My Predictions For This Year’s Emmys, Concluded
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES ET AL.
As I end this series, I now come to a group that I don’t so much have a problem with the nominated actors as their nominated series. All of these performances are top notch — I’m even willing to say some nice things about Sydney Sweeney’s work in The White Lotus. But did all the nominees have to come from only two series? There were a lot of great performances that were not in White Lotus and Dopesick — and I’m going to be berating the Emmys for awhile for overlooking Andie MacDowell’s tour de force as Paula in Maid. Like her daughter’s, it was the kind of work that the Emmys tend to love giving awards for, and given the series and her cast, it’s kind of appalling that she got shortchanged. Just like Margaret Qualley, I wanted to see her up there. Oh well. One last time into the breach.
Connie Britton, The White Lotus: 6–1.
For Playing: Nicole, the corporate head of a family on vacation — who won’t act like she’s on it. For Her: Britton has been a bulwark of television for over a quarter of a century, with her appearance in The White Lotus the fourth different series she has received an Emmy nomination for. We have become so used to her face in superb dramas such as Friday Night Lights and Nashville that we have forgotten she began her career in comedy (she was one of the few unqualified good things about Spin City). And Mike White has given her one of her best roles in awhile as for the first time in a long time, she gets to play someone truly nasty, someone who claims to be an ally towards woman, but will turn on one when they act against her, someone who on vacation will do anything to hide that she’s on vacation, someone who favors her son over her daughter, but doesn’t really seem to care for either, someone who hasn’t slept with her husband in a very long time. Britton is marvelous in playing someone who checks the boxes of the model of feminist, wife and mother but who only cares about the appearances more than anything else; in the final minutes you wonder if she even noticed her son wasn’t on the plane with them. It’s a hysterical, relatively subtle performance and considering that Britton has never won an Emmy at all (!) she is really overdo a win. Against Her: Honestly, see below.
Jennifer Coolidge, The White Lotus: 11–2.
For Playing: Tanya, a wealthy woman coming to Hawaii still suffering under the weight of her mother — even though she’s there to spread her ashes. For Her: Coolidge’s loud, brash comedy has always left me cold, I just couldn’t find myself liking any of her broad roles — until The White Lotus. Here, Coolidge and her character were perfectly bonded from beginning, someone who came to Hawaii to spread her mother’s ashes and just couldn’t do it. Someone who wanted to become an ally to Brenda, but at the end of the day used her like everyone else. Someone who seemed both cheerfully clueless at times — I can’t forget how she thought Greg was part of Black Lives Matter — and at times, painfully sad. Like almost everyone at the resort, she left having learned nothing at all, but I’m overjoyed that we’ll see her again in Season 2. Coolidge has been the out and out favorite almost since the debut of the series — she took the Supporting Actress prize from both the Critics Choice and the HCA — but was absent to accept both awards. I want to see her win mainly because I really want to hear her acceptance speech — but also because she earned it. Against Her: Too many fellow guests in this category? It’s hard to know if this many nominees will help her or hurt her: usually this kind of vote splitting does work in favor of an actors in these kinds of situations (The West Wing is the most famous example) but it also can work badly against it (ER).
Alexandra Daddario, The White Lotus: 6–1.
For Playing: Rachel, a woman on her honeymoon who’s about to get an idea who she married. For Her: Poor Rachel. It must be so hard to go on your honeymoon only to learn the kind of man you’ve married, the kind of family you’ve married into, the class of people you’re now a part of — and come away realizing you’ve made a big mistake. I actually feel more sympathy for her character than almost any other — she has the most possibility to come out on the other side, but the person could have saved her was burned and turned her away. Of the people who left the resort, she’s probably the most doomed. I was surprised that Daddario was nominated: her performance was tender and sentimental, not fitting in with the bad behavior that so many of these actors represented. She deserves something for her time at the resort. Against Her: Britton and Coolidge’s work was far superior to hers as far as big moments, and both deserve the win more than she does for their careers.
Kaitlyn Dever, Dopesick: 11–2.
For Playing: Betsy, a lesbian coal miner in West Virginia whose desire to escape her life leads her to addiction and a spiral that never ends. For Her: Honestly, if I have a favorite in this category, it’s Dever. I thought she was cheated out of a Best Actress nomination for her lead role in Unbelievable two years ago. Her performance in the messy pandemic related movie Costal Elites was the highlight. And her role in Dopesick shows just how astonishing this veteran actress — she’s been acting she was thirteen, and was a series regular on Last Man Standing for most of its run — is before she’s turned twenty-five. Michael Keaton may have been the center of Dopesick but Dever was the heart. From the beginning we were rooting for her simple wish — to go somewhere where she will be accepting for who she is — to come true. So she started on Oxy. Then she spiraled down the path of addiction. Then she destroyed her family. She spent so much time trying so many rehabs. Then she got addicted to heroin. Everyone had an idea what her fate would be in the penultimate episode, but I spend so much time praying she would come out okay. Betsy was the symbol for every victim of the opoid crisis. In anyone else’s hands, it would have been heavy handed. In Dever’s, it was a master class. I was thrilled when she took the Best Supporting Actress prize in Limited Series Streaming from the HCA. A win at the Emmys would thrill me. Against Her: Could it simply be the fact that she’s too young and that the older nominees in this category may have more of a case for sentimental reasons? It’s not impossible that would be enough to work against her.
