Scene From Mad Men This Week

April 05, 2012

Thesis: if you're one of the people who never watched Mad Men, then you're one of the people who has listened to a passionate but completely unconvincing monologue on why the show is so good.

It seems to be a theme with a lot of the television that is good right now. If you watch it, you like it, but you can't really describe anything that is particularly likeable. Maybe I can look into that phenomenon for you in a future post, but now, I'm going to give you an example about what is so good about Mad Men.

I watched this week's episode on Sunday night. One of the plot points was that Betty Draper Iforgethernewlastname is a lot heftier than she was when we last saw her. Her doctor found some sort of abnormality in her neck, which rolled into a Betty Cancer scare.

In once scene, she runs into an old acquaintance at the cancer doctor's office, and they end up going to lunch. While at lunch with her fellow cancer patient, she says gloomily, "I've got the only kind that makes you fat."

At the time it played, it struck me as humorous. I didn't chuckle out loud, but on the inside, I was momentarily amused. It took until today -- four days later -- for me to realize that I witnessed a little slice of TV writing genius. In this one line, we instantly know that Betty's self-centeredness is as strong as ever. She doesn't think of her kids, her husband, or the things that cancer might keep her from in life. She certainly doesn't consider the feelings of her friend across the table. She just worries about getting fat.

Fast forward to the last scene, where Betty finishes her ice cream and then finishes Sally's ice cream once she's alone in the kitchen. I've used the visual of fat Betty going for ice cream number 2 to help stifle my own gorging on junk impulses this week. Next time you see me chowing down on an inordinate amount of junk food, just call me Betty.

(I know. I brought it around to me. I hope I can get one of those thinning diseases.)