Megan’s Role

 Posted by on May 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm  Characters, Season 5
May 142012

You’re lucky.

I know.

– Julia and Megan, Dark Shadows

My first reaction to Dark Shadows was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

If it is an accident that this episode premiered on Mother’s Day, it’s a happy one in my case. Dark Shadows inspired me to drop a note of thanks to our kids’ mom. As The Stepmom, I may not have loved everything she’s done over the years, but she has gotten all the big things right.

My husband and his ex know parenting as if they wrote the script. After well over a decade apart, the kids are still the warm common ground in even their chilliest seasons. They have taken care to keep the negative things they feel about one another (and me) out of sight and earshot of the kids. This has done us all nothing but good.

Because, dammit, feelings. What can anyone do about them?

In a daylight scene with the kids, Betty Draper Francis feels fine at first: sitting at her kitchen table, talking about Sally’s family-tree project for school, going through Bobby’s homework. Then she finds the note.

It’s a little bit of nothing, a few lines about going out to buy a lightbulb. “Lovely Megan,” it starts.

Lovely Megan.

Betty is hurt. Of course. She makes an impulsive comment to Sally, mentions a part of Don’s life his daughter knows nothing about. Sally is confused and hurt, and I wonder how much of Sally’s reaction Betty sees. Yes, she knows what she has set in motion. But in her pain, does Betty notice what is happening to her daughter now?

Megan’s approach could not be more different, or more sensitive. When Sally lashes out, accuses her of not being a true friend, taunts her (“Are you going to go make yourself cry now?”), Megan is upset. But she holds it together: takes a breath instead of the bait, stays calm. This is a tall order, especially after you have told a kid that it isn’t “your place” to share certain things with her. Megan performs it all beautifully.

The unhappy fact of being a stepmom is that a lot of things aren’t “your place” to say, to do, to decide. In the great play that is the stepparent’s life, you almost never get the spotlight. You can share in the success of a good night, but that’s about it. The parents — owners of the custody arrangement, directing and leading almost every act — call the shots, whether they always want to or not.

Still, you might get lucky. You might land a really good production, with people at the top of their game who know their lines and are down for some fun. People like this know when to stick with the script and when to improvise. They are generous. Their audience, always watching, knows it’s in good hands.

Like Megan, I’ve been able to define a whole new role in my family. Unlike Megan, I actually did get lucky. My role as “friend” to my audience is fun because other people are already Mom and Dad. Those people know their roles. They like them, they’re good at them, and they expect me to be good at mine.

Megan is very good at her role. She deserves a better cast.


  165 Responses to “Megan’s Role”


    • AGREE

    • Betty has gained some weight and does have some unfortunate bitterness and jealousy to deal with quite understandably given her experiences. I hope we see Betty develop a stronger appreciation of herself and the ability to better raise her children and enjoy life. The animosity directed at her is astounding to me.

    • Your joking right? Even in padding, Betty is still very pretty.

      • Ah. I didn’t realize the first comment was meant to be a joke on the Betty demonizing.

        I agree, Betty is very pretty regardless of a few extra pounds. As is Megan. Actually, as is virtually every woman on the show.

        • Marylou, my comment was for nicolette. I hope she was joking! I’m not very good at blog commenting.

          I agree with you Marylou. All the women are attractive on MadMen.

  2. I do not believe Megan is nice before she pays Ginsberg back his $15. 😉

  3. Megan believes that Betty is a bitter, horrible person. Megan does not know the whole story. Betty’s mistakes are viewed by Megan through that lens of Betty equals Snidely Whiplash. Megan is given more balance. Megan is jealous – see Megan’s undermining of her so-called friend putting down the part and writing for the Dark Shadows. megain is rude – see Megan’s attitude toward Peggy, toward Don with the call yoru mother remark (though understandable), toward Betty (biting comment of how Betty probably saw most of the apartment casting the mother of the children as some sort of intruder when Betty has every right to see where her children are living and woudln’t have had to go up and get the children had Don been responsbile and timely in the first place. But Megan is not played as snidely whiplash, so we see Megan not lashing out at the rude Sally. And all of the postive attitributes that she is young, well dressed, follows her dreams, etc.

    • I don’t really know what Megan thinks of Betty: aside from her stated beliefs that Betty lives further away than she actually does, and that she is “poisoning” them from that distance.

      I hear quite a few divorced parents bring up that word: poison. It has something to do with the children being some kind of groundwater from which they both still drink. Slip something in there, it will hurt him (or her) eventually.

      My point with this post is that the kids, in particular Sally, are not a vessel for their parents’ ire. I thought it was sensitive that Megan waited until she thought Sally was asleep to discuss the “Anna” moment with Don. But Don was the one who raised his voice, who lunged for the phone, who barked at Megan to let go of it. He lost his temper, every bit as much as Betty did.

      Normally I’d read something bigger into this (Betty is not over Don, Don is not over Betty, if you don’t care you don’t get that mad), but I do think the kids played a critical role in this episode. I wanted to draw focus back to them. And for whatever reason, Megan seems to speak for them. Because of her youth? I don’t much care. I’m just glad someone does.

      I felt her last line about the smog outside the apartment fit well with her role here: “The air is toxic, I don’t want it in here.” So she works to keep it outside. Bad air, bad thoughts about people living and dead: there is not much she can keep out, with these two angry people running the show.

      But she tries. And I support that.

      • Actually, I think we know a fair amount of what Megan thinks of Betty. After all, she said that Betty only called Don during the cancer scare because she basically just wanted to talk to him. As if two people having children together, and one of those people possibly facing her death shouldn’t be a reason to talk.

        I don’t think Megan is any more interested in the kids than anyone else. If she really thought about them, she would have known why Betty called that day. And she had to know that bringing up Don’s ghosts would get him riled. If she really wanted to be discrete, she would’ve waited until the kids went home.

        I’m not saying this because I dislike Megan, I’m actually ambivalent about her. But I really don’t understand the demonization of Betty, and now the reduction of her character to fat and bitter. It is as if Betty is a fairy tale character getting her comeuppance for last season’s Sally-slapping and Carla-firing ways by being turned into the fat joke in the corner. Only unlike Peggy in her days or Mrs. Utz in season, she isn’t the butt of the joke, understood via the lens of the carnivale-esque. She’s the butt of the joke– a far uglier one. As if she must be stripped of her beauty and goodness for her mistakes and failing to be young. She has to be turned into a harpooned whale because she divorced a man who lied to her for over a decade instead of accepting him and trying to love him despite his flaws and background. In the world of fairy tales, fat and ugly is associated with moral failings.

        I really hope the writers aren’t walking down that hoary path.

        • The demonizing of Betty is finally getting called out by many for what it is. I am hopefuly that more and more we will see growth on Betty’s part and more of her humanity. She really hasn’t processed the years of abuse yet. Don will likely never own up, apologize, and do anything to make up for it. But Betty can grow herself in awareness and do much better for her children and for herself. I don’t think Megan knows enough of the depths of Don’s true nature to be of real help here. Megan only sees through the tainted lens Don has painted.

          • One of the comments I’m curious about is when so many people call Betty immature or a child and then claim that’s just her nature. But she’s a woman who defied her mother to be a model, went to Italy and moved to NYC to be a model. By all appearances, she went against her father’s wishes to marry Don. Perhaps she should have listened to her father– she had a marriage that was riddled with incidents of Don abandoning her and his children for his mistresses, only to return and absolve himself from any real parenting. And then he undermined her sense of self even more by belittling her for having an air conditioner salesman enter the house. Or for daring to wear a bikini. All the nights he couldn’t have sex because he’d been out shagging half the skirt wearing population of Manhattan. And then there are the lies….

            The bitter, brittle Betty we see now is a product of her upbringing– a girl who was taught she was only valued for her beauty– and her marriage– where she learned she couldn’t trust herself or her feelings.

            As much as many of the comments regarding Betty are (and have been) misogynistic, they’ve become fat-phobic and fat-ist. As if suddenly she must be punished by stripping her of the beauty that not only she and society prized but formed one of the cornerstones of her identity.

            I said on my blog that I hope this storyline brings her feminist awakening, but it seems unlikely when her support for Henry is undermined within 25 minutes, TV time, by playing that Anna card.

          • It should also be said that Betty still continues to be the main parent in the kids life.

            While still married, she complained to Don that she’s the one home with them making all the hard choices and then he wooshes in to be the hero. Her feeling of frustration about this was understandable. Sadly, this same pattern continues after the divorce, except now the kids have two heroes (Don and Megan) and Betty is still in the grind.

            It’s very easy to be the good parent and a “friend” when you only see the kids every two weeks.

            It is probably even harder for Betty seeing how Sally considers Megan a friend, Betty doesn’t have the luxury of behaving like that. She has to be the mom, the responsible one every single day. Deal out the discipline and the rewards, break down and loose it etc…
            come two weeks here is Megan taking Sally shopping, helping her with make up and taking her to the “ball”. (Sally is smart enough to know it would not have happened without Megan’s work up of Don)

            I would be bitter too…

          • Yup, Ivona, you’re right. Megan “has the luxury” to not act like a parent, and to some extent, so does Don. And Don has always been an absentee parent, and now it gets even easier for him to be a 3 day vacation twice a month. And with Megan on hand, he doesn’t even have to be home for his kids.

