Monday, July 26, 2010

I hate Betty Draper!

I didn’t used to.

She was one of my favorite MAD MEN characters season one. I loved that she shot the neighbors pigeons, and how ingeniously she got back at Don for being in cahoots with her therapist. (I’d say what that was but I’d get a hundred spoiler alert complaints even though it was three seasons ago. Netflix the DVD’s people!)

I also felt sorry for her. She was this trapped 60s housewife dependent on a man who cheated on her constantly. Bohemian women, her kids’ teacher, even a Jew! Yes, she flirted with a nine-year-old creepy neighbor boy but that’s still not sleeping with a Red Sea Pedestrian. Her father had dementia and she had to constantly look at really bad wallpaper in the breakfast nook – so the woman did have heavy crosses to bear.

But starting last season when she took Don back (“She took Don back? Damn! Why don’t you have spoiler alerts?!”) she has morphed into an insufferable frigid bitch. It's hard to get it up when you're afraid it's going to break off.

At first I tried. Every character in MAD MEN is deliciously complex. There are flaws, ugly traits, and weaknesses in all of them. Sometimes the big surprise is when you learn they have good qualities.

But Betty has gone from classic tragic figure to Ann Coulter. Now granted my feelings have been colored by the actress herself who plays Betty Draper. When January Jones allegedly slammed into three parked cars last June and fled the scene, saying, "I can't deal with this commotion" that took away some of her girlish charm for me.

And maybe series creator Matt Weiner wants me to now hate her. If so, he’s done a great job because Betty has become Mary Tyler Moore in ORDINARY PEOPLE but without the warmth and whimsy of that character.

You just KNOW that Betty’s kids – especially Sally – are going to hate her forever. They will both be in therapy for the rest of their natural Lexapro guzzling lives. What does it say about how fucked up a family is when Don Draper (who’s assuming the identity of a dead man) is the most well adjusted? Sally is destined for every eating disorder possible.

Side trip: Pat McCormick, one of the funniest and sickest human beings of all time once told this joke: “Just got back from the Bulimic’s Convention. The highlight was when the cake came out of the girl.” But I digress…

Now Betty’s making someone else’s life miserable. It’s only a matter of time before he’s in bed with a shana meydele.

And all that’s fine except… I don’t want to see it. Whenever the show goes away from Don or the agency to a Betty scene I zone out. Sorry but I’d rather watch the preview for the new RUBICON series or even the BMW commercial than follow the Wicked Witch of Westchester County. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care that she’s unhappy. I don’t care that she’s unfulfilled. I just want her to wake up one morning, look in the mirror and there is Bette Davis from HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE staring back at her.

I will say this though, she does serve a function. With Betty Draper around you now KNOW why the men are mad.

Let's see more of Don or Roger or Pete or Peggy or Joan or Trudy. Hell, Trudy can bring along some of her friends from COMMUNITY, I don't care. Anyone but Betty!

41 comments:

Hollywoodaholic said...

Betty stares at you impassively, a slow blink, and her expression doesn't change ... but rest assured, she HATES you.

shamgaranath said...

Thank you so much for what you said. I completely, totally agree.

danrydell said...

I do wish Betty would become more likable. She started out as an interesting version of the mom from "American Dreams," but has quickly become more unlikable than Pete. THAN PETE!

The only person I wished I'd seen last night was Trudy. After getting hooked on "Community," I like her a lot.

Marconi said...

She always seemed like an "ice queen" to me through the whole damned series. Reminds me of girls from prep school in the 60s.Hot? Not.

Kathy said...

I agree. She's incredibly annoying. Now, Trudy--There's something about Trudy that I love. One of my favorite MM moments came from her, when Don et al came to talk to Pete about a job and you hear this "Peter, may I speak with you please?" from the back room--super polite but tinged with just-barely-quashed panic/hysteria. Loved it.

SCDP said...

I've never liked Betty and she did nothing to help the situation last night.

