'Mad Men's' Kiernan Shipka has her act together

Can we agree that Don Draper sunk 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 PaleyFest event in Los Angeles. The funny thing is, it wouldn't take much effort to make a supercut called "Sorry about that!" featuring scene after scene after scene of adults going rogue in Sally Draper's presence.

As former Tribune critic Maureen Ryan once put it: "You could almost sum up the AMC drama by calling it a prelude to Sally Draper's inevitable years of therapy."

That, or a full-blown counterculture-fueled rebellion. Let the sunshine in, Sally.

Originally from Chicago (her mother, Erin Brennan, was queen of the St. Patrick's Day parade in 1986), Shipka moved to LA when she landed the role on "Mad Men." She was just 6 1/2 at the time.

Fame at a young age can warp reality, but you don't sense that with Shipka, even as she's become increasingly interested in fashion. Serious designers provide her red carpet looks, and she wears their clothes with considerable more style and self-assurance than most seasoned actresses.

When we talked by phone last month, I said she reminded me a little of Tavi Gevinson, the preternaturally accomplished Oak Park high schooler and founder of the online magazine Rookie, who also has a keen eye for fashion.

"Tavi? Yeah, I know Tavi! I had brunch with her last week! We shopped a little bit too. She's fantastic. I did an interview with Rookie a long time ago. She was in LA, so we met up — it was Tavi, me and my friend Amandla Stenberg, who was Rue in "The Hunger Games.'"

The seventh and final season of "Mad Men" (the first half of which airs this year) begins Sunday. The following is an excerpt of the conversation with Shipka.

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 in a couple of weeks 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 little more concentrated. It's just a different work schedule, so I can get done with it faster. It's called Laurel Springs, and 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: What about college? Will you go the Doogie Howser route?

A: I don't know if I'll ever be the Doogie Howser! Just going in there super young and people looking at me weird? I feel like that would be kind of strange. So I think I'll probably stick with online courses at first, and then when it's a little bit more normal to enter a (college) classroom, I'll look into normal college.

Q: You're originally from Chicago.