Television Tuesday :: 11 women in Don Draper’s romantic history.

6 Mar

Ranking them in two ways: how much I like the involved women as characters, independent of the relationship, and how well I think their relationship with Don worked.  Which is not a reflection on them, it’s not how good they are in a relationship, but it’s how well Don made the relationship with them work.  It’s a reflection on Don (Jon Hamm) and his failures as a romantic relationship-haver.  And I am convinced that Don, much like I’ve heard tumblr-ers say about Buffy and Echo and Sookie, should be alone forever.  Or not alone, entirely.  I want him to continue to be a cute dad with Sally (Kiernan Shipka), because he can be if he tries, and I want him to continue to be platonic soulmates with Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and perfect secret-snark best friends with Joan (Christina Hendricks), but I just do not think that any of his romantic relationships have a chance of success.  Because he is the kind of person who just… doesn’t have healthy romances.  It’s, again, no reflection on the women.  A lot of them are lovely.  Most of them are nicer than he deserves.  He just doesn’t know how to maintain a relationship, because some people don’t.  And it’s a shame, and since he’s on television he will cheat on everyone always, but that’s just how it is.

I found a similar list (to round mine to a nice proper 11, I’m including a few more) but it seems to just be giving general rankings, not as a person and as a relationship.  Still, interesting.

SO.  Numerically rated, 10 being the one I am least affectionate towards; 1 being the one I am most affectionate towards.  And then a wild card.

10. Bobbie Barrett (Melinda McGraw)
Bobbie, the wife of one of Sterling Cooper’s d-baggy endorsement men, is just as much of a jerk as her husband.  She is a businesswoman, and I do not hate her for this.  I hate her for being a manipulative, downright mean human being.

9. Bethany Van Nuys (Anna Camp)
I think it’s hilarious that Bethany, one of Jane’s (Peyton List) friends, is basically a baby Betty, but that’s not a good thing.  She’s just vapid and boring.  Maybe if she’d been given more screen time, she could have been more interesting, but she just… wasn’t.

8. Joy (Laura Ramsey)
Joy, one of the idle rich that Don met in California, didn’t have much screen time either.  But she managed to irritate me the whole time.  I don’t mind characters that are the idle rich when they’re doing something with their time.  Pursuing intellectual hobbies, or any hobby that isn’t just floating around the world being idle.  It must be nice to be able to do that, but it doesn’t give you a right to be the kind of person she really is.

7. Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis (January Jones)
I don’t know how to write her name out, really; I mean, now she’s going by Betty Francis on the show, but I feel like that wouldn’t describe all of the past seasons of Betty Draper that I just… do not like.  It’s not that I started hating Betty when she started standing up to Don.  It’s that she is not a nice woman to anyone.  It’s that she is immature, manipulative, cold.  If nothing else, it’s that she is so not cool to Sally, and Sally is my favorite television ten-year-old (who’ll be like twelve in a few weeks when the season starts).  I’ve never liked her.  I felt bad for her, and I still think that Don wasn’t the best to her, but she isn’t the best to anyone around her.

6. Allison (Alexa Alemmani)
Middling out on this list because we didn’t actually get to know her that well.  She was wide-eyed, she sexed Don, she cried.  I’m sure she’s a decent person, but I don’t have a great sense of her.  So.

5. Midge Daniels (Rosemarie DeWitt)
Sure, I feel bad when Midge comes back in season four, all addicted to drugs and desperate and sad.  And I appreciate that Midge is artistic.  But she’s a little pretentious at the start, and I don’t love pretentiousness (hence my issue with Joy).

4. Megan Calvet (Jessica Paré)
I don’t have anything against Megan.  She’s competent with the kids, and she’s nice enough.  But she’s kind of like most of the 2012 Oscar movies.  She doesn’t make me feel anything at all.

3. Suzanne Farrell (Abigail Spencer)
She seemed like a perfectly decent lady.  Getting with Don was a mistake, and she knew it the whole time, but she did it anyway.  And hey, that’s something that people do.  It doesn’t make her a bad person.  But she seemed like a sweet, competent teacher, and I wish she could have stayed just that.  I would have rather had more of Ms. Farrell in a “befriending Sally” context.  I sincerely like friendly!her, and Don’s needing to sex her was unfortunate. 

2. Faye Miller (Cara Buono)
I like Faye, actually.  I really do.  She’s competent and intelligent.  I don’t so much like it when she’s using kind of icky and manipulative gender-biased techniques to get answers out of the secretaries in the focus group, but I acknowledge that that’s just how it had to be and was in those days, or something.  She’s a consumer-researcher intellectual badass, and sure, she’s not perfect with kids, but that’s okay.  Not everyone has to be.  (And her related awkward makes me feel better about life, a little.)

1. Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff)
And I absolutely love Rachel.  I think I explained why here.

WILD CARD: Candace (Erin Cummings).  A call girl that we literally only saw in the context of her sexual relations with Don.  So I have no sense of her personality at all.  For all we know, the personality she wears as a call girl is 100% manufactured.

Now, with slightly less tl;dr, ranking his relationships.  10 being the absolutely healthy, 1 being the one that’s the least unhealthy, and again, a wild card.