As for Sally, I love that little girl. She's going to end up being a member of the Manson Family. I just know it! GO SALLY!

John Hudgens said...

You know, at one point last night, I almost thought they were going to do something really unexpected and write her out of the show - when Don brought the kids home, and she wasn't there - the last time we'd seen her was making out with her new husband (even *his* mother sees that Betty is bad for the kids!) in the car in a the garage... guess the engine wasn't running... :(

bdarling said...

I agree so much. This character is so unlikable, I hope there is some kind of pay-off.

Sally will be the poster child for rebellious late sixties teenager. She'll die from a drug overdose or at least get caught using. Locking her in the closet for smoking is nothing compared to what will happen to her then.

Elizabeth said...

I am actually concerned that the young actress PLAYING Sally will be traumatized and need therapy herself. I HATE Betty.

Phillip B said...

He may have been a tangent in this article, but I do miss Pat McCormick. Just thinking about his appearances on the Cavett show, as one half of a comedy team with Buck Henry, makes me laugh.

Share more Pat..

Joseph Aubele said...

Metaphorically speaking, you have nailed Betty Draper ~ thanks for speaking for us all.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see what happens when Henry dumps her. It's coming, I'm sure. His mother's very sane dislike of Betty has already doomed them. Betty's going to unravel something awful...I want Peggy to start kicking ass and stop being so subservient to Don. She deserves more respect than she's giving herself.

D. McEwan said...

"When January Jones allegedly slammed into three parked cars last June and fled the scene, saying, 'I can't deal with this commotion, that took away some of her girlish charm for me."

Her extraordinarily lame stint hostessing SNL didn't help either.

" Pat McCormick, one of the funniest and sickest human beings of all time"

And one of the largest, and I don't mean fat. Pat was gigantic. He would make Hagrid feel like a Munchkin. I first met him when I got to have a late dinner with him back when I was a mere 18 (along with Whittington, natch), and standing next to Pat was like standing on the sidewalk beside the Empire State Building. You could get a crick in your neck from looking up at him. Maybe he was so hilarious because there was something off in his head, from spending all that time in a much-thinner atmosphere.

Of course, after a while, the crick in your neck was nothing next to the pain in your side, because he was so relentlessly hysterically funny.

WV: "disemess": How my mother used to describe my room.

sephim said...

Hmmm... Melrose Place in the 60's... no wonder I don't care.

Kay said...

I ADORE her. The only thing I regret is that I didn't get to see her turn as Roslyn from "The Misfits" when she and Henry went to Reno. I can see why you'd loathe her, but I just don't. I love that she's unforgivably horrible. I love that she thought Henry would save her from her ennui, despair and anger... but he didn't. Henry's sweet. And Betty will soon turn on him. Henry, actually, IS Betty now, trying to make a perfect home with someone who has no business in that environment. This, I think, will eventually draw Don and Betty together. They are more alike than either would admit.

I'm seriously looking forward to what happens this year with Sally. She's going to be a formidable opponent for Betty. No question.

Love the blog, BTW. I'm a big Dodger fan, so I listen to you and Josh as well...

James said...

I want to see more Cristina Hendricks. The first year I just wanted to see her body. The last couple seasons I realized she ones of those actresses who can talk without saying a word. Last season, all of my favorite scenes featured her. I think she's got the most interesting character of the bunch.

Margaret said...

I love the women of Mad Men. They represent three different "types" of women in the 60's, maybe even today: the trapped housewife Betty, the career girl Peggy, and the in between do-it-all woman, Joan. I'm disappointed at the flagrant hatred of Betty from the bloggers however- why is Don able to act horribly and people still are on his side but people see Betty as a complete bitch? Does anyone realize how trapped she feels or how Don severely betrayed her? She obviously has not been a perfect mother or even a good mother, but you have to feel sorry for her on some level. I'm not sure if women now can't understand how trapped women felt back then or if they just hate Betty's character. Regardless, I love Don and Betty and all their complexity. They both do egregrious things, but I want them to get back together at the end of the day.

