January Jones Thinks Betty Draper Is The Happiest We’ve Seen Her
5:32 pm, April 30th | by Meredith Lepore
Apparently January Jones is not watching the same show we are. Last week at a talk at the 92 Street Y featuring Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, Jessica Pare (Megan Draper) and Jones, who plays Betty Draper, the three discussed the characters on the show. According to Jones, she thinks the notoriously angry, moody and possibly bipolar Betty, is the happiest we have seen her this season.
“I think this is the happiest we’ve ever seen her. She has been very nurturing and and wants to help and guide Sally’s friend,” said Jones.
Perhaps she has been smoking angrily less often, but I don’t know if we can call her happy. If Jones considers this character happy then she probably thinks Karen on Smash is absolutely manic. Jones cited the controversial scene in the premiere where Betty jokes about helping her husband rape Sally’s teenage friend as an example of Betty’s “lighter side.” Henry muses “she plays so beautifully” to which Betty replies “She’s a year older than Sally, shame on you.” Then she says, “She’s just in the next room, why don’t you go in there and rape her? I’ll hold her arms down.” Henry replies, “Betty, what the hell?” Betty continues, “You said you wanted to spice things up. Will it ruin it if I’m there? You know, if you want to be alone with her, I’ll put on my housecoat and take Sally for a ride. You can stick a rag in her mouth and you won’t wake the boys.”
Clearly revealing a bit more about her sense of humor, Jones found this scene to be very funny and also that it showed she has a strong sexual relationship with her husband. The rest of America, including myself…not so much. It did show what Betty found to befunny though, which perhaps explains why we haven’t seen her tell many jokes in prior seasons.
The moderator for the talk, TV critic Karen James, at one point asked if Betty really can be happy. Would we want to see a happy Betty Draper? Could we handle it? Isn’t Megan supposed to be the happy one? The antithesis of Betty, rather? Both physically and in personality? Or will Megan eventually become just like Betty because is married to Don Draper?
Betty only seemed to have seconds of happiness with Don and then she thought leaving him for Henry would solve everything and it didn’t. Jones said at the talk, “She is the the type of person always searching for happiness. She deals with a lot of disappointment. She always wants what she can’t have.”
Weiner described Betty Draper as the quintessential woman Betty Friedan is talking about in The Feminine Mystique. He said to the outsider Betty has it all: “the most handsome husband in the entire world, all the modern luxuries and she still looks the other way.” Weiner said that there were women during this time who were truly happy being stay at home moms moms and really threw themselves into being part of their children’s lives and were happy about it. But that is not Betty. In a recent interview Jones said on her character’s struggles with motherhood, “I think she struggles with it. I think a lot of mothers struggle with it. But I think that because of [her] emotional immaturity [Betty] is just not as great at it as some people are. Maybe she thought it was a good idea to be a mother and have children and had this idea of what was expected of her and not everyone is a natural at it. But she tries, I think she’s trying harder. And she wants to be good at it; it’s just not something that comes naturally to her. She was Daddy’s little girl and finds it very hard to be unselfish.”
What we are maybe seeing this season is Betty’s attempt to be happy and attempt to be happy fast. She recently dyed her hair dark brown. “Women change their hair color all the time. It’s one of the easiest fixes we can make,” said Jones.
Betty will never be happy because she will never be satisfied but it works for this show because she is representing a group of women that also felt that way. Their lives were not all terrible, but remained unfulfilled. Sounds pretty par for the course as far as Mad Men is concerned.
[Photo credit: Joyce Culver, 92Y]