Mad Men Emmy Nominations: Bad Parenting Makes Good TV


mad men emmy nominations

Emmy nominations are a sure sign of what’s working and what’s not on TV, and one thing’s for sure: viewers and critics love bad parents. Mad Men and its wayward moms and dads took home 16 nominations (beat only by 22 nods for 30 Rock, and 17 for the HBO movie Grey Gardens). Four of Mad Men‘s acting nods went to characters who aren’t exactly parenting role models. And yet, we love them (be still my heart!). Let’s have a look at Mad Men‘s Emmy-nominated “Parenting Don’ts.”

1. January Jones, nominated for her role as Betty Draper. Betty smokes and talks on the phone while her kids throw food against the walls. She jets off to Vegas for several weeks for a quickie divorce, while leaving the kids home with the maid. She seems, to a degree, to hate her new baby. She flirts with a mid-level government exec while the kids are in school and her husband is at work. She endorses spanking, and has shut at least one of her children in a closet. Of course, her husband isn’t much better in the parenting department…

2. Jon Hamm, nominated for his role as Don Draper. Don’s issue is largely one of absence. He loves his kids, but isn’t around enough to know them. He’s always at the office. Or having a tryst in a hotel room. Or flirting with female business contacts. When he is around, say when he attends his children’s school May Day performance, he ends up fantasizing about their teacher. And then sleeping with her.

3. Elisabeth Moss, nominated for her role as Peggy Olson. Honestly, someday Peggy will make a great mom. And she’s grown up a lot since season 1. But back then, she managed to carry a baby to term without knowing she was pregnant (and boy, you ‘d have to be practiced in denial not to have noticed her growing waistline). Her choices in men since then have been far from ideal — if she’s looking for a father for her kids, she’s been barking up the wrong tree. 

4. John Slattery, nominated for his role as Roger Sterling. Roger Sterling is a deliciously bad parent, impossible to hate even as he’s getting naked with young female wannabes in his office (cheating on both his wife and his mistress) or hitting on Betty Draper. His marriage (to the mother of his only child) falls apart, he then weds a young secretary not much older than his daughter, and, to boot,  insists his daughter’s wedding go on as planned, despite the fact that a national crisis has hit. He can’t seem to do anything right, but he’s trying. Oh, he’s trying.

Who’s your favorite bad parent on TV?