            I wonder how this will shake out. Megan treats Sally like a friend (which I find a bit creepy. It seems problematic for a grown woman, twice as old as a child, to treat and consider the kid as a “friend.”) and is teaching her acting tricks. Going back to season 3, Sally has had a bit of a bully streak and now is becoming fairly manipulative. How will Sally internalize and use these tricks to manipulative others? And will Megan, the friend, be able to see it or do anything if she does? Will Don notice and care? Or will he see Sally’s tactics as a good to hurt Betty? Or will he not want to do anything to intervene because he wants to be the “fun parent?” We already know he has a bad opinion of psychiatry, so he won’t be likely to encourage a re-introduction of that to help check what could become a tendency to manipulate others.

        • I think this is a fabulous analysis. Of Megan, of Betty, and of our reactions to them. Thanks.

          • It’s been so good in the past few days to see Betty being defended in the comments. She is full of repressed rage at the way her choices were circumscribed throughout her life — she was told all her life that her only value came from her beauty and her willingness to be seen and not heard, and then when she conformed to that, she wasn’t even rewarded for it; her husband chose to spend 10 years betraying her instead. I think there were many, many women like Betty in that era — but they were the way they were not because of some kind of inherent nastiness, but because society took away nearly all their choices and left them with extremely narrow lives. If I were in Betty’s shoes, I think I’d be a “bitch,” too — I’m not one, but that’s not because I have a better character than her, but because I’ve had more life choices that she has.

      • Megan’s attitude about Betty’s cancer scare was very immature. Betty had every right to call Don

  4. Sorry that the first comment did not even thank you for such a sensitive & thoughtful post. So thank you. And I agree. While I am not a step-parent (that may be in the works:), I had a few. Yes, two parents with multiple marriages. I would have given anything to have been in a production such as the one you describe.Your family is lucky to have you.

    • Our kids’ mom did write back this morning. True to form, she shared the credit: mentioned that the kids are lucky to have “all three of us” (she is unmarried) to raise them.

      They are lucky, and we are lucky. And rare as this is, it has taken a lot of work. Mostly hers.

      • I was thirty damn years old before my parents could figure out how to be decent to each other and pull it together for me during a health scare I had. Having them both united, putting me first before their own bitter feelings, for once, made me feel a warmth and a love that I hadn’t felt since my fuzzy five year old memories of them actually being somewhat happy together. It was incredibly healing, for all of us. (I should point out that SEPARATELY they were usually very good parents, and very loving. In the same room as each other, or in the same room as someone mentioning the other, not so much.) I would have loved to have felt that kind of warmth for my whole childhood. You (yes you!) are really really to be commended for what you are giving to those kids.
        I still don’t like Megan, and have thought a lot about why, because I didn’t like the idea of me not liking a “nice” or “good” character just because they don’t seem to have a dark side, or because I don’t want Don to be happy, or I don’t want anyone to be happy, and so on. I’ve realized that she’s just ok, a nice, good person who is fairly unexceptional (Heinz ad notwithstanding) whom Don (and MW to an extent? maybe?) is treating as highly exceptional and demanding everyone else treat her that way too, at the expense of themselves (Peggy for example, Ginzo for another). If she weren’t with Don, I might like her. Which really means, I don’t like Don! Maybe that’s the whole point. All that said, I really appreciate the way you framed her character in this post, because it certainly made me rethink my own feelings about her, and changed the way I saw this episode, and maybe season, for the better I think.

        • multipony,

          Wow. Your story: how awful. I honestly wish things had gone better between your parents, if only for your sake.

          If I did help you see the season differently, that’s great. Just remember that it’s you who decided to change your mind. Takes a big person to do that, no matter what motivates the change.

          Thanks again, for sharing — and for sticking with the show. <3

  5. Do we know if Betty knew if Megan knew about Anna (sorry for the mouthful)! or was she also intending to fan that flame? LOVED how Megan handled Don. She knew Betty’s intent and later, a wiser Sally also followed Megan’s lead on diffusing Betty. What an episode!!!

    • I think that Betty knew, as recently as her visit from the Feds last year, that she has some information on her ex-husband that can hurt him. I don’t think that Betty sees Megan as the target at all. She may not think Megan knows, if she thinks about Megan in this equation at all; but I am not sure she does. Betty knows what can hurt her ex, and she goes right for it.

      As does Don with her. That comment about “her fat nose” was a low blow. Mean guy when he’s mad, isn’t he?

      • I think that is the huge difference, Betty knows this information goes deeper and can truly hurt Don. Megan, on the other hand, has been fed something similar but actually ver different. So, Megan knows, but she doesn’t really *know*.

        • We don’t actually know how much Don told her about Dick Whitman and how he came to be Don Draper (e.g. exchange of dog tags, false identity.) We know he told Faye this when he was having his panic attack. I am guessing she knows about 95% of his back story – not sure he’d entirely admit to identity theft, might claim temporary amnesia (Dick DID have a head injury) or events got away from him or something.

          I have never been happy with the Army’s role in this, either. I find it highly unlikely Dick could get away with switched identities, certainly NOT based on his say so (IF he ever said so – from what we were shown, it was assumed by the Army) and switched dog tags. Graves Registration is much more thorough than that, using dental records, fingerprints, personal effects, Xrays and fluorscopes to check for previous injuries, a checklist of items that have to match before the sign off on a body’s identification. But, of course we’d have no story if they hadn’t screwed up, lol.

          • Is it possible that in December 1950 in Korea Graves Registration did not actually always use every method of investigation invented at the time?

            We just will never know how many false identification situations occurred in those days.

            Bottom line is that this is Mad men with its own logic. Matt Weiner says that Dick Whitman was born in January 1926 and that the real Don Draper was born in June 1917. So far in Mad Men there has been no serious investigation.

            To go with the flow, of Lt. Draper having a conversation with Pvt. Whitman about “The Army got me with college” implies that Draper benefited from WWII V-12 deferments, but if born in 1917 he would have been too old for V-12.

            Had Whitman been born in January 1926 he would have been A-1 in 1944 and likely drafted than. Yet in 1950 at almost age 25 he was a raw recruit in Korea at a time when the only USA military on the ground in Korea were experienced WWII combat veterans.

            So in Mad Men logic Dick Whitman was the oldest raw recruit in history and Lt. Draper was youthful appearing at 33.

            Although the real Lt. Draper’s body was severely burned several times during his military career his fingerprints would have been rolled and filed. Maybe in future episodes those will come back to cast “Dark Shadows” over Mad Man Don Draper.

      • I am hoping that Betty does not lose sight that if she hurts Don by spilling her secret, she hurts the father of her children. That may be too much for me to hope but imagine Mr Francis finding out with all his connections. Don in jail does Betty and her kids no good.

        • I don’t think his being the father of her children is even in her rearview mirror. She was out to stir sh*t up, with the end result being that Megan would react the same way SHE had, and the beautiful wife, and the beautiful home would be lost to Don AGAIN. It’s not enough that she has what she wants–Don can’t have anything.

      • Don alienates the children from their mother constantly, when he is mad and when he is happy. Teaching them to ridicule their mother calling her Morticia, etc. When Don is angry, out of a situation he caused, then he is almost evil in his bid to destroy.

        • Right on.

          As I said in a post I wrote last week: Don’t piss Don off. For anyone who does that, there is literal hell to pay.

          I think something that gets lost in these discussions is that there is reason to worry for both Betty and Megan. Look at what they have in common. Look at the person who always, to some extent, defines their days.

          He is volatile, he’s scary, he’s always right. God help them both.

          • This is something to remember! It was just a short while ago that Don was leaving Megan at a HOJO and physically abusing her. Now things are painted as bright and sunny, but who knows. I am defintely more worried about Don’s ultimate effect on Megan, but I think Megan starts out from a much stronger place and has a better chance to keep the good things about her person that she already has and to grow than Betty had, Betty having started out behind the 8-ball due to her upbringing as valuable only as a “housecat.”

          • What was Megan brought up to be? Maybe something even worse than a housecat.

            Her mother blows dudes in the backroom of Megan’s formal work functions.

            Her Dad has made a spouse of Megan because his wife is so checked out.

            I think that Megan has probably had every bit as much horror growing up that Betty has. And she has every bit as much damage.

            Maybe she’ll be better at “managing” Don. Maybe she won’t.

          • To Team Trudy at 8:38 pm: Good points. There is so much going on in this show, so much bad behavior by so many people. You are absolutely correct (imo), from what we know, Megan’s growing up was likely every bit as horrible as Betty’s. We’ll have to watch and see who grows and who isn’t able to and where they all land in the end.

          • Yeah, but who cares? Don has walked away scotfree(?). Ever since he was forgiven by Anna the women in his life have done nothing but protect him. Must be nice to be that good looking. Seriously, would Pete be able to pull shit like this?
            Don will never pay the price. The universe is indifferent.
            Never thought I’d say this: Poor Betty.

