Mad Men Emmy Shocker: Elisabeth Moss and January Jones in First Lead Actress Faceoff

Here’s a twist I dare say not even Mad Men creator Matt Weiner would’ve dreamed up: After years of taking turns in the lead actress category at the Emmys, Elisabeth Moss and January Jones are now poised to, for the first time, go head to head!

For the AMC hit’s first two seasons, Moss entered in lead, and Jones ran in supporting. Then, Moss — who had considerably less screen time in season 3 than Jones — dropped down to supporting to make way for her castmate in lead. That move paid off beautifully: Both were nominated.

Now, though, Moss has decided to move back up to lead — hardly an unexpected turn of events, given how prominently featured Peggy was during season 4. In fact, the actress’ tour de force performance in “The Suitcase” episode alone easily makes her a frontrunner. What is a shock is that Jones — whose screen time was dramatically cut in the wake of Betty’s divorce from Don — didn’t return to supporting.

So, certainly Jones’ decision will raise eyebrows, especially if the potential vote-splitting costs Moss her nod. Then again, if this year’s Golden Globe race is any hint of what’s to come, Moss has nothing to worry about. The two vied for lead actress there, too, but only Moss ended up getting nominated. The Emmy contenders will be announced in mid-July.

Thoughts? Do you think Jones should’ve stood down as a courtesy to Moss — just as Moss did for her the prior year? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Shane says:

    Doesn’t matter. Emmy is going to Juliana Margulies anyways.

  2. xav says:

    Who cares? Everyone knows the Emmy is going to Julianna Margulies this year with Michelle Forbes as best supporting. Case closed.

    • Geo says:

      Ordinarily I’d think Michelle Forbes had a lock on “best supporting,” too, but I’m betting she’s gonna have a run for her money against Margo Martindale over on “Justified.” And at this point I’m not sure which one of ’em I’d like to see win; I wish they could split the award.

  3. Erin says:

    Here’s a thought… let’s NOT nominate JJ because she is not a good actress. I’m baffled by her nominations every time… and even MORE baffled when Elisabeth doesn’t win.

    • KevyB says:

      True dat! I just figured that Matthew Weiner finally realized what a hack January Jones was and just tried to leave her out as much as possible last season. Honestly, this just opens the door for Kiernan Shipka (Don and Betty’s daughter Sally) to get a Supporting Actress nom. She acted circles around Ms Jones!

  4. Geo says:

    January Jones was so often absent from Mad Men season 4 it almost feels like she should be in the “Guest Performer” category. You’re right about “The Suitcase” episode, though– it ought to grab Emmys for both Moss and Jon Hamm. Even against strong competition like “Breaking Bad,” it was probably the best hour of television last year.

    • Amber says:

      I agree about everything you said. The Suitcase was my favorite episode from the whole season. Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss worked wonderfully off each other, and I laugh every time I think of them together listening to Roger’s biography on tape.

    • John says:

      Breaking Bad won’t premiere in time to be eligible this year. It’s Hamm’s to lose.

  5. Emily says:

    WHAT ABOUT CHRISTINA HENDRICKS? She is by far the better actress & character of the three?! She deserves some nomination love.

    And i agree Julianna Margulies DESERVES that EMMY.

  6. Sietsx says:

    Emmy 2011 is already going to Julianna Margulies…

  7. Alex says:

    Jones’ decision almost guarantees she won’t get a nomination at all.

  8. Suzie says:

    Jones should not move to Supporting out of courtesy for Moss, she should do it because she WAS a Supporting character. And, for the most part, she was barely that.

    • Kris says:

      Agreed. I don’t think either of them should not submit as a courtesy (it’s kind of condescending when you think about it, basically saying “here, I’ll let you win”) but If JJ had as little screentime (didn’t watch this season) as the article suggests, she doesn’t have a shot anyway.

  9. abc123 says:

    Emmy dummy here. :) Is it against the rules for both of them to be nominated in the same category?

    • jessikee says:

      No, but since only one Emmy is given out per category, it lessens the chances of the show getting multiple nods. Why battle for one award when you can try for two?!

  10. AJ says:

    I figured Jones would have dropped to supporting considering lack of screen time. Emmys are based on episode submission so even though Julianna Margulies considered frontrunner, Elisabeth Moss has great chance with “The Suitcase”. Julianna is deserving but Emmys frustratingly don’t always reward subtle work-that’s why she lost to Kyra’s big emotional Closer episode last year. Good news for Christina Hendricks though, now she will have better shot for supporting actress.

  11. Kitty says:

    The Emmy will easily go to Laura Linney anyway for The Big C. There’s next to no chance it would go to anyone else.

