There are no minor characters on Mad Men, and this is one of the reasons the AMC series has been so successful. We are just as invested in Sally Draper’s story as we are in Don’s. Peggy, Betty, Joan, Bob Benson, Freddy Rumsen—we’ve been captivated by them all. Still, Sally Draper stands apart from these other characters, and it should be acknowledged that there have been many times when Kiernan Shipka completely stole the show. She speaks her mind, she calls the adults on their stuff, and she’s liberated in a very natural, matter-of-fact way that seems to both embrace and work against the feminist ideals of her time and ours. She’s a complicated girl, and no one understands her but weirdo Glen. (And even he didn’t get it at times.) Even if we don’t fully understand her—and even though we know she might be headed for more therapy by the time Betty, Don, and boarding school are through with her—she’s still one of the best characters on the show, for these and other reasons. As part one of the final season draws to a close, we look back at ten memorable times when Sally Draper absolutely stole the show.
10. Hell No, She Won’t Go
Episode 4.09: “The Beautiful Girls”
A child saying “no” in the wrong place, at the wrong time has driven many-a-parent mad, and this scene completely taps in on the horror. In Season Five, Sally waltzes her way up to her Dad’s office and refuses to leave, even though Betty is on her way and—obviously—furious at the inconvenience and defiance. In the land of Sally Draper-isms, this may not seem like one of her grander moments, but there was something thrilling about watching her matter-of-factly state that she would not be going with Betty, and argue that she had every right to stay with her father. As a child you simply do not believing in doing things contrary to that which you truly want to do. As adults, we lose this defiance and bravery, but Sally encourages us to try out “no” again. This scene also played a big part in the demise of Don and Faye, as Sally clings to Megan—her future step-mother—in the end.
9. Smoking With Betty
Episode 6.12: “The Quality of Mercy”
We know it’s unhealthy, and we know the kids shouldn’t smoke, but damn Sally looked awesome in this scene. And, betwixt puffs, she waxes poetic on the relationship she has with Don: “My father never gave me anything.” And she’s right, in many ways. It’s one of the reasons she’s decided to go to board school. Earlier in the episode she couldn’t tell her mom the truth, but in this moment—the moment where she can finally smoke with Betty (we all have some equivalent of this)—she lays it all out.
8.Rocking The Go-Go Boots To End All Go-Go Boots
Episode 5.07: “At the Codfish Ball”
Sure, she had to take them off in the end (along with all her big girl make-up) but those boots Megan and Marie Calvet helped her pick out were so hot, it was uncomfortable. Little Sally was growing up before our (and Don’s) eyes, inspiring Megan’s father Emile to share this fantastic misquote in front of everyone: “One day, your daughter will spread her legs and fly away.” Yeah, those go-go boots had to go. Go.
7. Womanhood at the Natural History Museum
Episode 5.12: “Commissions and Fees”
There comes a time in every young girl’s life, where she skips school to go to a museum with her non-boyfriend and suddenly finds herself “becoming” a woman. She flees the scene (the museum, her father’s home, the city) and takes a twenty-five dollar cab back home to Westchester (yes, twenty-five dollars). It’s a powerful moment because, after watching her rage against her mother in practically every episode, we are reminded that seemingly grown and sassy Sally—even in this moment of physical growth and maturation—is still a child. And when something big happens, no father, or step-mom, or non-boyfriend will do. Sometimes you just have to run home to mommy.
6. Sally Nose Best
Episode 7.05: “The Runaways”
Betty and Sally have had countless memorable (and cringe-worthy) interactions. When these two get together, daughters the world over think to themselves, “Eh, I guess Mom and I weren’t so bad.” This season Sally accidentally breaks her nose and Betty (being Betty) completely loses it. Sally’s retorts are so simple and vicious; and they carry so much weight. “Where would Mom be without her perfect nose?” and “It’s a nose job, not an abortion,” and then, “Don’t worry about me finding a man. I already have you to keep me line”—these are the reasons we love Sally Draper. She’s the brattiest little budding feminist there ever was.