Betty Is Basically A Supervillian
December 6, 2010 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Mad Men D&D Character Alignments from the venerable mightygodking
posted by The Whelk (194 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Every time I see one of these posted I have a flashback to the hundreds of drunken arguments about alignment and moral relativism. Nerdrage.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:33 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Mad Men alignment chart is sexist.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:40 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, no shit.
posted by muddgirl at 7:42 PM on December 6, 2010


this is why I am lawful neutral.
posted by clavdivs at 7:43 PM on December 6, 2010


Gah that is an epic Misreading of Betty. Betty of course has a truckload of reasons to be resentful and get her own, but that only goes so far. She's a sad character, someone who was literally never allowed to grow up but also someone who retreats into her status and position whenever threatened. She's literally a reactionary, and if the theme of the last season was "Everyone grow the fuck up" Betty was the one who dug in her heels the most.
posted by The Whelk at 7:43 PM on December 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


That being said, we can see and illuminate all the ways she's been damaged by literally everyone she's ever been involved with - which is why it's a fun show.
posted by The Whelk at 7:44 PM on December 6, 2010


From Horace's link:

Frankly, I think it’s sexist that [Betty] keeps getting pigeonholed as the bad guy on the show when she’s no more bad than many of the men.

Which is why the other two "evil" slots go to men.

[U]nlike Betty, Roger deliberately hurts people, and he does it for his own pleasure. He’s mean and he’s untrustworthy and he’s vain and he’s selfish.

Sounds a lot like Betty to me.

The Mad Men alignment chart is sexist.

No, it's not.
posted by saturday_morning at 7:44 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


that being said I agree Duck is way more chaotic.

THAT POOR DOG.
posted by The Whelk at 7:45 PM on December 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


That critique is dumb. It suggests that Chaotic Evil is more evil than Neutral Evil.
posted by oddman at 7:45 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


not MORE evil, just the ways the evil is expressed, is how it was explained me making character sheets at 13.
posted by The Whelk at 7:47 PM on December 6, 2010


Betty isn’t evil. At all.

Cite please.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:49 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Polyhedral Technological Somnambulism
posted by clavdivs at 7:49 PM on December 6, 2010


The critique is wrong but it's absolutely a sexist reading to say that Betty is Evil but Don is Neutral.

Don is the Hero, but he's still pretty damned Evil when he wants to be. Betty is a villain but she's no worse than Don. Really, it shows the weakness of the character alignment system and a human weakness to attribute Good motives to Heroes and Bad motives to Villains.

She's literally a reactionary, and if the theme of the last season was "Everyone grow the fuck up" Betty was the one who dug in her heels the most.

More than Don? Who started Season 3 married and ended Season 4 married to a younger, brunette Betty?
posted by muddgirl at 7:49 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think it pegs Betty and Roger very well. Roger just doesn't care -- he'll use any means to achieve his ends. Betty just destroys for reasons unknown to others (although, we, the omniscient viewer knows). To the other characters, Betty is no more understandable than a demon that just waltzes along, fucking shit up.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:52 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


More than Don? Who started Season 3 married and ended Season 4 married to a younger, brunette Betty?

Oh god no I didn't mean that. The interesting thing to me is that the show likes matched pairs, Betty and Don, Peggy and Pete, who have almost the same reactions to things but they get expressed differently because of their role in society. I think the rationale behind the alignment system is that whole Don is (horribly selfishly childishly ) always acting in his own favor, Betty is now deliberately trying to hurt people, mostly Sally. It's a flaw of the alignment system, but I enjoyed it ....

...and it means we can totally talk about Mad Men in this thread.
posted by The Whelk at 7:54 PM on December 6, 2010


who is betty. they are not named in the brady bunch looking box who really watches this show i need a Chesterfield.
posted by clavdivs at 7:54 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


and I thought the idea of Joan, the upholder of social law and order whenever possible, was really apt.
posted by The Whelk at 7:54 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


(and think about it, according to the chart, LANE is the upholder of all that is good and honorable in the Mad Men world. LANE.)
posted by The Whelk at 7:57 PM on December 6, 2010


Also: The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia alignment chart.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:58 PM on December 6, 2010 [24 favorites]


Don is evil? No. He helped Peggy. He helped Pete (didn't lash out when Pete tried to sink him), hurt Pete (forced him to give up North American), then helped him again (paying his share for the agency). He's predatory toward women (lots of them) and then not toward others (Draper's wife, Draper's niece, Peggy). He's lied and lied, but holds onto guilt. This is what neutral is, not druids and forests.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:00 PM on December 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Betty is cruel to Sally because it's the only thing she knows. If she's evil, then it's the sad sort of evil of an Orc, not a supervillain - at every turn she was taught to be evil.

Of course, I've gotten in trouble at Mefi before for having sympathetic feelings towards adults trapped in the cycle of abuse (while recognizing that they are still culpable for their actions). It seems more acceptable here to label them all monsters regardless of their own victimhood.
posted by muddgirl at 8:01 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


We can all agree Pete is the face of all evil in this world.
posted by The Whelk at 8:01 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


But Don does good things too. He helped Peggy, helped the real Don's wife, is mostly decent (and definitely well intentioned) to his kids, etc.

The good balances the evil, i.e. neutral.
posted by oddman at 8:01 PM on December 6, 2010


And yes, Pete is the Hellmouth of Mad Men.
posted by oddman at 8:03 PM on December 6, 2010


at every turn she was taught to be evil.

I'm totally with you, the shoe has taken great pains to show Betty as a product of her environment and I'm kinda shocked the show went there in terms of the cycle of abuse thing. It is interesting that no one is calling for Betty to see the error of her ways and realize what's shes doing. I was expecting more of that, but the audience has really turned on her and I do wonder how much of that was intentional.
posted by The Whelk at 8:04 PM on December 6, 2010


Betty is cruel to Sally because it's the only thing she knows. If she's evil, then it's the sad sort of evil of an Orc, not a supervillain - at every turn she was taught to be evil.

My sister said "Oh that's just how moms are to their daughters" to defend Betty. There's so much to unpack there that I give gender discussions a wide wide berth if I am being sensible.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:04 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's no visible difference between Harry Crane and Roger Sterling; they're both neutral evil and Roger is just better at it. That's why he's the star and Crane is a minor figure who doesn't really belong on the list. That frees up chaotic neutral for Betty, where she's a much better fit.

I don't think the show has a chaotic evil character.
posted by Kwine at 8:06 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


people are having such a big reaction to Betty's treatment of Sally, I wonder if it's cause we haven't seen a lot of realistic depictions of shitty parenting on TV and it's hitting all these big buttons in the audience.
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 PM on December 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


You don't have to convince me that Don isn't evil. You have to convince me that Betty isn't as neutral as the rest of us, or that the alignment system is at all a worthwhile framework to analyze a show with as complex a set of characterizations as Mad Men.
posted by muddgirl at 8:06 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lane is about the straight and narrow good, not being just good. He's LG, more L than G. He's going to Arcadia, not Celestia.

I don't know about Peggy. She's definitely sliding towards Don's black hole.

Don's neutral because he doesn't really want to hurt people. That he does is because he's weak and impulsive and selfish. Betty and Roger and Pete are evil because they like the rush of hurting people.
posted by bonehead at 8:08 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't think the show can be fit into an alignment system.

Not unless the show starts having wizards and orcs.

oh can it?
posted by The Whelk at 8:09 PM on December 6, 2010


LG - Emma Pilsbury
NG - Finn Hudson
CG - Brittany Pierce
LN - Principal Figgins
N - Will Schuster
CN - Noah "Puck" Puckerman
LE - Sue Sylvester
NE - Rachel Berry
CE - Santana Lopez

In other news, it turns out I don't know how others manage to do ASCII drawings on this site, or else this breaking and important information would have been presented more graphically. Oh, so graphically. Like, NSFW graphic. Ew.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


I have a theory that the only reason Peggy acts moral and right is cause she has less power in her world. This is the theory that states Pete and Peggy are actually the same person but born into different worlds.
posted by The Whelk at 8:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


the alignment system is at all a worthwhile framework to analyze a show with as complex a set of characterizations as Mad Men

Are you trying to imply that there are more than 9 types of moral systems in the world? What kind of crazy is that?
posted by bonehead at 8:12 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


or that the alignment system is at all a worthwhile framework to analyze a show with as complex a set of characterizations as Mad Men.

Bingo.
posted by naju at 8:12 PM on December 6, 2010


They're all evil and they're all good. That's why people like the show.
posted by jet_manifesto at 8:13 PM on December 6, 2010


Peggy all "Witches want to turn their mothers into newts, we have to work the newt angle." Don all taking credit for her ideas and then yelling at her for not thinking of subliminally referencing bat wings.
posted by muddgirl at 8:13 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also I wouldn't call Meagan Brunette Betty. There's something ...off about her. Something calculating and exact. Or maybe obsessive, I'm getting a strong Enabler vibe from her. I'm sure she's a very nice person but if she was we wouldn't have a show.
posted by The Whelk at 8:14 PM on December 6, 2010


Actually for everything Joan has been an upright pillar of good faith and helpfulness, notice how all the secondary characters spend their lives cleaning up after the Mains? In an alternate universe Lane is the main character and Don is the bumbling comic relief.
posted by The Whelk at 8:16 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Peggy is too smart to be Pete. It takes a certain kind of idiocy combined with ambition and cunning to be Pete. Trudy has it, but Peggy isn't blind enough. Kartheiser, on the other hand, is some kind of genius who should be given every single acting award there is. All of them, even Best Short Film - Live Action - 2 Reels which (retired in '56).
posted by bonehead at 8:17 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I do like how Trudy and Pete can be all cute together only when they're being evil and petty. They're actually totally made for each other and isn't that sad?

