Mother of the Year?


We all know Betty Draper is not the ideal mother. Danny Miller’s article "June Cleaver vs. Betty Draper," triggered by the death of actress Barbra Billingsley who played famous TV mother June Cleaver, points this out by analyzing the similarities and differences between Betty Draper and June Cleaver. This article discusses June Cleaver and her image as the ideal 1960’s mother juxtaposed with Betty Draper who, as Miller describes, is a representation of mothers of the 1960’s through a “savagely realistic lens.” Although the two TV mothers may appear physically similar, there are many differences between the personalities of the two women. Miller points out that although June seems like the typical submissive wife she is no pushover. This conviction is exactly what is missing from Betty that makes her such a weak character. Although Miller accepts the fact that Betty Draper is not a good mother to her children, he also explains why he can’t help but sympathize with Betty. He describes Betty as a “tragic figure” who is “trapped in life circumstances.” The article then goes on to discuss the actress who played June Cleaver and how she was just as graceful as her character. Finally the article concludes by saying that Betty Draper would greatly benefit from the opportunity to meet with June Cleaver.

Image credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-miller/june-cleaver-vs-betty-dra_b_767067.html

I also find myself feeling bad for Betty Draper and cannot bring myself to completely hate her. Although I have only seen the first season and know that I will be seeing many worse actions from Betty in the future that may sway my opinion, I do not blame her completely for her actions. It is difficult to imagine a life in which we feel we are stuck with absolutely no way out. Although Betty may seem to be a very dramatic representation of the 1960’s mother, her situation was much more common than most people would like to believe. One thing Miller’s article references, that many people seem to forget, is that Don is no perfect father either. We do not criticize Don’s interactions with his kids because we rarely get to see him actually spending time with them. At least Betty occasionally makes an effort to know her children. Although Don often calls Betty childish, Don could be seen as just another child to Betty. She is responsible for cooking for Don and doing his laundry, just as she does for Sally and Bobby, and receives very little parenting help from him in return. It would be very difficult to argue that Betty is even relatively good at being a mother, but it is only fair to understand the background behind her character before judging her for her shortcomings.

Source Referenced:
Miller, Danny. "June Cleaver vs. Betty Draper." The Huffington Post. 18 Oct. 2010. Web.


  1. I thought this blog post was very interesting. I agree with the writer's sympathy for Betty. I don't particularly like Betty but I do sympathize with her station in life.She is stagnant and has no opportunities to progress as a person. She can only be a mother and an housewife, which doesn't fulfill her as a person. I would never be able to as docile and unassuming as Betty. If I were her I would have had a breakdown.

  2. I think that this author makes many valid points in their post but I do have to disagree with some. For starters, I like the character of Betty Draper but I don't have much sympathy for her. I more get frustrated with the fact that she doesn't use common sense to recognize the fact that Don is repeatedly cheating on her. Although I have only seen the first season, I disagree with the fact that Betty makes an effort to know her children. Betty has very ordinary/traditional interactions with her children and often doesn't seem to care for them too much. I would argue that Don has more interaction with his kids. For example: Don takes the time to talk to Robert and tell him the truth; Sally asks for a puppy for her birthday he buys it for her; and every time Don comes home from work,his kids are very excited to see him. I have yet to see that excitement from them when Betty gets home. Finally, the author refers to Don being a child.In modern times this would hold more truth but in the 1960s that is how life was. The wife was expected to take care of her husband and have dinner ready when he got home to keep him happy.