On Mad Men, Jon Hamm delivered one of the best performances any size screen has seen. As the womanizing, intelligent, melancholy, and mean Don Draper, Hamm had to carry a sprawling ensemble cast while playing a hot asshole with an enormous amount of bottled-up anger. Both Hamm’s undeniable good looks and inherent charm made the audience, at precisely the right moments, feel bad for Don. This made Don’s most emotional moments such as the dreaded Hershey’s pitch (men will literally tell an entire conference room that they grew up in a brothel instead of going to therapy). Although nominated every year, Hamm finally won an Emmy for his performance in 2015 for his role in the seventh and final season. It was long overdue, and so is his post-Mad Men career.
Since Mad Men ended in 2015, Hamm has been around, appearing in supporting roles in films like Baby Driver and on television shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. More recently, Hamm appeared in Top Gun: Maverick. He didn’t do much in the role, but we love to see it nonetheless. Essentially, Hamm has not quite become the star we want him to be. Perhaps this was by Hamm’s own design: playing Don Draper for nearly a decade does sound exhausting.
Beyond supporting roles across film and television, Hamm’s most consistent presence since Mad Men ended in 2015 has been as the voice of Mercedes-Benz commercials. I cannot complain, because Jon Hamm has the voice of a god (not that I would know, but I can guess). That was until earlier this year when Jon Hamm made his debut as the star of…. a series of Progressive commercials. In the ads, Hamm plays himself. In the Progressive Commercial Universe, Jon Hamm is in love with his old flame Flo from Progressive played by Stephanie Courtney, who coincidentally appeared in the first season of Mad Men as Marge, a switchboard operator at Sterling Cooper. Flo is more interested in selling Hamm insurance than pursuing anything romantic, a concept that is impossible to imagine.
Even in the mostly bleak Mad Men, which had its share of comedic moments, Hamm indicated he is not only an incredibly attractive and gifted dramatic actor, but he is also very funny in roles such as Drew Baird, a pediatrician with hot person privilege on 30 Rock. The role proved he is self-aware, sharp, down to clown, and willing to make jokes at his own expense.
In the comedy Confess, Fletch, which came out quietly in September, Hamm is at his most Hamm. And he’s finally the lead again. As Fletch, an investigative journalist who finds himself at the center of a murder investigation while visiting Boston, Hamm gets to combine Don Draper with his lighter, comedic side. Like Don, Fletch is intelligent but a smart ass, he’s unpredictable to the point that at times, you wonder if he did commit the crime. But he’s also goofy, charming, and physical in a performance that benefits everyone sharing a scene with him. At long last, Jon Hamm is in his hamming-it-up era.
Fletch is exactly the kind of role that Jon Hamm has been waiting for since he let Don Draper go, a blend of his ability to be kind of mean and simultaneously melt your heart. If the Progressive ads – which honestly let Hamm do the same – will help get another Confess, Fletch film made, please, let him do them in peace.