That being said, I'm betting Harry Crane to be the prime mover for the next season.
posted by The Whelk at 8:21 PM on December 6, 2010


I'd watch a gritty miniseries about Roger Sterling in the Pacific war. I'd watch a comedy about Lane returning to London as a lecherous, over-the-hill, divorced bachelor in the 70s. I'd watch a coming-of-age drama about teenaged Peggy working a hot dog stand in 1950s Coney Island.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:23 PM on December 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


Closest fit for chaotic evil? Duck in Season 4, definitely. I agree Betty comes off as chaotic evil, but she's such a damaged, developmentally arrested person trapped in a shitty miserable life that it's hard to really define her as "evil" per se. To be fair, you could say the same about Duck: a post-traumatic mess who never quite adapted to civilian life, and through a combination of overconfidence and alcoholism alienated himself from everyone who was ever once close to him. Cooper's a true neutral as well, Sal. . .who knows.

TL,DR version: what Muddgirl said.


On the topic of alignment charts, I think my all time favorite alignment chart is:

LG - Cordelia
NG - Gloucester
CG - Edgar
LN - Kent
N - Lear
CN - Fool
LE - Oswald
NE - Goneril/Regan
CE - Edmund

All nine alignments very well-represented in a single play! Nice.
posted by Ndwright at 8:25 PM on December 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'd watch Salvatore cruise The Rambles!

seriously we're heading head first into the sexual revolution and we don't have A Gay. I thought Kurt was going fill that role. Hence my idea about Crane. He's always going off to L.A seemingly random, I think he's got an actor boy on the side and that is not because of my inexplicable attraction to the actor who is a board game geek in real life isn't that fucking adorable?
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Okay we have Peggy's friend and she's a DELIGHT but we never get to see all these tantalizing glimpses of the 60s art scene that they dangle before us like cat toys
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Betty is cruel to Sally because it's the only thing she knows.
Remember in season 1 when Betty was all WHY DON'T YOU HELP ME DISCIPLINE THE KIDS?? And Don was like, because I got the shit beat out of me when I was little and I don't want to be like that. Don was making a choice to do something different (so, okay, that turned into "nothing at all") but still, Betty couldn't even manage that kind of self knowledge. I barely know what D&D even is but this chart made sense to me. I don't know what the technical definition of "Chaotic evil" is but I feel like if you wanted to call it something like an out of control sky-scraper-sized child demon running amok over downtown and then compare that to Betty and call Sally "downtown" I would agree.
posted by amethysts at 8:28 PM on December 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


I don't pretend to understand the D&D framework - but it seems like either Lawful or Good would preclude arranging to stay permanently in NYC when your wife hates it there and is begging to go home to London.
posted by moxiedoll at 8:29 PM on December 6, 2010


Anyway it's probably a testament to the show that I want the 3rd tier characters to have thier own hour-long episodes. Can you imagine Peggy being taken a serious Happening? It would be hilarious, you know this.
posted by The Whelk at 8:29 PM on December 6, 2010


Ndwright, I love the Lear chart, but I have some trouble with the Cordelia/Fool placements. 1, because I subscribe to the reading that they are the same person, and 2, because Cordelia is never portrayed as Lawful. The entire action gets set in motion because Cordelia, though the shining beacon of "good," refuses to bow to the falseness of ceremony.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:32 PM on December 6, 2010


(and think about it, according to the chart, LANE is the upholder of all that is good and honorable in the Mad Men world. LANE.)

Duh. Have you ever known a Lane in real life? They are absolutely the most lawful good (for the good they believe in) you have ever met. Stiff upper lip guv'nor!

(My favorite mad men game to play is "I like to think I'm ... but I know I'm really ...". For women it's usually "I like to think I'm Joan but I know I'm really ..." I know I am Trudy. My SO knows he is Lane.)
posted by ch1x0r at 8:32 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Betty is a villain but she's no worse than Don.

I'd say yes and no. They both are capable of equal horribleness, but we've seen Don help others in situations where he had no tangible personal benefit (e.g., Peggy's abortion), and we haven't seen that from Betty quite so much, particularly of late. Don seems to vacillate between saint and sinner, which leans in the direction of true neutral. Betty has nearly never done so over the course of the series (the shooting of the pigeons early on is the only thing that leaps to mind right now).

She has taken positive steps on her own behalf, like divorcing Don, and I want to emphasize that, in the historical/cultural context of this show, that is no small thing, but I don't recall a selfless action of hers off the top of my head. So if there's sexism afoot (and there may be) I'd look more to the writing than this assessment. Also what was said above about the characters not fitting these neat categories, obviously.

at every turn she was taught to be evil

Sure. But that makes the evil more tragic, not less evil.

Of course, I've gotten in trouble at Mefi before for having sympathetic feelings towards adults trapped in the cycle of abuse (while recognizing that they are still culpable for their actions).

I'd rather discuss characters of a fictional show without bringing personal site history into it.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:32 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Betty seems like a textbook definition of evil because she rationalizes the consequences of her actions so she doesn't feel guilt. The blog post claiming that the chart is sexist is wrong because it says that the Betty's actions have no worse results than other male characters, which is a non-sequitor, because it's applying consequentialist ethical standards to a chart which is obviously about the characters' inner qualities, i.e. virtue ethics.
posted by AlsoMike at 8:33 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


(and the thing I love about the Mad Style segments on Tom And Lorenzo are the history and culture lessons, like how Peggy's friend's outfit, ponytail, suit jacket, chunky necklace, reads to us as fun and business casual would be a bright blue fucking mohawk in 1964, which can explain her attitude)
posted by The Whelk at 8:35 PM on December 6, 2010


Navelgazer, I've actually been working on a Glee one. I'll post the graphic later, but here's what I've got:

LG - Emma
NG - Finn
CG - April Rhodes
LN - Principal Figgins
N - Brittany
CN - Mr. Schuester
LE - Sue
NE - Santana
CE - Terri

Note that the people I picked as good are 2/3 recurring characters but not members of the main cast, because no one on Glee is good. Everyone is an asshole.
posted by NoraReed at 8:36 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you imagine Peggy being taken a serious Happening?

I am Peggy Olson and I want some LSD!
posted by bonehead at 8:36 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


We can all agree Pete is the face of all evil in this world.

Nope. I disagree. Pete just can't get away with the shit that Don does because he's not as charming or handsome. He's not as well packaged or presented as Don, the advertising genius.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:38 PM on December 6, 2010


It's hard imagine Pete in a moral quandary but it is easy to imagine him with a dead hooker so QED.
posted by The Whelk at 8:39 PM on December 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


There is some On Set gossip that they're aiming to make Peggy the star of the series and slowly diminish Don.

Also some people are gonna die, maybe, if you believe gossip.
posted by The Whelk at 8:41 PM on December 6, 2010


Some people are going to die? You mean you haven't notice the giant, flashing red target placed directly over Joan's husband? Dude has had a FRAG ME sign pinned on his back for many, many episodes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:44 PM on December 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Less obvious then Dr. GONNA GET SHOT
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don Draper (WIS: 8 CHA: 15) fails wisdom check and gives in to infidelity yet again.
posted by marco_nj at 8:51 PM on December 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


Casts Spell: Scotch
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on December 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


Man, you guys are all taking a joking chart on a comedy website pretty darn seriously.

That said, I think Betty is a tragic figure, completely a product of her environment and the abuse wrought on her, and at this point is basically an emotionally stunted child in a woman's body who is in terrible confusion and pain and lacks the self-awareness to tease away the roots of her frustrations (and becomes overwhelmed with fear at self-discovery when it comes even close). Her only coping method so far is lashing out uncontrollably at those around her in a desperate attempt to channel the pain away. Which may be sad and understandable, but is still pretty damn evil in its results.
posted by schroedinger at 8:55 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


when I read ch1x0r's post I filled in both slots with "pete" without even thinking about it. all "oh, yeah, pete, both slots, fuck yeah."

and then I went and pondered that. wow, I thought, what does that say about me as a person? and after some deliberation, I thought: You know what? Pete, both slots, fuck yeah, haters can suck it.

\m/ smarmy-bitchface \m/
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:55 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


He keeps attacking the darkness. but the darkness always wins.
posted by bonehead at 8:56 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Betty is getting to like being petty though. She positively enjoyed firing Carla (at the time, even if she had doubts later).
posted by bonehead at 8:57 PM on December 6, 2010


Don failed his saving throw vs. French brunettes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:58 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


NoraReed, here are my explanations for my slight variation on yours:

I've only seen one episode of Mad Men, the JFK Assassination one, and though it was very good, I haven't had time to catch up from the beginning, so I'm useless in that discussion.

LG - Emma Pilsbury
We seem to be in agreement on this one. She's obviously got the best intentions of maybe anyone on the show, and while OCD≠Lawful, the show kind of plays it that way.

NG - Finn Hudson
Also truly well-intentioned and usually selfless, or at least much more so than most characters on this show. Doesn't go out of his way to break the rules or follow them. Again, we seem to be in agreement.

CG - Brittany Pierce
I get the "True Neutral" placement you gave her, truly I do. D&D classically gives sub-intelligent creatures a True Neutral alignment by default, and Brittany arguably falls into that category. Still, as the series goes on we see more and more how good-hearted she is, but through her paranoid self-awareness of her own stupidity she tends to just do things and hope they will work out. Definitely a chaotic trait. (She is also my favorite character on the show this season, not for the one-liners but for the way the Heather Morris has made us care about what could have been a 1-dimensional character.)

LN - Principal Figgins
Again, agreement. He could give a damn about the outcome of his decisions, he just needs to apply the rules and get home and away from the constant headache which is his job.

N - Will Schuster
Kind of a joke, really, about how criminally inconsistent the show has been with their protrayal of what is on paper their tent-pole character. He has been all alignments, and it kind of balances out.

CN - Noah "Puck" Puckerman
Leans towards evil sometimes, but capable of kindness and generosity as well. But he's still a punk who breaks the rules just 'cuz.

LE - Sue Sylvester
Again, agreement. Power-hungry malevolent dictator. Poster child for Lawful Evil.

NE - Rachel Berry
Last season I would have been kinder to Rachel, but this season she has been willing to do anything to satisfy her selfishness, including sending Sunshine Corazon to a crackhouse in order to eliminate her potential rival. I miss the non-evil Rachel.

