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My Fantasy Night With 'Mad Men's' Joan

Page 7

GALE ANN HURD: In Defense of Joan

Joan is a complex and layered portrait of an independent woman encountering the societal boundaries of her era and the advertising industry. She's initially notable for her sex appeal, but it quickly becomes apparent that, although unacknowledged, Joan is actually the smartest person in the room. Her ability to speak her mind frankly is both impressive and endearing. Joan manages to remain in control, often having to endure unfair and uncomfortable situations without wallowing in self-pity or pride. Although she could be perceived as morally compromised, Joan's choices are more defensible given the restrictions of her world.

It's almost impossible to talk about Joan without referencing the May 27 episode, "The Other Woman." There has been considerable debate about whether or not her actions were true to her character. Many of the male characters on Mad Men routinely make morally reprehensible decisions, and it barely registers in the blogosphere. But when Joan, who is in many ways the heart of both the agency and the show, makes the choices she does, the audience is challenged to rethink their worldview. Regardless of whether people are mourning the betrayal of her character or her character's betrayal of herself, they care deeply. And isn't that ultimately the greatest triumph of exceptional storytelling?

Hurd is executive producer of AMC's The Walking Dead

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