KEN LEVINE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KEN LEVINE said...

The way Betty treats her children is enough for me to hate her. Everything else I can forgive, rationalize, whatever. But sorry, as a parent I just can't handle the way she is damaging those innocent kids.

Paul Duca said...

That brings up a comment from the critic for the big Boston paper...he sees Betty as someone who resents having to be a parent, when she would rather be parented.

SCDP said...

I'm with Ken regarding Betty and WHY I hate her more than Don. It's the way she treats her kids and in particular Sally. After Gene died, Sally was a mess and Betty ignored her and in fact made her feel worse about it. She has made it quite clear that her children are nothing more than a nuisance to her and while Don most certainly isn't the Father of the Year at least he seems to have some compassion and actual love for his kids.

The other thing as to why Betty is hated more than Don is the fact that Don at least shows there's a heart in there somewhere. He's a jerk and he isn't a guy I'd want to be married to but he does have a human side buried inside there. Betty, not so much.

Steph said...

Betty behaves terribbly but it is not her fault. Her role was prescribed by the patriarchy. She is like a trapped rat. What would you have her do? She would have to risk all respect and financial well being. To do what? Too late for modelling. Maybe a secretary. She is exactly like my mother. I detest my mother but I forgive her.

SCDP said...

What would I have her do? I'd have her treat her kids like she actually cares about them and not like they were nothing but a nuisance.

My mom was a 60s housewife with 3 kids. She sure didn't treat us like we were just a bother and like she wanted us to just disappear. Yeah, sometimes she threatened to sell us to the gypsies but we never thought she was serious. With Betty, I think she'd do it!

yobeb said...

It seems true in the fact that somehow women are aggressive

Aaron Weiner said...

The scenes with Betty are why God invented Tivo.

Reno said...

Speaking of Pat McCormick: He once asked Johnny Carson, "You know where to find poisonous mushrooms?" No answer. "In dead people's stomachs."

johnnyboymalloy said...

Yes, she's a hatable character, but isn't that the point? What's interesting is how sad and pathetic she once was (i.e. her rolling around in her fancy dress after in "A Night To Remember"), that you rooted for her the first time she kicked Don out. But, I think it is poigniant to note the clip they showed in the "Previously On" bit. Don shaking her like a baby and calling her a whore. Remember how gut wrenching that scene was (at least for me), especially since The Pot had absolutely NO CREDIBILITY or right to be calling the Kettle black.

Point is, and not that Betty hasn't helped in setting herself up for failure... BUT wouldn't you become a fridged bitch if you were in her shoes? How many humiliations from Don can she take? If she's an ice queen, Don's the one who helped lock her in the fridge.

At the same time, she is COMPLETELY selfishly taking advantage of Don's generosity. No one should feel sorry for her when he throws locks on the door to the house and all there stuff is on the lawn.

We may hate her, but it is CRUCIAL to the story of Don. Weiner & Co have done a fantastic job in creating the origins of a villain and nemisis. Your not supposed to really like the villain. I find it riviting.

Anonymous said...

i find the character unlikeable (as I believe I'm supposed to), but I also, like Ken, find it hard to separate the unappealing character from the unappealing actress. Based upon her dismal efforts on SNL, January Jones is not making much of a stretch when she portrays a shallow, self-centered, not-too-talented beauty.

Anonymous said...

Something that is over looked here. January Jones can't act her way out of a paper bag. A more gifted actress, hell even a gal from the Canoga Park HS drama club could make better sense of the part. That's the main reason I loathe Betty.

b

blogward said...

Aaagh, you Betty-haters, don't you see? You've fallen into the elephant trap that Weiner devised for you.
1. Don Draper hates his mother, the whore.
2. Don married (and [SPOILER] divorced)a woman he could hate with the same intensity.
3. Don's hatred for women in general, and his pivotal role in 1960's advertising, is what informs the consumer society that we grew up with.
4. Betty's character is essential to Don's story arc.

tiberius-susan said...