CE - Santana Lopez
In many ways more sympathetic than Rachel, Santana is one of the most underrated and fascinating characters on the show, a petty bully who will never be the Queen Bee and who clearly has tons of self-esteem issues underneath her cruelty, she's also unbelievable when she performs, and projects the joy onto everyone else while Rachel makes everything all about herself. Still, she is spiteful and vindictive and does her evil shit just because she can, with no goal in mind for it most of the time.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:59 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Alignments are fun in D&D because they LIMIT a character into having to fulfill a fairly restricted moral code. The point is to be unrealistic. It's funny to apply alignments to non-D&D characters, because it reduces nuanced characters into broad types, encourages good-natured beanplating, and forces you to see, say, how sympathetic "evil" characters can be.

That said, I think it's perfectly accurate to call Betty "evil." Having a sad life or reacting from a place of deep pain is very human, but "you are what you do" and all that.

On the bright side, moving to Glee, Sue Sylvester shows how you can perform an evil alignment with style, and even pretty sympathetically (or even helpfully) at times.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:01 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pete, by the way, is Neutral Fuck-Up.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:06 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I apparently have a racial weakness to Dudes in Bow Ties.
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Closest fit for chaotic evil? He's a minor character, but maybe Joey? (I am not an expert in either Mad Men or D&D.)
posted by box at 9:11 PM on December 6, 2010


Speaking as the person who made the chart, let me just say that I only did it to drive more hits to my webcomic which you should totally read, but that having been said, in order:

1.) Lane is basically a decent person by Mad Men standards. He's polite and courteous as much as possible, generally tries to do the right thing, but always works within The Rules. LG, for a given value of the alignment that's time specific.

2.) I had more qualms at putting Peggy at NG than I did Lane at LG, because if we were gonna be all technical her G would be in parentheses to indicate tendencies, like we did in the old days when we had paramanders. But Peggy fits well enough here.

3.) Sally at CG was kind of a cheat. I could have gone with Sal, maybe. But fuck it, these things are never perfect and little kids are chaotic but Sally has a moral streak as well, so let's run with it.

4.) Joan at LN was easy. She knows the system and works within it. Peggy, less lawful than Joan, gamed it. Joan didn't, and that's what you need to know about Joan in this context.

5.) Don at N... the entire show is about Don trying to reinvent himself as a better person and how he succeeds and fails at doing that. Out of all my picks, Don was the defining one: he's the center of the alignment wheel and the center of the show.

6.) Harry at CN is definitely a bit of a cheat. I disagree with the person who said that Harry was just a weaker Roger Sterling; Harry's not as malicious as Roger is and has the capability for guilt, although he's definitely losing that as time passes. But he's more chaotic than Roger is: he creates his own opportunities and basically invents a new job where he does whatever he feels like.

7.) Pete was easy for LE: the Evil is obvious. (Don feels guilt. Pete almost never does. That's why Don isn't Evil and Pete is.) The Lawful is that Pete is cowed by and respects authority in a way that others (like Roger) aren't.

8.) Roger is totally self-interested and basically amoral. The second easiest alignment after Don.

9.) Now that I've been called out for being sexist for saying that Betty, the show's primary villain, is CE... Oh come on. Look, I totally agree that Betty is the product of abuse and totally fucked up in her own right, but Don is just as fucked up as she is and he somehow manages to not be borderline abusive, capricious as all get out, and just plain mean (and Betty quite clearly likes being mean on a regular basis). Just because there are reasons that Betty is a bad person doesn't make her any less of a bad person.
posted by mightygodking at 9:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [20 favorites]


Joey is just a dick. His alignment is someone making a jerking motion and sneering.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 PM on December 6, 2010


There's no visible difference between Harry Crane and Roger Sterling; they're both neutral evil and Roger is just better at it. That's why he's the star and Crane is a minor figure who doesn't really belong on the list. That frees up chaotic neutral for Betty, where she's a much better fit.

I don't think the show has a chaotic evil character.


Lee Garner, Jr.
posted by Phlogiston at 9:17 PM on December 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


He keeps attacking the darkness. but the darkness always wins.

He is likely to be eaten by a grue.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:20 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


D&D Alignment especially the law chaos stuff doesn't make any sense. Real people don't fit on an the same grid as angels and demons and real gods that do things and let first level kids with a mace heal open wounds with prayers. Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral.
posted by I Foody at 9:20 PM on December 6, 2010


I kept wanting a show where Lee Garner, Jr. would just say things. Like recite speeches. Cause he was such evil fun.
posted by The Whelk at 9:23 PM on December 6, 2010


Also, what's the deal with hobgoblins? They're just big goblins, right? It makes no sense for them to be a different species, for crying out loud. Also wtf are gnolls anyway? A goblin crossed with a camel? I submit that of all of the races in the monster manual, gnolls make the lease amount of sense. Lee Garner, Jr. is probably a gnoll.
posted by bonehead at 9:31 PM on December 6, 2010


Oh, goodness, are we talking alignment charts? I love alignment charts. I don't even play roleplaying games (though I really want to, someday) and I love alignment charts.

Allow me to share my meager collection of varying quality (I didn't make any of these, in other words):

Batman

Doctor Who

Mass Effect (my familiarity with the franchise is lacking, but I daresay this one cheats)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (This one doesn't feel right)

Star Trek

Touhou (excessively not-so-well-made)

U.S. Presidents

Funniest thing--I know perfectly well that two or more of these are crapsworth, but I can't bring myself to recycle bin even one. Packrat tendencies ahoy.
posted by KChasm at 9:36 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also I wouldn't call Meagan Brunette Betty. There's something ...off about her. Something calculating and exact. Or maybe obsessive, I'm getting a strong Enabler vibe from her. I'm sure she's a very nice person but if she was we wouldn't have a show.

I actually find her complex and interesting. She seems strong in a way that Betty has never seemed to be--she seems capable of matching Don without crumbling (like, say, Faye). I'm curious to see where the show takes her.

Also, score one for buck-toothed girls everywhere. I mean, I really really love her teeth.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:41 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lee Garner, Jr.'s more of a kobold, I think. Conrad Hilton is a gnoll.
posted by Iridic at 9:44 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm curious to see where the show takes her.

Yeah, very interested. One of the few times I can say I have absolutely no idea where they're going. I mean, for other characters, I have guesses that may or may not be wrong. For her, I don't even have guesses.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:51 PM on December 6, 2010


Well, they're clearly setting her up to be an anti-Betty--that is, so far, what Don likes about her. She's nurturing and easy going, understands his need for propriety, is cultured, but not cold. She comes across as someone comfortable in her own skin--which is why I can't help but shake my head at those who would characterize her as a young Betty.

But this is Mad Men--characters are fluid and capable of much more growth and change than they are in other series (see: Pete). So who knows?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:56 PM on December 6, 2010


I Froody, you say the darnedest things. As if D&D had anything to do with real life.

Well, OK the cartoon was totally real. One day I will definitely find that magic carnival ride (I call dibs on the Ranger bow.)
posted by oddman at 9:58 PM on December 6, 2010


Chaotic/lawful -->how their actions effect their self ("My actions are correct according to my conception of correct and that's how I like it"/"My actions aren't always correct, but I'm okay with that"/"I don't always understand my actions or my motivations for them"
neutral/evil/good-->how their actions effect other people (their actions tend to help others/their actions hurt and help in equal proportions/their actions tend to hurt others)
Do I have this right?
posted by amethysts at 10:21 PM on December 6, 2010


KChasm, I like your charts. I think you need to switch Vernon and the wife (I forget her name).
posted by amethysts at 10:23 PM on December 6, 2010


amethyst: I thought those two were a bit odd, but what more caught my eye was the Evil row. Those three characters, it feels to me, need to be swapped around a bit. Then again, it has been a while since I've seen the movie.
posted by KChasm at 10:28 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that in the era of Mad Men, the Lawful Good slot is filled by JFK. And then after that, for the rest of the baby boomers' lives, The Idea of JFK.
posted by No-sword at 10:28 PM on December 6, 2010


I think Pete has been falling out of Evil about as quickly as Betty's maturing into it.
posted by kafziel at 10:30 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually kchasm I thought your evil row was right on, at least according to my understanding of how this works (above). Vernon didn't do anything but defend his wife (which is good). The wife didn't do anything that was really bad or really good. She was just kind of neutral.
posted by amethysts at 10:34 PM on December 6, 2010


amethysts: Lawful/chaotic is tough to define. I think the best way to look at it is within the D&D planescape universe, where there are different planes for each of the alignments. The purely lawful plane is literally clockwork. The System is paramount. The purely Chaotic plane is entirely amorphous and ever-changing. There is No System. In other words, the Lawful will tend towards The System, either in allegiance or in order to work within it or maybe because they just like things to stay the same. The Chaotic will tend towards bucking The System, perhaps from a place of righteous rebellion or maybe just punkitude or perhaps they just like for things to change.

That's the best understanding I have. In D&D, good/evil is usually pretty high-fantasy based. In reality, it takes a more selflessness/selfishness tone, I'd imagine.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2010


amethysts: If you say so. It's not my evil row, though. Or my chart.

I got it from the Internet.
posted by KChasm at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's telling of the Law/Chaos axis, I think, that a Lawful Evil character can exist comfortably, even thrive, in a Lawful Good society, and contribute meaningfully to it while still exploiting the system to their own benefit. A Chaotic Evil character in a Chaotic Good society will get his ass killed.
posted by kafziel at 10:45 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Alright, here's my explanation for why I'm thinking the evil row is flawed. I'm probably speaking out of somewhere I oughtn't to be speaking from, but if I don't speak up I'll never get corrected, so here goes:

Daniel "Big Dan" Teague says sells Bibles, but other than that, he really doesn't have much going for him in the Lawful territory. He cons and robs and delivers an unrighteous beatdown, and he's at the rally to boot. So that puts him in Neutral or Chaotic.

Sheriff Cooley says that "the law is a human institution", so maybe he belongs in Neutral. Then again, just because he isn't following human law doesn't mean he's not following a different set of laws, or a set of personal morals he holds himself to very strictly. So maybe Lawful.

Homer Stokes is a candidate for Governor of Mississippi. So you'd think Lawful. But, he's also a Grand Wizard of the KKK. So maybe Neutral, since he utilizes both Lawful and Chaotic elements. Then again, didn't the KKK usually operate with tacit (and often not so tacit) approval of the state? It isn't his membership of the KKK that's his downfall, after all, but he fact that he makes a fool out of himself in public, which ruins his chances for the office. So maybe he's Lawful after all.

