5 Reasons Not to Hate January Jones

An impassioned defense of the notoriously affectless actress.

X-Men: First Class star January Jones has become one of the most hated actresses in America — you either haven’t heard of her, or you disdain her. “I fucking hate that face,” wrote a blogger for Gawker, in a post titled “Which Actresses Do You Irrationally Hate?” While that writer at least acknowledged that his hatred was irrational, January Jones is also despised for purportedly rational reasons by fans of the two properties she’s associated with, Mad Men and X-Men — a hazard of working on projects with crazy die-hard fans. But, as a fan of both Mad Men and X-Men, I say Ms. Jones is less despicable than you think — not only should you not hate her, you should embrace her! Here’s why.

1. She’s very good at playing blank women.
The party line on January Jones is that she’s creepily affectless and flat of voice. And, yes, her notoriously awful Saturday Night Live appearance taught us all that she is not the second coming of Kristen Wiig. But the roles she gets don’t exactly require her to be Kristen Wiig. In Mad Men, she plays a woman bound up by all the emotional repression of the early 1960s; her flatness and awkwardness works perfectly with her awkward, isolated character. In X-Men, she also plays a woman bound up by the emotional repression of the early 1960s — and she’s a mutant who can turn into ice. (A casting decision that seems like a not-so-subtle joke.) Jones might not have much range, but she's perfect for those parts.

2. She’s private, like celebrities should be.
We also know next to nothing about January Jones personally — we don’t even know who the father of her kid is yet. While that sucks for Perez Hilton, it’s great for us, because she lives in our minds as her characters, not as a drunk-driving party girl or homophobic ranter. Because she’s so villainous onscreen, it’s pretty easy to assume that if one met her in real life, she’d make a dismissive remark and then stare off into the middle distance, like Betty or like Emma Frost. 

3. When she goes public, she’s entertaining.
It’s okay for celebrities to be a little dumb — when did we decide they all had to be enlightened Ivy League grads or environmentalists? And January Jones, so good at playing disaffected ice queens, is charmingly removed from reality. “I don’t judge Betty or necessarily understand her,” she said, of her Mad Men character, in perhaps the first ever instance of an actress not bragging about her preparation. “I… like… fire,” she told GQ, like a slow-speaking caveman. When she got in a car accident, she called a Food Network host, who told her to flee. It’s been too long since we had a great airhead actress to entertain us. 

4. She has good taste. 
Maybe she’s just gotten lucky. But come on — everyone’s favorite TV drama and a way-better-than-expected summer action movie? She’s on a roll — you may as well get used to her.

5. It’s not that serious.
Mad Men fans, you don’t have to love every element of the show (I certainly don’t), but January Jones has been exactly the same kind of actress for its entire run, and she’s that kind of actress in other projects she’s hired for. Go along with it. She’s a crazy-gorgeous blonde who wears period clothes (check her all-white miniskirts and go-go boots in X-Men) and says silly things and might be fun to hang with. No one’s nominating her for an Oscar — so why worry?

Commentarium (44 Comments)

Jun 10 11 - 4:11pm
SB

agreed...and quite a nice rack!

Jun 10 11 - 4:13pm
diamonds

she turned into diamond form in the movie, fyi. Not really ice

Jun 11 11 - 12:38pm
BrosephofArimathea

I consider it a flaw in the storytelling.

Jun 10 11 - 4:22pm
faulknersaysrelax

I think people defending Jones are really just reinforcing the argument that you don't need to be talented or interesting to make it in the entertainment world. Just be hot, white and have big breasts. Or they just pity her because she seems literally brain damaged.

Wooden, dumb, remote, hot. Sounds like a Stepford Wife, not an actress.

Jun 10 11 - 5:24pm
sg

welcome to reality.

Jun 10 11 - 6:56pm
completely

But she plays subverted Stepford Wife. That's part of the whole package.

