We received a comment from Byron (yonder in the About section) asking for our take on how it was that Don came to marry Betty.
Betty seems so simple and he is unsatisfied by her. I think it’s because he fabricated his post Korea life and she fit the stereotype of the perfect late 50s housewife.
I think he fell in love with her. Yes, she is, on paper, the perfect wife, but I don’t think it was calculated or deliberately cold. She is gorgeous, she is kind, and she would make a good mother. And she would make him feel safe and mothered, something he always craved. Of course he couldn’t understand that piece of the appeal.
You’re a mother to those two little people and you are better at it than anyone else in the world… I would have given anything to have had a mother like you. Beautiful and kind, and filled with love like an angel.
Here’s the thing. Everyone talks about this couple like they have no marriage. The actors commented to that effect. (I don’t recall hearing Weiner speak on it.) I disagree. I think there is a marriage. One that was based on love and affection and sure, filling each other’s holes (like so many love stories). I don’t know if it’s one that can be saved anymore because they’re both becoming so angry and their communication skills are for shit. But it’s a marriage.
They play together. The banter. She keeps up. They drink, they laugh, they have lots of sex.
Sexually she is probably an alluring combination of innocent (likely a virgin when they met, though who knows what might have happened in Europe) (okay probably nothing if the man she was closest with was a gay designer) and submissive but also ferocious and insatiable.
She doesn’t really know Don in Manhattan, but I think that’s typical–I think it’s still common. My ex whatever-he-was barely had a glimpse of who I am at work. So Betty is perhaps a bit enamored of that side of Don, but she is I think a bit enamored of him in general, and also of the elusive New York City/man’s world.
And here’s a key to her appeal for Don; Betty doesn’t ask questions.
Don, as we see, goes for some pretty amazing women. And I think he’s failed to notice that Betty is pretty amazing because of her subservience. What a trick. Why he chose her is how he finds her lacking. She is certainly not living like she’s that kind of amazing, the way that the self-sufficient brunette women who continue to captivate him live.
It will be interesting to see what becomes of Betty on the other side of this depression. Maybe this marriage will end; at least pause. (Maybe it already has.) And then perhaps Don will find her attractive in ways he hadn’t to this point.
Midge doen’t ask questions either, but that’s the nature of their relationship, and also, it’s her preference. But Midge wouldn’t put up with that in a primary, committed relationship; someone who wouldn’t allow her to poke and prod. Rachel reaches him in such a different place; idenifies from the beginnning his alienation. And she’s the one he finally opens up to. (About his past. Not so much about his present.)
Betty has never recognized that in him; the alienation or his oddnesses; never noticed that she is married to a guy with a secret identity. She is too consumed by her own inferiority and her own sense of being an outsider, though she can’t even identify that in herself; can’t feel it cause it doesn’t make sense. She should completely fit. Of course she fits. She fits the best. She’s perfect. That is the cloud that Betty exists in; the fog of not understanding why it confuses and hurts her to put one foot in front of the other when it’s just walking. And the cloud keeps her from seeing Don.
In Season One the cloud lifts. She starts to recognize that Don keeps secrets. And that his behavior is not totally normal. And that he’s not cool about family. And that the questions she hasn’t been asking deserve answers.