...or something.
posted by KChasm at 11:09 PM on December 6, 2010


middleclasstool: (e.g., Peggy's abortion),

Um, that never happened.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:17 PM on December 6, 2010


KChasm: U.S. Presidents

Seems to me like Nixon would be Lawful Evil; "if the president does it it isn't against the law" = "I care about the rules and want to follow them;" the Joker would never have mic'd his own office.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:19 PM on December 6, 2010


LG - Ned Stark
NG - Varys
CG - The Lightning Lord (/ Lady Stoneheart)

LN - Davos the Onion Knight
NN - Jamie Lanister, eventually
CN -The Hound

LE - Littlefinger
NE - Tyrion Lanister
CE - The Mountain that Rides
posted by paisley henosis at 11:25 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Big Dan - Throws everything at the wall and sees what works (Sell Bibles? Fine. Beat people up and steal their money? Fine.) Evil chaotic
Sheriff - goes ahead with the hanging after they were pardoned. Knows his actions are incorrect, doesn't care (Evil Neutral)
KKK - Think their actions are correct - Evil lawful

My understanding of these categories is based purely on the definitions other people make of fictional characters who I understand.
So basically their using D&D pattern to categorize these characters
I'm using the characters to understand the pattern. I think that's valid, even if it's not "canon".
posted by amethysts at 11:37 PM on December 6, 2010


The Whelk: "We can all agree Pete is the face of all evil in this world"

True, but he sure can dance.
posted by bwg at 11:38 PM on December 6, 2010


amethysts: Big Dan - Throws everything at the wall and sees what works (Sell Bibles? Fine. Beat people up and steal their money? Fine.) Evil chaotic
Sheriff - goes ahead with the hanging after they were pardoned. Knows his actions are incorrect, doesn't care (Evil Neutral)


Those two seem backwards, to me. "it's all the same, as long as it works out well for me in the end" is NE and murdering someone who was pardoned is certainly Chaotic.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:42 PM on December 6, 2010


Ooh, this is a good place to put a link to the episode of Geek Fu Action Grip where Mur does her essay "Lawful Stodgy, Chaotic Schmuck"! The essay starts at about 18:10 in.

Navelgazer: The characterization on Glee is so inconsistent that I think both of us make a lot of sense. I picked Schuster as chaotic primarily because he usually doesn't stray one way or another on the good/evil continuum but I do believe his wacky schemes qualify them as chaotic. Also Santana is my favorite character. And the one I identify with the most. Also I note that both of us failed to put Kurt on our chart, which I expect is because seriously what the fuck is happening with Kurt why am I still watching this show
posted by NoraReed at 11:43 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


NE - Tyrion Lanister

Buh. Tyrion is in no way Neutral Evil. I'm not sure what alignment I would pick for him given that most characters in the series don't fall neatly into these sorts of categories (sort of the point) but certainly not Neutral Evil. Tyrion is, with some exceptions, as good as possible under the circumstances. A lot of the time circumstances don't allow that to be very good, but still.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 AM on December 7, 2010


... can we do one for Deadwood? I'd try one myself, but it's been a while since I've seen the series. And I have no idea where to put Swearingen. Chaotic neutral? lawful evil? what? I don't know! Same goes for Major Dad^w^w Hearst...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:32 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I tried to place Kurt and have simply no idea. And, unlike most characters in Glee, it's not like he's been inconsistent. It's like he just exists totally apart from the alignment chart even for fun.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:39 AM on December 7, 2010


WHEDONVERSE

LG - Anya, Shepherd Book, Cordelia [S2+], Tara, Wesley, Inara, Penny
NG - Buffy, Giles, Simon, Kaylee, Fred, Oz, Willow, Xander
CG - Mal, Gunn, Lorne, Caroline, River, Wash, Mr. Universe
LN - The Watcher's Council, Ballard, The Operative, Jasmine
N - Harmony, Jonathan, Topher, Adelle, Zoe, the Dolls
CN - Jayne, Faith, Drusilla
LE - Adam, The Master, Eve, Lilah, Lindsey, The Senior Partners, Rossum
NE - Angelus, The First, The Trio
CE - Spike [S 1-4]l], Saffron, Sweet

POTTERVERSE

LG - Harry, Hermione, Mrs. Weasley, Dumbledore, Mad-Eye, Dobby
NG - Ron, Dumbledore, Neville, Remus, Hagrid
CG - Ginny, Sirius, Fred and George, Luna
LN - Filch, Scrimgeour
N - Snape, Lockhart
CN - Peeves, Mundungus, Rita Skeeter
LE - the Malfoys, Umbridge, The Dursleys
NE - Wormtail, Voldemort
CE - Bellatrix

LOST

oh fuck it
posted by NoraReed at 12:59 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh TheWhelk, I want Crane to get a spin-off if only because he might play Uno with Abe Drexler. And then there would be wrestling.

Isn't Duck chaotic evil, though? Or the comedian whose name I forget right now.
posted by mippy at 1:30 AM on December 7, 2010


The Whelk: "I do like how Trudy and Pete can be all cute together only when they're being evil and petty. They're actually totally made for each other and isn't that sad?"

I was expecting a much bigger change in Pete and Trudy this season after the whole "fuck work, JFK just died" thing last year. It looks like being made partner completely erased any counter-cultural tendencies Pete may have been developing.
posted by minifigs at 1:56 AM on December 7, 2010


Judging from all the nerdgasms popping off round here, and it's not even 8 AM EST yet, the pr0n sites are going to have a rough day scrounging up traffic today.

Unless of course they've got hot pictures of "Lawful Neutral." And I applaud her Lawful Neutral highness, and all those who defend her. For her grace, intelligence and marvelous acting skills.
posted by Skygazer at 5:02 AM on December 7, 2010


And I have no idea where to put Swearingen.

Swearingen, that "c-word," goes where-ever the mothereffiing dripping "c-word" (plural), he wants to mothereffin go a-"c-word" -ing, you bastard whore of a mother's "c-word."
posted by Skygazer at 5:09 AM on December 7, 2010


I dunno if I'd lump all the characters is It's Always Sunny... into Chaotic Evil. There's certainly a fair amount of selfishness going on on their part (nobody is Good) but their approaches are all over the place.

The Gang:

Frank is Chaotic Evil. He behaves erratically (waves his gun around), lives in filth (and does not care), and has very little regard for rules (constantly promoting himself to 'management'). He's also pretty selfish (screwed his ex-partner out of their business) and will happily lie, cheat, and steal to get his way.

Dennis is Lawful Evil. He has systems he uses to abuse those around him. Hell, Charlie flat out called him a serial killer last week (which Dennis took as a compliment).

Dee is Lawful Neutral. She follows rules and systems but is always let down by them in the end. But still she goes back to them.

Mac is True Neutral. He's actually pretty childlike (maybe more so than Charlie). He's loyal (a follower, really), protective of friends (visual pat down), but not as beholden to rules as Dee. He has a kid's selfish streak, though, which keeps him from being Neutral Good.

Charlie is Chaotic Neutral (Wildcard!). He is chaos without malice. He's nuts enough that you could almost make the relativistic argument that, given his unique world view, he's actually Lawful Good, which in my mind is a sure sign of being CN.

It seems like where you fall on the Law/Chaos axis is biological. Dennis and Dee are the children of Bruce Mathis (not Frank), the closest character the show has to Lawful Good outside of Rickety Cricket. Charlie is Frank's son and inherited his Chaos from his Dad. Mac's folks are either a crook-trying-to-do-right (force of nature) or a living lump (inanimate object).

Now, taken as a group, The Gang could be CE, but I think they are more NE (selfish jerks) than anything. They're certainly not LE (the McPoyles).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:16 AM on December 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Deadwood (brief sketch)

LG - Sol Star - Follows rules, does good. Really, he's the moral heart of the town.
LN - Seth Bullock - Follows/enforces rules, tries to do good, but his selfish streak is too strong.
LE - Al Swearengen - Uses rules/systems to benefit himself. Any act of kindness on his part is not altruistic.

NG - Joanie Stubbs - Honestly tries to do good, follows most of the rules.
N - Doc Cochran - Too drunk to care much about good and evil.
NE - E. B. Farnum - At best he's Iago the villain. At worse he's Iago the parrot.

CG - Tom Nuttall - One of the first settlers of Deadwood. Willing to greet a neighbor, but will have a knife in his belt as he does it.
CN - Calamity Jane - When she's sober, she's more NG.
CE - Cy Tolliver - Moreso than Al, he's the Devil. He doesn't care about building up the town, just what he can leech out of it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:31 AM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I know next to nothing about D&D, but I enjoyed this chart and the classification, so thanks for that. Mad Men discussion seems to be trailing a bit, so this might be a bit redundant by now, but here goes nothing:

Now that I've been called out for being sexist for saying that Betty, the show's primary villain, is CE... Oh come on. Look, I totally agree that Betty is the product of abuse and totally fucked up in her own right, but Don is just as fucked up as she is and he somehow manages to not be borderline abusive, capricious as all get out, and just plain mean (and Betty quite clearly likes being mean on a regular basis). Just because there are reasons that Betty is a bad person doesn't make her any less of a bad person.

I'd go further than that. I actually find it pretty sexist to cast Betty as a victim rather than a villain, because it implies that as a woman she's all but incapable of making her own moral choices. I really struggle to see her as an damaged person trapped in a shitty life, unless you see money and privilege as some twisted form of abuse. It lets her off the hook, particularly in the context of characters like Joan and Peggy, who choose to forge ahead with their lives by taking control of them.

Betty has all the advantages of her station, and she uses her own sense of entitlement to justify her egregious behavior towards everyone around her. Being pretty and blond and sad and all is no excuse for being a vindictive shit, particularly when you refuse to take the most basic responsibility for your own life. Henry Francis' mother has it - she is a very silly woman. She belongs there in the bottom row with Pete and Roger.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 6:48 AM on December 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


Here's the thing, when you make an alignment chart and your goal is to find 1 character who exemplifies each alignment in a given show/book/movie/fantasy universe, you're doing it wrong. Examine each character individually and classify them based on their characteristics, don't look at all of them and try and place them on a relative scale based on how they relate to each other. This is how you end up with shit like betty as chaotic evil.

