Mad Men Wiki
Tea Leaves
Season 5 Episode 3
Air date 1 April 2012
Written by Erin Levy
Matthew Weiner
Directed by Jon Hamm

A Little Kiss, Part 2
Mystery Date


As Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce tries to build upon its current business. Don and Harry indulge a client, while coming face to face with the younger generation. Betty has a health scare. Peggy is given new responsibility of hiring a new copywriter and Roger and Pete go head to head.


Betty has gained weight over the past few months, causing her self-confidence to drop significantly and her sex life with Henry to flatline. This prompts an intervention of sorts from Henry's mother, Pauline, who suggests diet pills. When Betty goes to the doctor's office in an attempt to attain diet pills, the doctor refuses. After a routine examination, he finds a possibly cancerous lump in Betty's throat.

Betty getting ready, in Tea Leaves.

Don backstage at the Rolling Stones, in Tea Leaves.

Betty returns home in a hysteric fever. She decides not to tell Henry anything about her visit with the doctor and calls Don instead, who reassures her that everything will be alright. Betty begins to confront the legacy of her life and the effect her death would have on her loved ones. Several days later, the doctor calls back to tell her the tumor is benign. Henry holds a despondent Betty in his arms. She ponders her life as simply a sad, fat housewife.

The Heinz executive speaks with Don about his daughters' obsession with The Rolling Stones, and floats an idea about getting The Rolling Stones to do a commercial for Heinz. Don agrees, though he is unimpressed with the idea. Harry and Don make a Saturday night trip to a Rolling Stones concert to meet with Stones manager Allen Klein. They end up making conversation backstage with two pot-smoking female fans. When Harry leaves with one of the girls to talk with Klein, Don waxes poetic with one over her love for the band. She makes an insulting comment about the older generation, but Don responds that the older generation is simply worried for youth. Harry fails miserably at his attempt to meet with The Rolling Stones, but Don is indifferent.

Back at home, Don ls awoken by Megan who is ready for them to leave for a meet up with her friends at Fire Island. Don tells her that Betty may have cancer. Megan is concerned but Don keeps her involvement at a distance. Megan is supportive, and he reluctantly leaves with her to go out. 

Pete is in talks with Mohawk Airlines for their return to the agency, but the arrangement calls for Roger to handle the day-to-day business, much to Pete's disappointment.

Peggy telling Ginsberg he got the job. Episode: Tea Leaves.

Roger puts Peggy in charge of hiring a new male copywriter for Mohawk. Stan advises her to hire a mediocre employee to make her competition lighter. Peggy, however, chooses to interview a talented young Jewish man named Michael Ginsberg, whose work impresses her. When Peggy interviews Michael, he is over-the-top in his disposition. However, Roger forces her to bring Michael to Don for a second interview. During his interview with Don, Michael is more upstanding and professional, which puzzles Peggy, and Michael is hired.

Pete giving a speech in Tea Leaves.

At the end of the work day, Pete makes an exuberant speech to the entire SCDP workforce regarding his success in renewing the Mohawk Airlines account. Roger walks out of the speech in anger, loathing his apparent descent in value to the agency.

Don calls the Francis residence to inquire about Betty's well being. Henry answers and tells Don she is fine and 'out of the woods'. Don is relieved, but Henry cuts him short saying they are about to put supper on the table. Betty asks who called and Henry replies 'nobody'.

Megan enters Don's office and he advises her that Betty is fine. Megan is relived. Don, somewhat patronizingly, tells Megan she's 'such an optimist'. Megan fires back saying Betty just needed an excuse to call Don. 

Michael returns home to find his domineering father reading the paper. Michael's personality changes yet again, this time more shy and reserved. When he learns of his son's success, he tells his son that he needs to meet girls and Michael's father engages in prayer with his son.

In the final scene, Betty and Sally each have an ice cream sundae at the kitchen table. Sally asks to be excused to watch television. When she does, Betty finishes her own ice cream then slides Sally's over and happily finishes it.


  • Actress January Jones became pregnant between Season 4 and Season 5. Instead of writing in a pregnancy for Betty Hofstadt, the writers opted to write in a weight gain. January Jones wore a fat suit during the filming of this episode, the same technique used by Elisabeth Moss during the first season when Peggy Olson encountered a similar weight gain. A body double was used for the scene in which Betty rises from the bathtub.
  • This was the first episode of the series directed by Jon Hamm.
  • The episode takes place in July of 1966, right around Independence Day.
  • Leo Burnett, mentioned by Michael after he worked at his "crappy NY satellite", was an influential advertising executive (named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century) and founder of the eponymous company.
  • Betty is seen indulging on Bugles, first introduced in early 1966.
  • During Betty's dream sequence, the production crew contemplated having Sally walk through Betty, like she was a ghost. In the end, they decided to keep Betty human.
  • Georges Romney, mentioned by Henry Francis, is the father of Mitt Romney, who, at the time of the airing of the episode, was the leading runner for the Republican presidential primaries, which he later won to represent his party against Barack Obama. His animosity with Lindsay is based in actual history.
  • Closing song over credits: You Are 16 Going on Seventeen from The Sound of Music Original Soundtrack


Main Star

Guest Star


  • Mari Weiss as Cecillia
  • Ryan K. Smith as Bouncer
  • Lyn Mahler as Nurse
Seasons of Mad Men
Season 1 • "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" • "Ladies Room" • "Marriage of Figaro" • "New Amsterdam" • "5G" • "Babylon" • "Red in the Face" • "The Hobo Code" • "Shoot" • "Long Weekend" • "Indian Summer" • "Nixon vs. Kennedy" • "The Wheel" •
Season 2 • "For Those Who Think Young" • "Flight 1" • "The Benefactor" • "Three Sundays" • "The New Girl" • "Maidenform" • "The Gold Violin" • "A Night to Remember" • "Six Month Leave" • "The Inheritance" • "The Jet Set" • "The Mountain King" • "Meditations in an Emergency" •
Season 3 • "Out of Town" • "Love Among the Ruins" • "My Old Kentucky Home" • "The Arrangements" • "The Fog" • "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" • "Seven Twenty Three" • "Souvenir" • "Wee Small Hours" • "The Color Blue" • "The Gypsy and the Hobo" • "The Grown-Ups" • "Shut the Door. Have a Seat" •
Season 4 • "Public Relations" • "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" • "The Good News" • "The Rejected" • "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" • "Waldorf Stories" • "The Suitcase" • "The Summer Man" • "The Beautiful Girls" • "Hands and Knees" • "Chinese Wall" • "Blowing Smoke" • "Tomorrowland" •
Season 5 • "A Little Kiss, Part 1" • "A Little Kiss, Part 2" • "Tea Leaves" • "Mystery Date" • "Signal 30" • "Far Away Places" • "At the Codfish Ball" • "Lady Lazarus" • "Dark Shadows" • "Christmas Waltz" • "The Other Woman" • "Commissions and Fees" • "The Phantom" •
Season 6 • "The Doorway, Part 1" • "The Doorway, Part 2" • "The Collaborators" • "To Have and To Hold" • "The Flood" • "For Immediate Release" • "Man With a Plan" • "The Crash" • "The Better Half" • "A Tale of Two Cities" • "Favors" • "The Quality of Mercy" • "In Care Of" •
Season 7 • "Time Zones" • "A Day's Work" • "Field Trip" • "The Monolith" • "The Runaways" • "The Strategy" • "Waterloo" • "Severance" • "New Business" • "The Forecast" • "Time & Life" • "Lost Horizon" • "The Milk and Honey Route" • "Person to Person" •