Monday, April 2, 2012

Betty Gets Fat

That's what happens to the women who leave Don Draper. They get fat. What could be worse? Well, they could get cancer. Luckily for Betty, the cancer scare was just a false alarm. I actually thought her tumor would be malignant, and a quick death sentence during the 1960's. It would have been a convenient way to write the character out of the show, being that she hasn't much relevance since her and Don split. Also, with January Jones' movie career taking off after her eye catching role as the White Queen in X-men: First Class, her will to stick around might be waning. As far as her acting goes, I found myself questioning some of her line deliveries, such as "I AM hungry," instead of "I am HUNGRY" during the breakfast scene (Nobody had asked her.) The cancer scare was a metaphor. To a woman like Betty, her looks are as much a part of her identity as is being some body's wife. I cringed for her when the doctor referred to her as a middle aged woman. Putting on weight is the end of the blessed life she has known so far, where everybody wants to be her friend and she can land a rich husband, one who lives in a Richardsonian Romanesque style mansion, without really trying. I believe the character is actually well educated, but her early choices in life and constraints of the time limit her ability to make her own way. January Jones was eight months pregnant when this episode was filmed, and her weight gain is all natural. No use of prosthetics was required to help with the double chin. If the actress loses her pregnancy weight quickly, the diet pill storyline will be back, and if she doesn't, a much more interesting story about how a woman adjusts to the changes of life will be there. Hence, Betty finishing off her daughters ice cream in the overshadowing last scene. The ending song saying it all, "Baby your on the brink."

Peggy continues to show her frustration with not being taken seriously for not having a penis. "I'll work on that," is all she can say about it. What can she say? She gets even more frustrated with the new guy she interviews for a job. I hope the obviousness of the set up for these two getting it on later in the season is a red herring. I'm expecting my new favorite show to NOT be that predictable. I can't figure out if that guy was being patronizing or just obnoxious when he called her by her formal name, "Margaret."

The new guy lives in an old apartment with a bathtub in the kitchen. I'd seen that before on other shows, and it made me wonder, so I googled it. Turns out, bathtubs were put in the kitchens of "cold water flats" back in the old days so that the water could be boiled on the stove and immediately dumped into the tub. These can still be seen today in very old buildings which haven't been updated in a over a hundred years.

Now on to that devilishly ambitious young whippersnapper, Pete Campbell. He got another one over on the silver fox, Roger Sterling. This time I actually felt a little bit sorry for the old guy. He's trying as hard as he can to hold onto that ledge, but he knows that no matter what he does, the younger guy is going to push him off. It's a classic tale of the old guard being replaced.

The theme that I'm getting from this show is that it's about aging, magnified by being set in a trendy ad agency whose primary purpose is to reach the young and hip. Don and Glasses Guy Harry Crane are way out of place at a Rolling Stones concert, on a mission which they ultimately fail. Don is especially uncomfortable, and it must be hitting him that he's beyond that scene at this stage of his life. A further exemplification of this, especially for Don, is when his 26 year old wife corrects an older man's misquote with "Time is on MY side," to which the older guy responds "yes, it is dear."

Awards for the most memorable lines of the night go to:
  Most offensive: Roger Sterling, (referring to Jews) "Everyone has one now."
  Most tragic: Betty Francis, "It's nice to be put through the ringer, and find out I'm just fat."
  Best advice: Harry Crane, "Eat first. That's my recommendation to anyone getting married and having kids."
  Most prophetic: Henry Francis, "Because Romney's a clown, and I don't want him standing next to him." He was referring to the elder Romney, a senator from Michigan at the time.