If I Had An Emmy Ballot 2013: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Part 3 of our journey through the Emmy ballot brings us to Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. As always, Fienberg will attempt to rank the contenders from most likely to least likely to be nominated, throwing in a bunch of preferential wild cards along the way. And, as always, I will pretend that I am an actual Academy member who has a ballot and therefore has to narrow his choices down to six people.
Same rules apply: we are working off of the actual Emmy ballot, so we can't nominate people who didn't submit themselves (like Maisie Williams from "Game of Thrones"), and we have to consider people in the category they submitted themselves for, even if that means supporting actors submitting as leads (Rob Lowe, every year) or vice versa (Amy Schumer submitting herself as supporting for a show that has her name in it). I'm also obviously limiting myself to shows where I watched enough this season to feel comfortable picking names. (I've only seen a couple of "The Middle" episodes this year, for instance, so while I assume Eden Sher was marvelous all year, I can't say it with enough conviction to put her on the list.)
Dan's exhaustive analysis is embedded below (click Launch Gallery to see it), and my picks are coming right up.
Where the first two categories had at least one overwhelming candidate (Michael Cudlitz for drama supporting actor, Monica Potter for drama supporting actress) whom I knew would be on my list no matter what — and whose absence from the real Emmy list would greatly disappoint me — there was nobody in this batch whom I looked at said, "Yes. Her. Absolutely. Everyone get in line behind her." That said, it's a category with a lot of performances I really enjoyed, and where I'd be happy to see the real Emmy voters wander off the beaten path at least a bit.
Then again, one of my favorites in the category is someone who was actually nominated a year ago: Merritt Wever from "Nurse Jackie." As I've said before, Wever's warm, infectiously goofy work as Zoey Barkow generally serves as the thing that allows me to accept the show's definition as a comedy. She continued to do excellent work this year as Zoey grew in responsibility as unofficial second-in-command to the new ER chief, at one point making a trip to The Container Store sound like a young girl's erotic journey from Milan to Minsk. She's built up so much residual goodwill on "Jackie" that when she popped up on "New Girl" as Schmidt's college girlfriend, I immediately began pondering a way for her to participate in both series.
Jenna Fischer was actually nominated for an Emmy for her work in the third season of "The Office," and I thought for sure she was going to win just based on the scene where Pam reacts to Jim asking her out. Instead, she lost to Jaime Pressly from "My Name Is Earl," and never got nominated again. I'd like to see her make the list again for her work in the final season of "The Office," where the best and most interesting material inevitably revolved around the state of Jim and Pam's marriage. It was a largely dramatic arc for Fischer — and one that, unfortunately, brought her into the orbit of Brian the boom mic guy for a few episodes — but a really strong one for her. And the structure of the finale suggested that while Michael Scott was the main character for so long, Pam Beasley was the center of "The Office" universe.
I'd be surprised to see Fischer return to the field after such a long absence, less so to see Jane Krakwoski back on the list. She wasn't nominated last year, but was the three previous years, and there are at least two open slots from last year's list (Kristen Wiig and the late Kathryn Joosten). Jenna Maroney is a character who wasn't always my favorite part of "30 Rock," but that fell more on the part of the writing for her than what the eternally game Krakowski was doing. And she got some really good material in this last season, including her brief period as the most politically powerful person in America, and even in smaller moments like the one in "The Stride of Pride" where Jenna advised Jack to embrace the advantages of getting older. Plus, she got to sing out "TGS" with one last performance of "The Rural Juror." I will never forget you, Jenna Maroney.
Okay, now let's move to the people with no Emmy portfolio. First up: Julie White from "Go On." "Goon" wasn't perfect in its brief life, but White and the writers made Anne — an intimidating lawyer mourning the death of her wife — the show's most delineated, consistently entertaining creation. While the rest of the series could at times lurch from tone to tone, unsure of how to balance a lot of characters of varying degrees of intelligence or reality, White could be inserted into any scene, with any combination of other characters — one of the best episodes involved her hiring her temperamental opposite, Brett Gelman's Mr. K, to play nanny to her children — and make things work.
Aubrey Plaza on "Parks and Recreation" and Busy Philipps on "Cougar Town" are both playing characters who young for their ensemble, and who on one hand are extremely immature and on the other wiser than their older counterparts. Like Wever on "Jackie," the most recent seasons let both characters grow a bit — April getting more responsibility in the parks department, Laurie opening up her own business — while still retaining their comic essences, and both Plaza and Philipps did an excellent job of finding that balance.
UPDATE: In shuffling people on and off the list, as I usually do at the end, I didn't realize I'd included seven people rather than six. Consider Elisha Cuthbert the seventh place person, but since I wrote the paragraph, I'm going to leave it in.
Finally, if "Happy Endings" really is dead (and all seems quiet on the "rescued by cable" front), then it would be nice if the show got a bit of Emmy recognition before it's too late, preferably from its breakout performer in Elisha Cuthbert. As always, Cuthbert threw herself into all of Alex Kerkovich's stupidity and ridiculous tics with great gusto. Few performances more consistently put a smile on my face; I'll miss it, and hold out hope that another comedy will find something for her to do.
Others considered: Mayim Bialik, Yvette Nicole Brown, Carly Chaikin, Eliza Coupe, Gillian Jacobs, Diane Ladd, Zosia Mamet, Amy Schumer, Phyllis Smith, Jessica Walter, Casey Wilson
What does everybody else think? Who would your top 6 be in this category?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
PREVIOUSLY: Supporting Actor in a Drama | Supporting Actress in a Drama
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
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