Monday, July 19, 2010

Housewife Anti-Hero: Betty Draper

Screencap c/o Tom and Lorenzo (who are fabulous).
Image c/o "Mad Men" on AMC. Please don't sue.
Here on Hot Mess Housewife, I want to take a moment to recognize all the pop-culture housewives who are the antithesis of June Cleaver. While we all aspire to be as seamlessly perfect as Mrs. Cleaver, she also lived in a time where her husband could earn a living wage to support a family of 4, so her ass could stay at home and actually HAVE THE DAMN TIME to maintain a perfect household. In all fairness, she was also expected to look flawless 24/7 and had no real equality in society... but I digest.

SO, let's look at the other domestic divas of pop culture who are the antithesis of June; who suck at housework (or straight up refuse), who think a healthy dinner consists of Kraft Mac and Cheese and Spam, who sass their husbands back and slap their kids around (actually, scratch that last part, I don't condone child abuse).

Our first "honoree" of this dubious distinction is "Betty Draper" of "Mad Men". For those of you who don't watch "Mad Men", her character is the wife of the main character, the dapper Don Draper, head of creative at an ad agency. Betty is his picture-perfect wife, who acts the part of a New York suburban wife while falling apart at the seams thanks to a distant husband who basically uses her as a prop in his pretend-perfect life. Yeah, she's pretty awesome... inasmuch as she makes me feel healthy and normal.

So why is she the "anti-hero housewife"? Well, as an overprivileged upper-class white woman, she shoves most of her work and child-rearing onto her African-American maid, gossips incessantly about her neighbors, and has the maturity of a 5-year-old. I'd give more examples, but then we're venturing into spoiler territory and I don't want to ruin the awesomeness that is "Mad Men". Seriously, WATCH IT. If you gave it one shot and thought it was boring, keep in mind that Mad Men is a slow burn on a long fuse... that is attached to a sh**-ton of dynamite. Seriously, the payoff hurts so good.

Now some of what Betty does we can't judge her on completely. She does smack her kids around a little, but that was acceptable back then (unfortunately); also, most women had the choice of "mother" or "spinster" back then. I mean, they can work for a while (as seen by all those secretaries in the pool in the Sterling Cooper offices), but the expectation was work = husband shopping. Not to mention divorce was more shame-based back then than it is NOW. You simply didn't do it back then!

What can we learn from Betty Draper?
  • Don't marry Don Draper. Seriously. Sleep with him all you like, but marriage is probably not a good idea. 
  • As seen above, plastic bags are totally fine for playing "spaceman" for little kids... as long as the GOD-DAMN DRY CLEANING ISN'T LAYING ON THE FLOOR. (Seriously. That's what the scenecap above is talking about.)
  • Sitting and pouting about stuff, instead of dealing with it, makes you miserable but it beats doing stuff. 
  • Looking as gorgeous as possible is the best way to deal with life... rather than, y'know, actually confronting your issues and dealing with them.
  • When a creepy neighbor kid asks for a lock of your hair to keep after bursting into the bathroom to watch you pee, there's absolutely no other response than to cut the lock of hair for him. I mean, even though you're the responsible adult. and he just tried to watch you pee. No bigs!
  • The neighbor's pigeons are excellent target practice. 
So while Betty Draper does have good housewife aspects (girl knows how to throw a dinner party, yo), she is the 1960's version of a hot mess. Luckily for her, she's flippin' gorgeous and just needs to find a wealthy man to meet her needs, and just ignores that gnawing feeling that her life is actually pretty crappy. So congratulations, Betty Draper, our first Housewife Anti-Hero!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...