My Predictions For This Year’s Emmys
Week 1, Part 5: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Let’s get this out front. Nothing will ever convince me to like The Handmaid’s Tale. Even those who love the series must admit on its best day, its torture porn. The fact that it may show a reality we don’t want to face doesn’t make it entertainment, and I don’t care how many of my favorite actresses are in it. Nothing will allow me to consider them worthy of a nomination. Especially when there are so many other actresses out there who deserve to be recognized for going into territory just as dark with a little more presence to it. There are only a couple of nominees who might repeat here. I’ll deal with them, and some new blood.
Gillian Anderson, The Crown
Has there ever been any doubt that Anderson is one of the greatest actresses in the history of television BEFORE she took on the role of Margaret Thatcher? There have been many great performances on The Crown — I’ve just spent the last few days explaining why they deserve to be honored — but there are almost none as extraordinary Anderson. Leaving aside the makeup and the flawless British accent, Anderson holds her own in every single scene she shares with Colman. Forget everything you thought you knew about Thatcher. Forget what you thought you learned in The Iron Lady. Anderson commands the screen — showing her true thoughts of the monarchy, her thoughts of her family, and why so many people feared her — that even Dana Scully would have trouble facing her. Anderson has won every pre-Emmy award. There’s no way she doesn’t get a bookend Emmy to go with the one she won for The X-Files
Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Of course, this isn’t anywhere near fair for Carter whose work as the OTHER Margaret on this series has a master class in acting. Princess Margaret has been in many ways the most sympathetic character on the series — always in the shadow of her sister, always being denied happiness and love, always being the one who see the clearest of her family and always being ignored. Watching her suffer in her central episode this year as she learned about the madness in the family was the kind of work that deserves an Emmy in any other year. And can we be honest: Helena Bonham Carter has been acting for nearly forty years. Why does she have nothing — no Oscars, no Emmys, no trophies at all to show for it? Carter deserves to win. But like Margaret, she’ll have to watch as a brighter star eclipses her.
Dominique Jackson, Pose
There are a lot of extraordinary actresses on Pose that it’s very hard to make an argument for one over the other. But anyone who has seen Jackson’s utterly fearless performance as Electra knows why she is the queen. In the final season, we got a look at her origin story and it was haunting. We saw her embrace her family as never before. We saw her finally get the riches she was entitled to, and had the power to finally be the kind of boss she always was. And in the final episode, we saw her mourn Pray Tell, reach her heights and name her daughter a legend the same way she was. Jackson is more of a long shot in this category than some of the others. I dare the Academy to tell Electra she hasn’t earned it.
Tatiana Maslany, Perry Mason
Everybody who watched an episode of Orphan Black knows just how incredible an actress Tatiana Maslany has always been. So by this point, nothing she does should surprise me any more. Then you see her play Sister Alice, the 1930s Evangelist who embraces the family of a murdered child (much to the dismay of Perry) and then seems to go through a phase of madness where she claims the child will be brought back from the dead. And frankly, the way it takes over the defendant and her mother, you’d really think it was infectious. But it does say something that of everybody in this series, Alice is the only one with a real moral code. When she has her final talk with Perry, you almost want to believe her. That’s how good Maslany is, and it’s more than earned her another trip back.
Wunmi Mosaku, Lovecraft Country
There were a lot of great supporting performances from the women of Lovecraft Country, and I really wouldn’t mind if Annajue Ellis or Abbey Lee were brought forward to share the dais. But during the entire season, the supporting performance that sticks with you the most is Mosaku’s as Ruby, Letitia’s older sister, trying to find a place in the world and willing to make a deal with the devil to get there. The longer you watch her work, the more selfish she seems, until the last episode where she makes a critical choice… and pays for it. (Her final scene on the series has the kind of layers that are worthy of a nomination in itself.) There are a lot of great performances on Lovecraft Country. This one sticks with you like a high hell driven in to your back.
Brooke Smith, Big Sky
There were a lot of great supporting female performance throughout the first season of Big Sky and I could see Jessie James Keitel or Valerie Mahaffey getting a nod as well. But of all the performers, Smith had one of the widest ranges. Starting by appearing to be a simple domestic housewife, bullied by Big Rick, we saw her broaden her horizons (albeit with the worst possible person). Then she learned of her husband’s crimes and the man she had been seeing. Then she went through endless verbal abuse by her husband’s lawyer, and in one shining moment at the end of her arc, she knew the truth about him. Partly because of what we knew about Rick, I actually didn’t mind her final action. I don’t know if we’ll see her again, but I do know she deserves a nomination.
Susan Kalechi Watson, This is Us
I could speak up for Chrissy Metz, but really Beth has been the secret weapon of This is Us almost since the series started. She’s always needed to stay grounded to support Randall through good times and sad. And there were sad times, not just for him, but as the dance studio she’d poured her life into became yet another victim of the pandemic. Throw into this her struggles with her mother (can Phyllicia Rashad get a nod too) and her daughters, two of whom had romantic struggles that really put her through the ringer and you get the feeling that this woman is as much a saint as the late Jack Pearson. I don’t think her odds of winner are good, but she really deserves a nomination. Far more than any of the women of Gilead.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Britt Robertson, Big Sky
I wasn’t a huge fan of the entire Kleinsasser storyline during Big Sky’s second half, but there was one actress who made it sing: Robertson’s incredible performance as Cheyenne, the youngest who’s the most deserving of the ranch but who will never get it because she’s a woman. Every moment she was on the screen, you could feel the electricity — the way she held her own with her brothers, claimed her power animal, and brought her mother back from being an invalid. You could see the power that Robertson brings here like she has in almost every performance she’s given in the last ten years — and she’s not even thirty yet. I actually wouldn’t mind if she reappeared in Season 2. Now that she has power, I want to see what she does with it.
I’ll be back next week with the comedies.