“Mad Men”: Episode 4, “The Arrangements”

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Betty — I hate you.

By the end of this episode of “Mad Men,” dubbed “The Arrangements,” I wished it was Betty who had dropped dead. She’s utterly inhuman. Unfeeling. Cruel. Narcissistic in the extreme. She’s torturing her children with her psycho self-indulgence as surely as if she were beating them with whips.

It all ended for me and Betty in the scene in which she and Sally are informed by the police officer of the sudden death of her father, Gene, while he was out the A&P market. That Betty could leave a stunned Sally alone on the steps after such a blow was the last straw. Even after Sally cries out in shock and pain. Where is Betty’s nurturing gene? How could the mama bear not instinctively move to comfort her cub? I’ve never wanted to claw through the TV screen and smack a character so badly.

Betty does not deserve to be a mother, no matter how well her reproductive system works. Gene calls her “Scarlett O’Hara” in their early scene when Betty gets so upset when he tries to go over his will and funeral arrangements. But that’s an insult to Scarlett O’Hara. “I’m your little girl,” she whines. Pathetic. She accused her father of being “selfish and morbid” — two things she sure knows a lot about.

Don Draper has no excuse either, frankly. Sally is an open wound, raw and bleeding from the pain she’s feeling of the loss of the only adult in her familial world who paid a bit of attention to her as a person, and gave a bit of positive reinforcement rather than treating her like a two-dimensional prop with no feelings. And even when Sally bleeds out right in front of his eyes, he does nothing. When Betty cruelly tells her distraught daughter to “go watch TV,” he does nothing. I wanted to shake him by his skinny tie, and by this point I wanted to dismember Betty. It was painful to watch the scenes with Sally in this episode.

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  1. Deanne says:

    This recap makes you sound like you need major therapy!

  2. Perry Lane says:

    The MM writers clearly remember what it was like to grow up in a time when children were seen and not heard. The only false note in the episode, for me, was that Sally would be allowed to express her feelings about her grandfather’s death so emphatically. I can’t see parents of the day allowing such a spectacle.

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