After re-watching Mad Men’s first season (and almost all of the other seasons), I have come to a conclusion: I have a severe disdain for Betty Draper. From her cold, distant gaze to her ridiculously childish personality, Betty is by far one of my most hated characters on the show, which actually says a lot because I think that Glenn Bishop is the strangest, creepiest character ever. Ken Levine’s blog, “… by Ken Levine,” gave her a perfect name - “the Wicked Witch of Westchester County” - and I cannot agree more.
I started out the series feeling bad for Betty, sympathizing with her because of Don’s womanizing habits. I felt terrible that she would be waiting for him to come home at night, alone with the children not knowing that Don wasn’t actually at the office but off in some Manhattan apartment doing inappropriate things with inappropriate people. My heart would hurt as I watched her sit around her kitchen, lighting a cigarette all made up in a fantastic dress with nowhere to go. But as the series progressed, my sympathy for her declined, and quickly. The audience began to see how she treated her children (“Go bang your head against the wall” from season three’s “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”), how she allowed herself to be treated by Don, and her clueless actions (giving Glenn Bishop a lock of her hair). While it could be argued (and rightfully so) that Betty is this way because her mother was mean and judgmental towards her, Don cheated on her all of the time, and she was so depressed with her life, my problem with Betty is that it takes her so long to actually do something about her situation. Up until season three, Betty rarely stood up for herself, like she had no backbone. And by the time Betty actually did leave Don (after she took him back), my opinion of her was already formed and solidified. Also, when she left Don, she didn’t change. I was hoping for some sort of transformation from stone cold housewife to happy, loving, strong mother and woman that would have perhaps allowed myself to hate her a little less. Unfortunately, that moment never really came. As of the conclusion of season four, she is still and terrible mother and seems unsatisfied with her life. She still relies on her husband for everything, especially reassurance that she has a purpose in the world. Forbidding the creepy Glenn Bishop to see Sally just reinforced her childish nature and she rarely leaves her house, still. Hopefully season five will bring a new Betty Francis, but I am not getting my hopes up.