HAVE YE NO PRINCIPLES, INTERNET MEME GENERATORS?
posted by tehloki at 6:54 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Um, that never happened.

Duh, mistyped that. I meant Peggy having and giving up the baby.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:55 AM on December 7, 2010


I can't see Betty as anything other than OMG TOTALLY MENTAL. Sure, she divorced Don... but that wasn't out of any kind of self-respect or any kind of redeemable motives at all. She divorced Don because she met someone more powerful and then convinced him to live in her ex-husband's house with her and her kids. She's a total control freak. Dollars to donuts she wouldn't have left Don had Henry Francis not entered her own personal picture, no many how many more affairs he would have had.

And really: seeing Betty have a total tantrum when running into Don and having to simply look at him... that might not be evil, but lady is crazy. This is not a sexist thing to say: she's not crazy because she's a lady. She's a lady. And she is crazy. Both things are true.

(Also: how can you not feel kind of sorry for someone who is 30something years old and totally relying on her daughter's child psychiatrist because she can't admit that she needs real help? She's kinda way less developed than Sally w/r/t mental health, especially in this area.)

So, yeah, casting Betty as evil seems about right to me if this is the framework you're working with. "Totally batshit" might be accurate, but that's not on the chart.

(Also also also: Betty's treatment of Glenn? How can you define that as anything other than "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU LADY, THE KID IS LIKE 12?!")
posted by sonika at 7:00 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's not sad, her people are Nordic.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:01 AM on December 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


The moment when she realizes she accidentally in greek-drama way caused Don to marry Megan was a wonderful bit on acting on Jones' part.
posted by The Whelk at 7:05 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Or, she decided to divorce Don and realized that she's been living with a freak for 10 years, has no marketable skills and she and the kids would end up starving on the streets because Don is a vindictive asshole, so she developed an exit strategy. And I think it's pretty blind to watch Betty and Francis together and not think that there's real chemistry there.

And really: seeing Betty have a total tantrum when running into Don and having to simply look at him... that might not be evil, but lady is crazy.

(a) You've never had a cruel and manipulative ex-, like Don? (b) I think you missed the point of the scene. She didn't see just Don, she saw Don with a little mini-Betty - blond, poised college graduate looking for a stable husband. She's not angry at seeing him - she's angry at seeing him supposedly happy (although of course she only sees the surface) and moving on to the next trophy wife. I've been there. That scene was so powerful for me.

Her anger at Don is justified. It's natural that it's the sort of anger that would consume a person - I've felt that sort of anger before, and I thought the reactions in the show were brutally honest. It's a side of human nature we don't often see on TV - perhaps that's why it seems so psycho to us, because it's like looking in a mirror and seeing the dark side of our own irrationality. Or maybe I'm just crazy.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 AM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'd go further than that. I actually find it pretty sexist to cast Betty as a victim rather than a villain, because it implies that as a woman she's all but incapable of making her own moral choices.

I think you're missing the subtext that Betty was at least emotionally abused by her mother. She's not a victim of circumstance, she's a victim of childhood. Of course that doesn't excuse her adult actions, but to me it explains them very clearly.
posted by muddgirl at 7:27 AM on December 7, 2010


Or, she decided to divorce Don and realized that she's been living with a freak for 10 years, has no marketable skills and she and the kids would end up starving on the streets because Don is a vindictive asshole

...who allowed his ex and her new husband (who does quite well) to live rent-free in the old home for a year at considerable personal expense to him without so much as the slightest complaint, and who endured god knows how many vicious personal attacks from Betty without reciprocating in any meaningful way. Don Draper is many things, but a "cruel ex" he is simply not.

I'm not saying Don is a hero - he's not - but making Betty into the more ethical of the two, especially post-season 4? Ludicrous. Betty might not have had as many affairs as Don has, but it's quite clear she was entirely capable of having them from a psychological standpoint. And although Don kept secrets from Betty, her treatment of him once she found out the one which scared him most and which arguably affected her absolutely the least (Dick Whitman) made it quite clear that doing so was entirely wise.
posted by mightygodking at 7:36 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or, she decided to divorce Don and realized that she's been living with a freak for 10 years, has no marketable skills and she and the kids would end up starving on the streets because Don is a vindictive asshole, so she developed an exit strategy.

Yeah, an exit strategy that wouldn't have been possible had it not been for another man to take over the role of provider. She in no way could have done it on her own, and as much "chemistry" as might exist between Betty & Henry, it absolutely reeks of opportunism to have her running to him at the precise moment when she decides to finally leave Don.
posted by sonika at 7:41 AM on December 7, 2010


(a) You've never had a cruel and manipulative ex-, like Don?

Also, I agree with mightygodking that if either one of them is cruel and/or manipulative, it's not Don. Don who just sighs and goes along with whatever Betty decides? Sure, he's neglectful of his kids, but the episode where he can't bring himself to go to his son's birthday party because he knows it would piss Betty off... well, that really says a lot about his motives. He wants to simply leave her alone. Hence why she's able to stay in the house (even though he does try to get her to move, he doesn't try hard) until she decides to move.

(And honestly - this has nothing to do with Betty - but how does Henry do that? I couldn't live in my spouse's ex's house, no matter how rent-free, even if for "the children." Too. Freaking. Weird. But hey, I'm not living in 1965 either, so what do I know?)
posted by sonika at 7:44 AM on December 7, 2010


but making Betty into the more ethical of the two

Who's doing that? I think they're both horrible people - that's why I love the show.

Don't primary motivation in life is to make unpleasant things go away - he avoids conflict like the plague. Letting Betty and Francis stay in the home is a perfect example of this - it wasn't benevolent, it was self-serving. Remember that he has no real concept of money - there's no such thing as "personal expense" that he can measure in dollars. All personal expense he measures in pain or inconvenience. Remember, when Betty fires the nanny his first impulse may have been towards the kids, but his second impulse was "Who will care for them when I take them on this supposed vacation which is actually a business trip?"

Yeah, an exit strategy that wouldn't have been possible had it not been for another man to take over the role of provider.

Did she have any other options?
posted by muddgirl at 7:46 AM on December 7, 2010


Don wasn't cruel and manipulative before the divorce? Whatever his behavior afterwards, Betty's anger towards him was completely justified to me.
posted by muddgirl at 7:48 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, an exit strategy that wouldn't have been possible had it not been for another man to take over the role of provider.

Did she have any other options?


Yes. She could have left him without roping someone else into providing for her. It would have been difficult for her, especially in 1965, but she did indeed have other options. No one put a gun to her head and told her to marry the next man who came along and manipulate him into doing her bidding.
posted by sonika at 7:51 AM on December 7, 2010


Her anger at Don is justified.

How bout her anger at Carla?

It's not as if Betty's anger has only been rightfully and righteously aimed at Don. She's acted terribly to many powerless and sympathetic characters--Carla, Sally, Glen. She's done things this season as noble as refusing to let her son know his father (which had apparently been going on for a long time) and firing the only loving and consistent caretaker her children have ever had and then refusing to write her a reference. She's unjustifiably vindictive. I don't think the fact that she's been a victim in the past or in her society has excused--or could possibly excuse--her behavior in season 4.

I think it's interesting, too, that you keep bringing up the fact that Don's "replaced her with a younger model." Though that might be the way she sees it, the writers have been fairly careful about that: having Don reject Bethany, illuminating the ways that Megan is different from Betty in terms of being nurturing and having a good relationship with her family. Is it fair to these female characters to view them as nothing more than replacements simply because they're young? Because honestly, that seems to me to be, in fact, sexist.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:55 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh come on Sonika, that's not a realistic option for a person in her position at that time and place in history. You might as well excoriate Don for not taking paternity leave.
posted by oddman at 8:04 AM on December 7, 2010


Actually, we see a single, divorced woman with a child living alone in season 1.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:04 AM on December 7, 2010


Am I the only person who finds Pete sympathetic? I love his little face.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:06 AM on December 7, 2010


Oh, I completely agree that Betty's anger towards others in her life was unjustified.

having Don reject Bethany, illuminating the ways that Megan is different from Betty in terms of being nurturing and having a good relationship with her family. Is it fair to these female characters to view them as nothing more than replacements simply because they're young?

But Betty, at one point, may have been nurturing. She seemed to have a close relationship with her father before her mother's death, and seemed at one point to be close to her brother. I think the writers were very clever about comparing Megan to how Betty was after 10 years of marriage. I look forward to seeing more of Megan's inevitable transformation or revelation in future episodes.

Of course Betty and Megan aren't exactly the same, but neither were Betty and Bethany - the one constant in their relationships is Don - he's the hero of the show. And I simply won't buy that a year of bachelorhood has significantly changed his underlying character flaws.
posted by muddgirl at 8:07 AM on December 7, 2010


Oh come on Sonika, that's not a realistic option for a person in her position at that time and place in history. You might as well excoriate Don for not taking paternity leave.

What? I'm not faulting Betty for leaving Don for someone else. I'm faulting her for leaving Don and being a total manipulative weasel about it and using Henry Francis as a tool to keep living in the same g-ddamn house. Geezus. Time and place in history doesn't excuse being a total jerk. So, you excuse Betty's actions for it being a time when women couldn't just move on. Sure, that's fine. I still think that what she did was slimy - especially if you consider how she's pretty awful to Henry and keeps demanding that he "understand" her while pretty much giving him nothing to "understand" other than "I am bitter and unhappy, despite still living in my house and having pretty much all of my needs taken care of!"
posted by sonika at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2010


Actually, we see a single, divorced woman with a child living alone in season 1.

Who eventually remarries. Also, I believe Helen Bishop was in a different financial situation than Betty - I think it's implied that she could prove or get her husband to admit his infidelity, so Helen Biship was still being supported by a man - her ex-husband.

Betty did not have that option.
posted by muddgirl at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2010


Actually, we see a single, divorced woman with a child living alone in season 1.

