Conception Stories

 Posted by on May 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm  Mad Men, Season 3, Season 6, Themes
May 282013

In The Better Half we learned Sally was conceived during a vacation with Betty’s family at Lake Champlain.

We also know Gene was conceived at Betty’s childhood home during a visit to her father (“… conceived in a moment of desperation and born into a mess.”).

Makes you wonder how Bobby came to be …


… And whether there’s any connection to these events.  Presumably Sally’s conception was during a brighter period in their relationship.  Although, recall that in Out of Town Betty and Don recount Sally’s birth to Sally and it’s subtly revealed that Don was most likely out philandering (“was working late”) when Betty went into labor.

We know Don’s issues and infidelity have deep, deep roots … I’ve always wanted to know more about their marriage prior to 1960.


  31 Responses to “Conception Stories”

  1. I just LOVED their scenes in this episode together. I also LOVED that scene when Betty (and eventually Don) was singing with Bobby.

    I wonder if any accidents are ‘conceived’ during this night…hmmmm.

    • Unless there is a paternity test, how will Betty know whether the father is Don, or Henry? She had sex with Henry the night before. If Betty conceives, she won’t have to create a story/lie that the baby is premature or late. If Henry tries to count back, he’ll remember the night in the car after the fundraiser.

    • I was thinking Don should’ve gone back to the store where he got the whiskey.

    • Last season, the show was haunted by suicide. This season Chekhov’s Gun has been pregnancy.

      We presumably saw Don and Meagan conceive a child in Hawaii that was subsequently miscarried. Poor Meagan then unwittingly discussed it with Don’s mistress.

      Don and Betty discuss Sally’s conception and the warm memory inspires them to have extremely ill-advised sex.

      Roger totes the Lincoln Logs to his unacknowledged child with Joan only to have them rejected (twice!).

      It seems like there are a lot of examples that I am forgetting,

    • Surely Betty is on the pill or has had her tubes tied by now…

  2. I always wanted to see a flashback to the version of them in the 50s, and yes, I always suspected one of the reasons her father loathed Don was because he knew he cheated on “his princess.”

    • I always wondered how Gene knew. It didn’t seem as thought he suspected, so much as he would bet all he had on the fact that his son in law was stepping out on his daughter. I always got the idea that it took one to know one.

    • That would explain so much right there. And Don knew that Gene was onto him and resented him for knowing.

  3. Thanks B.Cooper! This thought came to me Sunday evening when Betty was telling the story of Sally’s conception; but I wasn’t certain I had heard her correctly. As I must be the only Basketcase who does not watch episodes multiple times; I was hoping I would see a confirming comment.

    Although we can’t be certain about Bobby; it appears as if Gene Hofstadt was Don and Betty’s fertility charm. Hope his spirit was not hanging around the motel room…….

  4. When Don said to Betty their visitng Bobby was how things might have been if they stayed together I was thinking probably not because Don would have been out carousing. Made me think back to one of my all time favorite screen pairings: Sally and Grandma Pauline. Also took place while Betty and Henry were visitng Bobby at sleep away camp. I would love to know why Sally has never gone to camp. It seems like Betty would love to get a break from her–it’s mutual of course

  5. Sally was conceived only a few months into Don and Betty’s marriage so they were still in their honeymoon phase. I loved that mention of them going off to make Sally in the woods because it was a nice reminder of how young they were when they got married and how long they’ve known each other for.

  6. As for me, Father Abraham is this evening’s earworm. I was a camper in the 60s.

  7. I would guess that the first Drapers’ marriage was alot like the second. An intense, powerful, possibly faithful begining until Don lost interest and began to drift away, mentally and physically.

  8. In this episode, Betty tries to validate her return to desired blond beauty from brunette dumplinghood. In the first validation, she is approached and propositioned by Henry’s fundraising colleague. His attention and expressed desires validates for her that she’s back. The second validation is Henry’s jealousy and attentions in the cab. These are two real validations. The third validation for her would seem to be Don’s response to her and her “come on” to Don. But, really, this is much more complicated than a validation. She knows that Don will jump a bag of potatoes, whether pretty or not, and Don’s willing response may also reflect Don’s desire to “beat” Henry. Finally, for Betty, her receipt of Don’s attention and adultry validates for her that Don’s relationship with Megan has troubles. Flashback to the end of Season 4 when Don and Betty spent their last minutes together in the house in which the lived with their kids.

    • Nice demonstration of Betty’s complex self-image as a desirable woman.

      She may think that “Don will jump a bag of potatoes, whether pretty or not” – but we’ve had little evidence of that.*

      Betty alluded to her Missile Crisis fling in the lounge men’s room. Don knew exactly what to say to Betty in the clinch (“you’re as beautiful as the day I met you”).

      I think, however, that over-riding everything they are just HOT for one another – plain and simple.

      Even after Betty laid down the truth-telling about Don and poor Megan – Don still went for seconds – that’s downright elemental – complications aside.

      *Have we ever discussed Don’s least attractive conquest? Doris the hash-slinger might qualify (from Don’s Lost Saturday).

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