One of the secret reasons I watch Mad Men is to see how the characters spectacularly fall apart. It's like sneaking a peek at a car accident, you can't help but look. But sometimes the collapse becomes almost too painful and you want to look away. And yet...I can't.
This was how I felt watching the most recent Mad Men episode, The Crysanthemum and the Sword. There is no doubt: Betty Draper is the worst mother on television. In the past, she's barely been able to summon disdain when deeming to notice her children, but this episode she crossed the line to cruelty. After divorcing Don, she shacked up with Harry immediately, and neither she nor Don has really made an effort to protect Sally (their daughter) from their oversexed lives. So is it any wonder that Sally is a supremely messed up little girl?
First, she cuts her hair. Now I can speak from personal experience, because I did this exact thing when I was around Sally's age. I didn't like the place where my Mom took me to get my hair cut (I think I was scared of the large boisterous gay man who cut my hair--my, how things have changed), so I decided I would take control and do it myself. Of course it was a disaster as these things always are. But my Mom just contented herself with some yelling and a trip to the salon. But Betty Draper--oh, no. Sally got the full slap across the face treatment. This punishment of her daughter was so sudden and so shocking, that I literally gasped out loud. Even Harry knew Betty had gone too far. And when Don called her on it, all Betty could use to defend herself was that Sally had spoiled her looks and when she was a girl all she wanted was long hair. It seems the one lesson Sally can learn from her Mom is that the only thing that matters is appearances.
Of course, that was just the tip of the iceberg, as Sally then gets sent home after touching herself at a sleepover when she thought the other girl was asleep. Betty's humiliation by the other mother is probably some of the worst she has experienced, but it still isn't cause to threaten to cut her daughter's fingers off, as she did. The whole thing made me so mad; here is Sally, with two parents who live open sex lives, but nobody has bothered to explain anything about it to her, and when she naturally starts to want to learn about her own body...threats. Sigh. It's sad how little some people have progressed in terms of sexual education in 50 some years.
Finally, Betty listens to sense (i.e. Harry) and gets Sally's ass into therapy. THANK GOD. Maybe someone can help that poor kid out, because lord knows her Mom doesn't give a crap other than thinking about how badly it makes her look when Sally acts out.