Friday, June 21, 2024

Mad Men: Betty Draper Now Officially Worst Mom in TV History


“Mad Men” Episode 5, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: It’s official. Betty Draper, now Betty Francis, is the worst mother in TV history. Even as much as I thought Hope Steadman was a bitch on “thirtysomething,” Betty takes the cake.

Tonight she slapped Sally for cutting her hair. Then she wished her fingers would be chopped off rather than have the girl be caught masturbating. I give January Jones credit: her scene in the psychiatrist’s office was splendidly full of tics. But then, to send Sally with Carla the housekeeper rather than take her, herself…Wow. (Sally Draper is the Tabitha of “Mad Men,” no doubt about it.)

At Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Roger Sterling continues to show his sensitivity. Last season he performed in blackface. This week he attacked Japanese executives from Honda.Roger invoked the name “Dr. Lyle Evans,” which has sent millions of people to Google and other resources to get the reference. I don’t think he exists. But Matthew Weiner made him up to mess with all the fans who immediately trace the minutiae. Funny.

In the news: the Selma marches and riots are mentioned. Last week, Peggy asked her assistant if he’d realized Malcolm X had been killed. “You know who he is, right?” she said. So we know it’s mid April 1965. Malcolm X was killed in February.

“The Chrysanthemum” is the first episode this season not written by Matthew Weiner. It’s credited to a woman, Erin Levy. Honestly, it was the best episode since #2 this season. Last week was so out of balance that there was no room for Bert Cooper. Bobby Morse sat in the reception area and read a magazine in the background during one scene. This week, most everyone was in the game. I loved Peggy’s sort of cameo riding the Honda around and around.

Lots of comedy: Mrs. Blankenship, the ruse of making the commercial, etc. We have to be careful here. We inch ever so close to “Bewitched.” Mrs. Blankenship is on my nerves.

One more reference to last week, when Ken told a joke and used the word “retarded.” Funny since Jennifer Aniston got in trouble for using the word recently. Times have indeed changed.

One last thing: Vincent Cartheiser is really just great this season as Pete, better than ever before. Pete is still full of mystery and questions. Cartheiser will get himself an Emmy nomination for next season. For this one, let’s hope Jon Hamm, John Slattery, and Christina Hendricks get their statues.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News