Can we agree that Don Draper sank to a new low of lousy parenting last season on "Mad Men" when he barely took pains to hide his infidelity with the neighbor lady? That recklessness pretty much ensured that someone would walk in on one of his assignations. That someone turned out to be his preteen daughter, Sally.
"Sorry about that!" Jon Hamm joked to 14-year-old co-star Kiernan Shipka at a recent event at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. The funny thing is, it wouldn't take much effort to splice together scene after scene after scene of adults going rogue in Sally Draper's presence titled "Sorry About That."
As critic Maureen Ryan once put it, "You could almost sum up 'Mad Men' by calling it a prelude to Sally Draper's inevitable years of therapy."
Originally from Chicago (her mother, Erin Brennan, was queen of that city's St. Patrick's Day parade in 1986), Kiernan moved with her family to L.A. when she landed the role on "Mad Men." She was just 61/2 at the time.
Fame at a young age can warp reality, but you don't sense that with Kiernan, even as she's become increasingly interested in fashion. Designers provide her red carpet looks, and she wears their clothes with considerable more style and self-assurance than many seasoned actresses.
The seventh and final season of "Mad Men" (the first half of which airs this year) began April 13. Here are excerpts from a conversation with Kiernan:
Q Where are you in terms of wrapping things up on "Mad Men"?
A We've done the first seven episodes, and we're in sort of a little bit of a hiatus right now, and then we go back ... to finish up the rest (which will air next year). I think we'll be done by June. It definitely feels like it's ending. I think it'll feel that way more once we get back, because it'll truly be the last of everything, and it's sad!
Q What year are you in school?
A I'm just finishing up my senior year.
Q Wait, you're 14!
A I do an independent study program, so it's a little more concentrated ..., so I can get done with it faster. It's ... a full online curriculum that's K-12. It definitely caters to young actors.
Q How have you been able to plow through your studies so fast?
A I've never taken a summer break, so I could just get it all done.
Q When I watch "Mad Men," I'm always reminded that girls dressed younger for longer in the 1960s than today. What goes through your mind when you put on the costumes for Sally?
A It's fun because a lot of those clothes I wouldn't wear in real life -- they're not my style. So I think it's cool that I get to go that route and dress up as this different person. And really, unless (costume designer) Janie (Bryant) and her team make a piece, it's all vintage -- all from that time period. So it's one more step into that world.
Q Is there one fashion trait from the '60s that you hate?
A That's so easy. It's the pants -- ugh! They're so stiff, and they're high-waisted. If I had to choose one thing (to ditch) that would probably be it. I like the style of the pants; it's just comfort-wise, no.
Q In the past, you've said you haven't watched "Mad Men" because you were too young. Is that still true?
A Now I've seen the show. I was sick in bed with a cold, so I just decided to start. You know, that typical Netflix binge-watching. So far I've seen all of Season 1 and tidbits of everything else.
Q What's it like watching yourself as a 6- or 7-year-old all these years later?
A I was so tiny. It's like all this home video footage of me running around and saying things with a lisp. I think I'm going to have to watch it again, because the first time all these memories were coming back.
When I was little, I was just doing my scenes. And that was pretty much all I knew. I knew that there was a whole show beyond what I was doing, but I was more focused on the Sally parts. So going back and seeing why my character was saying certain things and how it all played out, it was cool to look back and get the full picture.
Q By the way, I noticed that you post a lot of photos of beverages on your Instagram.
A (Laughs) Yes, I do. My Instagram is basically food. In the comments, people are like, "You just eat? Is that your only thing?" I like my Instagram to look nice. And beverages are just really pretty; that's basically it. A lot of times, it happens to be coffee or rose water lemonade or whatever. And honestly, half the time I'm not even at those places. They're photos I've taken a long time ago and decided to post.