HBO aired the finales for its spring lineup this past Sunday, which means that the 2014-15 TV season has officially ended and the race for the Emmys is about to kick into full gear. While the actual nominations won’t be announced for another month, there’s no better time than the present to make the case for the shows and people I hope to see recognized come July 16. As I’ve mentioned in my previous Emmy wish-lists, these aren’t predictions, and given voters’ past tendencies, I imagine the majority of them have next-to-no chance of happening, but one must never despair when it comes to pop culture awards, not even in the face of inexplicable FX snubbing and Downton Abbey love. Until the final verdict comes out, possibilities for surprise abound, so if they know what’s good for them, voters should take a peek at this list:
The case: Mad Men for everything
The argument: It’s hard to think of Matthew Weiner’s iconic show about the ad industry in the 1960s as an underdog or long shot, but in recent years, its reputation as an awards darling hasn’t exactly matched with reality. Most awards bodies, like the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild, seem to have forgotten about its existence, last recognizing Mad Men in 2013. Even the Emmys, which often seems to lavish the show with attention out of rote habit (see: the continued noms for Christina Hendricks and Robert Morse despite the lack of actual material for both actors in the latest seasons), only gave it four nominations, and no wins, for the stellar first half of its seventh and final season. Add in the fact that not a single member of its large, hugely talented ensemble cast has ever won an Emmy, and maybe you can understand why I’m a bit nervous about Mad Men’s prospects, though it will presumably benefit from not having to compete with Breaking Bad anymore.
It would be easy to argue that Mad Men deserves Emmy recognition simply because it’s Mad Men and it only seems proper to give such a seminal work of art one last hurrah. However, the show is too good, its merits too many, for me to resort to such a shallow, sentimental appeal. While the last seven episodes weren’t the strongest of its run, they still provided plenty of indelible moments, from Joan threatening to burn it all down to Peggy sauntering into the McCann-Erickson offices and Don driving off into the sunset, and a fitting conclusion to the saga of Don Draper and friends. As impeccably crafted as always, Mad Men stayed true to its ambiguous, elliptical nature, preferring hard-won, frequently temporary victories over immediate gratification. The dissolution of Sterling Cooper put all of the show’s major characters at crossroads and, as a result, proved to be the perfect storyline to drive home the series’ core themes of identity, change, expectations versus reality, and the unstoppable march of time. Layered performances by Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and January Jones in particular ensured that Mad Men’s impending absence would be deeply felt.
The evidence: “Time and Life” (ep. 11), “Lost Horizon” (ep. 12), “Person to Person” (ep. 14)
Me to the Emmys, probably