‘Mad Men’ Emmys shocker: Jessica Pare going lead against Elisabeth Moss

Pour yourself a glass of scotch, Jessica Pare, because when it comes to your breakout role on “Mad Men,” life is about to imitate art.

Just as Pare’s character Megan went from being a simple office receptionist to a well-respected adwoman within the course of a year, she has been upgraded from the Drama Guest Actress field (where she failed to receive a nod last year) to the all-important Drama Actress race at this year’s Emmys. Talk about a promotion!

Last year was Pare’s first crack at the Emmys for this relatively new role, but she didn’t receive any attention from voters. Gold Derby has learned exclusively that with her dramatic increase in screen time this season and positive feedback from critics and viewers , AMC is swapping Pare’s Emmy category.

Such category jumps are commonplace at these kudos — guest stars frequently leap up to supporting status, supporting performers oftentimes forge ahead to the lead races. However, it’s almost unheard of for a performer to be submitted as a guest star one year and then a series lead the next. 

Pare will be competing with co-star Elisabeth Moss. Moss had a real shot at winning this award last year for her work in the episode “The Suitcase,” but lost to Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”). Meanwhile, 2010 nominee January Jones‘s real-life pregnancy has brought about a reduced work load, so she will be submitting down in the Supporting Actress race alongside two-time nominee Christina Hendricks (2010-2011).

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Perennial nominees Jon Hamm (Actor), John Slattery (Supporting Actor) and Robert Morse (Guest Actor) are also hoping to hear their names called again this year.

It’s no secret that “Mad Men” is an Emmy darling, having gone four-for-four as TV’s Best Drama Series. However, all of that has come at a strange price. Not a single one of the show’s 19 acting nominations has resulted in a win.

If Pare receives a nomination this year, could she be the show’s unexpected first Emmy winner? As the hot young wife of Hamm’s Don Draper, Pare succeeds in doing the unthinkable this season: making Don actually likeable. Surely that deserves some kind of an award!

According to Gold Derby’s Editors and Users, the six leading ladies most likely to reap a bid are Moss, Margulies, Claire Danes (“Homeland”), Glenn Close (“Damages”), Kathy Bates (“Harry’s Law”) and Elizabeth McGovern (“Downton Abbey”). It’s still too early to tell whether Pare’s promotion will have an effect on the voting process.

Below, watch Pare’s much-touted moment from the Season Five premiere of “Mad Men” where Megan sings a sexy rendition of “Zou Bisou Bisou” to Don.

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