Everyone knows the many aspects of life in the sixties have evolved to fit today’s culture. However, one of the biggest changes is evident when looking at relationships. After examining season one of Mad Men more closely, I realized that almost ever married male character has cheated on his wife. The classic example is Don Draper. Don has multiple affairs, repeatedly disrespecting his wife, Betty. There is also Pete Campbell, who gets married right at the beginning of the show but then sleeps with secretary, Peggy Olsen, multiple times, eventually leading to an unwanted pregnancy. Finally, there is Roger Sterling, cheating on his wife with executive secretary, Joan Harris.

In today’s culture, this type of cheating and lying is unacceptable in relationships. It is called a ‘scandal’ at that. A relationship is ended almost immediately when the knowledge of an affair comes about. In today’s world, yes, people are definitely more open to their sexuality. However, people are less prone to be accepting of cheating. Yes, cheating does still take place and is very common at that. Although, it is the character of the person who was cheated on that has really evolved.

In Mad Men, characters like Betty Draper who clearly know that their husband is not being faithful choose to just ignore it instead of acting against it. People today realize they don’t have to stand for that type of behavior. Betty may have just ignored it to protect her reputation or keep her family together. However, whatever the case, she made herself seem naïve and almost pathetic in the eyes of everyone else. In addition, characters like Peggy Olsen and Joan Harris represent women who know they are seen as the “women on the side” to these men.

However, they easily accept these roles and play along. Hopefully today, we can see a difference in this. Women today, for the most part, are not satisfied with this type of role. Women today also have more rights to opinion and therefore speak up for themselves more often than in the sixties, which may be the main reason there has been any type of evolution at all.


  1. I agree with the statement that in today's culture cheating and lying is unacceptable in relationships and is usually met with either divorce or a break up.
    I also agree with the observation that Betty is naïve with regards to what her husband does while at work.
    But what I do not agree with at all is the fact that in the 1960's people put up with cheating differently than they do today. For example, (Spoiler alert) Betty finds out Don slept with Bobbie Barrett and expels him from the Draper residence for weeks and refuses his multiple requests to come home. She only lets him back in when he swears that he did not sleep with "that woman". Being naïve, she believes him finally.
    Again, cheating wasn't taken less seriously in the 60's, but it was not talked about like it is today.

    1. Actually, Betty only takes Don back when she finds out that she is pregnant and he writes her a letter telling her how sorry he is and that he loves her and that if she doesn't take him back he will be alone forever. This is the only affair she knows about. In season one she has a suspicion after her friend Francine told her about her husband's affair. Betty doesn't ignore that, she confronts Don though her shrink because she knows that Don listens in on her sessions. She's not that submissive.