Emmy Episode Analysis: Christina Hendricks (‘Mad Men’) just wants to be loved in ‘The Strategy’

This is Christina Hendricks‘s fifth Best Drama Supporting Actress nomination for her role as Joan Harris on “Mad Men.” So far, like all of her “Mad Men” co-stars, Hendricks has come up short each year she has been nominated. Can she upset frontrunner Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad“) and finally take home an Emmy?

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SYNOPSIS: In “The Strategy,” Bob Benson (James Wolk) arranges a Sunday date with Joan and proposes to her in an attempt to conceal his homosexuality and protect his potential new job at Buick. He says that Joan will finally have the companionship and stability she deserves, and that her young son will have a father figure, but Joan kindly rejects the offer, imploring Bob to find real love, which is what she ultimately longs for too.

Meanwhile, Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) visits his daughter in Connecticut. He becomes annoyed when his estranged wife is not present to greet him and fights with her when she returns. At the agency, Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss) has second thoughts about her Burger Chef campaign and visits several Burger Chef locations to prepare her media campaign.

Pete later insists that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) give the pitch to close the deal with Burger Chef. Peggy later asks Don his opinion of her pitch, and Don offers his support, eventually giving Peggy the confidence she needs to seal the deal. They share a genuine moment of friendship together in the office one night, embracing and dancing to the song “My Way.”

The partners meet the next day and argue about whether or not to publicize their IBM computer and to promote Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) to partner. Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and Joan object, but the others endorse Harry.

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Can Hendricks finally take home that elusive first Emmy? Let’s consider the pros and cons:


In her highlight scene, Hendrcks is likable and relatable as she rejects the advances of a closeted Bob Benson because she just wants to be loved. It’s well written and gives her a subtle but moving moment where our focus is squarely on her.

Hendricks is overdue, having never won in four previous nominations. Emmy voters do love a surprise win every so often (case in point: Merritt Wever), so don’t discount Hendricks entirely just yet.


The episode lacks the kind of emotional fireworks scene that Emmy voters usually look for, and which category frontrunner Anna Gunn has in spades. It’s quieter and more subdued.

“Mad Men” actors have a terrible track record so far: no performer from the show has ever won an Emmy. With 31 losses so far in the acting races, it’s unclear what an actor will have to submit to win.

Screen time is a factor here, as Hendricks is only featured in a few key scenes. She has had more screentime in her previous “Mad Men” submissions (even though “The Strategy” was certainly her best from this truncated half-season of the series). If she couldn’t win with those, this might be an uphill battle.

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Hendricks is currently in sixth place in our predictions with 100/1 odds. Do you agree? Make your own predictions below.

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