04/02/2012 11:31 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

'Mad Men' Season 5, Episode 3 Style Recap: Betty Francis Got Fat

So there is absolutely no polite way to put this (and I hate to stoop to this level of bodysnark) but let's call a spade a spade: Betty got fat.

The reason I'm calling this a "shocker" is because we all know that the character of Betty Francis (nee Draper) has spent seasons being judgy about everything from neighbors letting themselves go and her poor daughter Sally looking 'pudgy' in a family portrait. And also because the weight gain might have been due to a thyroid tumor.


...turned out to be benign.

There are so many reasons why I'm disappointed by this plot turn. One is because, in real life, January Jones was pregnant during filming, and making a character gain weight, carry comically-sized handbags or get pregnant is how writers deal with that. What I want to know is: why didn't they make Betty pregnant? Her marriage is happy with Henry (who, I might add, couldn't be nicer) and it would make sense for her to have a child with her new-ish husband. There hasn't been a compelling reason for Betty to be sad in this marriage.

Second is because they made Betty pathetic. The character of Betty has been caricatured since her divorce from Don. Last season, she was a she-devil who appeared occasionally to yell at Don, Sally or Henry. Or wrongly fire Carla. Now this year, she's going to be a saddy sad sad eating sundaes and Bugles to silence her sadness.

And you know what really adds insult to injury? Betty wearing muumuus...and what appears to be a modified slipcover.

Also insulting: forcing Betty to wear the make-up Weird Al wore in the video for "Fat."

If we were reading the tea leaves, we would predict a "Valley Of The Dolls" type of diet pill addition on Betty's horizon.

Overall, Betty served (yet again) as a foil to Megan. Young, vibrant and a little immature still (referring to Betty's sickness as "A reason to call [Don]"), Megan is the next generation. And we're not talking about "the next generation of Don's wives," but the youthquake that was happening around 1966. Sickness aside, compare Betty's Donna Reed hairdo and staid floral ensembles and fusty house interior with Megan's colorful Pucci mini and pale lips and sleek apartment. At this point, Betty's only in her early 30's but seems middle aged.

Re: Old vs. Young. The generation gap featured prominently -- if not heavy-handedly -- in this episode. We had Don in his suit, backstage at the Rolling Stones concert amongst a bunch of mini-skirted 14-year-olds. Peggy's clothes are just mod enough, but she's the utmost professional, contrasted with the anything-but-formal new hire, Michael Ginsberg. (And can we talk about just how much of a Jewish New Yorker stereotype they made Michael? I couldn't really look at the television during his scenes, it was that painful.)

To see all this (and more!), check out our slideshow. And tune in next Monday for the latest installment of our Mad Men style recap.

Mad Men Style Recap