Betty Draper’s character in Mad Men on AMC serves as a vehicle for the unstable, troubled, and repressed lives suburban women led in the late-1950s and early-1960s. For four seasons, two forces–expectation and desire– pushed and pulled Betty Draper. With Don Draper, she had the 2.5 kids, two cars, and stable lifestyle expected of suburban women in post-WWII America. As prescribed by controlling patriarchal American society, Betty is often told to be happy by her husband and her environs. Newly-divorced Helen represents what can happen when a woman takes control of herself and her expectations for a trustworthy and healthy marriage. She is shunned and deemed as unfortunate. Betty is trapped by the expectation of domesticity and womanly duty. She is pressured to keep it all together while her husband has multiple trysts with brunette city women.
Henry Francis, who she later leaves Don Draper for, represents the happiness and attention that she craves from Don. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Betty feels she can place herself, social expectations, and womanly duty in a union with Henry Francis. She can find happiness in the arms of Francis and his old money family, away from the nouveau riche indiscretions of Don Draper.
Betty eventually takes the plunge with three children in hand and finds that her new life with Francis isn’t exactly the fairy tale she had in mind. It isn’t necessarily cheating, but other issues arise with her new family. Sally Draper does not like her new environment and acts out against her mother and family. She proves to be an unexpected obstacle for Betty. Francis’s family makes feigned attempts at accommodating Betty and the children, but Betty cannot escape her past and continues to suffer new problems.
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and like football’s own bottle-blonde beauty, Fernando Torres has found it difficult to transition from his own loveless marriage to his new ambitious partnership. Lured in by higher wages, Champions League football, and trophies, Fernando Torres left Liverpool a year ago ready to take London by storm. Torres to Chelsea, a lot like Draper to Francis, symbolizes the struggle facing the human desire for happiness in a pressure-filled environment. Expectation and ambition in football can lead a pursuant toward total collapse.
Changes can help suss out the internal and external problems that have led to unhappiness. In the case of Fernando Torres, he cannot create his own chances. His reliance on skillful midfield players has become too obvious to Chelsea supporters. His lack of production at Liverpool also suffered when players like Gerrard were out injured, Yossi Benayoun was shunted to the bench by Rafa Benitez, and Xabi Alonso was sold to Real Madrid. Unfortunately, Chelsea do not currently possess these types of players. Honestly, Chelsea creativity and determination are at Glenn Hoddle Era levels of hopelessness
It wasn’t necessarily Draper-levels of lies and deceit that made Torres leave Liverpool. In fact, Liverpool fans and the club deserved better for all of the time they stuck by Fernando. However, his criteria for happiness was not being met, and in his head, he had to go. Fernando, like Betty, is finding that the other side of the pillow isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
Transition comes at a price. It comes with gut checks and makes us question who we really are at our most basic selves. More importantly, when forced with the monumental task of examining oneself, environment, and condition and you find yourself to be unhappy, most people don’t have the courage to make a change.
Young women in the 1960s and 1970s fought back against the expectation and social norms that suppressed women’s voices and expression. What they found was a much more entrenched and reactionary public that reinforces patriarchal norms to this day. What Fernando Torres found was that his own footballing issues followed him regardless of a change in scenery. But, without pushing for change, or without pushing for a way out, we can never find out these things about ourselves and the world around us. Challenging for change and accomplishing it is risky, but hopefully, when hit with that pivotal moment of realization that change isn’t everything we envisioned, we don’t just give up. Keep at it. Don’t give in. Keep fighting, and for Pete’s sake don’t be so damn greedy in front of goal. Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata are almost always open.