Oh, Betty. You’ve come a long way in seven seasons of Mad Men, but it appears we’ve come to the end of the road.
It’s telling that, perhaps, the most content we’ve seen Betty was the episode two weeks ago, which had Sally off at school, her boys out at activities, and Don finding her alone in the Francis family kitchen, reading Sigmund Freud’s book Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria. Unfortunately, that happiness was short-lived as Sunday’s penultimate episode revealed the former Mrs. Draper’s grave fate.
Over the course of Mad Men, January Jones has really sold us on Betty being a psychologically complex woman who maybe wasn’t quite prepared to be a mother. So let’s honor her, Mad Men-style, with 10 moments when Betty was at her, well, Bettiest.
1. The dry cleaning bag
In “Ladies Room,” only the second episode of the show, a brief scene sets the tone for Betty’s parenting style. Sally runs into the room wearing a dry cleaning bag, which most parents today would readily identify as a hazardous object not to be used as a toy. Betty’s reaction? “If the clothes from that dry cleaning bag are on the floor of my closet, you’re going to be one sorry young lady.” But check out baby Kiernan Shipka!
2. "She’s taken to your tools like a little lesbian."
In the third season opener, Betty makes a snide remark about Sally to Don after packing his bag for him: “The clasp is broken. Carla said she saw Sally hitting it with a hammer. She’s taken to your tools like a little lesbian.” Yes, Betty, because having a handy daughter in the house would just be the worst thing in the world.
3. Betty’s solution for boredom
Betty has little interest in tolerating children who can’t entertain themselves. This is how she responds to Bobby when he complains that he is bored, adding, “Only boring people are bored.”
4. The gumdrop incident
In one of the few Bobby Draper storylines that Mad Men has ever offered, Betty goes on a class excursion with her son in the episode “Field Trip.” Betty makes an honest effort, chatting with Bobby about the Wolf Man and Dracula on the bus ride, but it all falls apart when Betty learns that Bobby, figuring she wouldn’t want to eat anyway, has traded her sandwich for gumdrops. Betty immediately goes into lockdown mode. “Eat your candy,” she tells him venomously. (Though in her defense, who even likes gumdrops?)
5. Sally’s haircut
It’s not just that Betty slaps Sally as punishment for cutting her own hair in the fourth season episode “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.” It’s also her response to Don once Sally has left the room: “All I wanted was to have long hair,” she says. “In fact, when my mother was mad at me, she threatened to cut my hair.” Decades later, Betty can’t seem to understand that Sally is a different person than she was – and is – and that she has forced her daughter down a similar path to the one her mom put her on.
6. The first Francis family Thanksgiving
In an effort to impress the family of her new husband, Henry, Betty attempts to force Sally to eat sweet potatoes prepared by one of Henry’s relatives. Sally does not respond well, and the GIF you see above results. As punishment, Betty pinches Sally – you know, like a mean big sister might.
7. "Don’t you dare lie to me. I’ll cut your fingers off."
In the same episode as the haircut scolding, Sally gets caught exploring herself while watching The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Betty is understandably upset but mistaken in telling her daughter, “You don’t do those things. You don’t do them in private and you especially don’t do them in public.” Then she threatens to cut off Sally’s fingers, as if Sally needed another traumatic association with sex.
8. The time she locked Sally in the closet
In the season two episode “The Mountain King,” Betty catches Sally smoking. Sure, Betty smokes like it’s going out of style – it is, even if she doesn’t know this yet – but she punishes Sally anyway by locking her in the closet. When Sally lashes out, accusing Betty of having driven Don away, Betty lies, saying Don is only on a trip and that he’d be ashamed of Sally’s behavior.
9. Sharing a smoke, bagging on Don
In the late sixth season episode “The Quality of Mercy,” Betty encourages Sally to smoke a cigarette – bad by today’s standards, but different era, different values. What’s even worse about this interaction is that the smoke prompts Sally to attempt bonding with her mom by bad-talking Don: “My father has never given me anything,” Sally says. That’s the best way this daughter can relate to her mother: piling blame on her father.
10. The vast majority of her interactions with Glen Bishop.
Betty recently bid farewell to Sally’s friend Glen, and while their reunion was one of the least inappropriate interactions Betty has had with the lad, the scene that preceded it underscored everything that was icky about their odd bond. Under the guise of maternal affection, Betty flirted with Glen in front of his girlfriend and in front of Sally. Disgusted, Sally hits the nail on the head about Betty and Don: the moment anyone expresses interest in them, they just “ooze everywhere” – no matter who is watching, no matter if they should be acting like parents.