January Jones as Betty Draper. Mad Men: season one, episode Shoot. Writers: Matthew Weiner, who created and wrote the episode along with writer Christopher Provenzano. Directed by Paul Feig.
It’s the writing and characters that draw me into the scenes, and into the stories.
What is so particularly striking about this episode is the opening and closing scene of the story, and the double entendre of the episode’s title: Shoot.
The audience is looking up at pigeons in flight with a happy family at the beginning of the episode, but by the story’s end, the pigeons are target practice for Betty’s wrath. She’s angry, bitter, and miserable with her life that doesn’t meet up to her expectations, despite appearing to “have it all.”
From the picturesque Coke ad where Betty looks like Grace Kelly to…wait Betty hold that pose…with that cigarette dangling out of your mouth.
What caused her to pick up that BB gun and shoot?
This episode is about women who are caught with a foot in the past, while trying to gain footing in the future, but are treated as a commodity to be bought, sold and discarded for a man’s gain.
I think most women can relate to her frustration.
The anger and the desperation of wanting something more with the ironic closing song, “You are my Special Angel,” while Betty shoots at the pigeons encapsulates how many women felt—then and even now—caught in unfilled roles still living in a man’s world.
This is not to say that things haven’t changed; they certainly have, but how many women out there still experience that age-old sexism in their home, and at their job?
Plenty, and this episode captures those emotions and lets it out shot after shot.
What are we waiting for?
More writing from Matthew Weiner’s last season of Mad Men, which begins airing on AMC April 5th.