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Old 18th January 2009   #1
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Default Joan Holloway (Mad Men)

While I know that the readers of this forum are not enamoured of pop culture, at least one current TV show, and one charcter, deserve a passing nod.

The program is rather awful, but the character is quite appealing.

The show is called Mad Men, and in it, an actress named Christina Hendricks plays Joan Holloway, the head secretary at an advertising firm in the early 1960s.

Since the show's creators wanted to accurately re-create the aesthetic of the time period, they had to acknowledge that the ideal of beauty in the early '60s was more womanly and feminine. As a result, Hendricks' character is (by today's anorexic TV standards) at least somewhat curvaceous.

The New York Post ran a good article about Hendricks and her significance a few months ago:

One excerpt:

Mad Men star Christina Hendricks is the sexiest woman on TV today—and with her hourglass curves, she's changing Hollywood's skewed views of females. Meet the whip-smart, funny (and, yes, va-va-voom) charmer who's a throwback to the days of Marilyn Monroe.

One aspect of Hendricks' character that will definitely appeal to readers of this forum is that instead of making her some sort of shriking violet with body-image issues, the show has established her as the acknoweldged prima donna of the office - desired by every man, and envied by every woman:

Christina's alter ego, Joan, is the queen bee of the secretaries, whose hourglass figure, tight dresses and whiplash-inducing wiggle have [made] her an object of lust both on the show and off.

Both Hendricks and the Post writer refer favourably to her (slightly) fuller figure. Says the actress:

here I am, much heavier than when I was modeling, and all of a sudden people are giving me positive feedback.

And the writer is obviously a fan of Hendrick's self-indulgent image:

There's nothing better than hearing a woman—not just in Hollywood, but anywhere—say this and then order a second glass of sauvignon blanc while she digs into a plate of rabbit ragout, as Christina does. Perfect timing for the actress to divulge what it's like to be one of the more curvaceous women in a town full of 90210 pogo sticks.
Now, that could have come straight from a forum post.

The pictures that accompany the article are some of the best that I've seen of Hendricks, since the Post gave her a much more attractive, voluptuous hairstyle than what she generally wears:

The article mentions Hendricks' stunning dress from the 2008 Emmys. You can get a good impression of that incredible gown from videos of the event. Here's one:

And here's another. Note how the interviewer enthuses about Hendricks' figure.

Christina isn't even remotely close to plus-size, but if the Post article and the interviewer in the above video are to be believed, then she is making an impact in Hollywood, and helping the TV/film industry rediscover the beauty of the curvier female body.

It's a pity that her face and limbs aren't fuller (which would make her more beautiful and more challenging to the Hollywood mindset), but still, she represents a small step in the right direction.

- - - -

Now, as for the show itself, it leaves a lot to be desired. Although it's set in the world of Manhattan advertising in the early 1960s, it's not a '60s that anyone who was actually there at the time would recognize. Instead, it's a piece of left-wing political propaganda that shows a revisionist view of the era, to attack the supposed attutides and behaviour of the period.

This review sums it up effectively:

that's the problem...for the series as well. It's so busy shaking its head at its protagonists' politically incorrect indulgences that it forgets that, whatever else you might think of their actions and indiscretions, those foibles afforded a certain amount of fleshly satisfaction...

Mad Men, though, is too timid to let its viewers in on the fun, choosing to judge its characters safely and subtly, through the lens of modernity. And as a result, it's passionless...

Because, eventually, all that remains is the show's banal scolding, creaky condescension, and limp attempts at social satire. Every episode is peppered with scenes that add little to the story, existing only to shock viewers offhandedly with the "primitive" attitudes of its protagonists....

it's just the tempered, intellectual's version of posing, hands on hips, and tsk-tsking...This is how the '60s were, class; aren't you glad we're past that, and "better" now?

What the show refuses to acknowledge, of course, is that while there have always been "frat boy" types (then as now), men in the '50s and early '60s were by and large gentlemen - more decent, more respectful, more civil than they are today. Before the "war of the sexes," men actually revered women, and were faithful husbands and responsible providers for their families.

