There's No Crying in the Break Room

The best advice we’ve ever gotten from Mad Men’s Joan Holloway.
By Sarah Beall
In a show full of great characters, Joan Holloway might just be our favorite. She’s brutally honest, sharp as a tack, and sexy as hell – the wit of Winston Churchill in the body of Marilyn Monroe. And she gives some pretty memorable pieces of advice. Here are our favorites.
Joan Holloway from Mad Men

Commentarium (34 Comments)

Jul 21 10 - 9:45am

joan is like the hot mom that you always wished your best friends had

Jul 21 10 - 10:07am

The hot mom?! She's not that old!

Jul 21 10 - 10:10am

This entire article would seem to prove what women are always accusing men of (i.e. liking hot bitches). I think if Joan were not hot, you would not find her witty.

Jul 21 10 - 10:27am

I like the first bit of advice the best, though I don't quite see the need for a paper bag...

Jul 21 10 - 10:35am

I don't get the love of Joan. She's incredibly bitchy and I agree, if her boobs were smaller she would be considered insufferable.

Feb 27 12 - 12:13am

The reason Joan is such a bitch is that she has had to fight off cattiness and jealousy every step of the way. She's harsh, but she knows how to take care of herself and manipulate the people who have control over her future. Good for her, I say!

Jul 21 10 - 11:23am

Viewers started liking Joan for the T&A, but that alone can't sustain a character. She's exuding wit and charm and confidence with glimpses of vulnerability.

Jul 21 10 - 1:05pm

Joan is brutally honest and articulate and wicked smart; one of the best combinations ever. That's why people like her. That might not be why people *look* at her but that's why they like her.

Jul 21 10 - 2:02pm

This is funny. Based on these comments, people seem only vaguely aware that Joan is not a real person—or that her every piece of sage advice was probably written by a schlubby, misanthropic dude.

Jul 21 10 - 2:48pm

Lots of hate on this board...jealous much?

Jul 21 10 - 4:44pm
pink umbrella

Actually, my favorite line (or scene) with Joan was the one where old man Cooper tells her, "Don't waste your youth on age." That moment was a turning point for her character.

Jul 21 10 - 4:49pm

"I think if Joan were not hot, you would not find her witty. " Exactly. If she was ugly, we'd call her a bitter cunt.

Jul 21 10 - 5:12pm
pink umbrella

You'd call a woman a "bitter cunt" regardless of what she looks like and whether or not she deserves it, Moop. The pervasiveness of sexism in our culture is a huge part of what Mad Men is all about, right?

Jul 21 10 - 10:51pm
@pink umbrella

I think Moop is a woman. I think she was using "our" in the cultural sense. I am a woman, and I agree with Moop.

Jul 23 10 - 10:36pm
Chele Belle

Joan is style and substance. Yes she's a capital B-itch BUT she's also just as much a victim of the times that she's living if Peggy was saying those words would they be cool...probably not...but then again would Joan have Peggy's power and position if she was still built like a brick house AND could create great copy. As's apples & oranges.

Jul 24 10 - 8:55pm
@Chele Belle

You really think Joan's figure would hinder her professional success? I call BS. I'm sorry, but I totally don't buy the whole "pretty women aren't taken seriously" excuse. And in the show, haven't you noticed how men try to sexually objectify Peggy? Yes things are difficult for both, but I think Peggy made a choice, and Joan made another one. And for some reason a lot of people still glamorize Joan's more than Peggy's.

Jul 25 10 - 12:43pm

Betty Draper is attractive, and lots of folks can't stand her. Nobody minds looking at Joan, true, but that's not why we love her.

Jul 26 10 - 3:13pm

True, many people don't like Betty Draper. Which maybe means what... just that she's more annoying than Joan? But that still doesn't prove that if Joan looked like Peggy, we would not like Joan either.

Jul 28 10 - 2:34pm
@ @Chele Belle

I'm a pretty woman and I've had far more success with my writing career when I've sent in columns from a gender neutral email address than when I've come in person or than when I've sent samples from my named email address. People think pretty means stupid. Of course, mine is only a case study, but I've always felt I've had to prove myself against my looks. *I* get noticed, my *work* does not.

Jul 30 10 - 4:10am

I love Mad men but in my opinion Joan is the type of person you don't want to mess with but still like to earn her respect you know, kinda like a frienemy

Aug 18 10 - 9:26pm

Hey Retro Heads!

I have just entered a retro-licious “Mad Men” contest, and I need your votes to win a walk-on role on the show!

Please go to and vote for me!

Thanks a bunch,

Aug 23 10 - 6:08pm

I believe Mad Men is written by a team that includes a fair share of women. The writing strikes me as feminist, demonstrating the various effects (on both men and women) of a misogynist culture. Don Draper does and says all sorts of shitty things, and no one calls him a cunt. We still regard a harsh message or personality as befitting a man and as a sign of foulness in a woman. The characters are pretty intricately drawn.

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