Here’s a nightmare: Your best friend is screwing your husband. And then she kills you with an axe. Not only does she get away with it, she’s later sympathetically portrayed in a TV series.
Hey, the chump was frumpy! If someone has to die by decapitation, let it be the drudge with the bowl haircut. Not Candy, a blithe spirit who suffers unjustly from the “pressures of conformity.”
Says the Hulu promo:
Candy Montgomery is a 1980 housewife and mother who did everything right—good husband, two kids, nice house, even the careful planning and execution of transgressions—but when the pressure of conformity builds within her, her actions scream for just a bit of freedom. Until someone tells her to shush. With deadly results.
Cheating on your spouses? “Bit of freedom.”
Someone… the chump doesn’t even get a name. The victim was Betty Gore. And she didn’t ask Candy Montgomery to shush, she asked Candy to quit fucking her husband.
Kudos to Stephanie McNeal at BuzzFeed News for questioning the point of this series and bringing kinder details of Betty Gores’s life to light. McNeal does not sugar-coat the Schmoopies quest for aliveness.
On Friday, June 13, 1980, a 30-year-old mother of two named Betty Gore was discovered murdered in her home in Wylie, Texas. Betty, a former fifth-grade teacher, had been struck more than 25 times with a 3-foot ax in a brutal attack that an official at the time said left her nearly dismembered, with deep wounds across her face. Her 1-year-old daughter sat in her crib, abandoned and screaming for hours.
The residents of the small North Texas town were flabbergasted by the brutality of the crime, newspapers reported. The second shock to the community came when authorities arrested Candice “Candy” Montgomery, also a 30-year-old wife and mother, for the slaying. Candy and Betty had been friends, and both were active members of the same church. Candy had even thrown Betty a baby shower the previous year. Their 5-year-old daughters were friends as well, and Betty’s older daughter had been sleeping over at Candy’s house when her mother was killed.
But it was Candy’s defense, laid out in an October 1980 trial that drew hundreds of spectators, that truly shook the town. On the stand, Candy told jurors she had killed Betty in self-defense after her friend flew into a rage and threatened to kill her. The reason? Candy had been sleeping with Betty’s husband, Allan, the previous year, and Betty found out. Candy said that when she dropped by Betty’s house to pick up a swimsuit for Betty’s daughter, Betty charged at her with the ax, she disassociated, and when she came to, Betty was dead on the ground; then she took a shower in the Gores’ bathroom and went to pick up her children from Bible school as if nothing had happened.
Oh, and the cheater at the center of that deadly pick-me dance axe-slaying? He sided with Candy on the stand.
Allan largely stood by Candy during the trial, adamantly claiming that the end of their affair had been mutual which worked to discredit the idea that Candy’s murder of Betty Gore was an act of passion and further her plea of self-defense. Less than three months after the trial, Allan married Elaine Clift and the couple relocated to Sachse, Texas. It was also around this time that Allan lost custody of his and Betty’s daughters, Alisa and Bethany. Four years after the trial, in 1988, the girls were then adopted and raised by Betty’s parents, Bertha and Bob Pomeroy.
The story then goes on to detail the abuse Betty’s children suffered at the hands of Allan and his replacement before the grandparents got full custody.
So you would THINK that maybe… just perhaps…. Allan is a villain in this Candy series?
No. He’s a hen-pecked martyr of a man. Who reasonably has to travel a lot for work, but his pathetic, clingy wife doesn’t understand.
I watched 15 minutes of the first episode. I got as far as Betty whining to Allan “But I don’t like it when you go!” In a petulant whittle gwurl voice. Him, tall and virile in a pressed shirt. Betty, schlubby, domestic, in the ugliest nightgown God gave Sears. Clearly he’s made some horrible mistake marrying this succubus.
You too would want to smother Betty with a pillow.
McNeal reports the actual Betty was much-loved, and her husband was shady.
One of the most notable differences is that in Candy, Betty seems, well, awful. Fresh off her turn as bored, sexually frustrated, and possibly murderous housewife Shauna Sadecki in the Showtime hit Yellowjackets, Melanie Lynskey plays Betty as a bored, frustrated, and possibly murderous wife and mother, this time with a bland wardrobe, bad haircut, and a horrifically ugly 1970s-style house.
The real Betty Gore was more nuanced than her onscreen counterpart. In her hometown of Norwich, Kansas, her family member told me, Betty is still thought highly of by people who knew her. “She was a popular student, involved in tons of activities, and had a lot of friends,” the family member said.
After marrying Allan and moving to Texas, though, Betty struggled. Betty had difficulty adapting to her teaching career, had bouts of depression, and was afraid of being alone, Texas Monthly reported. When Allan would travel for work, she would complain incessantly about him leaving her, and she was frequently moody. According to Texas Monthly, Allan thought of Betty as “dour” and felt stressed about trying to keep her happy. The day she died, she had worried she was pregnant again and was concerned about the possibility, her husband said. At Candy’s trial, Allan testified that when he had been unable to reach his wife after her murder, he feared she had died by suicide. In the Texas Monthly retelling, Betty’s unhappiness, as well as their lackluster sex life, is what drove Allan to eventually have an affair with the outgoing, popular Candy after she propositioned him in 1978 when Betty was pregnant with her second child.
Lackluster sex life? The woman had two small children and was pregnant with a third. But apparently Allan’s dick didn’t get enough attention. He was driven to having an affair.
Funny how “dour” has the same depression and anxiety symptoms as domestic abuse.
Lynskey’s Betty, though, has no positive attributes. She is mopey and vengeful, and never displays any warmth toward anyone. Quietly simmering with an all-consuming rage, Lynskey scowls her way through scene after scene, shooting daggers at her husband, at her baby, and eventually at Biel’s Candy. In one episode, she does what every fictional housewife who has had enough does: ignores her screaming baby by vacuuming loudly in the other room. She annoys Allan by calling him constantly at work and is shunned by the other more popular mothers at church. The show intersperses scenes of Candy smiling and laughing with her children with Betty frowning at her baby in her dark house.
Character assassination… it’s what’s streaming.
We couldn’t possibly have sympathy for a woman being betrayed by her husband and her purported friend.
I’m not a true crime junkie, but it seems to me that if you were acting in self defense (Candy claims Betty confronted her with an axe, which she wrestled ahold of, and fought back in self-defense, but remembers none of it…) you’d chop once and get away. You would not stand there and continually hack away. That, IMO, seems pre-meditated.
That’s the kind of anger that comes from losing the pick-me-dance. (Allan had dumped her, was in counseling with Betty, who was pregnant again…)
And I always find it curious how the character assassination never quite fits. How can Betty be such a sad sack, so utterly passive and needy, but also defends her marriage like an avenging Valkyrie? The character can’t even coordinate an outfit.
The three channels is the sociopath tell for me.
Poor Candy. She’s frustrated. Trapped in conventionality. Self-pity.
How dare you confront her?! Rage.
The press covered Candy favorably before she eventually faded from public view. In a wire story written after her acquittal, Candy told the reporter, as she had champagne and cake at a “small victory party” at her home, that she had received constant support from friends and family during and after the trial. (She also quipped to the reporter that she “wasn’t dangerous” after opening the door with a knife in her hand.)