        • You’ve brought up the Morticia crack in 3 posts. Now it’s “Morticia, etc.” I am not convinced there’s an “etc.” I am not convinced this is terribly demeaning. The Addams family was a popular show and it’s very likely that the joke started as a crack about the house not the people who live in it.

          • And Morticia was sexy, anyway.

          • Bunny, yes!

            Morticia was fabulous.

          • OMG I had SUCH a crush on Morticia..I would give my Mom kisses all up and down her arm! And Samantha from Bewitched too (the crush, not the kisses)!

          • And I’m such an old-house geek that I would look at that pile of bricks and think “A little power-washing, some bright paint and sheer curtains…it would be fabu!”

          • I agree with that about the house. Don wouldn’t take the chance of getting Betty mad about something so trivial. He may not like Henry but he wouldn’t encourage his kids to be that rude about an adult

          • Dance, I think I’d still prefer the Lily Munster decorating touches.

            That woman was always so pleased when people stopped by right after she’d hung the new cobwebs. :)

          • I agree with the Adams family being cool, but I don’t think Don believes that when he says it.

            It still isn’t ok to go there, in a sense of calling people names. She’s their mom, that’s the only thing he should call her.

      • So glad I’m not the only one to pick up on Don’s FAT comment about Betty, which was truly awful. :(

  6. We’re lucky.

    Thank you once again for letting us into your world. Takes guts, kid.

    We know.

    • My thoughts exactly. It took guts to write this post Anne. Motherhood in all its glory is not for sissies, and that most certainly includes step-motherhood. Step-mothers practice the art of tapdancing through a minefield — some more skillfully than others. Well done.

      • Belated thanks to both of you. This was a remarkably easy post to write, believe it or not. Stepparenting is familiar emotional terrain for me, even if it’s not what most people consider an easy hike.

        I guess I’d only add that I wish more good people would go into this line of work. The sad stories I’ve heard about stepmoms and -dads far outnumber the happy ones. Shouldn’t be like that; it’s the greatest gig in the world. <3

  7. Agree with the other comments about sharing your own personal history, Anne.

    What I would like to know is this: it what Megan and Don shared with Sally about Anna what Megan was told by Don, or are they sugar-coating it for Sally? And what was that crap about “helping Anna out”? If that is what Megan knows, how could she not question further, or does she simply not want to know?

    Also, do any of the characters know what Don actually did to get his new identity, or is it still between Dick/Don and God (now that Adam and Don’s parents are all dead). Anna thought it was a mix up. I’m puzzled as to how he explained the situation of his two names, and the marriage to Anna, to Megan.

    Also, leaving aside the possibility a desertion charge, I have to believe Dick Whitman stealing Don’s identity is not just a dog tag but a huge albatross around Don/Dick’s neck. Unless, of course, he is a complete sociopath. He seemed to try to make it up to Anna with finances, but couldn’t he still be carrying guilt from the whole thing?

    • Sally’s a kid, a bright kid, but only 13. She has no need to know details; it wouldn’t be good for her anyway. Megan may believe that it should be Don who tells Sally about Anna and to what extent so she is vague, to Sally’s dissatisfaction. But just because a kid think s/he’s entitled to information doesn’t mean they are.

      • Many times during five seasons of Mad Men the birth-date of Sally Beth Draper has been established as very early May 1954. In Season 1 Sally’s sixth birthday is celebrated on Kentucky Derby Day, which is the first one in May.

        So at Thanksgiving 1966 Sally is still 12 years old. She will not turn 13 until May of 1967.

      • We will never see Don tell the whole story about his checkered past to anyone (let alone Sally) – with the possible exception of an episode 713 glance backwards from a decade or more.

      • Megan and Don told her what was age appropiate. Sally is starting to collect the peices. Evenutally, the old answers aren’t going to satisfy her. Like a detective, she’s going to realize things don’t add up. This is years away, but I don’t think we’re done with this storyline by a longshot.

        • I’m not sure that Sally’s realization really is “years away”. When our younger kid was 14, she became obsessed with her parents’ marriage timeline. Less so with our marriage — but still, she wanted to be in possession of a family story that made sense to her.

          Related note: I keep thinking about Sally’s family tree. It must be a lot better developed on one side than on the other, no matter what Don and Megan told Sally of her father’s origins. Not much meat on that bone.

  8. Nicely said! Thanks for sharing.

    What I liked about this was that those who took the “high road” (although there really isn’t one here) came out better. Don calmed down and apologized to Megan. Megan took a breathe and didn’t attack Sally. Don actually had a conversation with Sally about it (although with a hostile tone). Betty’s passive-aggressive nonsense backfired on her.

    To me it showed growth on Don’s part. He would not have apologized that quickly to Betty years ago.

    Meanwhile we see quite clearly that Sally bears the brunt of all of this – the shock in the kitchen with Betty, feeling betrayed by Megan (after having built some kind of trust), hearing Don and Megan fight, talking with her Dad, and of course – now Sally is left to wonder if everything she’s ever been told is a lie.

    It’s nice to hear in your case that the grownups acted as such in order to not make casualties out of the children – as Sally surely is in this case.

    • “He would not have apologized that quickly to Betty years ago….” He wouldn’t have apologized at all to Betty years ago. Don really is growing, sometimes two steps forward one step back – and a lot of fans are ticked off at the new Don. They miss the ruthless cad. I don’t. I find the evolving Don much more interesting than a Donny one-note, so to speak. As the episodes go by, Dick Whitman is bleeding through the “Don Draper” construct he built for himself, for the better. I am hoping by series end we see the same Dick Whitman that Anna knew, finally at peace with himself.

      • I agree completely that Don is growing and that this does make him more interesting. I have to give Megan the credit for his growth. She calls him out on his BS, where Betty either let him slide, or as another commenter put it, gave him her “passive aggressive nonsense.”

        Maybe Don’s growth is due to the truly feeling loved for the first time in his life?

        • I think it’s more complicated than Betty having “let Don slide” in the old days. I think Betty was raised NEVER to question a man, whereas Megan, and now, thankfully, Sally, instinctively realize that their questions are valid.

  9. I think both Henry and Megan are better step parents than Don and Betty are parents. Both Henry and Megan are trying to make a marriage work.Henry has been married before; Megan has not.Henry wanted no real contact with Don or Megan with Betty. Both Don and Betty are still carrying junk around from their marriage.Bringing up Anna to Sally was a way to get back at Don. She hates Megan and wants to destroy her marriage.I see both Megan and Sally trying;including being able to trust each other.You are so right too about Megan and Betty, it is not easy being married to Don Draper. However, Betty and Megan won’t ever compare notes.

    • Ironically, Betty and Megan do have some things in common. Betty is also the younger second wife and a stepmother, albeit to a grown daughter. I’m guessing the age difference between Henry and Betty is pretty equal to the one between Don and Megan.

      I believe that Betty was guessing that Don had not told Megan about Anna Draper. Finding out about Anna’s existence was a punch in the gut for Betty and she was hoping it would feel the same way for Megan.

      • I would love to see Betty’s relationship with her stepdaughter, for once.

        I don’t know why I feel she’d be good at this role, herself — because the distance involved in stepparenting is a good fit for an introvert? — but I do. I need to believe that Betty wants to share in this part of her husband’s life.

        I look forward to seeing this. I can only hope that we will.

        • Betty does seem to admire her stepdaughter. I remember her telling Dr. Edna that Henry’s daughter is an exceptional young woman. We’ve never been told anything about Henry’s first wife, but I think it’s been made clear that Henry is a really good dad and stepdad.

        • I’m not sure Betty has much of a relationship with Eleanore. They see each other holidays/family functions, but that’s about it. Eleanore is essentially a grown woman with her own life. What I would like to see is Eleanore and Sally spending a day together in the city.

      • Matt Weiner has stated in comments that Dick Whitman was born in January 1926 and that Betty was born sometime in 1932. Those dates strain suspension of disbelief, but those are the basis of Mad Men.

        Before the conclusion of Season 4, when it was October 1965, Megan said she was 25. We have not been told her birth date, but Megan was said to be 26 during Memorial Day Weekend of 1966. So Megan is about 14 years younger than Don.

        What has never been made clear is when Henry Francis was born. His daughter was a young adult when she was first shown on Mad Men as a long-time pal of Roger’s daughter. Roger apparently was born in 1916, so if Henry is the same age he is about 16 years older than Betty.

      • i think other characters in this episode can also connect with and relate to betty’s feelings on megan…last time she looked, betty was the hot-shot and desirable individual who was being courted on many fronts…just as don was with his creative and seemingly bottomless source of concepts, ideas, ads….just as roger was once the handsome and carefree son of important business people who could swoop into a dinner and make a pass at whatever pretty woman struck his fancy…even to a certain level, just as megan used to be the ‘best actress’ in her group of friends…now all of them watch as they are being replaced with younger and shinier and sleeker models. of course, betty is being replaced by megan, and don is being replaced by ginsberg, but further , the ‘heir’ of mena shevitz clearly is a younger roger, and megan is being replaced by faith (or…sally! she did a great job acting like she learned of anna from her dad). there was part of me that also thought the apartment was the sleeker and shinier version of the attempt betty made at redecorating the westchester house. the reaction of each is pretty similar: try to outwit or outdo your competition, and if that doesn’t work…cheat.

