'Mad Men's Sally Draper Is More like Don & Betty Than She Wants To Be
On last night's Mad Men we got some Sally Draper, finally, and she was one mad woman. A lot happened with Sally on Sunday night's episode, "The Forecast," but it was a Sally episode through and through, even though she doesn't show up until a ways in. It's the summertime and Sally's going on a "Teen Tour," which she's just as unexcited for as we are. But sadly for her, Glen Bishop stops by right before she's about to leave, and tells her that he's headed to fight in the war in Vietnam.
Sally interacts with her parents a lot in this episode, in some banal activities like signing checks with Betty and going out to dinner with Don, but she still seems restless and anxious about getting too close. She blows up at Don when he drops her off at the bus station, saying: "Hopefully I'm going to be a different person than you two," and Don calls her on her bullshit — and unfortunately, he's right. As much as Sally is SO not Don and Betty, she also definitely is. Despite growing up in the lap of luxury and learning to make cocktails before she turned ten, Sally is by no means the teen dream.
It's mentioned everywhere, but with good reason, but that iconic shot of baby Sally with the dry-cleaning bag over her head has been the defining start of Sally's suffocated ennui through the sixties. Because the girl is hella bored. Especially with her friends, who just want to buy fringe boots in the Village and flirt with her dad.
And whether she hates to admit it or not, that boredom comes especially from Don, who is constantly restless and unhappy. And both Don and Sally's frustration and anxiety comes from losing their innocence way before their time; the difference, though, is that Don had a choice to raise Sally right and give her a better childhood than he had, but instead he was all, "nah." And Sally knows she has to consciously learn from Dick Whitman's mistakes, although I would bet large that Sally Draper never wants to be a mom.
Which brings us to Sally Draper's mom. Betty Draper Francis has changed her name, which Loretta reminds Glen when he drops by with sideburns to end them all, but as he tells Betty, "You look exactly the same." In this regard, Betty and Sally are nothing alike; we've seen Sally transform into her own person: strong in her convictions (she dropped an F-bomb in Glen Bishop's direction and Betty's presence when she learned he was deploying to Vietnam), but she's still trapped in that bag, storming up the stairs of Betty's hilarious baroque staircase.
Her invectives, though, which are always eloquent and way beyond her years, are Don-like. She always has harsh truths to spill, and even though they are accurate, she can be cold and mean like her father. You could imagine father and daughter interchanging lines, and that's why their arguments are so satisfying, because they are equal matches. In the end of the episode, when Sally's going on her teen tour that's going to depress her with its vacuity, Sally spits fire at Don for flirting with her seventeen-year old friend, hitting the nail on the head: "It doesn't stop you, and it doesn't stop mom. Anyone pays attention to you, you just ooze everywhere." God, OOZE, what a perfect burn. Sadly, though, even though she declares that she wants to be a different person than her parents, Don reminds her that she really is her mother and father, and she's going to find that out.
However, there are differences that really hold a candle to what she got from Don and Betty. In an episode literally called "The Forecast," Don is tasked with imagining what the future for the agency will hold, and he just can't grasp anything, so he pisses everyone off by asking them what their hopes and dreams are (which, as Peggy says, he shits on).
Don is also more interested in death, whereas Sally is decidedly not. Even though she doesn't have a forecast for her own life, telling her dad at dinner that she's "so tired of people asking [her] what she wants to do," it's not because she is obsessed with death, but because when she thinks about forever, she gets upset. "You're gonna die! And for what?" she asks Glen. But she very well could be asking the same question to Dick Whitman.