Jun 11 11 - 1:37am
Greg

Jealousy is an ugly emotion. How does anyone "Hate" a person they don't know, she's an actress. If you need to hate someone, hate the guy who shot 8 people in Az. Hate the people who shoot kids for no reason, but to hate an actress, that's sad for you

Jun 13 11 - 7:39am
Pixie

Geez Greg, sense of humor fail much?

Jun 14 11 - 2:39pm
bcarter3

"...don't need to be talented or interesting to make it in the entertainment world. Just be hot, white and have big breasts."

Worked for Stallone and Schwarzenegger.

Jun 10 11 - 4:31pm
herp

I don't think she's dumb at all. I think she's hilarious and slightly bitchy - have you ever read or seen an interview with her?

Jun 10 11 - 5:35pm
lt

i read an interview with her, and she came off as dumb. Which is ok. I don't hate her, I'm just not very impressed with her.

Jun 10 11 - 5:24pm
Jeffrey

I really liked her on "Mad Men," at least until she was written into a corner and threatened to cut Sally's fingers off. In "X-Men," I mean, she was awful, but that was one movie.

Jun 10 11 - 6:57pm
completely

Agreed. I think the writing made Betty a worse and worse person, to the point where the audience of the show has been trained to really hate her. In a way, I think it's a testament to her acting. It's almost impossible for people to divorce her from Betty Draper in their minds.

Jun 13 11 - 2:45pm
thinkywritey

I don't watch "Mad Men," and I still think she's an awful actress.

Jun 10 11 - 5:34pm
Green

Two reasons are obvious from the picture.

Jun 10 11 - 7:40pm
Amelia

People's bodies and body parts are not there for YOUR enjoyment.

Jun 10 11 - 7:58pm
src

Really?

Jun 10 11 - 11:30pm
Green

Yes, sex doesn't sell. I'm sure Ms Jones does not owe her success in any way to her looks.

Jun 11 11 - 3:02am
Amelia

Just kidding lol :)

Jun 10 11 - 6:21pm
Brian

"2. She’s private, like celebrities should be.
... it’s great for us, because she lives in our minds as her characters, not as a drunk-driving party girl..." But she is a drunk driving party girl. She rammed her car into to vehicles in West Hollywood, fled the scene and returned when she had sobered up to avoid a DUI.
http://www.tmz.com/2010/06/11/mad-men-january-jones-car-crash-bobby-flay...

Jun 10 11 - 7:01pm
completely

I don't actually think she's a bad actor -- or at least not any worse than Jon Hamm. They both do what they do really well, and it gets kind of embarrassing when they have to push themselves too far. But they work the hell out of it in Mad Men, because beautiful, understated acting is what's called for.

I also think that the desire modern audiences have for actors to constantly go against type is, frankly, stupid. Some of the greatest actors of all time have been typecast. There's a reason people like Michael Ceras and January Jones always get the same kind of roles -- because that's what suits them. Sure, it's wonderful when an actor is really diverse, but being typecast isn't an inherently bad thing.

Jun 13 11 - 2:47pm
thinkywritey

Compare any 5 seconds of Jon Hamm on Saturday Night Live to any 5 seconds of January Jones on Saturday Night Live and get back with me on that.

Jun 13 11 - 4:37pm
Moops

Jon Hamm would be a better Emma Frost than JJ was.

Jun 13 11 - 7:51pm
Talie

I completely agree with you -- I think all the actors in Mad Men struggled for so long because they are all quite mediocre, excluding Elisabeth Moss. But Jon Hamm, January and Christina lucked out with parts perfectly tailored to them--Weiner seems to really understand their strengths and weaknesses. Hamm has talent for comedy, but he was very one-note in The Town.

Jun 10 11 - 7:07pm
Vinegar Bend

I have never seen "Mad Men" but she was very good in a small role in "Pirate Radio" as a gorgeous and absurdly insensitive young wife. Her comic timing was just right.
I also thought her SNL performance was unfairly maligned. The writers come up with wretched and empty material. Blame them. Seriously, would somebody blame them already?