  10. Pop question:

    When did Megan first gaze upon Betty in person on screen?

    • The Beautiful Girls. Betty waited out in the hall for Sally after she fell and was picked up by Flawless Megan.

      • Megan had a chance to size Betty up. Betty would NOT have noticed Megan at the time.

  11. I hope we can forever put to rest that Megan is a Communist spy.

    From Julia we again find out that Megan was a struggling actress waiting tables.

    And I would love to find out why Megan joined an advertising firm as Joan’s assistant if she had designs on Don after she joined the firm. We know Don had absolutely no designs on her until she became his secretary. It certainly was NOT love at first sight.

    Was Megan introduced as a character on Mad Men to show us how unpredictable life is and to inject controversy into the story line?

    Who is Megan Draper (nee Calvet)? What more is there to discover? Past boy friends.

    And finally why did Megan never date anybody from work?

    • As God as my witness I will never utter another word about Her Flawlessness.
      Just let her fall over that balcony, already.

    • Do you REALLY want to know? They could make a whole spin-off with all Megan’s adventures to answer all these questions, if this means she’ll leave Mad Men! :-) Just kidding

  12. The kisses extended to Sally, Bobby and Gene by Megan at the doorway told Betty all she needed to know about why Don married Megan.

    Don needed someone who was good with kids. But Don ended up with much more than he deserved-a loving wife. Life simply isn’t fair.

  13. If Hollywood wanted to inflame the passions of those members in the real-life first wives’ club, they could not have picked a more perfect woman to throw darts at than Megan Draper.

    Megan is 26, beautiful, charming, a fantastic lover (Don has not strayed), smart, pleasant, warm, good with kids and talented.

    I’ll never forget the movie about Betty Broderick where she broke into her husband’s house and shot both him and his new young wife in 1989.

    Is it any wonder Betty is pissed off in 1966? Would first wives in 2012 react any differently?

    • I do not think Megan’s sexual prowess has anything to do with Don’s faithfulness

      • Don like “home cooking.”

        • I can keep a secret. Just between you and I, are you Jessica Pare cloaked amongst us common folk? Or her publicist? Cause I mean, you know, um, wow.

  14. What do you think Megan would say if she knew that Don used to call Betty’s therapist? What do you think Megan would say if she knew about how Don he made Betty seem crazy when he was cheating?

    Megan only sees in Betty what Don sees in Betty.

    What do you think Megan would say if one day she saw another woman kissing her children?

    What Betty said was hurtful, but I get it. When we are hurt we lash out and want the people around us to hurt. Have you never said something impulsive because you were in pain? Is it petty? Yes. Is it childish? Yes. Is it human? Yes.

    • Exactly. Betty is constantly bashed for her behaviour, but the context of this behaviour is rarely taken in to account.
      I am also surprised hat Megan is awarded so much credit for handling the situation “better” than Betty.
      You can not compare Bety’s emotional situation to Betty’s. Nor can you compare the amount of time Betty spends with the kids to Don and Megan’s. The Draperss see the kids 4 days a months and are still considered Parents of the Year.

  15. I have no doubt that my personal experience colors my attitude here greatly BUT here’s my two cents:

    – Megan can be all magnanimous because this is a scripted show and not real life
    – Megan will learn pretty soon that being the “friend” will bite her in the ass when Sally gets older and will want Megan to back her up on some things she wants to do, that Megan will simply not be able to say yes to (as the parental figure of sorts)
    – the “friend” role will fly straight out the window

    – Having Betty and Henry wait downstairs knowing full well there is no room to park was rude, even if she claims she lost track of time. If it was one time thing it’s not that big of a deal, but as someone who has been on the side of a pick up that is always at the same time and always gets stretched out on purpose is beyond annoying and meant to provoke. That wasn’t the case here but it was still rude especially when paired with the attitude she gave Betty for coming into the apartment.

    – What Betty did was bad but she is not the first or last divorced parent to use the kids to hurt, and have no qualms about putting them in the middle.
    – that said, Betty never said anything bad about Don to the kids (that I can recall) but Don is constantly putting both Betty and Henry down. For Don to say that Betty needs to keep her nose our of his business is beyond despicable, when she saved his ass directly over this at least once and is still keeping his secret
    – if Betty was truly evil she would have used what she knows long ago, and Don should respect her for that at least if nothing else

    – Betty was HURT, people lash out when they are hurt
    – and while we are on the topic of the note, why the hell did he write it on the back of a drawing that he knew was going to go home ?!
    – Don probably didn’t think about it the time, but it was still careless on his part

    • I assumed that the note existed before the drawing. That Bobby found some scrap paper and drew on the back of it.

    • Again, I need to state that I do not see these women as being in competition with each other. I know that the current cultural moment supports the competitive view (“Brad’s gonna marry Angie! Let’s check in on Poor Jen!!”), but the truth about raising children is that all adults involved really do need to at least act as if they’re in alignment — their feelings for each other notwithstanding.

      I liked the framing of the scene of the two women meeting in the Manhattan apartment because of that visual: two women who really don’t want to see each other, but love the same kids, and have the interests and needs of those kids to consider.

      True, the two women also love the same man. That complicates things. But what they’re both there to do (care for children, pick up children) makes them equals.

      And allies. Like it or not.

  16. So much Betty sympathy here. While I think the show is infinitely better when she is part of it, let’s not forget the catalog of her bad actions:
    1. Cheating on Don with the handsome stranger in the bar during her estrangement from Don;
    2. Slapping Sally for cutting her own hair;
    3. Arthur Case and Sara Beth arrangement;
    4. Carla;
    5. Shooting the neighbor’s birds in front of her children (even though that was deserved);
    6. Not even taking her daughter to her first therapy session;
    7. Having “hot pants” for Roger when he dined at their house;
    8. The entire Henry Francis debacle in My Old Kentucky Home and thereafter;
    9. The conception of Gene and then her disregard of Don;
    10. Taking pleasure in Sally’s “big tears”….

    Do I need to keep going? She is the most selfish character in the history of television and deserves every bad thing that befalls her. Her hands during her marriage to Don were entirely unclean.

    • Way back when there was a protracted discussion about possible reasons why it was Carla, not Betty, taking Sally to her first session with Dr. Edna.

      One of my younger sisters, Mary, has been a psychiatrist since 1968. Unlike Dr. Edna, Mary always treated both adults and children.

      Mary said that when talking to parents in advance of treating their child, she would make use of a nanny or housekeeper. Mary’s theory, which apparently was widely accepted by shrinks, was that ideally anyone other than the parent should escort the child home following a therapy session. This was to deliberately delay cross examination of the child by the parent.

      So the fact that it was Carla and not Betty should not reflect badly on Betty.

      Mary also felt that the therapy sessions between Dr. Edna and Sally were appropriate. However, Mary also believes that such therapy should be rovided by a clinical psychologist and not by a psychiatrist.

    • #7 is highly questionable: she was just chatting, very relaxed, and Roger came onto her, and she rejected him

      • Yup, I totally agree. I’ve seen that episode a few times and I think she was being the gracious hostess. He was invited last-minute and she ended up giving up her dinner for him and eating a salad instead. When he was telling stories, she did get animated, but that doesn’t mean she was getting “hot pants” for him.

        • And even if she did “get hot pants,” so what? Desire isn’t something we control — acting on it is. When he came on to her, she pushed him away.

          • Exactly.

          • Folks, I have rewatched Red In The Face more times than I care to admit. Well, I guess here I can admit that it was 47 times. Watch Betty carefully, she is fully on board with Roger’s flirting.

        • You win! :-) I haven’t watched it 47 times. I don’t remember Betty doing anything wrong at that dinner. Having seen it only once a while back, what I recall is Betty being nice about the last minute guest, giving up her steak so the guest could have it, being friendly, Roger being inappropriate, and Betty shutting him Don. Then Don blaming Betty for the whole thing and Don following up by encouraging Roger to overindulge in oysters, etc. (not hard to do with Roger) resulting in Roger having a heart attack! But even if Betty is flirting a bit, so what. Everyone flirts a bit. A bit of mild flirting is not a damning thing in and of itself. Everyone loves it when Roger and Don do it.

        • By the way, since Don was the one who wanted to bring Roger home at the last minute for dinner, why didn’t Don give up his steak? Or cut the steaks divvy up.

    • The point being made is more about Betty being human, and a result of her upbringing and circumstance.

      To state someone is ” the most selfish character in the history of television and deserves every bad thing that befalls her” is just: wow!

      …especially when you are talking about the first wife of Don Draper. Several of your points are also highly questionable, or at best not as simple:

      1. Cheating on Don with the handsome stranger in the bar during her estrangement from Don;
      HAHAHAHA! Using cheating to demonstrate how they are a bad person, compared to Don Draper. wow

      2. Slapping Sally for cutting her own hair
      – I give you that one.

      3. Arthur Case and Sara Beth arrangement;
      – What exactly did she arrange? Did she force them to take things further than lunch?

