The Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series is a strong race in 2012, with worthy contenders ranging from Queen of Snark Maggie Smith to first-time Breaking Bad nominee Anna Gunn. But as far as we're concerned, this is Christina Hendricks's year to shine.
Before we get into the why, here's the full list of nominees so that you have an easy reference if you want to yell at us for overlooking your favorite. (We kid. Kinda.)
Anna Gunn (Skyler White), Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley), Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates), Downton Abbey
Archie Panjabi (Kalinda Sharma), The Good Wife
Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhart),The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks (Joan Harris), Mad Men
It's a strong pool. But this is why, despite the other fantastic performances on this list, we want to see Christina Hendricks take home the trophy.
Seriously, Mad Men needs an acting Emmy. Mad Men has won Best Drama every year that it's been on the air, and yet it has never taken home an acting Emmy. It's time for that to change, and Christina looks like the strongest contender in the major categories. Jon Hamm is up against Breaking Bad's unstoppable juggernaut, Bryan Cranston; all signs point to Claire Danes taking Outstanding Lead Actress; and the Best Supporting Actor category is so absurdly competitive it's hard to put your money on anyone. This category is by far the show's best shot.
Her range. What we love about Christina's performance as Joan is how she swings from masterfully confident, strutting her sexy self around the SCDP office like she owns it (which, let's be honest, she does), to beautifully subtle, capturing the nuances of Joan's heartbreak as she struggles with divorce, raising her child as a single mother in the '60s, and being whored out by her co-workers.
About that whole "whored out" thing. Christina is hardly the only actress on this list who got to show her range this year. While one could argue Maggie Smith is a little one note (what a note it is!), most of the other nominees give Christina a legitimate run for her money across their respective seasons. But no one else had a single standout episode quite like "The Other Woman."
For those who haven't seen it, "The Other Woman" revolves around a pig of a client who makes it very clear that he'll only do business with SCDP if Joan sleeps with him. The episode maps Joan's reaction to the idea, from outrage that her coworkers would even suggest it, to eventual acceptance as she realizes that if they value her so little, she might as well sell herself for a seat at the table. She goes through with it, in exchange for a partnership in the business.
It was a controversial episode. Some critics and fans loved it; others criticized it as out-of-character and heavy-handed. But one thing everyone agreed on was that Christina Hendricks knocked it out of the park.
She got the big things right — her anger at the initial proposal, the disgust on her face as she submits to the john — but even more importantly, she nailed the little details. The look she gives Don as she catches his eye during her first meeting as partner is part resignation, part sorrow, part pride, and 100 percent breathtaking. She deserves the Emmy for that moment alone.
With "The Other Woman," Christina was handed a clear Emmy episode, and she did even more with it than we ever could have expected.
Who do you think should win?