The show also conveniently elides the fact that men of the time were much more faith-oriented than they are today, much more inclined to be quietly religious, and this faith informed their world-view and gave them a moral compass.

So Mad Men slyly fabricates a '60s that never were, simply to fit into the writers' political paradigm, and to allow them to score easy political points. And no wonder - because if the show had presented the time period the way it really was, viewers would have found it much preferable to the world of today, and would have realized how much our society has degenerated, culturally and socially, since the early '60s.

Mad Men still may be worth viewing, if only to see one of the few remotely curvaceous actresses on television. But the show is a complete historical distortion, pushing an obvious political agenda, and that frankly makes it hard to watch.
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Old 20th January 2009   #2
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Default Re: Joan Holloway (Mad Men)

Very pretty pictures of Hendricks. She looked terrific in her green gown at the Emmys. The hairstyle was very elegant, very Classical, as was the dress.

There's a story about Christina in The Telegraph today. Abusrdly, the writer buys into the show's left-wing distortion of the early '60s, which is specious nonsense. But at least the article has a size-positive bent.

Nice opening blurb:

As the feisty secretary in the cult series Mad Men, Christina Hendricks has wiggled her way into our hearts and become America's biggest – literally – sex symbol. Voluptuous, down-to-earth and talented, could she be the best advert for modern Hollywood?

Here are a few excerpts:

Christina Hendricks, a red-headed bombshell with va-va-voom curves, has been called the 'sexiest woman on television today' for her portrayal of the sultry secretary Joan Holloway in Mad Men, the television series set in the 1960s about an advertising agency. So it's no surprise that strangers often approach her to praise her character's sassy poise or to congratulate her for confounding the Hollywood skinny-actress stereotype with that voluptuous silhouette...

it's not giving too much away to reveal that the first episode opens with a shot of Joan from behind, zipping herself into a tight red dress and pushing her breasts into place...

Much of the attention has been focused on her body and how refreshing it is to see a fuller-figured actress burn up the screen...

'I've had people come up to me and say, "You've made me feel proud about my curves," or, "It's so refreshing to see body types [like yours],"' says Hendricks when asked about all the attention. 'Well, that feels nice because, after all, I feel sexy and I feel like a woman and I feel happy, and I don't feel like I'm constantly depriving myself or beating myself up and I still feel beautiful.

All very nice, but it is a bit depressing that the "fuller-figured" tag is being attached to an actress who is still extremely thin. If she were, in fact, more generously proportioned, her impact would be more revolutionary. But let's hope that her success is a small sign of progress.

Actually, I think an equally great contribution by Hendricks may be to help Hollywood rediscover the beauty of fair skin. Joan Holloway is very fair, and is portrayed as a seductive bombshell. It would be wonderful if this finally signals a move away from the film industry's obsession with radioactive tans, and toward an appreciation of fair skin-tone.

She reminds me of Kailee O'Sullivan -- although Kailee is much more beautiful, and curvier too.
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Old 4th August 2009   #3
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Default Re: Joan Holloway (Mad Men)

There was a short piece in the Huffington Post that, while politcally awful (as that site's articles always are), nevertheless has a nice comment about Joan:

It's Christina Hendricks portrayal of Joan Holloway that has everyone talking. The curvaceous actress has single-handedly brought back the hips. It's all about the hourglass figure again so get ready to dust off your skirts and fitted blouses for fall.

And I love the picture that comes with it:

All of the men riveted by the sight of her curves. That is a true portrayal of how real men react to curvaceous figures - and it's also a true portrayal of how full-figured women (yes, fuller figured than Joan) are able to attract any men they want.
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Old 5th August 2009   #4
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Default Re: Joan Holloway (Mad Men)

Just a head's up about a new Esquire article about Christina Hendricks:

It comes with picturs that are quite sensual. She's curvy, but I couldn't help thinking how much more daring the same images would be with a truly full-figured plus-size model...
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