      4. Carla

      5. Shooting the neighbor’s birds in front of her children (even though that was deserved);
      ?!? This makes her selfish how? sure, she could have tried talking to the guy but this was certainly much more effective

      6. Not even taking her daughter to her first therapy session;
      One sided coin much? The kid had two parents

      7. Having “hot pants” for Roger when he dined at their house;
      Really? Hot pants? She was being a good hostess to her husband’s BOSS.

      8. The entire Henry Francis debacle in My Old Kentucky Home and thereafter;

      9. The conception of Gene and then her disregard of Don;
      Again: takes 2 to tango… as for disregard of Don HAHAHAHA wow…. she is the most selfish person ever because she wasn’t showing regard for her lying, cheating, fraud of a husband

      10. Taking pleasure in Sally’s “big tears”….
      Total result of her upbringing, and she wasn’t taking pleasure.

      I don’t want to sound like I’m defending Betty, or Don or even Megan. They are all written like humans, and Betty certainly has her flaws but come on

      All of these situations you brought up also need to be looked at in the context of everything else going on, to just single them out like this as some sort of “proof” is too simplistic

    • Betty has done all sorts of things I despise, but I find this list deplorable.

      1. She was, as you point out, estranged, and had been for some time. Not cheating, IMO.
      5. Not in front of her children–they didn’t witness it. It was in defense of her children and it was a BB gun.
      7. Really? Making pleasant conversation and being lightly flirtatious, and then TURNING DOWN a pass, is despicable in your eyes? I find nothing in her behavior that night to criticize. S
      9. You fault her for sleeping with another man when estranged, and you ALSO fault her for sleeping with her own husband when estranged? That’s just confusing.

      • Ms Lipp,

        During event #1, the Drapers were married… a lifetime commitment sanctified by vows.


        • That’s one interpretation. Another is that they were separated and had not lived in the same home for 3 months. She kicked him out because of his constant, serial adultery. Maybe her understanding of sanctity under the circumstances is her own decision.

        • A lifetime….I feel like Jimmy Barrett when he swallowed his knuckles.

    • “She is the most selfish character in the history of television.”

      Oh, come on. That’s absolutely ridiculous. For one thing, Don Draper is far more selfish than she is. And of course there are scores of other characters in the history of television who are far more selfish.

      Your statement is just obviously untrue, to the point of absurdity. I can’t take you seriously.

    • I’m not sure I follow the issue in the conception of Gene and treatment of Don. They were separated when her father had a stroke, and in a reckless moment of vulnerability, they had sex. When they went home, it was real life again. She kicked him out over his affairs, and that hadn’t changed because her father was ill. And frankly, Don then basically established he wasn’t willing to work on a resolution because the second he had an opportunity, he disappeared for nearly a month. No one, not his family, not his job, knew where he was or if he even alive. He basically abandoned Betty and his children (much like he tried to do in season 1). Betty one night, back room stand came in a moment of desperation that pretty EVERYONE shared. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Her husband disappeared for nearly month, only to ride into town again and try to play the hero. She’s pregnant. In that environment, it is hard not to imagine most people acting in a shocking way, looking into the precipice of the “last night of Earth.”

      And the Arthur and Sara Beth incident… thoroughly distasteful, and it was driven by her desire to see and even make someone else suffer, It was her only means of some kind of control. After all, Arthur “put the moves” on her first, trying to kiss, seeking her out. She rebuffed him. It was also a way to experience a vicarious thrill. And as she said, just setting up the meeting means little. No one made either Sara Beth or Arthur do anything but have a drink at the club. She set the wheels in motion, but she didn’t make either do what they eventually did.

      Do I like Betty? Not neccessarily. But I find her an immensely sympathetic character. She was taught that she earned her keep by getting glances from men for her beauty. She was taught that being a wife and mother and making a beautiful was all she needed to be fulfilled. The culture of her era growing up convinced her if she made a beautiful home and showed a beautiful face, she would have a loyal, loving husband and adoring children. She ended up with a lying cheater who parlayed his at-home absenteeism into being the fun parent, leaving her with the unenviable task of the disciplinarian and task master. She was promised a lie, an illusion and wasn’t given the tools to think of other ways to find meaning and happiness for herself.

      • Your last paragraph puts it so articulately. This is so true of Betty’s life experience. She was given so little and taught to expect so little.

  17. It would be silly to get into a contest of who has the most bad actions. I don’t agree with the characterization of the events in this list as necessarily Betty’s bad actions, but just for the sake of discussion even assuming these are the horrible transgressions they are presented to be, this hardly makes Betty the most selfish character in the history of television. #6 not even taking her daughter to her first therapy session. neither parent did – I believe it was the Nanny. What does this prove? Although both parents should have taken the child to the first therapy session in my opinion, it really proves nothing. #7 is not true. #1 was definitely a wrong thing to do, but given the history of having been cheated on with so many different women over so many eyars, and the lies and the gaslighting about it, I think a one time mistake during a period when they were estranged is hardly damning. I don’t see at all how Betty’s hands during her marriage to Don were entirely unclean. I would say pretty much the oppositive. Betty, imperfect human that she is, was devoted to Don and the marriage. Don’s hands during the marriage were entirely unclean though.

  18. “I’m thankful that I have everything I want, and that no one else has anything better.” – Betty

    That quote tells us everything we need to know.

    Not only is she a despicable character, but a boring one, too. I’m tired of seeing her on this show, especially with the fat suit.

  19. Megan and Betty are currently defined by one potentially self-destructive emotion.

    For Megan, it is guilt.

    And for Betty, it is regret.

    For Megan, the guilt lies in not pursuing her dreams as vigorously as she should have, for giving up too soon, and for abandoning the struggle and according to her friend Julia sitting on her throne at 73rd and Park and looking down at all the struggling actors and actresses And from there Megan also may feel guilty about being in a loving marriage when she knows the majority of Americans are not.

    But interestingly Megan shows no guilt towards having sex with Don in her office or telling him about how she feels about him. And she has no guilt about been a great lover to him.

    In other words unlike a lot of Americans of the era, her hangups are not about sex but what she should do for a living. Objectively, why should any individual who is 26 be held accountable to a dream she had as a young child? And what gives any parent the right to invoke this guilt trip on any daughter, as Emile Calvet did to his daughter in episode 7?

    Will Megan’s guilt destroy her happiness and eventually her marriage to Don? Taken to the extreme it could. If she becomes so obsessive about acting that she thinks of nothing else, if she becomes successful which means she has to be out most nights, travel the country on a regular basis or relocate to LA for example then I could see Megan becoming very unhappy and the main reason for that is Don will become very unhappy. And yes I could see their marriage break up over her eventual success as an actress.

    I think Don is betting that Megan will NOT succeed as an actress, that eventually she will see the light and realize she doesn’t have the talent to make acting a full-time career. But of course he will never tell her that, and he will NOT tell her that he is terrified what will happen to their marriage if she does make it big

    Now what makes me believe Don does not think she will make it as an actress? It was when he said to Megan, “We don’t get to choose where our talents lie.”

    In other words Don lives in hope. And fortunately for Don the cloud of past guilt that lies over Megan’s head may over time dissipate.

    But for Betty, her overarching regret is that she fired Carla which brought Don and Megan together out of Don being desperate to find someone to look after his kids in CA. Betty will never forgive herself for playing Cupid and now that she has met the lithe, beautiful, young Megan and after witnessing the affection she shows to her kids, Betty is suffering deeply over that one decision and will continue to be haunted by it for rest of her life. Therapy or the love of Henry will be no cure for Betty’s intense jealousy and hatred she has for Megan. And of course when you speak about Megan you have to speak about Don as well. The Don-Megan marriage must be destroyed. In this past episode you saw the first strike. And you saw Betty’s rage by sweeping the groceries off the counter when told by Sally that for all intents and purposes her plan to throw a cat among the canaries had failed.

    And to alleviate the intensity of the ongoing pain and suffering, Betty imho will be forced to become proactive and I think you will see in future episodes Betty plotting to destroy the two lovebirds. And unlike leaving it to Sally, a 12 year old child to stir up a hornet’s nest, she will now take matters into her own hands.

    Now what story lines will the writers go with to show this? The obvious one is Betty will spill the beans on Dick Whitman in all its gory details. She won’t stop at Anna Draper. Or she could confront Megan and tell her about the blow-by-blow details of their marriage and what the promiscuous Don “is really like”. Or she could engage in spreading false rumors about Don cheating on Megan or vice versa. How far would Betty be willing to go to destroy their marriage?

    I realize Mad Men was not conceived to be a melodrama but is it really that unrealistic that someone as tortured as Betty apparently is would resort to any or all of these tactics?

    Or will Betty go the Betty Broderick route and try to kill them both? That seems unfathomable, doesn’t it? But remember the theme of the season is every man for himself.

