Unlikable TV Characters: We hate them because they really deserve it

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Betty Draper (January Jones) – Mad Men – Season 4 – Gallery – Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Betty Draper – Mad Men

In this installment of “things that are wildly unfair” we can talk about all the hate directed at Betty Draper. Much like Skyler White, much of Betty’s actions were a direct result of the mistreatment by her husband. Yet fans loved Don Draper and despised Betty for behaving in almost identical ways.

Betty often acted like a petulant child, which did make her hard to root for, but audiences hated her without much consideration of the “why” of it all. Being married to an emotionally unavailable, serial cheater will affect a woman. Why aren’t we indicting Don Draper for being awful?

Betty was also the victim of a lot of misogyny concerning her “mothering” skills. At best, she didn’t exhibit a very maternal attitude, and at worst, she created an extremely toxic environment for her kids. Some of Betty’s harshest critics suggest she was downright abusive to her children, but it’s a very sexist endeavor to pin it all on her. We shouldn’t judge Betty’s character as a human or as a woman just because she lacks traditional mothering skills.

I think it’s fair to be a little annoyed at her immature attention seeking skills and the passive aggressive dance of resentment and punishment she and Don both engaged in. But let’s not forget it takes two to do a dance.