Don’s pet name for his wife is Birdy- which highlights the metaphor at the heart of Shoot. For Betty, trapped in a suburban birdcage, the opportunity to break out and swoop back to a lost life as a Manhattan model is too good to turn down. But what Betty doesn’t realise- sadly, given the extent to which she has been defined by her marriage- is that the offer to be a Grace Kelly-type for a new Coca-Cola advert is actually a ruse by Jim Hobart at McCann Erickson to try to hire her husband.
We see, via some wonderful acting from January Jones, the hurt that this process causes Betty, who talks with pride about her former life, even showing off a dress made for her by an Italian designer in the days when she had to wrestle with her mother over her lifestyle. So when Betty gets the Coke ad we see her bloom in happiness. This is who she is, not an Ossining housewife. Even Don seems happy for her- until he realises that Betty has been a pawn.
After a brief flutter, she ends up back in her coop, taking the kids to watch the swimming pool be filled; any suggestion that she’s fine with the situation are erased in perhaps THE iconic Mad Men scene where, with a Keef Richards-style fag hanging out of her mouth, Betty takes a rifle to Mr. Beresford’s birds. If she can’t fly, why on earth should they?