For the next week, (Pop) Culturally Informed will be running a brand new series called Make Your Case, where Ben and Nina will take on one major category in turn for next week’s Emmys, pick who they think should win, and make their case. Note: We aren’t going to say who WILL win, but who should. Sometimes these will be one and the same- but we like to choose the road less traveled whenever possible because we are both contrarians. Enjoy!
Are you SO excited for me to announce, at the beginning of all six of my Make Your Cases, that this category is the best?! Ah, this truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Anyway, this category is the best and is full of gorgeous, talented women who have all separately portrayed beautifully nuanced characters with real depth and humanity. Except for Joanne Froggett, but that’s mostly because I refuse to watch Downton Abbey when I could just take an Ambien with a glass of wine instead.
As for these other ladies, I love all of them a lot. I don’t keep up with The Good Wife like I should, but Christine Baranski is, and has always been, a gem. Emilia Clarke is finally figuring out how to act as Daenerys faces more struggles on Game of Thrones, and Lena Headey had her first real banner season on the same this year, letting her frown wiggle and weep for her while she was paraded naked and filthy in front of her entire constituency. (Cannot write the word “constituency” without thinking of this dude.) Uzo Aduba breaks my fucking heart on Orange is the New Black, and I think her range and depth and vulnerability is basically the eighth wonder of the world (and also, her stylist is on point, but that’s neither here nor there).
I struggled to not pick Lena Headey this year, because at this point, anything could lie ahead for everybody’s favorite poisonous bitch Cersei Lannister, and there’s no way she doesn’t have one or two more banner years in here. This year was a year of big finales, and I couldn’t live with myself, truly, if I picked anyone other than the radiant, perfect, indomitable Christina Hendricks for her final season as Joan Holloway on Mad Men.
I have long loved Christina Hendricks for smashing what a beautiful woman is allowed to look like on TV – no one can deny that she is an insanely gorgeous lady, but Mischa Barton she is not – and for acting her face off while doing it. Throughout seven seasons, her portrayal of Joan Holloway has gone from the typical sassy secretary sleeping with her silver fox boss to a single mother, a rape survivor, a tough bitch, and perhaps the shrewdest businesswoman of all time (lest we forget her Indecent Proposal with the Jaguar guy). She rose from head secretary to partner, refused to bow to any man, and was the undisputed queen of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce & Partners or whatever the shit that firm was called by the time the show ended.
Hendricks should have about five Emmys right now – especially considering that her past submissions have included the aforementioned Jaguar episode, plus the one where her scumbag military husband rapes her while she sheds a silent, expressionless, completely heartbreaking tear – but please, please give it to her now, because she spent her swan song going out swinging. (Say that five times fast.) Joan does Joan, always and forever, and shows us that until her last moment onscreen: she votes to fire Don for screwing her over, she turns down a pathetic practicality proposal from that creep Bob Benson, she fights sexism at McCann and takes her money before the going gets tough, and perhaps most importantly, she walks away from a possible great love because he can’t take her as she is. She’s a mother, a fighter, a partner, and a businesswoman, and when Richard couldn’t see that she wouldn’t change for him, she made the bolder, stronger decision: start her own company, and go it alone, refusing to compromise her ambition or her talent.
Throughout the series, Hendricks has taken what could have been a shallower character – one who immediately harps on new girl Peggy Olson to be more fuckable, basically – and infused her with a very real vulnerability and humanity that has consistently blown me away over the past seven seasons. Years from now, people will tell you that Peggy and Don, respectively, were the two main characters of the show, but Joan wouldn’t give a fuck about that. Joan was always the one calling the shots, and Christina Hendricks always made sure we knew that.