All “Mad Man” fans have their favorite characters and are bracing themselves for the show’s last episode. While I’ve always been fond of Peggy (I love quipy writers) and have a strange love/hate relationship with Pete (have fun in Wichita, buddy), I have always been taken with Joan Holloway.
Joan is one of the first women in the “Mad Men” universe to break into the ad world’s boys club. We meet her on the show’s first episode as she coaches Peggy, the “new girl,” on how to behave in a busy, sex-crazed, and booze-fueled office atmosphere. Joan is firm, elegant, and it’s obvious that all the men in the office are smitten with her. But does Joan care? No. Joan cares about her job and getting work done, no matter how many disgusting advances she gets every day.
Over the years, Joan’s character has become increasingly intricate and deep. She’s been through multiple unpleasant encounters with men, been married and divorced, and has seen many promotions come and go. All the while, though, she has remained distinctly “Joan.” To celebrate this amazing female character, we’ve highlighted a few of the many things we adore about Joan.
1. She isn’t afraid to be feminine
Joan has a style that is all her own. She wears vibrant colors, beautiful jewelry, exquisite heels, and her radiant red locks are always perfectly styled. So, why is her appearance so important? Because it is intimidatingly female. Her looks are so uniquely hers that Joan is able to stop male clients in their tracks, and get the attention she deserves. She understands that she could never be a man, or win at being a masculine woman because that just isn’t her. Joan embraced her killer feminine instinct and grabbed the ad world by the balls, and demanded to be noticed for her smarts.
2. She uses her wit and accumulated wisdom to own all the haters
Now, Joan has had it rough many times. She had to deal with people thinking that she was just a pretty face, or that she was a “good time girl.” More often than not, Joan has had to use her wit and wisdom to get her point across. Joan’s superpower over the years has been putting dumb-dumb ad executives in their place and showing them what’s what, and we love her for it.
3. She’s a woman’s lib mover-and-shaker (and she doesn’t even know it)
Joan is an incredible feminist in her home life and at work. At home, she got out of a marriage that was terrible by telling her then-husband to take a hike when he wasn’t honest with her. She embraced being a single, working mother with grace and serenity.
And at the office, Joan knew that women weren’t taken seriously in the ad world, but she was able to expertly work the system many times. Sure, sometimes she had to play nice to get what she wanted, but she knew how to play the ad man game. Most recently, Joan lost her job because she stood up to her boss and told him she didn’t want to be sexually harassed in the work place. She ultimately lost her battle with the company, but her speech about women‘s lib and rights was truly inspiring.
Now, we know Joan wasn’t without faults, but really, who is? It’s the characters who screw up along the way and learn from their mistakes who really intrigue and stick with us long after a series ends.
Let’s raise a glass to Joan, and hope that we get to see many more female characters like her in the future.
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