Oh, Betty Draper, I do love thee. I know that’s not a popular opinion, but I just do. And I enjoy the episodes of Mad Men more when she’s in them … maybe I identify with icy, detached, petulant ennui.
(Kidding. I think.)
I also truly enjoy January Jones as Betty Draper. Despite her disastrous turn on SNL, I think she’s brilliant in her portrayal of the ’60s desperate housewife. She’s trapped in the social norms of one decade as the world is moving through drastic societal change in the next. In one of his interviews (or maybe it’s on the DVD commentary), Matthew Weiner said she gave a mesmerizing audition and that she brought the childlike characteristics to Betty; he didn’t write her that way. So I feel for JJ when everyone attacks her ability.
I’m only on my second viewing of this week’s episode — watched the first in standard def on my little TV, so I had to rewatch last night in glowing HD after I’d digested the dozen recaps/comments I read after every show. Don’s blogging! I loved that he’s coming out of his funk. I’m not so sure how I feel about Dr. Faye, either with or without Don … but love Peggy and her snappy independence, standing up for women everywhere … also not sure how I’m supposed to feel about Joan. Wow, she was mean and brittle this episode, but she represents the generation of women being left in the dust post-Marilyn. Peggy doesn’t need to use sex for power, and Joan resents it because she’s stuck there. Some of that was painful to watch, since I’ve witnessed the same in 2010. I don’t think we’ve come a long way. But, hey, I work in a locker room.
And Betty. Poor Mrs. Francis, stuck in another dreary marriage. She nearly became unhinged when she saw Don on a date with her younger self. Good costuming and makeup there, because Betty looked so old compared to silly Bethany. A lot of people think both she and Henry are so into appearances that they’d stay together no matter what. Probably. I have a theory about what’s going to happen, but I won’t share. When you go back and read predictions from previous seasons, you’ll realize that this show never goes in the direction we expect. MW has said that he and his writers believe Betty will learn as little about herself as possible. I hope that begins to shift because the zero self-realization and character growth will become stale. Some viewers already despise Betty, so that won’t help matters.
Best line of the episode (among many): “Oh, Betty, you have terrible luck with entertaining.”
I think last week’s episode (“The Suitcase”) was indeed the best of the whole series (followed shortly by the Hobo/Gypsy episode where Don confessed all of his deep, dark secrets). Many people think last week was the best episode of television ever. Whoa. It felt like a two-person staged play, full of nuance and character development. Nothing happened, but everything happened.
EW’s Doc Jensen (of LOST fame) just wrote a Mad Men recap, which promises to be very long, very in-depth and very, very thought-provoking. Enjoy: “Unpacking ‘The Suitcase’“