discussions of a TV show. Which shows that MM is powerful artistically. (Whaaa! I miss MM!) ANYWAY, not being a beauty, I don’t know how losing one’s looks feels when you go from a 10 to not a 10. Maybe it really is a dreadful, soul-searing trauma. How many of us ordinary looking women have had a friend who is unusually attractive, and when you walked down the street with her, heads turned and eyes popped and mouths fell slack in a way that you seldom (or ever) experienced on your own? I’ve had two friends, one who was elegant and beautiful and one who was pretty and apparently very hot. Walking around in public with them was something else. I actually disliked it intensely, not because of jealousy but because I have social anxiety and it was way too much staring in my general vicinity. I became anxious for my friends’ safety and well-being as well. This made me experience (rather than knowing on an intellectual level) that being beautiful and thus universally desirable has its downside. Betty is so dependent on this narcissistic supply that I believe her when she says she would rather be dead than lose her looks. She may truly not have the resources to go beyond this. I expect future Betty story arcs will be exploring whether or not she can find these resources as well as act on them. I’m not mad at her but I do want to see SOMETHING happen here. tilden katz says: November 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm Thank you for your generosity jzzy55. You ‘re one of the smart kids here, and always look forward to your posts on BoK. Btw, I don’t mind snarky, it adds zest to the convo. Marilyn died at 36, possibly saving herself the awful reality of declining beauty/power. Wonder when Betts will hit that age or whatever arbitrary number which rings the bell to ordinary matronhood. Will it be 1968? Baby Gene’s birth certificate I think said that his mother was 31. Which means she was born in ’32. S5 will be 66 or 67, which means loud ticking on Betty’s inner clock. Joan was said, “Men follow you down the block”. To Joan in the more innocent 50’s that was orobably a cute affirmation of her considerable allure. Nowadays its so not any of that. My mom was bootylicious and sorta hot. I never wondered back then how it felt to come home at 4 am in a bad neighborhood, alone. It must suck to be an attractive woman in the big city in the wee small hours of the morning tilden katz says: November 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm Ugh, the Titan of Typos is back. Joan once said………….probably a cute affirmation. Sorry. jzzy55 says: November 10, 2011 at 1:40 pm Thanks TK. My grandmother’s maiden name was Katz. Lady K says: November 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm Tilden, I respect all the difficulties your mother (and you) went through, and it must be very difficult to watch someone with many more advantages who cannot seem to work things out for herself. My husband is on medication for depression. Before he went on the medication, I was at a loss for how to deal with his irritability. His reactions to things seemed way off. He would get excessively mad about things that seemed trivial. He would utterly ignore other things that seemed serious–when it seemed like he ought to react and do something. He didn’t really seem like the man I met and married. He made me feel like I was doing a million things wrong, but it was just that his temper was so short. It was like he always had a migraine headache he couldnt’ shake. He took everything to extremes. There was no middle ground. But now he is mostly normal with good days and bad days more like average people have. I do think Betty is depressed, which means I think she is struggling with a different kind of problem than may be obvious at first blush. It is possible she is chemically depressed for absolutely no “reason.” Or she fell into a depression because she was provoked (death of mom, fear of Don’s cheating, etc.), but has not been able to climb out. Maybe she could hit rock bottom like Don did in Season 4 and then find a way to climb out. Maybe her brain chemicals or her confused thinking and values will prevent this. Some people get depressed because their brain chemicals just do that do them. When they are depressed, they are very low energy, they feel more trapped then they are, they are irritable, they use black and white thinking, they personalize things that aren’t personal, they have low self confidence. Doing the tiniest thing can seem impossible and exhausting. Betty has given me that impression at times. I didn’t mean to be singling you out specifically for all negative feelings expressed about Betty. I meant to be joking and sarcastic about the “wasteland of a human who has no reason to live.” Why? Because nobody can deny that–generally– Betty is the most hated character on the show. I do read and hear people (not you specifically, many people) who really have extremely negative reactions to Betty. And not without reasons, either. People have reasons for disliking her. In 2011, we get to see all kinds of depression medication ads on TV. We hear that it is an illness, not a moral failing. Very educated people can try to explain it to patients and to their family members. Betty doesn’t have that. Even if its depression, not Betty’s charater, –that doesn’t make her any less difficult for others to deal with–especially her kids. They do not deserve to have to deal with her problem. I did not deserve my husband’s irritability before he went on medication. But how does Betty fix it? I do wonder…would Betty have gotten so depressed if she hadn’t been treated the way she was by Don? By her parents? By her culture? By her psychologist? Maybe she would have become depressed anyway–due to her biology or her family history. Yes, it is even possible she has always been an icky personality. But maybe the string of blows she recieved due to her relationship with Don knocked her over the edge. If we consider the possibility that Betty’s failed marriage to Don (starting with her suspicions of him cheating) knocked her off the deep end, it makes me wonder if Betty is a casualty of Don’s choices or her own? Don’s lies caused damage (not all of it, but a significant amount). This isn’t just hard on Betty, it