Jun 10 11 - 7:37pm
Bo Biden

There are really only two reasons, and they are both very prominent in the photo of her!

Jun 10 11 - 8:27pm
HateWhatSheRepresent

We all know how she got her job on X-men - she'll have a memento of that casting couch choice for the rest of her life. Let's hope her baby doesn't have to pay for her slutty way to the top.

Jun 11 11 - 8:12am
Google slutwalk

"Slutty" is uncalled for.

Jun 11 11 - 9:44am
rain

No, we don't all know that. But good for you for being both judgmental about a woman's sexuality and spreading rumors.

Jun 12 11 - 4:35pm
Moops

That's not even the juiciest dirt on her. It turns out her real name is February.

Jun 11 11 - 1:38am
Sexy Minx

I completely disagree with this article starting with the first reason:
"She’s very good at playing blank women." The reason we turn on a TV or pay $15 dollars to go to a film is to get away from 'blank women'. The person standing behind us on line when we buy our ticket is a 'blank woman'. The next door neighbor that we nod "good morning" to in the hallway is a 'blank woman'. The people we work with at the office are 'blank women'. I'm sick of 'blank women'. Kate Hudson and Gwyneth Paltrow are 'blank women'. New York City is filled with 'blank women', give me something with emotional depth! (I'll take a mopey bitch over a blank woman.) By the way, except for the first season, Mad Men is a 'blank' Series: so boring it's virtually unwatchable.

Jul 22 11 - 1:45am
Liz

Good job you like mopey bitches.

Jun 11 11 - 8:54am
anon

I still love you January. :)

Jun 11 11 - 1:23pm
madboots

I don't have to love her for all the right reasons and I will look forward to seeing her next role.

Jun 11 11 - 5:58pm
francois88

Haven't seen any of those films or TV shows ( did you mention ) but I look forward to seeing January Jones when she is not in a movie with "men" in the title, or X.

Jun 12 11 - 8:36am
philip

I really like her on Mad Men but she needs to stay away from these ice maiden roles outside of the show.

Jun 12 11 - 4:34pm
Moops

She was terrible in X-men. Every time I saw her, I kept thinking she was the "Dirty mouth? Clean it up!" gum saleswoman. She didn't seem like an ice maiden, she seemed like a ditz; instead of looking aloof she looked empty.

Jun 13 11 - 9:11pm
jack

When she starts telling you what to drive, what to eat, what to wear, and how to be a "good citizen of the world" like she is, then you can start hating on her. For now, the girl is just trying to make a living with what God gave her. Chill the fuck out. You don't see her coming to your mom's basement and demanding you stop writing this shit, do you?

Jul 22 11 - 1:47am
Liz

I lol'd, but to be fair people pay to watch the stuff she's in, and if she ruins it they can be legitimately annoyed. But I think she's awesome so it's a moot point as far as I'm concerned (like, I thought she was fine in X-Men, considering they didn't give her a lot to do, and she's perfect as Betty).

Jun 28 11 - 11:58pm
Holly

And she's pretty funny in Love Actually

Jul 19 11 - 10:30am
rank_tyro

No, Emma Frost isn't supposed to be an emotionless blank slate, unless that's a deviation from canon. In the books she has a personality, and her 2D affect is more engrossing than anything January conveyed, as well as sexier.

Jul 23 11 - 12:01pm
Bono

I might be beating a dead horse, but thank you for positng this!

Sep 22 11 - 4:55pm
Marty

She can't act worth a damn. There's a reason she's perfect for "blank" parts, it's who she is. That by definition is not acting. With all that money she's making she should buy a facial expression.

Dec 07 11 - 2:12pm
Judy Mac

I think January Jones is absolutely a classic beauty reminding me a little, actually alot of Grace Kelly.
I am so looking forward to new episodes of Mad Men in March. She plays the part so well. She wears the clothes so well. I do not think she is dumb at all. She is so classy in her personal life unlike some of the young actresses that tell all.
I also think Christina Hendricks is so good in Mad Men and wears the clothes beautifully.