Natasha Rothwell, The White Lotus: 13–2.
For Playing: Belinda, a spa worker at the resort still hoping for a better life. For Her: Of the three surprise nominees from this show in this category, I was actually the most delighted by the presence of Rothwell. She has been the part of so many great shows in her career (her work in Insecure could have earned a nomination as well) but her work in The White Lotus was special. Alone in the entire cast, Belinda maintained her dignity from the beginning of the series to the end. She was willing to humiliate herself a little, but unlike everyone else on the show it was for a cause — she wanted to get the hell out of Hawaii. We were heartbroken at the end of the season when Tanya humiliated Belinda for what has to have been the latest in a long line. And Belinda learned from the experience — seeing another lost bird in Rachel at the end of the season, she walked away. It was horrible for Rachel, but Belinda needed to do it. I saw an argument in the series that Belinda was the truest character in this entire show. Rothwell deserved credit for her achievement as much as Belinda did for hers. Against Her: If we know anything about the Emmys it’s, just as at the resort, the people who deserve the most respect do not get it. The Emmys will reward bad behavior.
Sydney Sweeney, The White Lotus: 13–2.
For Playing: Olivia, the college age daughter on a trip with her family who gives a new meaning to the word ‘entitled’. For Her: I didn’t like the character that Sweeney plays here any more than I liked the one at Euphoria, but that was the point. Olivia was supposed to be the portrait of a white, female privilege at every scene, someone who has no respect for her parents, someone who has no problem dismissing her brother from sleeping in the same room as her, someone who claims to be besties with her friend, but is indignant when she has a secret boyfriend because she thinks that her friend — like everything else — is hers. Olivia is selfish to the core with no redeeming virtues, and there are few signs at the end she’ll ever change. But like so many characters on The White Lotus, that’s the point the show’s trying to make — that the youth of the rich may claim progressive ideals but are just as selfish as their parents. I may have wanted some other nominees from other series to be nominated instead of Sweeney. Unlike with Euphoria, though I appreciate why Sweeney was nominated. Against Her: Same problem as in her nomination for Euphoria: too many higher quality nominees.
Mare Winningham, Dopesick: 13–2.
For Playing: Diane, the mother of a coal mining daughter who becomes terrified at her daughter’s spiral into the addiction. For Her: Winningham has been one of my favorite character actresses for decades, never getting her due no matter how many great roles she plays. I honestly thought it more likely Rosario Dawson, who is a bigger name and had a more important role, would more likely get nominated than Winningham. But Winningham was the right choice. So many of the scenes she played with Dever were so sad — who can forget the scene where Betsy comes out to her mother while quilting, and Diane’s only reaction is as if she didn’t hear her? Like Dever, Winningham was standing in for all the families of those who are addicted to Oxy, and just as with Dever, this role could have been heavy handed. But as her daughter’s addiction worsened, and as she became more active as the face of the battle against Purdue, we saw Diane transform into a reluctant fighter, the face of total loss in the battle of the opoid crisis. Winningham is a great actress, and I’m thrilled she’s among the nominated. Against Her: If there’s going to be a winner from Dopesick, it’s going to be Dever.
PREDICTION: It comes down to a battle between Coolidge and Dever, and I think this time the Emmys will pick high comedy over tragedy.
As for writing and directing, I would hope the Emmys could find it in them to share the love and give some of the awards to other nominated series that either weren’t nominated for the grand prize (like Impeachment) or series that didn’t get enough love from the Emmys (like The Dropout). However, I am a realist and I believe both the bigger names will qualify. I think Mike White will take a prize for directing, while Dopesick will win for Writing.
As for TV Movie, I would like to see one of the two great movies that wrapped up series that were cancelled before they could come to a natural end: Ray Donovan: The Movie or Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas. While I do not rule either out as a possibility, I am very familiar with HBO’s dominance in this category, so I expect it to go to The Survivor (which in fairness should have gotten more nominations then it did.)
Late Night Comedy, I expect John Oliver to continue his winning streak, but I honestly hope that Seth Meyers finally wins something.
And the vast enterprise is completed. I’ll see you back her in a week and a half to see how right I was and more importantly, how happy I was with the results.