Team Experience share their personal Emmy dream picks daily at Noon. Here's Deborah on everyone's favorite ad man...
Emmy voters, you assholes, now is your chance to make it right!
You have nominated Jon Hamm seven times for his work on Mad Men. Seven times. It’s like you’ve got the hiccups and then, when the actual award-giving comes around, you’re all holding your breath. Stop it!
Okay, so, irritation out of the way, let’s talk about the work this extraordinary actor has done on this show.
First of all, Mad Men is not an ensemble show. There’s an amazing cast doing supporting work, yes. Kiernan Shipka, January Jones, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, and especially Elisabeth Moss all deserve acknowledgement. Nonetheless, its Hamm’s Don Draper who carries the show, and the nuance of his performance is what delivers the show to greatness, matching the lofty ambitions of its writing with flawless execution.
There are moments when the writers of Mad Men have simply stripped out the dialogue, and allowed Hamm’s face to do all the heavy lifting—to go from serene to angry to defeated in a few seconds. To break down and then build back up. There are times when no words are spoken, because words are for lesser actors. (That's especially true in the series' finale which should be fresh in your memory.)
Now, listen, Emmys. You’ve denied Hamm the award when he delivered the Season 3's The Gypsy and the Hobo, the complete breakdown of his façade, as Betty Draper confronted her husband with the evidence that he was another man. You’ve denied it to him when he delivered The Suitcase, the season 4 episode widely considered Mad Men’s finest hour, a two-hander in which Don falls apart, bit-by-bit, as he and Peggy Olson (Moss) tear apart their complex relationship in one long, grueling, drunken night.
But how about now? How about an award for the series finale, Person to Person, when he learns that Betty has cancer, and silently, eloquently, lets her know he loves her? How about an award for Field Trip, as Don waits to hear about getting his job back, starting with absolute confidence, believing he is already hired, and bit-by-bit, hour by hour, becomes more nervous and more humble, all without any dialogue directly addressing the fact. Or just, you know, give it to him for kissing Peggy on top of her head as they dance in Season The Strategy.
There are many great actors on television today. I’m not saying other people aren’t worthy. I’m saying no one can do what Jon Hamm does. No one is more complex, more plastic, more impressive. Maybe someone out there is equally good, but no one is better, and seven years is too damn long to wait.