It's a Mad Man's Man's Man's World

Patty Tomsky
Spare Change News

The 2012 Emmy nominations were announced and for the first year ever, not one of the networks received a nod for Best Drama. The field belonged to the pay-for-it crew. No wonder the stupid satellite company has me by the balls!

Of course, Mad Men led with 17 nominations. It’s been a winner since 2008 and for good reason. I recently reneged on several personal commitments to lie in bed and watch all five seasons on my laptop. I don’t know why I resisted so long. Maybe it was the bad sixties colors on the refrigerators (Avocado! Goldenrod!) or Peggy’s hideous dirndl dresses.

Jon Hamm (Lead actor), Elisabeth Moss (Lead Actress), Christina Hendricks (Supporting), and Jared Harris (Supporting) are up for their Emmys for good reason. Hamm is so good as the conflicted anti-hero Don Draper that you half expect to be able to pull him up in old issues of Advertising Age. The ooey gooey goodness of this stylish soap resides in his nuanced performance, especially this season, of a man in love and in a battle with his baser impulses.

The prototypical career girl, Peggy (Moss) had lotsa fun things to do this season, as well, including a delicious scene with her uber-Catholic mother as she and her underground journalist beau, Abe (Charlie Hofheimer) announce they’ve begun to live in sin. Peggy and Joan (Hendricks) have also struck up a riveting friendship over the years: Two career women who have taken very different paths, to wildly varying results, to break into this mad man’s man’s man’s world.

I really must give a most plummy shout out to Jared Harris as Lane Pryce for his season’s toiling as a man in a downward spiral of extortion and for his multi-season storyline of an expat in over his head in the seedy, sultry world of mid-sixties Manhattan. His toothy, oh-so-English grin in the face of the horror that his life has become is heart wrenching. If he doesn’t win, I’ll be on my feet in front of the telly screaming, “Bullocks!” I might just pierce my nose in a totally useless, but vaguely Sex Pistols-ish show of U.K. solidarity.

As for the rest of the field: I love, love, love Max Greenfield in New Girl (Best Supporting in a Comedy) but Zooey Deschanel’s performance in the same show (Best Actress in a Lead Comedy) remains a bit twee for me. Edie Falco (Lead Actress in a Comedy) as Nurse Jackie is perfection but so is Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (Lead Actress in same category) as an hysterical, self-involved boob of a vice president in Veep. As for Lena Dunham in Girls (Best Actress in a Comedy) the jury is still out for this girl. I watch the show but I turn it off feeling slightly disgusted. I think it has something to do with the purely vacuous, but well-acted storylines that underscore my sad suspicion that the 20-something generation is not only morally adrift but so awash in celebrity culture that even the erudite grads among them (like Dunham’s character, Hannah) behave as if they’re already stars in their own reality show. All they have to do in their lives is show up, and someone will surely dispense their just due of fame, fortune, and a fabulous, camera-ready relationship. To the cast of characters in Girls I say, “Grow up!”

To the rest of the nominees I say, “Get up. Take a bow. You’ve made it possible to put the formerly non-compatible words, quality and T.V. together again.”

The Emmys air on Sunday, September 23 on NBC.

PATTY TOMSKY is a freelance writer.

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