In another of their very insightful video essays, film and television analysis platform ScreenPrism looked at the evolving character arc of Joan Holloway of Mad Men. In the first few seasons, Joan primarily relied on her looks to get what she wanted, despite her sharp wit. It was only after such setbacks as being replaced by a man in a job that she’d proven worthy, a failed marriage to an abusive husband and being left a single mother, did Joan Holloway become true to herself.
Head-turning and all-knowing, Joan Holloway is one of the most subversive characters in Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men. The unexpectedness of Joan’s character arc, and how much her evolution surprises even herself, is what makes her so compelling.