10. Bobbie
Still not good in any way.

9. Betty
The fact that they stayed married for so long, with him cheating and her being unhappy and him being unhappy, is possibly what makes this so damn unhealthy.

8. Joy
And again, there is nothing healthy about this lifestyle.  Even for a few days.

7. Allison
Sleeping with a secretary just to do it isn’t cool.  Period.

6. Suzanne
I don’t care if she’s not your kid’s teacher anymore.  You don’t go there, man.

5. Candace
Sad that this is in the middle of the healthy.  It’s a little weird, and it’s probably not healthy for Don’s mind, entirely (considering he uses her just to enact his own emotional masochism; sexual masochism is a different thing entirely, and if that’s what you do that’s what you do, but I’m pretty sure Don’s need to be slapped was a reflection of his self-loathing, since he’d never exhibited those tendencies before).  But at least she’s probably not going to have her heart broken by him?  Maybe?

4. Bethany
Was basically Betty 2.0, but he presumably didn’t let it get too far?  So that’s… something?

3. Midge
Was ridiculous and pretentious, but I guess it could have been worse?

2. Rachel
It wasn’t a good idea, and Rachel probably would be happier with someone who wasn’t a philanderer, and Don did exhibit the tendency to think that she’s perfect and a fix-all for everything that’s wrong in his life and that’s not healthy, but they were still connected in conversation and intellectual idea as well as sex.  So that’s something?

1. Faye
Seriously, man.  He was a jerk more than once, and she was awkward, but he could actually talk to her about serious things that it took him how many years to even say to Betty (and that under duress).  They were also emotionally/intellectually connected, and she was patient with him, and he tried to be good to her.  And then he had to go and ruin it.

With the WILD CARD: Megan.  I have no idea how well this works.  Aside from sex and a trip to Disneyland, we haven’t seen it in action, and I don’t trust it at all.

–your fangirl heroine.


4 Responses to “Television Tuesday :: 11 women in Don Draper’s romantic history.”

  1. drush76 March 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    People have a very warped idea when it comes to parenthood these days. They prefer it when the parent indulges the child, instead of discipline them. I guess that’s why Betty is hated, while Don’s take on parenthood is being “a cute dad”. God, I fear for our species.

    • partlydrawn March 2012 at 8:25 pm #

      I don’t by any means think Don is a perfect parent, far from it, but why I have an issue with Betty’s parenting style is that it’s so unfailingly negative. She snaps at her kids when she could try to talk to them rationally, she routinely gives criticism instead of trying to understand where especially Sally is coming from. She doesn’t make any attempts to speak to the kids like people.

  2. drush76 March 2012 at 10:12 am #

    [“I don’t by any means think Don is a perfect parent, far from it, but why I have an issue with Betty’s parenting style is that it’s so unfailingly negative. She snaps at her kids when she could try to talk to them rationally, she routinely gives criticism instead of trying to understand where especially Sally is coming from. She doesn’t make any attempts to speak to the kids like people.”]

    I think you’re suffering from amnesia. Yes, Betty has snapped at her kids occasionally. And it was obvious to me that she was having some kind of nervous breakdown in S4, on the heels of her divorce. Didn’t you realize that? Betty has also tried to talk to her kids in a rational manner over the years, and express anger at their actions, sometimes. Sometimes, she has tried to understand where Sally has come from and sometimes she hasn’t. But you seem to forget that Sally isn’t some personification of a perfect child. She could be a brat.

    I think you wanted Betty to be some personification of an early 21st century parent, where she can do all the things you wanted her do, 24/7, without dispensing any discipline when Sally and Bobby needed it. Even worse, you wanted Betty to be a perfect parent. NO SUCH THING EXISTS – not in the 1960s and certainly not today. At the same time, you turn a blind eye to the fact that not only has Don failed to discipline his kids when he needs to, he is barely around to be a parent. He knows how to be a friend to his kids, but he doesn’t know how to be a parent.

    And had you ever considered the possibility that Betty was having an emotional breakdown during Season 4, on the heels of her divorce. That was pretty obvious to me. Why wasn’t it to you?

    • partlydrawn March 2012 at 11:13 am #

      I have never disputed that Betty could have been going through emotional trauma. I didn’t just start disliking her as a character then, or judging her actions then, I didn’t care for her from the beginning. And I have never said that I wanted Betty (or Sally) to be a “personification” of anything. I think the whole matter is a tricky situation, and Sally and Bobby are not perfect and likely need more discipline than they would get from Don, yes. And the impatience Betty displays is understandable.

      I don’t think Don is a perfect parent, but I think that, were he around for them more, he has the potential to be a good parent. I don’t think his cute moments as a dad are the only thing there is to parenting, but I think there are very few moments that I can think of off the top of my head where Betty displays genuine affection for her kids. It’s not all there is by any means, but it’s one small part of the whole that they need.

      As a pair of parents, Betty and Don were providing some discipline, but not enough. They were providing some affection, but not enough. As individual parents, Betty provides more discipline than affection, but not necessarily enough of either, and Don provides more affection than discipline, but not necessarily enough of either. It’s not 100% either way in either case, due largely to Don and Betty’s own personal problems, and there is no such thing as a perfect person or as a perfect parent, but I think that Betty and Don could BOTH stand to work a little bit on themselves and become good parents as a result.

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