Mad Men is back! Contract negotiations and scheduling conflicts have kept the show off AMC for close to two years, yet fans will not be deterred. Season five has been generating just as much buzz.
Thus far the theme has been forward thinking amidst strong opposition – on a personal and global front. The Civil Rights Movement has erupted full-force, spilling over into the lobby and storyboards of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Don is giving marriage another go, this time with a young secretary. Joan is on maternity leave, caring for a newborn and an equally childish Mother-In-Law. Peggy’s hard-earned career path has become solidified enough to warrant her time to wonder if she has lost her identity along the way.
But, where is Betty? Her absence from the premiere is remedied in episode two when we are granted a ‘fleshed out’ reveal. Betty’s flawless appearance has been substituted for a double chin. Her tailored wardrobe is reduced to a bunch of paisley Muumuus that hide her meaty rolls.
At first, there may be a deeper reason. A check-up reveals a lump on her neck. Tests are administered and Betty wonders if her sundae-bingeing days are numbered. When her doctor later pronounces the mass to be benign, she huffs, “It’s nice to be put through the ringer and find out I’m just fat.”
Betty’s reaction proves that little has changed under her new celluloid layer. Her appearance is connected to vanity and reality. What’s eating Betty is linked to what Betty eats. Betty’s body (until now) has been her biggest asset and also the part of her most in-tune with her monotone state.
Matt Weiner has worked to keep her one-dimensional, opposite to the nuances found in fellow co-stars. Betty may eventually reach a better understanding of her unhappiness…or not. In the meantime, January Jones needs a reason to keep stepping into that padded suit. If I was her acting coach and bent on exploring Betty’s cankle motives, I would outline the following list:
BETTY IS CHUBBY BECAUSE:
- Baby Gene is starting to look like Toddler Don.
- Henry keeps tossing around the phrase ‘Well, you have my vote” to express agreement.
- Glen Bishop has stopped accepting used lipstick tubes as compensation for cutting the grass.
- Peggy’s latest ad campaign for Housewife Hair Gel features a grim blonde model and the slogan “For taming your most stubborn stray hairs after a hysterical episode.”
- The neighbor who owns carrier pigeons rolled up one peppered with BB gun pellets in the family’s morning newspaper.
- She doesn’t speak French.
- The Jello dessert is stuck in the mold.
- Henry prefers to have his clothing air-dried outside.
- Sally won’t stop whining about missing her ‘real Dad.’
- The dining room chairs broke. Again.
The times, they are a’changing, along with the waistlines. Betty’s development might finally be jump-started, along with her metabolism. One thing is for sure – it will be a hell of a lot more difficult for her to continue drifting.Tags: AMC, January Jones, Mad Men, Season 5 Mad Men, tv