    Finally Richard Speck, Charles Whitman, civil rights demonstrations, social unrest, Vietnam, the descent of Pete Campbell into the abyss, Roger’s LSD trip, Sally witnessing oral sex and telling Glen NYC is dirty, a smog alert, the Lane-Pete altercation, the physicality of Don chasing Megan through their apartment in episode 6, Ginsberg’s description of his birth during the Holocaust etc–in that light if Betty flipped out would it be really out of the ordinary?

    • How would you like this development? Evil Betty gets her gun and goes over to the swanky Draper apartment to kill them all. But in swoops Megan with a sword she borrowed from the prop department at community theater, and Katniss Everdeen like, Megan kills the worthless Betty saving the day. The children rejoice because now they can spend all of their time with their beloved step mom. Don also rejoices, but then in Don fashion he disappears for a month leaving Megan to change diapers and shuffle back and forth to school, make the meals, etc. All of which Megan handles with aplomb of course. The show needs to give Betty more humanity. Show her good points, such as teh child centered kitchen with the childrens’ drawings hanging up and countless other things Betty does to care for them. Rather than show Betty as one dimensional evil and Megan as the youthful vision of perfect womanhood.

      • Oh, and for money while Don is off, Megan grabs a guitar and she and the kids form a Draper Family musical group a la The Partridge Family. they gain fame and forture and get their own television show.

        I won’t wait up for MW to call and invite me to join the writing staff. :-)

      • I don’t think Betty is written as one-dimensional. Matt Weiner has great sympathy for her. IMO, what she did in this episode–“sweetly” manipulate Sally to ask about Anna–was flat-out evil, but that doesn’t mean her motivations were uncomplicated. She’s not Dr. Doom.

  20. For me Betty strived to be like June Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver, a young woman married in the early 1950’s who raised her kids in the suburbs and who would love her husband forever and he remained faithful to her and loved her forever.

    Betty’s dreams were dashed when Don began cheating on her. When it started we don’t actually know but it appears he was seeing Midge before the first episode of Mad Men debuted (setting March 1960).

    Don was certainly not a Ward Cleaver and the blame for the break-up of their marriage must rest of Don’s shoulders regardless of how Betty responded.

    Having said that Betty could have socked it to Don if she had not married Henry. That is part of her regret. That Don got to have his cake and eat it too. Who said life was fair?

    • Betty saw Henry as a life raft . I am still not sure what Henry saw, maybe a second chance for a marriage to a beautiful wife and a cute family of attractive children. Although, I can not get over my feeling of creepiness during their first meeting, especially when Betty said she really didn’t think about her pregnancy “much at all”. How did that attract Henry?

      • When Henry put his hand on Betty’s stomach when she was pregnant was symbolic of Henry wanting to get to know Betty better.

  21. Since the topic of this thread is Megan’s role let’s do an It’s a Wonderful Life and imagine a Mad Men without the Megan Calvet role.

    Who would have picked Sally up in the office after she had fallen?

    Who else would have given Don another option regarding possibly marrying Faye Miller by sleeping with Don?

    Who would have supported Don in “the Letter”? (she was the only one of Don’s colleagues who gave him unqualified support)

    Who would have accompanied Don to CA to look after his kids? Would Don had been forced to tell his kids he could not take them to CA and pissing them off? Could Don have trusted his kids with anyone other woman in the office? (Faye Miller by her own admission had a 7 o’clock flight to catch).

    Without the Megan Draper character in Mad Men are these scenarios that unimaginable?

    a) Don married to Faye Miller and miserable in his marriage as he takes her advice and ‘tries to be like everyone else.”

    b) Faye not being a good step-mother to his kids causing his kids to become estranged from him (remember Don was not that good a parent to begin with)

    c) If not married to Faye, Don again being promiscuous (especially in the whorehouse scene in Signal 30) and frequenting the company of hookers who slap his face

    d) Don sinking into the abyss again emotionally and becoming extremely depressed (in light of his colleagues doing the same)

    e) Betty gloating that Don is so unhappy

    f) Don smoking and drinking too much and even doing LSD or other hard drugs

    g) Don attempting to commit suicide

    h) Don being asked to leave SCDP because he is becoming a distraction

    i) Peggy getting pissed off at Don for not doing his job

    j) In the last episode Don phoning Betty and screaming at her at the top of his lungs about Betty telling Sally about Anna and simply acting very irrationally and maybe even threatening her. (Megan would not have been there to stop him.)

    Where would Don now be without Megan? Certainly not in a state of bliss. Megan has brought so much to the table. Based on Don’s sordid past, he doesn’t deserve to be this blessed.

    • So many of us are given so much more than we actually deserve, and I for one am so grateful.

    • I did forget one thing: Don not being able to save the Heinz account. How did I miss that?

    • Yes, and the story might have been even more interesting if any of those plot lines had been developed.

      It’s too bad Megan is only a fictional character. We normal, flawed women pale by comparison.

    • Who? The Phantom that’s who? :)

    • I’m not sure I understand your point: seems useless to imagine “what if M. never existed”, they’re characters on a TV show, the writers have decided to insert this Megan character and develop things in a certain way, and we’re all watching it. Now, thinking about alternate universes even for a tv show seems to me a bit of a waste of time.

    • There’s a bunch of assumptions. First, let’s say no Megan, then Don’s past wouldn’t have been the boogie man it was. SHE filled out the form that was sent in for clearance. Had MEGAN not done that, he might have gotten clearance, they could have nailed the aviation account, and there would have been no need for Heinz.

      If Sally had fallen, an 11 year old is perfectly capable of picking herself up. I fell, especially in running in sandals on smooth surfaces, at 11. And I got myself up just fine.

      To say Don would’ve married Faye if not for Megan. Well, I’m not sure that was entirely likely. Both Faye and Don seemed cautious about her and her interaction with children.

      As for California, Megan was calling sitting services to help him out. He was willing to trust a total stranger, so possibly someone else from the office could have been acceptable.

      Is it possible that next season, Megan can avert the 6 day war and bring peace to the Middle East? Stay tuned!

      • I LOVE your reply! It all totally makes sense.

        I brought that up a week or two ago also. It WAS MEGAN who filled out that form, gave it to Don without mentioning even what it was, in a pile of other things that needed signing and then took it, and again without mentioning anything to Don, sent it in. HE didn’t give it to her to fill out, Pete did. And yet, Megan went ahead and did something she wasn’t authorized to do and Don almost got caught and went to jail and the world ended.

        Gee, everything happening today is all Megan’s fault! :) The 60s are all her fault :)!

        That’s as good as any other supposition I’ve read lately about Megan and the “what if’s”!

        • Megan’s probably an alien. She’s here to plant pods, fuse two account men into one, and otherwise befuddle men with her magical no-straying sex spray.

          You know, the beauty of a well-done TV show, especially one set in the past, is that it gives a lens to examine humans, our experience, and how circumstances are so important in the being and becoming. That’s why I use episodes of Mad Men in my teaching. But we lose that power when we reduce complex characters down to “evil” or “most awesome, beautiful, great lover.”

        • Oh, and also, ALSO, we don’t know that it was Pete who told Roger that Kenny’s been writing fiction on the sly, after the dinner party in the country!

          Who else was at that dinner party? Who could it be, who could it beeee … MEGAN?!? *

          You know, I bet if we get that Zapruder film and play it backwards really slow, we’ll see the second shooter on the grassy knoll in Dallas that day. Brunette, wearing a tasteful shift dress and heels. Carrying a rifle.


          * Apologies to the Church Lady and SNL

          • Have to admit, I do think it was Pete. Bitter frustrated writer to another bitter frustrated writer. Kinda like we hate each other, but we hate his success even more.

            Of course, there was an evil blond on the grassy knoll. She went a little off-kilter. She was promised a greasy knoll and was quite distressed by the grass. eyeroll, gag, humph– you know that’s where they’ve been going.

            {Yes, I’ll be post-feminist in post-patriarchy.}

          • If you really dig into history, you tend to find that Patient Zero for every calamity is an evil blond.

            I’m grateful no one has yet figured out that this time IT’S ME.

          • She’s also the one who said “Paul is dead.”

          • Was it you or Megan who introduced John to Yoko?

  22. Imagine Jessica Pare first auditioning for the role of the hooker in season 4 episode 1 who slaps Don across the face in foreplay but not getting the role and then later Matt Weiner having the brilliance in casting her as the future Mrs. Don Draper.

    And then having the foresight to kind of groom her for the role by inching her along during season four, giving her a little more dialogue in each episode, but not too much so as to give away the surprising payoff in the final episode.

    The payoff was so well done that it sent the Twitter universe into a state of shock. But if one had been paying attention, Jessica was becoming more prominent on the show and the sex scene in Chinese Wall should have been a dead giveaway to what was about to happen. But it wasn’t.

    But Weiner the genius, kept the Draper-Calvet relationship strictly business in the next episode Blowing Smoke but included a scene in which Megan said, “I loved the Letter; I love it when you stand for something.” And not only was Megan in Don’s corner she completely understood the purpose of the Letter was to get new non-tobacco business for the firm.

