“I find it really interesting that people think that, like, in seasons three and four, she’s become unlikable because she’s become more independent. Everybody liked Betty when she was, like, in a living hell in season one and two, and now they hate her. … I think as an audience member you can empathize with her struggling to find happiness — I think it’s an ongoing process. … I think it’s funny that it carries over into my life, my actual life, when [show creator] Matt [Weiner] writes a storyline that Betty’s unlikable, all of a sudden, everybody hates me. I hope she gets a little more well received.”
– Well, well, well. January Jones is more self-aware than I expected. I assumed, like a lot of people, that she herself was as oblivious and filled with denial as her “Mad Men” character, Betty Draper Francis, whom everybody loves to hate. I have news for you, January: I don’t hate you.
I’ve always felt that Betty’s character arc has been one of the most interesting and — regarding my sphere of interest — feminist on the show. Joan, the head of the typing pool, and Peggy, the pioneering copywriter, both get the lion’s share of the credit for pushing equality in the nascent days of the sexual revolution. I believe this is because they are both middle-class, perhaps even lower-middle-class, and therefore forced into the workplace, where we see their second-class status day in and day out.
But Betty Draper Francis’s upper-middle-class background doesn’t make the way she is affected by the sexual revolution any less important; it’s a good thing feminism is finding its way to the Ossining suburbs. In several pre-divorce episodes, Betty is physically abused by Don and if I recall correctly, she still had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get a divorce; the bleakness of her life, which compelled her to seek psychiatric help in the earliest episodes, always struck me as well. I never hated Betty, even when she proved herself a short-tempered and unskilled parent. I’ve always felt bad for her and hope that at some point before “Mad Men” ends she’ll be better at finding her own happiness, as Joan and Peggy do. [E! Online]
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