Jon Hamm's performance as Don Draper on Mad Men is by all means a seminal performance. In some ways, Draper was the heir to Tony Soprano, the character that will go down in history as the forefather of television's flourishing anti-hero genre. But despite the significance of his performance, Hamm has never won an Emmy for the role. And he probably never will.
Yes, Hamm was nominated once again this year, but after a dreary sixth season wherein many faulted his character for dragging the show down, it's looking like he once again won't make it to the stage. Not only was this season not Hamm's (or, really, Don's) best, but he's also got some stiff competition. Our bets are on the prize either going to Bryan Cranston's penultimate descent into doom on Breaking Bad or Kevin Spacey's flashy debut performance on House of Cards.
Hamm's not the only Mad Men cast member swiftly becoming the Susan Lucci of prestige cable drama. In fact, though the show swept the drama series category for the first four years it was on the air, the actors have been completely shut out. Last year the show was ominously excluded from any prizes, despite 17 nominations. "Honestly, it’s hard for me to watch even an episode from any season of the show and think that Jon Hamm’s never been recognized," creator Matt Weiner told the New York Times' Dave Itzkoff in April. "How has Elisabeth Moss not been recognized? It was a bummer. It was a bad night. It was unpleasant." It may sound whiny, but he's got a point.
The other Mad Men actors nominated will also have a hard time this year. Moss's Peggy is nominated for lead actress, but—despite it being fantastic performance—the role has always felt like more of a supporting one. Christina Hendricks deserved an award for her fifth season Joan, but she wasn't given nearly as much to do in the sixth. Perhaps nominated guest stars like Linda Cardellini and Harry Hamlin can help break the Emmys embargo, but we're wary.
Still, it's the Hamm shutout that really stings. The show, regarded so highly in the annals of television, has always fallen on Don Draper, for better or for worse. You can say all you want about the quality of the last season, but Mad Men has long been a fantastic show, and one that has heavily depended on the strength of Hamm's smoldering, introspective, mess of a man. It's not like Hamm fell to actors less deserving; no one will argue that Cranston or Kyle Chandler or Damian Lewis didn't deserve their trophies. But the thought of Hamm finishing his Mad Men run next year completely Emmyless is, well, mad.