    But still most of the audience couldn’t believe Don would ever hook up with Megan permanently. This is the greatness of Mad Men. In retrospect how did we miss it?

  23. No mother ever, ever wants to be shown up to be inferior to the child’s step-mother and by kissing all three children good-bye, Megan was unwittingly sticking the knife into Betty even deeper. It’s one thing to hear from your children about Megan but to actually see it for yourself is simply too much to take.

    While riding home with Henry after picking up the kids, Betty was probably wondering to herself, how did Don find someone like Megan to marry him? This can’t be happening. Don and Megan appear to be happy and she is so miserable. Don is the serial cheater and liar. He’s getting away scot-free living in a swanky apartment being loved by a much younger woman. And the woman in Don’s words is like Maria Von Trapp. Hollywood couldn’t write a script so fantastic.

    And what does Betty now have? Excess pounds, a husband who is an unhappy political operative, and a daughter who likes Megan more than she likes her. And Betty will never be able to forget these three images: the layout of the apartment, Megan getting dressed, and the love note on back of Bobby’s drawing. This is Betty’s worst nightmare, except she is not dreaming.

    • Quite a fantasy MM you are continuously projecting.

      • With all due respect, how can it be considered fantasy what I posted above?

        Didn’t Megan kiss all three children good-bye? Didn’t she act like Maria Von Trapp around them?

        Didn’t Don consistently cheat on Betty and lie to her when they were married?

        Isn’t Betty now going to Weight Watchers?

        Didn’t Henry say he should have jumped ship and that he backed the wrong horse?

        Didn’t Betty walk through the Draper apartment eyeing all the decor and ambiance?

        Didn’t Betty see Megan getting dressed?

        And didn’t Betty read the note on the back of Bobby’s drawing?

        Yes, I will concede that I shouldn’t have written that Sally likes Megan more than she likes her own mother. But I think it is accurate to say that Sally gets along with Megan, despite the dust-up over Anna, and that Sally has had her problems with her mother in the past due to Glen, moving to Rye and of course what precipitated Sally to see a child psychologist in season 4.

        And if you really think that by Betty telling her family at the Thanksgiving meal that “I’m thankful for having everything I want; no one has anything better” accurately represents her true feelings about her life, I would submit to you that is NOT reality, based on Betty’s own words and past actions.

        Nothing Betty has said in episode 3 Tea Leaves or what occurred in the past episode leads me to believe that Betty is a happy person who in fact comes off as very miserable.

        And by the way, in Inside Mad Men, we get that from the horse’s mouth, Matt Weiner who claims that jealousy is a dominant theme in the past episode, the jealousy that Betty harbors for Megan.. If you can’t believe MW, who can you believe? Ask yourself is a happy person normally jealous? No. Being miserable and then becoming jealous or envious go hand in hand.

        • techno,

          Again, taking an objective view of all characters is helpful. Sally is quite defensive of her mother in this episode (“she doesn’t lie”), as any child would be. Children love their parents as their parents love them: unconditionally.

          Be careful of stating that any one person is “inferior” to another. One person’s action can be superior to another’s, and certainly people’s temperaments can be as different as Betty’s (introversion) and Megan’s (extraversion). Still, implying that one is intrinsically “inferior” to the other is worse than incorrect. It’s a judgement, and I like to think we’re about something higher than that here.

          My years as a stepparent have taught me a few things: try not to judge, skew positive as often as possible, measure your feelings against the facts, never attack, and never relish the pain of others. These things are particularly useful to me on this blog.

          I need you to remove the relish from your reflections on Betty. There are other places where your darker reflections on this character will be welcome, but we are about insight here.

          Thanks in advance.

          • Anne B,
            Your words: “My years as a stepparent have taught me a few things: try not to judge, skew positive as often as possible, measure your feelings against the facts, never attack, and never relish the pain of others.”

            Are words to live by, Ma’am, to be sure.

            Likewise, I share council once granted me by a great leader on moving ever forward: “Never forget where you came from.”

            I ever strive to meet that objective.


          • Hawk. Thank you, sir.

            It is always such a pleasure to hear from you.

    • I’m not sure it’s that black and white, techno.

      Megan looks a little upset with how her plan to make her way as an actress is (is not?) working. Don still gets as angry at, about, or with Betty as he ever does with her. And Don’s struggling a bit to find his own way again at work.

      Whatever we read into her behavior and appearance, Betty says that she has “everything”. And she does: a loving husband, healthy children, a huge new home. She wanted all these things, and now she has them. She’s even eating now: an activity we only ever saw her undertake in her first marriage when Don was firmly outside the house.

      Finally, beware of thinking that children “liking” their stepmom is a uniformly great thing. Sure, it feels good: but the heart of the relationship is the adult making sure the children do or don’t do the things that can help or harm them when they’re in her care. We’ve only just started to see how Megan handles this side of the job.

      Stepparenting is a long road if you’re lucky, and not at all smooth.

      • I think, if I can project and interpret, the word techno is searching for is “bitter.” Sure Betty has everything (or so it would look to outsiders), BUT that’s not enough. Others (i.e. Don) have to have less, be less, have less happiness. Betty wants Don to feel like he’s suffering for his choices and mistakes…no matter how much she has or how good she has it, she hasn’t let go or moved on yet.

        • I think elsewhere on this blog, Deb said that to Pete, nothing feels really good “without that schadenfreude”. I think this is true for Betty as well.

          Bitterness says, I don’t just want what’s mine: I want you not to have what’s yours. The bitter taste is there because the second half of that wish is almost impossible to fulfill.

          Must be awful.

    • I think you are making quite a few assumptions. How do you know that Betty is feeling inferior? She just knows she is not happy and Megan seems to be and living a life that Betty may be jealous of. That is not being inferior. How do you know the kids like Megan more than her? It is not as simple as you make it.

      • I concur. I would guess, being a typical adolescent, Sally’s opinion of who she likes and dislikes changes several times each day. Bobby probably likes whoever last bought him something or let him do something he wanted, and Gene is too young to know who he likes or does not. But Ellizabeth is their mother; never discount that bond!

        • Old Fashioned: true.

          When our younger kid was six, she used to say, “Kids like hugs, but we LOVE presents.”

          Hard to believe that kid’s going to be 16 in a few days (she still loves presents).


  24. For a woman who purports to want to be a professional actress that has to pretend emotion, Megan Draper is really a cool customer and remains rational in most occasions. The only real exceptions was episode 6 where Don kicked down the apartment door and chased Megan around the apartment and episode 2 where Megan started cleaning up the apartment in her underclothes while still angry at Don for not liking his surprise birthday party.

    Imagine if Megan had acted like the emotional Betty when Sally assailed her credibility and lost her temper.But Megan, instead of sending Sally to her room, retreated to her own bedroom contrary what most adults would have done under a similar emotionally-charged situation. Sure Sally was still upset at Megan and her father for not telling her about Anna, but Megan did not make a sensitive situation even worse.

    As it turned out that rational attitude allowed Don to regain lost territory with Sally to the point Sally eventually told her mother that Don spoke of her fondly and she had seen pictures of her. Sally now is ready to move on. And Betty in contrast is not.

    Why didn’t Betty’s plan work? Because Megan got wind of it and managed to convince Don what Betty was attempting to do? Megan was able to defuse a potentially poisonous situation which could have caused at least a semi-permanent estrangement between Sally and Don.

    The last line uttered by Megan in the episode of keeping the toxic air out of the apartment really said it all. And notice that Don was going to open the sliding door but thought better of doing that after Megan told him not to. The word vigilant comes to mind.

  25. I’ve grown slightly fond of Zaftig Betty, but I must admit that I’m looking forward to Dexies-popping, teeth-grinding Betty.

  26. I like how her character is written and how that scene was done. I keep wondering when the character will crack though. She can’t be that wonderful, can she?

  27. Imho, there is no doubt that Megan’s role on Mad Men in season five is that of a catalyst. As a reminder a catalyst is someone or something that makes change happen or brings about an event.

    Can anyone who is intellectually honest deny that Betty’s advice to Sally to ask Megan about Anna Draper was not prompted by seeing the Draper apartment, watching Megan dress and reading the love note on the back of the drawing to “lovely Megan?” Or even Megan kissing the children goodbye?

    And it was Megan who convinced Don not to phone Betty to express his anger at her for telling Sally about Anna. In turn this led to Don having a rational discussion with Sally about Anna and Sally telling her mother essentially she was satisfied with Don’s explanation and was ready now to move on. In turn Betty expressed her anger by shoving groceries/food off the counter.

    And how can we forget it was Megan’s original idea and quick-witted action to notify Don that saved the Heinz account for the firm after she found out from Alice Geiger that Raymond was about to say sayonara to SCDP?

    And how can anyone ignore the transformation that has occurred in Don because of his desire “to wake up with Megan every morning?” Don no longer cheats.

    I would submit Don Draper is still the main protagonist on Mad Men, he is the fuel that moves the car forward and its driver but Megan Draper is its steering wheel, the main catalyst turning the plot lines in a certain direction. So much of what she says or does in season five affects the entire MM story line pertaining to Don, Betty, and Sally.