Dearest Ken:
I would very much like to see Betty sleep with a gorgeous BLACK man. Perhaps the daughter wanders in only to find Mommy dearest in all her flagrante delicto glory. Now daughter dearest is holding the cards. And dear readers, don't let me have it for the sake of the child. Rememeber, the show is entitled MAD MEN! January Jones has all the intrigue and allure of a Marshmallow Peep.
Sincerely,
Kelly Gaines

rhl said...

Betty's treatment of her children reminds me in many ways of my mother. Different details (my parents were Jewish, my mother cheated on my father), same era, same selfishness and lack of emotional maturity.

cpreynolds said...

Completely agree.

Dave Mackey said...

Pat McCormick was a funny man no matter what he was doing. He got his start as a production assistant on "I've Got a Secret" in the late 1950s and appeared on camera a number of times, always appearing to be at least three feet taller than host Garry Moore.

He was a good panelist on "Gong Show" - blended well with the freewheeling format - and hosted some of those "Best Chest" shows on Playboy. I will always remember him with his head between Candy Samples' large breasts, and as he's being "bronskied", he declared, "I hereby accept the Nobel Prize for culture!"

One of his best lines was for Johnny Carson, who quipped, "Due to the recent earthquake, today's 'God is Dead' rally has been cancelled."

The way he went was really sad - he basically was a vegetable the last years of his life - but he left us a lot of comic memories.

WV: bellm - he carri your lugg up to your ro.

Anonymous said...

I feel that Betty is an essential character on the show, despite (or because of?) her tremendous flaws. What I'd really love to see, though, is a transformation with her character. (I am hoping the same thing for Don.) Betty had the emotional maturity of a child in Season One (but that was also the season when she was most sympathetic). Then she evolved somewhat in Seasons 2-3 but only reached the maturity level of an angry teenager. I think now it would be interesting to see her grow into an actual adult (perhaps influenced by the feminist movement on the horizon?) Naturally, it would require major upheaval for Betty to reach such a breakthrough - probably a situation involving Sally - but it would definitely make for great TV.
(And on a superficial note: Betty gets the best costumes!)

Anonymous said...

Just saw this thread. I agree with, well, anonymous, that January simply can't act. I've seen it since day one, but hoped I was wrong, that the flat affect was somehow a "choice". But she's just awful. She was cast for her looks, and the producers were mesmerized for precisely two seasons. Maybe even they were sorry they saw her SNL.

Anonymous said...

Are you crazy to get so deep into a character of a TV show?? Nothing else to do???

greg said...

I typed in "I hate Betty Draper" in google looking for others to share in my sentiment. This was the first result, and I think I'm done reading. You've put on the internet what was in my head. Oh, and I HATE HATE HATE Henry, that smug slimy creep. Living in that house with the family while Don pays out of pocket. HATE HATE HATE. What I find most disturbing aboutt his series are the children. First, that creepy kid Glen from down the street. What a future sociopath he will turn into. Now Sally getting fresh with herself. Really gross for those not interested in pedophillia. Turns my stomach. All in all though, awesome show. That is all.

megs12345 said...

While Betty Draper is a volatile character, I think it's important to note that she's been raised extremely traditionally. Her mother instilled firm, old-school values in her.
So when Don treats her body like trash by sleeping with anything that moves; When he disappears for days at a time; and when he manipulates her mind (remember the pysychiatrist?!)....I think ANYone would react violently, frigidly, and bitchily. I sure as hell would.

This woman's world has sucked a** for years, now.

Anonymous said...

An open palm slap to the face of a daughter that has normal childhood problems is the reason why I hate Betty Draper.

Anonymous said...

But I miss the beautiful Betty Draper. She was so breathtakingly beautiful.