Category Archives: Betty Draper

Georgann Rea and Betty Draper

The heat in Los Angeles, whether seasonally warm summer heat or dry electrically charged Santa Ana wind heat, makes me think of my mother.  You feel confined by the LA heat–trapped in your air conditioning, behind shades or sheets or blinds; constricted by the air as the yellow sky clamps a lid on the city.  Joan Didion called it “Knife Sharpening Weather” referring to Raymond Chandler’s description of the Santa Anas as a time when normally meek housewives would sharpen their kitchen knives with an eye on the back of their husbands’ necks.   Knives, the threat of violence, out-sized inappropriate responses to external conditions all remind me of my mother, Georgann Rea.  Mother thought harrassing phone calls, baseball bats and getting someone fired were appropriate responses to teenage heartbreak.  It was a mothering instinct like Medea’s — ultimately all about my mother.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw Betty Draper for the first time on Mad Men. They were/are both constricted by their time, society, roles but also psychology. Betty shares many of Mother’s qualities, and her actions and reactions–like the shooting of her neighbor’s birds in her nightgown, smoking a cigarette–are straight from Mother’s playbook. I don’t know if Betty will turn out to be completely psychotic but… stranger things have happened.