10 Moments 'Mad Men's' Sally Draper Should Discuss with Her Therapist

by Meredith Blake

Los Angeles Times (TNS)

3 April 2015

When Mad Men debuted on AMC, Sally Draper was a cherubic 5-year-old with a mop of blond ringlets and an adorable lisp. Nine fictional years later, she’s a boarding school student with a smoking habit and a perfectly sullen teenage eye-roll.

When “Mad Men” debuted on AMC, Sally Draper was a cherubic 5-year-old with a mop of blond ringlets and an adorable lisp. Nine fictional years later, she’s a boarding school student with a smoking habit and a perfectly sullen teenage eye-roll.

Along the way, the eldest Draper child has been exposed to enough family dysfunction to necessitate a few decades’ worth of intensive therapy. (Good thing her dad has plenty of loot.) Here are a few childhood moments she’ll probably need to unpack:

1. The time her beloved grandfather let her drive. In the Season 3 episode “The Arrangements,” Sally — then about 8 — goes out for a spin with her grandfather Gene. The only thing is, she’s the one at the wheel of his Lincoln. Sure, she made it home safe and this pales in comparison to some other incidents in her life. But an 8-year-old driving? Come on!

2. The time her beloved grandfather died. When a policeman delivered the news of Gene’s death, Sally’s mother, Betty, was so shocked she slammed the door behind her, leaving Sally outside to weep alone on the front steps. Soon afterward, Betty gave birth to a baby boy she named Gene, after her father. Preoccupied with death, Sally started asking questions at school about slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers and became convinced that baby Gene was her grandfather’s ghost — he even slept in the same room. Betty tried to make Sally feel better by giving her a Barbie doll “from baby Gene” but succeeded in freaking out her daughter even more. Poor old Barbie wound up in the bushes.

3. The time her mom made her see a psychiatrist for no real reason. After Sally gave herself a haircut while staying over at Don’s, Betty, who was really mad at Don, reacted by slapping her across the face. Then Sally was caught in the middle of some typical adolescent self-exploration at a friend’s sleepover. Betty shamed her daughter, threatened to cut off her fingers and made her see a child psychiatrist a whopping four times a week. Then Betty used Sally’s time with Dr. Edna for herself.

4. The time Sally showed up unannounced at Don’s office. When Sally decided to run away to the city to be with her dad, she made it onto the train before a stranger found her and escorted her to the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. After an initial bit of awkwardness heightened by Miss Blankenship’s untimely death, father and daughter shared a sweet day of bonding and some rum-soaked French toast. But things got ugly when time came for Sally to go back to Ossining with Betty. Refusing to go, she ran down the hall of SCDP in protest — and wiped out in front of half the agency.

5. The time her step-grandmother Pauline gave her a sleeping pill. In by far the creepiest “Mad Men” episode ever, Sally was unable to sleep after reading headlines about mass murderer Richard Speck and turned to Henry’s Bugle-munching mother, Pauline, for comfort. Big mistake, Sally. Pauline gave her half a Seconal and told her Speck killed all those innocent nurses “because he hates his mother” and their short uniforms were “stirring his desires.” Did I mention she said all this while holding a foot-long knife she referred to as her “burglar alarm”? No wonder Sally slept under the couch for the night.

6. The time she caught Don in the act with the neighbor lady. Betty has taken a lot of heat for her lack of parenting skills, but Don ain’t much better. Take the time Sally walked in on him having sex with Sylvia Rosen, his neighbor and mistress. Sally fled to Miss Porter’s soon after.

7. The time she caught her other step-grandmother, Marie, in the act with Roger Sterling. Roger was charming and adorable when he brought Sally as his “date” to the American Cancer Society benefit — until he got caught in a compromising position with Megan’s (married) mother, Marie, in a dark corner of the hotel. Seriously, what’s with the step-grandmas on this show?

8. The time “Grandma Ida” came to visit. In keeping with the creepy grandma theme is “Grandma Ida,” a burglar who busted into Don and Megan’s apartment while Sally was babysitting her little brothers (Megan was at the theater; Don was on a speed bender at the office). “Ida” claimed to have taken care of Don as a little kid; Sally eventually figured out the truth and called the police. The incident was an eye-opener for Sally. “I realized I don’t know anything about you,” she later told Don.

9. The time her dad revealed his real identity. After a season-long downward spiral, Don redeemed himself by fessing up to his kids — including Sally, freshly suspended from Miss Porter’s for buying beer with a fake ID — about his humble origins. “This is where I grew up,” he told them in front of his rundown childhood home. The confession probably came as a relief to Sally, who’d recently learned via Betty that her father once had another wife named Anna and whose run-in with Grandma Ida had piqued her curiosity about her father’s obscure past.

10. The time she broke her nose “sword-fighting with golf clubs.” Betty, as usual, was mostly concerned about the superficial. “It was a perfect nose, and I gave it to you,” she said. Sally replied with the perfect zinger: “It’s a nose job, not an abortion.”

Topics: mad men
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