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Emmys 2012 Outstanding Actress in a Drama: Why Elisabeth Moss Has to Win This Year

2012 was arguably the best year for women on TV.

With so many talented comediennes getting noticed, new, hit shows led by female showrunners, and strong performances from dramatic actresses who carry their own shows, women are truly on top. So who deserves to take home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series this year?

In a category with six of the best actresses in Hollywood (read the full list of nominees here), it’s anyone’s game. But we happen to think that this might finally be the year of Peggy. Here are a few reasons why we think Elisabeth Moss should finally take home the gold for her performance on Mad Men Season 5.

She did so much with so little this season.
As many Mad Men fans noticed, Season 5 held its gaze on newly minted Mrs. Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) far more often than beloved regulars Joan (Christina Hendricks) and Peggy. As the season progressed, Peggy detached from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce emotionally, and then, literally, when she was recruited away by a rival firm. Still, Elisabeth packed key scenes with just the right subtlety and power, no matter how few and far between they were. We’re thinking, in particular, of the scene when Peggy second-guesses her decision to take her purse to bed with her while Don’s African American secretary, Dawn, sleeps on her couch. Or the scene where Peggy invites her disapproving mother over for dinner at the apartment she now shares with her Jewish boyfriend. Elisabeth may not have had a lot to do this season, but every moment of what she did was magic.

Credit: Jordin Althaus    

Claire Danes has plenty of time to win for playing Carrie on Homeland.
And Julianna Margulies has already won twice for playing Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife. Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery is worthy, of course, but the best Peggy silences mean more to us than the best Lady Crawley sobs. Kathy Bates has been nominated for an Emmy 10 times (10 times!), but no one really watches Harry’s Law or lavishes the show with praise and attention. Glenn Close is near-perfection as Patty Hewes on Damages, but she’s already won. This feels like the right time for everyone to kindly step aside as Miss Olson takes the stage.

Peggy grew up, and so did Elisabeth’s performance.
The evolution of Peggy is so dynamic we could spend days writing about it season by season. More importantly, however, Elisabeth has handled every change in Peggy’s personality with authenticity. In Season 1, Peggy went from nervous secretary to proud (a little too proud) copywriter, exciting our feminist sensibilities. Peggy’s inability to accept her pregnancy (and the subsequent adoption) wasn’t even made clear to viewers until Season 5, when we saw what Peggy’s life was like immediately after giving birth in a flashback. And the way Peggy has gone from a nervous wreck to willing partner-in-crime to nagging co-worker, and finally, to a friend to Don Draper requires an actress who can capture the nuances of a male/female relationship realistically —every awkward, contentious, and sad conversation at a time.

Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC    

Just give it to her already.
Elisabeth was nominated in this same category in 2009, 2010, and 2011, but she has never won. With just one more season of Mad Men to go, and millions of loyal viewers inspired by and rooting for Peggy, isn’t it about time Elisabeth got the recognition she and her character deserve?

Do you think this is Elisabeth’s year? Tell us if you agree or disagree in the comments!

The 2012 Emmys will air on Sunday, September 23 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ABC.

Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @MollyFriedman.

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09.10.2012 / 07:01 PM EDT by Molly Friedman
Related: News, Emmy Awards, Mad Men, TV Stars

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