Also, this. Glenn's mom is a divorcée, which yeah, is scandalous at the time and she's depicted as being someone that Betty is both curious about (in a "How does she DO it?" kind of way) and also looks down upon as being a "fallen" woman.
posted by sonika at 8:12 AM on December 7, 2010


According to AMC's site, she also works.

But the real issue isn't that Betty had no other options--she had no other options that she chose to consider, largely because Betty still seems, in her head, to be living in the 1950s. All of her actions and expectations reflect this. I think it's interesting that, in some ways, the closest things we have to evil characters in this series (Roger Sterling at his least sympathetic, Betty) are those who both refuse to adapt to the world around them and who don't seem to realize that the lives they are living are outdated. Significant, too, I think, that there's no room for them in the new guard unless they adapt.

It's part of what made Pete sympathetic this season. He's becoming a new sort of business man--one who has a genuinely equal and loving partnership with his wife, to boot. When he began the series firmly entrenched in the culture of the old-guard past.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:15 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you're missing the subtext that Betty was at least emotionally abused by her mother. She's not a victim of circumstance, she's a victim of childhood. Of course that doesn't excuse her adult actions, but to me it explains them very clearly.

You can apply the exact same reasoning to Pete Campbell, and then some. I don't see anyone arguing for his status as misunderstood victim. Or for Don or Lane Pryce, for that matter - both subject to some very violent abuse at the hands of family, but still able to preserve some dignity in their actions.

By contrast, any abuse to Betty is implied rather than explicitly stated. In fact, I'm racking my brains to remember any point in the series at which Betty's childhood was referenced as anything other than pretty normal* albeit somewhat overprivileged. Against that, some of the choices she's made are inexcusable.

And firing Carla like that? That's some seriously destructive supervillainy, right there.

(* I'll be happy to be proven wrong here, but it will take a lot to convince me that Betty is not thoroughly reprehensible, and entirely culpable for her predicament. I just feel sorry for Sally.)
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 8:17 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see anyone arguing for his status as misunderstood victim.

He's a white dude in the 60s - no one needs to give him a sympathetic ear. However, I DO see Cambell as largely a sympathetic figure, even though many of his actions are reprehensible. I think the writers see him as quite sympathetic as well, unlike Betty. I don't have to defend Pete because the show does it for me.

Or for Don or Lane Pryce, for that matter - both subject to some very violent abuse at the hands of family, but still able to preserve some dignity in their actions.

I don't quite understand the meaning of dignity in this sentence or why it's necessary in a dramatic television show. Certainly getting visibly drunk and bombing a sales pitch is not dignified. Using secretaries and then discarding them is not dignified. Taking credit for the work of others and then tearing them down is not dignified. I could go on.

Don appears to be dignified from time to time because he's a better actor than even Betty.
posted by muddgirl at 8:23 AM on December 7, 2010


I don't quite understand the meaning of dignity in this sentence or why it's necessary in a dramatic television show.

I think "compassion" was a better word to use than "dignity" there. Lane is considerate towards others, practically to a fault. Don can be kind to people without gaining from it and in fact appears to genuinely like being that way when he feels it's safe to do so. But I honestly can't think of a single time Betty was nice to anybody without obviously gaining personally from it.
posted by mightygodking at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2010


She babysat for Helen in Season 1. :)

Don can be kind to people without gaining from it

I don't see it, at least in Season 4. For example, it seems altruistic that he payed Pete's share, but because losing the company would mean losing his identity. He let Betty stay in the house, but again I think it was because he avoids conflict and felt it was safer for his secret to let Betty have what she wants.

Lane is considerate towards others, practically to a fault.

Lane is considerate towards those with power. The way he treated Moneypenny even before the accident and the way he treated Joan (until he saw her as someone with some power) do not seem particularly compassionate.
posted by muddgirl at 8:44 AM on December 7, 2010


She seemed to have a close relationship with her father before her mother's death

the way I read that, especially with Gene's behaviour toward Sally, was that Betty was possibly abused by her dad. The writers have left that an open question. Betty internalized that as attention-seeking to authority figures.

This makes moral choices of Betty and Don plain. Dan was abused as a kid, raised by violent alcoholicism and religious sanctimony, always reminded that he was the bastard son of a whore kept on sufferance. Betty was the child of privilege who was emotionally and possibly sexually abused.

Don chose to avoid becoming his parents, preferring to not even spank his children, which was very much not the norm for his time. Betty chose to become her mother, possibly even winking at Sally's mistreatment by her father, as her mother may have done before her. Don may not be perfect, but Betty has chosen obliviousness and caprice.
posted by bonehead at 8:49 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Real people, let alone TV characters, are more complicated than D&D alignments, which is why some of us might feel uncomfortable calling Betty "evil" and leaving it at that. If we were therapists helping out her or the whole Draper family, we would, of course, stay away from calling her evil.

However, within the comically limited paradigm of D&D alignments, Betty is very obviously evil, despite the fact that she has sympathetic reasons for acting as she does. Having a bad childhood and being in a place of limited privilege does not take the sting out of how she treats others. Explanations are not excuses.

Sidenote: bonehead's remarks about Betty choosing to be her mother remind me of a very good, underrated movie, Gardens of the Night. In that movie, Tom Arnold(!) plays a manipulative, somewhat sympathetic, highly sexually abusive man. I remember seeing an interview with Arnold in which he talked about how his character had been abused as a child, and the audience now sees that person as the abusive adult who comes from that upbringing. The part of the movie with Tom Arnold in it is excellent. His performance, and his character's backstory, reminds me of how easily a victim can transform into an aggressor.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:01 AM on December 7, 2010


He's a white dude in the 60s - no one needs to give him a sympathetic ear. However, I DO see Cambell as largely a sympathetic figure, even though many of his actions are reprehensible. I think the writers see him as quite sympathetic as well, unlike Betty. I don't have to defend Pete because the show does it for me.

You seem to be implying that I'm supposed to sympathize with Betty just because she is a woman in the 1960's. I'm sorry, but I really, really can't. The sisterhood only extends so far.

I don't quite understand the meaning of dignity in this sentence or why it's necessary in a dramatic television show.

I think if Mad Men has anything as trite as a message for us, it's an existential one: we are all defined by our actions and the choices we make in our lives. We see this in the best and the worst of all the characters in the show, who are shaping their own and one another's lives before our eyes, of their own free will.

Don has dignity (not much, I grant you, and selectively) because he refuses to let circumstances stand in his way, and is willing to take enormous risks to ensure the future of SCDP and by extension, the people who work there. That's why he inspires such loyalty. Pete has dignity because he sees and understands the direction the world is taking, follows its lead, and invests in his marriage in spite of being in love with Peggy. That's why we still like him, even though he's a slimeball.

And Betty? Well, she's seriously gone off the rails since her divorce and remarriage, and is making mistake after terrible mistake. She's created an existential space for herself where her vision of the perfect life is so far removed from its messy reality that the only way to go is down. But for all that, she will never starve. She will always find ways to make other people responsible for her wellbeing, because that's what she's done in the past. I see no dignity in that.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Justinian: Buh. Tyrion is in no way Neutral Evil. I'm not sure what alignment I would pick for him given that most characters in the series don't fall neatly into these sorts of categories (sort of the point) but certainly not Neutral Evil. Tyrion is, with some exceptions, as good as possible under the circumstances. A lot of the time circumstances don't allow that to be very good, but still.

Tyrion is as good as possible under the circumstances, while getting what Tyrion wants or needs. Lawfulness is of no concern to Tyrion and he only looks to the Rules when they will give him some way to finagle, but he recognizes that law and order keeps people predictable and keeps Tyrion safe, so he is neither Lawful nor Chaotic. His number one rule is the only thing on his personal rules sheet and it is in all caps, bold and underline with a bullet: "Look Out For Tyrion." On the list with all the other things he tries to keep in mind is where what you would call number two: "don't be any meaner than you need to be whilst following The Rule."

His aunt was right, he is Tywin's son. And Tywin was NE too. A Good character wouldn't have lied to Jamie about poisoning the king. A good character would have rescued Sansa, because he had to know she would take the heat in his stead. A good character might have killed Tywin, but not like that, and certainly not Shae.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2010


Does nobody else see the creepy, borderline-incestual element of Betty and Henry's marriage? Betty meets a man her father's age right after her father dies, a man who's had a messy divorce and not a lot of involvement in the lives of his children. She gets a new daddy, he gets another crack at the happy suburban family.

But since he still doesn't really know how to treat a woman like an equal, he settles for treating her like a daughter (and since she's treating him like a father, that's only appropriate). Hence, the bizarre interactional norms we see in their day-to-day lives, ie him having to give her permission to do things.

God, just typing that gives me the hibbity-jibbities.
posted by Ndwright at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what a great show.

You seem to be implying that I'm supposed to sympathize with Betty just because she is a woman in the 1960's. I'm sorry, but I really, really can't. The sisterhood only extends so far.

I don't demand sympathy from anyone, but I can explain my own sympathetic tendencies. I defend Betty, as far as she deserves it, because it seems that no one else will. Feel free to cast her as evil in a show where there is no black and white - you have my permission. :)
posted by muddgirl at 9:38 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't demand sympathy from anyone, but I can explain my own sympathetic tendencies. I defend Betty, as far as she deserves it, because it seems that no one else will. Feel free to cast her as evil in a show where there is no black and white - you have my permission. :)

The world is absurd. There is no good or evil, only action and circumstance. So Betty's not evil, she's just a very silly woman. But thanks for the permission.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2010


Jane is a replacement for Joan, perhaps, but I don't see Megan as one for Betty. They are quite different. Betty is college educated (I think it's mentioned early in season 1 that she went to Bryn Mawr) but, perhaps due to lack of ambition or lack of knowledge, doesn't want to pursue anything outside the home or anything different (see how she more or less engineers an affair with the riding school guy and her friend - because she can't bring herself to do it herself). Megan is interested in doing a Peggy, albeit we don't know whether she wants to do so to impress Don.

I think you're missing the subtext that Betty was at least emotionally abused by her mother.

Where did you pick this up? I find it hard sometimes to work out whether characters are behaving of their time or being jerks by the standards of the day. But we know that Don grew up in an abusive home. Sure, the role of the father was less involved then, but I can imagine Sally's appearance at the SCDP offices being dealt with very differently if it were Betty.