is damaging to the kids. And it isn’t just damaging to the kids because dad went away. It is damaging to the kids because Betty is not a very good mom while she’s like this. There is an adage: “the best thing a man can do for his kids is to love their mother.” I do not think this is always workable, but when parents do love and support each other, there is more love available for the kids. When Betty needed support after father’s death, Don went sneaking off with Suzanne. Some people may believe that Don strayed because Betty was awful. Personally, I think Don would have strayed regardless. The suspicion than Don was cheating took a heavy toll on Betty–and it made her more awful than she otherwise would have been. I think Don will stray on Megan eventually (though I’m not sure if it will happen sooner or later). Maybe Megan won’t find out. Maybe she will be fine with it. Maybe she will want to take her own lovers. Maybe she’ll divorce Don. She may handle it better than Betty. But it will be hard to be Maria von Trapp if she knows Don is cheating on her. It is fun to love Don, and it is fun to hate Betty. But I think what is going on is more complicated than that. I do understand why Betty isn’t people’s favorite character, though. tilden katz says: November 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm My best thoughts go out to you Lady K with your difficult situation. It feels AWFUL to hate Betty. I spend more time here discussing her than all the other characters combined. Alec Bsldwin to Tina Fey on 30 Rock: “Lemon, why is it that your show produces only 3% of my divisions revenue, yet occupies 90% of my time?” You just know Baldwin digs Fey deeply. That’s me with Betty, I guess. I want to like her, deep down I think I dig her and I don’t know why. She looked so cool with that cig swinging on her lips in Shoot when she defended darling Sally wild, wild west style. Her kindness to creepy Glen. The in hindsight heartbreak of her “Who’s in there?” line to a sleeping Don in Ladies Room. She is also the only woman who made my heart almost stop with her beauty. When she walks across the hall to pick up the phone in only her bra in Red in the Face I was shocked beyond any reaction to any woman I’d seen live or on a screen. ohmyfuckinggod is she beautiful is all I thought for about an hour straight. Stupifying. January Jones only looks like Betty, just not as beautiful. Ha. tilden katz says: November 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm Where are my manners? Thank you, Lady K for sharing a delicate and sensitive area of your life. Very brave. Bravo. Meowser says: November 10, 2011 at 8:02 pm I don’t think Don cheated on Betty because she was a jerk to him. Early S1 episodes show that, if anything, she was deferential to a fault, and he’d been shagging Midge for a good five years already. I suspect he got bored with her because her world had shrunk to the size of a pinhead, and he just was not interested in hearing about the daily minutiae of laundry stains and baby poop and neighbor gossip. Which meant, of course, there was no way for her to win that one, because becoming a more interesting conversational partner would have meant not fulfilling all the wifely duties he expected. He’s one of those men who needs the hearth angel and the courtesan, and they can’t both be the same woman. Also, Don gets interested in women when he thinks he can’t have them, and then gets bored once they’re “his,” and then feels hurt once they decide they don’t want to play anymore. Which means that in order to maintain Don’s interest, Megan will have to keep him guessing, make him constantly fear alienating her — manipulate the crap out of him, in other words. (And, of course, don’t have any babies, because SAHMs are tedious to him and too easy for him to push around.) Either that, or she will have to force him to get real and give up the double standard, if he doesn’t want a second divorce much more expensive (financially) than the first one. tilden katz says: November 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm I recently read some items on Draper Daniels the iconic ad man and prototype for DD. His second marriage turned his personal life right-side-up. He stopped drinking altogether, and stopped wolfing around and stayed put and lived happily ever after. Truly great for Mr. Daniels, but is that a coming attractions for my boy-o? Is Megan gonna be the catalyst that de-fangs Don? No more self-destructive dark passenger? I am in mourning already. What is Don if he’s not Michael Corleone with a legal job? Where will the drama derive from? I think I’m going to throw up. Meowser says: November 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm Like I said, we’ve got three more years of Don. It would be kind of boring if he had no conflicts in his personal life at all; if that was the case, they’d probably not spend much time on it, especially if Peggy’s private life proves to be much more interesting. But I get the feeling that, at least, there is going to be a clash between Don and Megan’s parents, who Megan is obviously still very close with if she wanted to call her mother the minute he slipped the ring on. On TWoP, the Don message board had some interesting analysis of Megan’s background; I’ll probably do a post about it with more details, but in a nutshell, if Megan’s dad is a professor in Montreal, her family is probably old money and probably quite sophisticated. Which Betty’s family (or at least her dad) wasn’t. jzzy55 says: November 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm Certainly they (or her father, at least) would be educated people, anyway. Someone like Don, with his slippery ways and lack of education/family/coherent history, will surely give them pause. OTOH, Megan seems a sophisticated lass, more relaxed and rather less constrained than some of her All-American age peers. Perhaps her parents are eccentric Europeans who will accept Don. Not sure how many parents in 1966 would be thrilled about their young(ish) daughter marrying an older divorced guy with three kids and a struggling employer/company, even if they are open-minded. We’ll see, won’t we!! I’m starting to get VERY impatient. Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.