  12. Kelly says:

    The ONLY Emmy that January Jones could ever possibly hope to win anytime soon is for MAD actress. I know season 4 aired some time ago and my memory ain’t what it used to be but the woman was barely on and the time she did spend there was hardly tour de force acting. Anyone with any grace would surely step aside for a castmate beyond deserving of the award, which Moss is. Will Moss win – well, who knows but the only thing Jones should now be nominated for is poor taste.

  13. Alina says:

    Connie Britton…if those last episodes of Friday Night Lights don’t get her an Emmy, it’s all a popularity contest.

  14. dee says:

    Jones is a lousy actress. Not much of a nice person either. She shouldn’t be nominated. But hope julianna m.wins anyway. Good Wife is amazing.

  15. Alex says:

    Jones should have submitted herself in the supporting category to graciously admit she was not the lead actress in S4. Elizabeth Moss deserves her Emmy win and if January Jones costs her votes, it would be awful.

  16. kimmie says:

    I know it’ll never happenk but I wish the award would go to Katey Sagal on “Sons of Anarchy”

  17. Bia says:

    Mad Men actors never win anything so what’s the diff? Jones considers herself lead in TV and film, it’s her choice.

    • Kaodai says:

      You’re wrong.
      Jon Hamm won a golden globe in 2008 for ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama’. The cast won a SAG award in 2009 and 2010 for ‘Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series’.

  18. Matt says:

    Jeez.. how is this a shocker? Who cares? Is this blog the New York Post now? :D

  19. LA says:

    It doesn’t matter what category January Jones puts herself in, she has no chance.

  20. Callie Henry says:

    This is so dumb! January Jones was very much a supporting actress last season. There is absolutely no way she could be nominated in the lead category. If Elisabeth Moss doesn’t warrant a nomination at the very least, I will be shocked and outraged! She was amazing in The Suitcase.

  21. Monica says:

    Doesn’t really matter, that Emmy belongs to Connie Britton. If she doesn’t get it for her AMAZING portrayal in the final season of Friday Night Lights I may just scream.

    And as much as I like Julianna Marguiles, she can win next year, let’s give Tami some well deserved recognition.

  22. Andi says:

    I hope it goes to Yvonne Strahovski :)!

  23. Mandy says:

    Not sure how i feel about Jones not stepping down, but Elisabeth Moss had a fantastic season! The Suitcase episode was fantastic! I would think January Jones wouldn’t have wanted to compete against that!

  24. mariela says:

    jones should definitely be supporting. she had the lowest amount of screen time of any other season last year.

    i actually think the girl that plays sally has a chance to get nominated in supporting this time. she was really good year

  25. Lynn says:

    What about Kadee Strickland? Lead actress or supporting, her work on Private Practice has been amazing and is definitely worth recognition.

    • Kaodai says:

      I totally agree, but I think she’ll be nominated in the supporting actress category. I really hope she wins many awards for her wonderful portrayal of Charlotte on Private Practice (If I’m honest, I have to say that now I only watch the series for Charlotte and Cooper).

  26. Teresa says:

    Very odd… Betty had a small role in Season 4 compared with other seasons.

  27. Sally says:

    Moss was nominated for lead actress over Jones at the Emmys for season two. And she didn’t stand down for Jones for the third season, she put herself in supporting because she thought that was her best shot at winning. Get your facts straight.

    • Kaodai says:

      How can you possibly know why Moss put herself in supporting ??? I think Mike has a better chance of knowing that kind of stuff than you are. Don’t you think?

  28. Amy says:

    Although this is a tough category with many fine performers, if it did boil down to Elisabeth Moss vs. January Jones? That would not go well for January Jones.

  29. Heelareyous says:

    The Suitcase was the single best hour of TV last season. Would love to see Hamm and Moss win lead categories. Would love to see Hendricks or the young daughter actress factor in Supp over Jones. Love The Good Wife and would b great for Archie Panjabi to win again but Christine Baranski had a season as well. Julianna Margulies is superb in Lead as well. Hoping Sara Ramirez gets a Supp mom for the musical ep of Grey’s Anatomy. Friends who follow Private Practice want the blonde actress who was raped to get a Supp nom.

  30. Adam says:

    This could actually work in Elisabeth’s favor. IF they both get nominated (I think Jones is doubtful in lead), then surely Moss will submit “The Suitcase”. Jones does not appear in that episode, so she gets no extra face time with the voters. The best episode Jones has to submit is “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”, which has some great material for Moss, so she could get to put two episodes’ worth of great material in front of the voters.