I wouldn't agree that Lane was abused in the same way as Don. It seemed more a dramatic outburst than what we've seen of Dick and his father.

Anyway, for me Season Four is the season where I realised just how much my views of the characters have changed. Sally breaks my heart, Pete is almost sympathetic, Duck repulses me, and Rizzo and co really make me miss Kinsey and Sal.
posted by mippy at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2010


I see no dignity in that.

I see no dignity in any of the characters, except possibly the Lawful Evil Burt Cooper.
posted by muddgirl at 9:52 AM on December 7, 2010


How about an exercise in moral relativism?
(Gangsters only)

LG Bobby Baccalieri
NG Silvio Dante
CG Tony Soprano
LN Paulie Gualtieri
TN Johnny Sacramoni
CN Christopher Molitisanti
LE Phil Leotardo
NE Junior Soprano
CE Ralphie Cifaretto
posted by steambadger at 9:57 AM on December 7, 2010


I don't know about Peggy. She's definitely sliding towards Don's black hole.

This is NOT the Mad Men Fanfic Chart.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:10 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does nobody else see the creepy, borderline-incestual element of Betty and Henry's marriage? Betty meets a man her father's age right after her father dies, a man who's had a messy divorce and not a lot of involvement in the lives of his children. She gets a new daddy, he gets another crack at the happy suburban family.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

It's also interesting to me that Betty in Season 1 was way more likeable than Betty Season 4. Of course, same could be said for Don in a lot of ways and I have no particular need to defend Don - he's certainly not my favorite character (OH, JOAN!), but as a lot of other characters have grown (Peggy, Pete in his own way), Betty... no, not so much with the growing. Changing, maybe. Becoming less spineless, for sure. But growing a spine for Betty has meant growing a spine full of big metal spikes that she sticks through people's souls (Carla, Glenn, and oh, poor Sally).
posted by sonika at 10:33 AM on December 7, 2010


A Good character wouldn't have lied to Jamie about poisoning the king. A good character would have rescued Sansa, because he had to know she would take the heat in his stead. A good character might have killed Tywin, but not like that, and certainly not Shae.

Eh, good + bad = neutral.
posted by ersatz at 11:09 AM on December 7, 2010


Lawful Good: David Hale.
Lawful Neutral: Kellan Ashby.
Lawful Evil: June Stahl.
Neutral Good: Opie Winston
Neutral: Clay Morrow
Neutral Evil: Jimmy O'Phelon
Chaotic Good: Jax Teller
Chaotic Neutral: Tig Trager
Chaotic Evil: Everybody if you take away the glamorization of the show.
posted by kafziel at 12:12 PM on December 7, 2010


This is just ridiculous. No way is Betty Chaotic anything. Law-Chaos indicates how you deal with society/authority/structure and Evil-Good how you deal with individuals. Betty is the ultimate reactionary in her outlook but never misses a chance to do something mean, so she is clearly, clearly, and I will brook no debate because this is important and I am right*, clearly Lawful Evil.

*For certain values of 'important' and 'right'.
posted by Sparx at 12:27 PM on December 7, 2010


The Wire

LG - Prez
NG - Kima
CG - The Bunk
LN - Lt. Daniels
N - McNulty
CN - Landman
LE - Herc
NE - Rawls
CE - Marimow

And sheeeeeeeit, that was just from the Bodymore PD!

my first try at this, be gentle
posted by rudster at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2010


And yes, this thread is going well with this pounder, why do you ask
posted by rudster at 1:02 PM on December 7, 2010


Actually, on further reflection, make that Lawful Neutral: Wayne Unser. Where "Lawful" is defined as keeping Charming calm and orderly.
posted by kafziel at 1:24 PM on December 7, 2010


mippy: (see how she more or less engineers an affair with the riding school guy and her friend - because she can't bring herself to do it herself)

YES. I was waiting for someone to bring this up. And THEN she treats her friend horribly when she does EXACTLY what Betty's been manipulating her to do. That was the moment when I really saw how "evil" Betty is.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:26 PM on December 7, 2010


Betty is a villain but she's no worse than Don.

She's worse to the kids. Don might ignore them a little bit, but Betty abuses them.

it's the sad sort of evil of an Orc

Waitaminnit. I'm no racist, but all the Orcs I remember were chaotic evil.

Betty is the ultimate reactionary in her outlook but never misses a chance to do something mean, so she is clearly, clearly, and I will brook no debate because this is important and I am right*, clearly Lawful Evil.

Betty is willing to change the rules as she sees fit, for any reason. She may be concerned with maintaining status and appearance for her own personal benefit, but she is generally chaotic, imo.

Sue Sylvester shows how you can perform an evil alignment with style, and even pretty sympathetically (or even helpfully) at times.

That shows how fucked up Glee is. How can evil characters be sympathetic or helpful? Story arcs can take them there, but they can't turn their evil on and off whenever they want.

how does Henry do that? I couldn't live in my spouse's ex's house, no matter how rent-free, even if for "the children."

You gotta lock that shit down.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:51 PM on December 7, 2010


LG - Dale Cooper
NG - Shelley Johson
CG - James Hurley

LN - Donna Heyward
N - Laura Palmer
CN - Audrey Horne

LE - Ben Horne
NE - Bobby Briggs
CE - Windom Earle

Pure evil - BOB
posted by mrgrimm at 1:59 PM on December 7, 2010


LG: Millie Kentner
NG: Sam Weir/Bill Haverchuck
CG: Nick Andopolis
LN: Mr. Rosso
TN: Lindsay Weir/Neal Schweiber/Ken Miller
CN: Daniel Desario
LE: Cindy Sanders
NE: George H.W. Bush
CE: Alan White
posted by Iridic at 2:02 PM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sue Sylvester shows how you can perform an evil alignment with style, and even pretty sympathetically (or even helpfully) at times.

That shows how fucked up Glee is. How can evil characters be sympathetic or helpful? Story arcs can take them there, but they can't turn their evil on and off whenever they want.


Sylvester is sympathetic and helpful mostly only because she respects power, excellence, hard work, and discipline, and not even her ingrained distaste for the Glee club can override that.

That said, Glee really is a fucked up show.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:58 PM on December 7, 2010


that was just from the Bodymore PD

Nononono... switch McNulty and Bunk. McNulty's so chaotic good it's as if he was actually created on a D&D character sheet. The Bunk – "You gave a shit when it ain't your turn to give a shit" – is pretty neutral... though definitely on the good side.
posted by furiousthought at 3:42 PM on December 7, 2010


Surprised that MGK didn't mention that he also did a DS9 chart today while providing his Mad Men explanations.
posted by BZArcher at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2010


LG: Jason Adler, Det. Gustavson, Gretchen
CG: Hank, Britt
NG: Katie

LN: Maggie
N: ??
CN: Winston

LE: Zeitlin, Lindus
NE: Burke
CE: ??

WHY DID NO ONE WATCH TERRIERS IT WAS AWESOME THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:17 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was trying to distract myself today and did Big Love.

LG: Ben Henrickson, Heather Tuttle, Kathy Marquart, Don Embry, Pam Martin

NG: Barb Henrickson, Sarah Henrickson

CG: Margene Heffman

LN: Bill Henrickson, Lura Grant, Wendy Hunt, Cindy Dutton-Price

N: Lois Henrickson, Adaleen Grant, Joey Henrickson, Ana, Ted Price

CN: Nicki Grant, Wanda Henrickson, Selma Green

LE: Roman Grant

NE: Alby Grant, Frank Harlow, Marilyn Densham

CE: Hollis Green, JJ Walker, Rhonda Volmer
posted by elsietheeel at 4:31 PM on December 7, 2010


LG:
NG:
CG:
LN:
N:
CN:
LE:
N:
CE: Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:17 PM on December 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


infinitywaltz: "WHY DID NO ONE WATCH TERRIERS IT WAS AWESOME THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THING"

Terriers Season 1 was fantastic. And the theme song is catchy as Hell.
posted by bwg at 5:36 PM on December 7, 2010


A few more alignment charts I've dug up. Again, none of which were made by me. They're from the Internet.

The Big Lebowski

Biking (No, it's not a movie or anything. It's just...biking.)

Boston Legal

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Futurama

Metal Gear Solid

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei

Scrubs

Super Smash Bros. Brawl
posted by KChasm at 5:44 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ok, The Wire:

LG - Lester Freamon is as close as you'll get
NG - The Bunk (giving a fuck when it ain't your turn, and so on)
CG - McNulty

LN - Tommy Carcetti
NN - Duquan "Dookie" Weems
CN - That guy who kept robbing Bubs, I guess. CN is the hardest one, surprisingly.

LE - Omar
NE - Snoop
CE - Kenard (who shot Omar 'just to hear the pop')
posted by paisley henosis at 6:15 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about an all-drug-crews one for The Wire?

LG - Boadie Broadus
NG - Slim Charles
CG - D'Angelo Barksdale

LN - Prop Joe Stewart
NN - Avon Barksdale
CN - Cheese Wagstaff

LE - Omar Little
NE - Chris Partlow
CE - Marlo Stansfield

Stringer Bell is conspicuous in his absence. And like I said before, I'm no D&D expert.
posted by box at 6:56 PM on December 7, 2010


box: How about an all-drug-crews one for The Wire?

LG - Boadie Broadus


Brother Muzone.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:45 PM on December 7, 2010


Omar is neither lawful nor evil. He freely ignores the rules of both respectable society and the game. He's also a compassionate, often altruistic Robin Hood figure who rationalizes his violence by virtue of the fact that he's acting against "evil" people (in D&D parlance, rather than Wire parlance).

Chaotic Good is where people think the rules don't apply to them because they're the good guys go. Omar can hang out in the upper right hand corner of the grid with McNulty.

Lester can have the Neutral Good spot. He cares about being Good Police, first and foremost. His identity isn't based around bucking the system, like McNulty and Omar, and he'll call out McNulty on his iconoclasm when he thinks it's making McNulty counter-productive, but he'll commit shocking violations of the law without a hint of scruple if that's what it takes to serve the greated good.

