Monday, July 26, 2010

Sally Draper

As I said in my own comments last night, the opener to Season 4 of Mad Men was a dark, dark episode and ~ Sally Draper may be the barometer to watch.  Little Sally has been almost invisible for the previous three seasons, other than as the object of Betty's excuse for mothering  ~  but suddenly she's grown into a self-aware child-woman, trying to call her father in the middle of the night ~ both last night and in the preview for next week ~to express her frustration at the new "family" arrangements.

I got interested, so I googled Sally Draper and came up with some information on the actress, Kiernan Shipka, who turns 11 this year.  She's just the age I was in 1964, which I wrote about in my previous post, and she's dealing with some of the same issues, which I didn't write about.

I had a confusing family life, too, although mine involved a dead mother rather than a philandering father, and a new stepmother rather than the reverse gender.  But I do remember that era well ~ a time in which children were presumed to be without emotional reactivity and were subject to adult decision-making about marital and living arrangements with barely a moment's warning.

It will be interesting to watch Sally as she reflects the conflicts of the grown-ups while growing into her own adolescence.  What a tough time that was to be a girl!  Neither my mother nor my first stepmother were college graduates, but my father's mother was, like Betty, a Seven Sisters alum, and I inherited the blend  of expectations that in the 60s were communicated as a charge to become a well-educated partner to an executive or professional husband.  The advantage to being without a mother of my own, according to the book Motherless Daughters, was the chance to grow up without being overly burdened by traditional expectations for women, there being no one woman as invested in my future as a mother would have been.  The disadvantages were somewhat more numerous.

I would say that Sally faces an interesting blend of expectations.  Her mother is ~ well, Betty: a stunningly beautiful child.  Her father is ~ well, Don: a man who cannot have a mature relationship with any woman with whom he sleeps, but has interesting friendships with professional women (and with the woman he married after stealing her war-dead husband's identity and then divorced to marry Betty).  Talk about  mixed messages!

Yeah, I'd say we should watch Sally.

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