    Yes one can argue because Megan is no longer directly employed at the firm she is NOT as much of a catalyst as she used to be there but Don did make note in the past episode that Peggy had her hands full with the Heinz account and that had caused Ginsberg to become more prominent which Joan pointed out. And perhaps we would not have seen this intense competition between Don and Michael if if were not for Peggy being occupied elsewhere.

    Yes, Pete, Joan, Peggy and Roger are prominent characters in MM but in no way, shape or form can one argue imho that any of them have the power or influence to affect the entire story line. Megan does, because not only is she Don’s life partner and step-mother to his kids but also a creative sounding board to what goes on at SCDP. Remember everything that happens at SCDP, except for hiring employees, goes through Don.

    • If we use the scientific definition of catalyst (substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change), I would argue that it’s Michael Ginsberg who may be the true catalyst of change in Season 5. In fact, I’m more convinced of this after Don’s comment to Ginsberg as he left the elevator.

      Don Draper seeks to eliminate those who threaten him (Jimmy and Bobbie Barrett, Sal, his own brother). He can be magnanimous with those who he perceives will help him, or have no particular effect on his life. To anyone who poses a true challenge, he’s cold as ice, and ruthless.

      Megan has already been changed by her marriage. Every time I see this in her, I wish I hadn’t. But it’s there: in her guilt about her apartment, her rush to sacrifice her own first pitch to her husband’s success at the Heinz dinner, her sadness at the ACS dinner, the look on her face as Don rushed her out of the office in Far Away Places.

      Megan is kind, honest, generous, and beautiful. And there is less of her all the time.

      • “Megan is kind, honest, generous, and beautiful. And there is less of her all the time.”

        That is so sad.

        I wonder about this as well. The effect of living with Don. On one hand, Megain did quit her job to follow her dream of acting, so she is doing what she wants work wise or actually by not working and just pursuing acting. I think Don wanted Megan to continue working in advertising.

        But in everything else, it could very well be taking a toll on Megan dealing with Don. Even when Megan handles something well and Don supposedly grows in his response to Megan, the stress of him might be bad.

        And relying solely on Don for support is never a good idea.

        • I am convinced that Betty was all of those things at one time as well: kind, honest, generous, and beautiful.

          She’s still beautiful. I just wonder if she misses the other things she used to be.

          • I think that as Betty lived with Don through the years, and he stopped coming home for dinner, and then he stopped coming home to sleep, and then she gradually realized that he was repeatedly cheating on her, again, and again, and again,

            …..there got to be less and less of her.

            Don is like a disease that causes his wives’ sense of self to very very slowly wear away.

          • I think Betty said it herself to her shrink, “why am I not enough?” And then to Don, when he said she never forgave, and she replied, “For what? That I was never enough for you?” Betty diminished with every late dinner and every affair. And with every comment about how stupid she was for letting a salesman in. Or how desperate she looked in a bikini.
            It is hard to predict (possibly impossible to do so) how marriage will really change Don’s latest educated, sophisticated, independent wife. ANd in fact, given what we see of Betty now, it is nearly impossible to see her that way, and yet she was.

          • I think the two questions that has never been answered satisfactorily is why Betty divorced Don and what are her intentions now?

            Was it because of his constant cheating or was it because he was the son of a 22 year old prostitute and an impostor?

            And a follow-up question is Betty still interested in getting back with Don or does she seek revenge on him for diminishing her self-worth or because she is jealous?

            Obviously many posters feel Betty divorced Don because of his consistent irresponsibility and infidelity but I would point out Betty told Don she could not feel anything when she kissed him right after Don told Betty about Dick Whitman. So I am of the latter opinion.

            But after saying that how can I reconcile the possibility that Betty might want Don back. Perhaps she is really a dog in a manger. If Betty can’t have Don, nobody should.

            But why should she care what happens to Don? After all she has remarried and is in the dominant custodial position with respect to her kids. But I think it comes down to what many posters on various blogs have written: “Don doesn’t to be happy.” And Betty agrees.

          • Actually, techno, can’t Betty’s reasons for wanting the divorce be just that: reasonS? Why must be it either/or? The fact is they were estranged when her father had a stroke, and in a moment of vulnerability, tehy had sex, and she got pregnant. They were separated when she found out, so separated, in fact, that no one knew where Don was. When he returns, they tried to reconcile. But ultimately Don goes back to his philandering, and Betty learns not just that he’s Dick Whitman, whorechild. She learns he HAS BEEN LYING TO HER ABOUT HIS VERY IDENTITY AND NAME FOR OVER A DECADE. She has plenty of reasonS for not feeling anything for him:
            a decade of lies
            a previous secret marriage
            he wasn’t the man he said he was
            a decade of lies

            We’ll never know if Betty could’ve loved Dick Whitman, he never gave her a chance. To try to make sense and find a lasting love with someone for whom she’d never been enough, someone who couldn’t love and respect her enough to be honest, is a bridge too far, not just for Betty but for many people.

          • Betty could never have loved Dick Whitman. Recall Gene Hoffstadt’s open contempt of Don (“he has no people!”). Do you really think she would have been able to help him through the death of Adam Whitman? She has the “emotions of a child” and truly is the Main Line brat for whom Don (let alone Dick) really could never be good enough. That’s why she’s drawn to Henry Francis, a pillar of WASP stability whom her father surely would have loved. Betty always wanted what Don (or Sally) could never provide–the coca cola ad in shoot with the Irish setter and the perfect family. That’s why she finally left Don, made all the easier through her various emotional affairs (which can be just as powerful as Don’s physical flings) with Arthur Case, Glen Bishop and Henry Francis.

          • Betty said just that to that awful psychiatrist who was colluding with Don behind Betty’s back, Betty said “why am I not enough.” Don let Betty know for the entire marraige that she was not enough with his serial cheating, his disappearances, his contemptuous treatment of Betty, his gaslighting. Betty loved and married Don knowing he was a poor farm boy. I don’t think Don’s modest roots had anything to do with Betty’s losing love for Don. It was Don’s mistreatment of Betty directly and indirectly, his lying about it. Don never even apologized to Betty for all of his misdeeds.

          • I for one would have LOVED to see have Don and Betty connect over the death of Adam. After all, Don used to be dismissive of Betty when she mourned her mother, saying “mourning is just extended self-pity.” Don, from what we have been shown, never gave Betty the opportunity to be much more than arm-candy and a fabulous hostess. His confidantes were his mistresses. His sounding boards were his mistresses. Some of Don’s affairs, especially Suzanne, Rachel and Midge, were as much emotional as sexual/physical. Even more so than Betty’s flirtation with Chase (she actually allowed him to her emotional self very little, he interpreted more than she gave him).

  28. In Inside Mad Men in the premiere episode A Little Kiss, Matthew Weiner claimed that Megan’s open sexuality and her more open outlook towards life represents the generation gap.

    If that is so, then Megan’s role in the series down the road could be to take Don into the late 1960’s and beyond in terms of trends, fads, fashions, arts, and the culture.

    And those who feel Don may lose his edge because he is not keeping up may be mistaken.

    • True, he might get his groove back. But he might not. Just because he may be exposed to youth culture doesn’t equate he can understand, appreciate or sell it. Look at how he couldn’t “get” “Tomorrow Never Knows.” and his best sell job for an ad was Heinz- Megan’s idea, yes. But the idea was totally traditional- “a mother, a child, dinner.” Heinz may have called it the future but that idea was pure 19th century cult of domesticity. He could get that, but not Ginzo’s anti-establish slap in the face idea.

      • You have a point there. Don is not home free by any stretch of the imagination with respect to understanding the youth culture or digesting all the facets of the changing scene but the point I tried to make is that he is NOT a dinosaur. First Don is open-minded to new ideas and secondly he has to come to rely on Megan for his sounding board and has she led him astray yet?

        • I hope to hell Don isn’t a dinosaur; I’m his age, and I like to think I still have room to grow and develop as a professor and academic!
          But there is a difference between an antiquated relic and being really open to cutting youth culture. I think Don knows how to tap into certain elements of the psyche– a talent that he can still use. Although the Heinz eternal dinner pitch was no Carousel, there are similarities. Family. Home. Love. Comfort. And yeah, there’s a cliche there in both that’s sweet. Home is love. Food is love. Mother is love.
          And he uses the devil/snowball/hell cliche too. But he’s having a harder time when he isn’t working with traditional emotional motifs or playful cliches. The technical film manipulation for the bean ballet. The snowball in the establishment face. And except for Heinz, he HASN’T used Megan as a sounding board. After all, Megan seemed to really love the college kids on the beach bean idea– and honestly, THAT was forward thinking (though kind of distressingly Manson family)– young people, free, unattached, gathering together to remake themselves as the people they want to be. I don’t think we can say she has or has not led him astray based a sample of 1.
          I can’t tell yet how open-minded Don is to new ideas. Leaving an ad in a cab is not a way to establish open-mindedness. Asking to hear the Beatles and not even finishing a song doesn’t suggest open-mindedness. He may very be open-minded, but there isn’t much there to show it yet.

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