MaHB / TV: The Biggest Losers

Esquire Malaysia + Esquire Singapore, November 2014

Don Draper

The Biggest Losers
More often than not, talent and hard work do not equal success.

By Sophia Goh

Say the word “inequality” in relation to the television industry (or entertainment at large), and the first things that come to mind will probably be the under-representation of ethnic and LGBT minorities in mainstream television shows, or the lack of women in film and television over in Hollywood. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about here. Rather, I want to bring your attention to something really important: the fact that Jon Hamm has been nominated for an Emmy Award seven times, and has never won.

Hamm has been playing Don Draper in Mad Men since 2007, which means he has been nominated every single year since the show started. Granted he is in a category – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – that sees some seriously stiff competition; but surely his portrayal of Draper, that effortlessly suave yet inappropriate, often immoral son of a b***h who has inspired so many an entertainment editorial and lifestyle op-ed, deserved at least one win.

Hamm’s only consolation, should he choose to dwell on that, is that he is not alone. Here are three other actors who have also been nominated in the same Emmy category numerous times and come away empty-handed:

1. Martin Sheen, as President Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet in The West Wing

My love for The West Wing and its ensemble cast is well known, but I do not stand alone in saying that Sheen, as arguably the most popular television US president in the past 20 years or more, should have won at least once out of the six times he was nominated.

2. Hugh Laurie, as Dr Gregory House in House MD

Also nominated six times is Laurie, whose complex, nuanced and no doubt challenging embodiment of Dr House made us love him and hate him many times over throughout the show’s eight season run. Laurie might have hung up that walking stick without winning a single Emmy, but at least he has two Golden Globes to show for it.

3. Michael C. Hall, as Dexter Morgan in Dexter

The idea that television audiences would sympathise with a serial killer, and actually root for his success (read: get away with murdering people week after week) is preposterous. But that’s exactly what Dexter achieved, due in large part to Hall’s understated, subtle portrayal. His five Emmy nominations (and one Golden Globe gong) for his work on Dexter is recognition enough of that, though a win would have been nice.

As for Hamm, with Mad Men commencing the final leg of its run in January 2015, all eyes are on Draper, who, by the way, is widely expected to meet his demise come series’ end. That gives Hamm one last shot at Emmy glory, at least as Don Draper, or risk being forever known as “that guy who keeps losing at the Emmys”. And who knows? An onscreen death just might be the sacrifice needed for him to finally nab that elusive trophy.

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