The cast of AMC’s Mad Men was filled with incredibly talented actors, and by far, one of the very best was Christina Hendricks. As Joan Holloway (who would become Joan Harris, after marrying her horrible husband Greg—but more on him later), Hendricks was a beacon of beauty and grace but also of strength and determination. Throughout Mad Men‘s seven seasons, Joan dealt with many challenges, from how she was treated in the workplace to how she was treated in her own marriage, but she persevered through it all, knowing that her intelligence, hard work, and creativity would help give her the life that she had always wanted.
During her time on Mad Men, there was no shortage of memorable moments that Christina Hendricks had while playing Joan. However, as we reflect on the series, which came to an end last May, there are some specific scenes that have stayed in our minds long after the episodes have aired, bits of Hendricks’ acting that were just so real and authentic that we forgot we were watching her play a character. These are our picks (in no particular order) for the 10 best Christina Hendricks moments on Mad Men.
Joan Gives the Guys Quite a Sight
Ever since Mad Men‘s first episode, there was no person on the show (or watching the show) that could deny how unbelievably attractive Joan was. However, one of the best parts about Joan’s character, and Christina Hendricks’ portrayal of her, is that she used physical attributes as a means of power. She knew the game that she had to play in this world of men, and she always found a way to be one step ahead of them. Plus, this is just a great, fun scene on its own, both for what Joan is doing in it, and for Roger’s reaction to her.
Joan and Peggy Talk About Abe
This a small moment between Joan and Peggy from the Season 5 episode, “At the Codfish Ball,” and actually, the scene above isn’t even the one where Christina Hendricks does her best acting. That comes later in the episode, when Peggy tells her how Abe only asked her to move in with him. Instead of poking fun at Peggy, or telling her about some of the difficulties of her own marriage, Joan calls Peggy and Abe’s situation romantic and lessens the importance of getting married. It’s a really sweet moment where Joan puts Peggy first and tells her what she wants to hear instead of what she needs to.
Joan Gets Real With Peggy
But Joan tells Peggy exactly what she needs to hear in the scene above, and oh man, it’s another great Mad Men moment from Christina Hendricks. Joan isn’t trying to be cruel to Peggy in this scene; instead, she’s being realistic about the time they live in and the situation that they both find themselves in at work. The sooner that they both see things as they way they are, the better they’ll both be able to handle them.
“I’m Not a Phony”
Feisty Joan may be my personal favorite version of Joan, and she appeared many times during Mad Men‘s seven seasons, like in this Season 2 scene between Christina Hendricks and Michael Gladis. It’s clear that Hendricks had a lot of fun with this side of the character, and she’s terrific in this scene. Plus, Paul Kinsey is the worst, although not as bad as Harry Crane.
Joan Receives Divorce Papers
Since Joan was typically a much more reserved, measured character, she usually expressed her distaste for a situation with a whisper or a passive aggressive remark. However, her enraged reaction to receiving divorce papers from Greg was a reminder that, despite how strong Joan appears, she’s human like everyone else. Christina Hendricks absolutely nails the scene, not overplaying Joan’s anger and showing the heartbreak underneath her rage; it’s another wonderful performance from her.
Joan Confronts Greg
Ever since Greg raped Joan in Season 2, before the two of them were married, Mad Men fans had been waiting for her to confront him and, hopefully, leave him, and that’s exactly what happened in the Season 5 episode, “Mystery Date.” Unfortunately, the full version of this scene wasn’t available on YouTube, but you can still see many of the best parts of it in the video above. Easily one of Christina Hendricks’ best moments from the series.
The Jaguar Deal
Joan finds herself in a disgusting situation in the Season 5 episode, “The Other Woman.” Pete presents her with an indecent proposal: $50,000 to sleep with the head of Jaguar; if she doesn’t, Sterling Cooper will lose out on the Jaguar account. Joan is repulsed by the idea, but when she’s guaranteed five percent in the company and partner status, she goes through with it, making the decision all on her own and ensuring that she’ll have more than enough money to give her son a good life. “The Other Woman” still remains one of Mad Men‘s most controversial episodes, as pretty much all of the show’s fans (and even Don himself, although he arrived too late) didn’t want Joan to go through with it. However, Joan has always seen and used her physical attributes as a way to gain power in the male-dominated world that she works in; her decision fits her character. Plus, Christina Hendricks’ performance during the episode was absolutely Emmy-worthy.
Joan and Don at the Bar
Don Draper and Joan Harris sitting at a bar, getting drunk together, flirting, and people-watching. Does it really get much better than that? This is a moment that all Mad Men fans wanted, and Jon Hamm, and especially Christina Hendricks, gave viewers a short but sensational scene that was better than what they could have imagined.
Joan vs. Don
And as great as drunk Joan and Don are together, angry Joan going against Don in this Season 6 episode may have been just as good. Anytime Joan’s frustration or anger rises to the surface, breaking through her typically calm demeanor, Christina Hendricks always perfectly captures those emotions in such a real, honest way. This exchange between Joan and Don is no exception.
It’s a simple moment, really: Joan answering the phone for her own company, Holloway/Harris (her maiden name and her married name together, and also a representation of the woman Joan was at the start of Mad Men and the woman she became by the show’s end), but it says so much. Throughout Mad Men, Joan did what she had to do to get ahead in the male-dominated world that she worked in (just look at the Jaguar deal from “The Other Woman”), and all she wanted was to be able to have something that was her own and to provide for her son. And in Mad Men‘s final moments, that’s what Joan is able to do, and Christina Hendricks wonderfully captures Joan’s satisfaction in just a few seconds on screen as she picks up the phone.
A graduate of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, where he majored in English and Film, Chris has been writing for TVOvermind for over four years and has written about several different television shows, such as New Girl, Breaking Bad, Glee, and Homeland. Contact him through Twitter (@ckinger13) or email ([email protected]).