The Bunk and Kima are Lawful Good. The Bunk's speech to Omar in Homecoming is, essentially, the Lawful Good critique of how the Chaotic Good, shotgun toating badass is ultimately corrosive to society, even if he "never put his gun on no citizen". Chaotic Good badasses contribute to the environment that makes Chaotic Evil Kenards.

Maurice Levy can share Lawful Evil with Brother Muzone.
posted by Phlogiston at 9:17 PM on December 7, 2010


If you're limiting it to people in the drug business, what does 'good' mean in that context?

See, this is why I'm not a D&D expert.
posted by box at 9:21 PM on December 7, 2010


He freely ignores the rules of both respectable society and the game.

Incorrect. You are forgetting the Sunday rule and the shooting of his grandmama's crown. In addition to which there is his strict adherence to the rule that violence is only to be visited on those in the game -- citizens are not to be touched.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:35 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are forgetting the Sunday rule and the shooting of his grandmama's crown.

He's shocked and offended that someone who's supposed to play by the laws of the game broke them in order to get at him. I'm sure he'd be equally upset if a cop planted drugs on him in order to get him off the street, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't freely ignore the Maryland Penal Code.

In addition to which there is his strict adherence to the rule that violence is only to be visited on those in the game -- citizens are not to be touched.

He's Good, and thus feels no particular inclination to do violence to citizens. His failure to do so stems not from a respect for any governing social norm - there's no indication that the Barksdale gang murdering witnesses was outside the scope of "the game", but rather from a sense of basic decency.

McNulty feels no particular desire to sling heroin, but his failure to carve out a corner for himself shouldn't be taken as a sign that he's not firmly on the Chaotic side of things.

I'm inclined to stick almost any protagonist who can credibly say, "I live by my own rules, babe," in the Chaotic side of the ledger.
posted by Phlogiston at 10:06 PM on December 7, 2010


Iridic: "CE: Alan White"

And proud of it, too.

SPORTS NIGHT (or: Who likes obscure late-90s comedy-dramas? I sure do.)

LG: Isaac
NG: Dan
CG: Natalie
LN: Jeremy
N: Casey
CN: Dana
LE: JJ / Gordon
NE: Rebecca
CE: Sally
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:27 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Phlogiston: He's Good, and thus feels no particular inclination to do violence to citizens. His failure to do so stems not from a respect for any governing social norm - there's no indication that the Barksdale gang murdering witnesses was outside the scope of "the game", but rather from a sense of basic decency.

But, if I understand correctly, Lawful doesn't necessarily mean "follows the law," so much as it means "believes in a set of rules." If I'm mistaken about that, then Ok, but if I'm not, Omar definitely is Lawful.

Phlogiston: McNulty feels no particular desire to sling heroin, but his failure to carve out a corner for himself shouldn't be taken as a sign that he's not firmly on the Chaotic side of things.

I'm inclined to stick almost any protagonist who can credibly say, "I live by my own rules, babe," in the Chaotic side of the ledger.


What about one who is too much of a drunk fuck-up to live by his own rules, or anyone else's, though? McNulty is Chaotic because McNulty only follows and believes in rules as they are convenient to him at that moment, otherwise those rules can go screw.

McNulty, if push came to shove, would break pretty much any rule to get to his desired result. Omar has rules which he would rather die than go against.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:20 AM on December 8, 2010


his most recent one is dead on.
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


but that doesn't mean that he doesn't freely ignore the Maryland Penal Code

Your contention was that ignores the rules of society AND the game. Correct on the former, completely incorrect on the latter. When it comes to the game, he adheres to the rules with near-religious fervor. So no, he's not lawful in the most commonly held law-of-the-government sense of the word, but when it comes to the world he actually lives in, there is no bigger stickler for the rules than Omar Little.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:14 AM on December 8, 2010


Lots of people have expressed confusion about the claims about Betty being emotionally abused by her mother, so I'm going to jump in and give my take it on that. I think that implication is most clear in the episode where Sally cuts her hair. Betty slaps her, and then she gets really upset because when she was little, her mother forced her to keep her hair short when she (Betty) always wanted it long, because her mother wanted her to have short hair. Therefore, she forces her daughter to keep it long, because it's what she (Betty) wants.

I think that shows that, just like Betty with her daughter, Betty's mother didn't respect Betty's personhood or Betty as an individual; she didn't care about what Betty wanted, just what she wanted for Betty. The comments about Betty choosing to become her mother are spot-on in this regard. Basically, we know that Betty was emotionally abused by her mother because Betty emotionally abuses her daughter. The hair thing is the only concrete example of this that I can think of, but I think it's a very illuminating example.
posted by mandanza at 11:35 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd put Omar at CN – going against the organizations of drug dealers is very, very independent-minded, he chooses which rules to adhere to (I don't buy his code any more than Bunk does), and he's definitely in it for himself, always.

Remember that Omar does break his word to The Bunk near the end of the show.

In the drug world, Stringer Bell's the closest there is to LG. Almost everything he does is to try to organize the drug dealers, and to make them stop shooting each other, which for drug dealers, is "good".
posted by furiousthought at 11:43 AM on December 8, 2010


Granting that I don't think either of us can be definitively right, because this is a fun, reductionist thought exercise that doesn't do justice to the strength of the writing:

But, if I understand correctly, Lawful doesn't necessarily mean "follows the law," so much as it means "believes in a set of rules."

That's my understanding of Lawful vs. Chaotic as well, I just think that "I follow a code that consists of doing what I enjoy and abstaining from doing things that I find personally objectionable," is more of a figleaf than a code.

I'd consider Wee-Bay to be Lawful Evil because he strictly abides by the rules of the game, even when he could save himself from dying in prison by turning on the Barksdale organization. He's Evil because he's willing to commit murder for his own financial benefit and he's Lawful because he's willing to place a set of rules above his own goals and desires.

In most cases, though, I think Lawful lines up with obeying some kind of collective behavioral consensus, with occasional exceptions like Brother Mouzone. My take on Mouzone is similar to your take on Omar, though we don't see enough of him to firmly prove it. My impression is that he has a personal code of honor that he's willing to die for, but that his code is idiosyncratic and doesn't precisely line up with the mores of gang culture.

McNulty, if push came to shove, would break pretty much any rule to get to his desired result. Omar has rules which he would rather die than go against.

Agreed, regarding McNulty, but I'm not sure Omar's all that different. Think about Savino's murder. Omar broke his vow, not because he thought Savino was responsible for Butchie's death, but because Savino wouldn't have done anything to stop it if he had been there. The decision to pull the trigger seems impulsive, rather than pre-planned, a McNulty-esque, "Fuck it! I'm going to do what feels right to me," decision.

Omar's only really unbreakable tennant seems to be "Don't intentionally hurt innocent people," which I think is part and parcel of "Good".
posted by Phlogiston at 11:45 AM on December 8, 2010


He has clearly been reading the thread.
posted by The Whelk at 6:46 AM on December 9, 2010


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On, no! We killed MGK!
posted by steambadger at 8:10 AM on December 9, 2010


...we've done that before.
posted by The Whelk at 8:13 AM on December 9, 2010


He has clearly been reading the thread.

And split the difference in the Chaotic Good/Lawful Evil argument.
posted by Phlogiston at 8:49 AM on December 9, 2010


Phlogiston: Granting that I don't think either of us can be definitively right, because this is a fun, reductionist thought exercise that doesn't do justice to the strength of the writing:

Yeah, exactly. It is fun to worry about, though.

Phlogiston: Agreed, regarding McNulty, but I'm not sure Omar's all that different. Think about Savino's murder (YT: The Wire- Omar Kills Savino) [Embedding disabled for this video, click to see preview thumb]
yt . Omar broke his vow, not because he thought Savino was responsible for Butchie's death, but because Savino wouldn't have done anything to stop it if he had been there. The decision to pull the trigger seems impulsive, rather than pre-planned, a McNulty-esque, "Fuck it! I'm going to do what feels right to me," decision.


Good point! But: is this an indicator of how lightly he has held his code, or is it symptomatic of his code unraveling as he slowly but surely approaches death? If it's the former, then he isn't really lawful so much as someone who uses lawfulness as a cover, but if it is the latter than it is simply an uncharacteristic act from a normally lawful man.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:02 PM on December 9, 2010


Good point! But: is this an indicator of how lightly he has held his code, or is it symptomatic of his code unraveling as he slowly but surely approaches death? If it's the former, then he isn't really lawful so much as someone who uses lawfulness as a cover, but if it is the latter than it is simply an uncharacteristic act from a normally lawful man.

Certainly a supportable reading. New theory: David Simon said several times that The Wire is structed as a series of Greek tragedies where social institutions take the role of gods.

Omar belonged to a Paladin-like subclass, serving The Game. His class abilities gave him a plot immunity power not enjoyed by any of the other characters (except, possibly Mouzone, who belonged to the same class). This let him do things like survive a five story fall or turn his back on a stash house he was robbing, confident that he wouldn't be shot in the back. Killing Savino caused him to lose his Lawful alignment and thus his plot immunity which, in turn, led Kenard get close.
posted by Phlogiston at 12:50 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love it!
posted by paisley henosis at 2:46 PM on December 9, 2010


Infinitywaltz, you made me start thinking. I think your Terriers chart is great; here are my suggested additions:

Neutral: The Geek Squad.
Chaotic Evil: Ray, Britt's old partner.
posted by epj at 2:48 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


What, nothing for Mad Men's snarky, not-as-hot-but-smarter-kinkier-and-more-fun little sister show? For shame, for shame. After some considerable deliberation:

LG: Walt, Jr.
NG: Jane
CG: Hank
LN: Mike
N: Skyler
CN: Jesse
LE: Saul
NE: Walt
CE: Gus
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:45 PM on December 9, 2010


Gus is a good CE, but I think Tuco might be a better one.
posted by box at 8:35 PM on December 9, 2010


Yeah, I thought about putting Tuco in there as CE, but I wanted to follow the mgk model and stick to a single character for each category, and Gus is the bigger presence in the show overall. Tuco is certainly much more the poster boy for CE (though I think Gus is at least as evil, and probably more; Tuco loved his tio, after all, whereas Gus loves...his chicken?).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:04 PM on December 10, 2010


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