Someone Gets Lung Cancer On Mad Men, Are We Really Shocked?

Someone Gets Lung Cancer On Mad Men, Are We Really Shocked?

There is only one episode left for AMC’s hit series, Mad Men. Since it first hit airwaves back in 2007, up till being just one week away from its end, viewers have been transported back to the days when the only job women were expected to do was raise kids, men were sexist pigs and everyone drank and smoked in the office. In fact, if there were two items that seemed constant in the decades covered in Mad Men, it was booze and cigarettes.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper  smoking on Mad Men.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper smoking on Mad Men. ©AMC

If during the shows run you had a thought that maybe smoking cigarettes was kinda-sorta cool and glamorous, one could understand why. Don and Betty, Joan and just about every other character on the show, toked up with style. They made it look chic and harmless. Just like society thought it was back in the 50, 60 and 70’s. Remember that cool Marlboro man.

For those of us today who remember having to ask for the “non-smoking” section on a plane or in a restaurant, Mad Men reminded us just how far we’ve come. The doctor smoking in the exam room while talking with his patient; did that really happen? With over 900 cigarettes smoked during the shows 8 year run, did we not think one of the characters was destined for lung cancer? The thing is, did you expect it to be Betty.

betty franics diagnosed with lung cancer

January Jones as Betty Francis and Harry Hamlin as Jim Cutler on Season 7 Episode 13 of Mad Men. ©AMC

In the last episode before the finale titled, The Milk and Honey Route which aired this past Sunday, Don’s ex-wife Betty takes a spill on the steps at school. The next scene she’s sitting in the doctors office, being told by her doctor that she needs to call her husband. The news is bad. She has lung cancer and it has metastasized to her bones. The doctor gives her around nine months to live.

Sure we were all shocked at the direction Matthew Weiner decided to go with the beautiful blond character of Betty. But should we be surprised that someone on the show got lung cancer with all that cigarette smoking? Anyone in their forties or beyond today likely grew up with relatives, even mothers who smoked a pack a day. We also were acquainted with those who had their whole lives in front of them, only to see it come crashing down with the diagnosis of lung cancer. Those consequences were felt by Betty’s husband and daughter in the latest episode. Who didn’t struggle to hold back the tears when Sally Draper read her mothers death letter.

Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper

Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper reading her dying mother’s letter. ©AMC

Maybe that’s what the Mad Men creator wanted to send us away with in the end. As Don, Pete and now Betty Francis slowly come to grips with what is important in life and how the life we live today will impact the one we face in the future – Weiner reminds us as an audience that these vices ruined people. No matter how glamorous or cool it looked, how much money you had or plans you had in the books, good people died. People just like Betty.

There are a lot of things it would be cool to bring back from the era of Mad Men. The other stuff…not so much.

Mad Men’s finale episode airs Sunday May 17th 10/9c on AMC.

Mad Men Official

Media: ©AMC

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Wayne Andres

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