Betty, Betty, Betty.
I keep rolling your words around in my mind. As best I can recall them, that is. What must it be like to be so cold, so superior, so bloodless?
I’m talking about Betty Draper Francis on the Season 7 Mad Men Finale, as she responds to a friend’s question about former hunky hubby, Don.
Beautiful Betty (and Delicious Don)
Let’s face it: January Jones (Betty) is a knock-out, and Jon Hamm (Don) is hot, hot, hot.
Beautiful Betty enjoyed plenty of advantages while married to her ex… though we all know he cheated constantly, and the biggest deception of all was hiding his true identity from his wife.
But as Betty poses like a well-heeled ‘69 version of Grace Kelly, leaned against the kitchen sink with a cigarette in her hand, she smiles wistfully as she answers her friend’s inquiry. She doesn’t see the father of her children much, and she says:
“I think of him as an old bad boyfriend.”
Bad Boyfriend? Try Decent Ex-Husband!
As for Don Draper, he does a lot better as a parent since being a divorced dad, which is no small feat for a (fictional) character who is essentially orphaned and raised in a whorehouse.
But I beg to differ when it comes to Bitchy Betty’s implied assessment. As an ex, Don Draper hasn’t fared too poorly. In fact, I give him a semi-thumbs up.
Netting things out:
- He pays his support.
- His kids are taken care of.
- He shows up for visitation – most of the time.
- He tries to actually communicate with his children, which is more than we can say for their mother.
As for Mrs. Francis, I can’t say she seems to have an enviable life. She’s mean-spirited, intermittently cruel to her kids, and if we hoped she might be humbled by her year or so of being fat… No. Such. Luck.
Still, I suspect that her emotional eating was a direct result of marital disappointment. (Okay, okay, we know that January Jones was pregnant that season.) But in real life, isn’t this often the case? Conscious or not, don’t we pack on the pounds with motherhood (and disappointment), and find the unhappier we are the harder it is to take them off?
When we’re mad, don’t we sometimes self-medicate with food so as to keep the peace or to create a safe emotional distance?
Bad Men, Mad Women?
Mad men? Try mad women when living with bad men, or more realistically, flawed men, men who are bad for us, or men who drive us crazy (and quite likely, the feeling is mutual). But hey – that’s just my impression. As a viewer, I’m entitled to interpret and extrapolate, just as I am in life, don’t you think?
Bad, mad, or glad for a little reconnection… Betty and her enticing ex managed one brief rendez-vous at the unlikely location of son Bobby’s camp. It was a moment of resolution for the two of them – a sort of closure that seemed oddly overdue, and also seemed to take the edge off their relationship.
Not So Bad for an Ex
And I return to Betty’s words on the Season 7 (semi) finale, calling Don Draper the “old bad boyfriend.” Even as Don’s marriage to Megan (Wife #2) is about over, he tells her that he’ll “take care of her.”
Very old school. Very responsible.
With Betty (especially), Don was a lousy husband. I imagine we’d all agree to that. But as an ex? I’d say he’s performing pretty well. He recognizes his faults. He’s trying to maintain relationships with his children. He’s paying the bills he’s legally and morally required to address, and he isn’t playing mind games or mucking around in his former spouse’s second marriage.
I think of the many women I know who would love to be able to say the same about an ex.
And were he as “talented” in certain arenas as the Don Draper character? I doubt the ex sex would have stopped at one night of summer camp…
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