As we gear up for the Emmys, that most frustrating of television awards, I’d like to take the next couple of weeks to present to you my dream ballots in several categories before then defending several of my choices to the death in a trial by combat versus The Mountain.
Our first category up: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series!
Anna Chlumsky, Veep Emma Kenney, Shameless
Kate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black Chelsea Peretti, Brooklyn 99
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie Christine Woods, Hello, Ladies
Honorable Mentions: Beth Grant, The Mindy Project; Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation
“Show your work…”
In a fair and just world, all six of these ladies will hear their names called come time for the Emmy nominations in July. However, I’ll concede that several of them are long shots, mostly notably youngster Emma Kenney, who masterfully handled Debbie Gallagher’s burgeoning young adulthood with aplomb in season four. Now, let me say this: I fundamentally disagree with Shameless being classified as a comedy, but since it is, Kenney’s name appears on my hopeful ballot. While we’re on the subject of long shots, I’d love to see Christine Woods scoop up a nod for her turn as Jessica in HBO’s brilliantly cringeworthy Hello, Ladies; I found myself consistently impressed by how Woods tempered Jessica’s neuroses, never allowing them to reduce her character to cliche but instead using them to highlight what a pitch-perfect mate she would be for Stuart, her unsuccessful philanderer of a roommate. She just strikes the perfect balance between pathos and comedy.
In terms of the remote realm of possibility, my other four choices seem grounded at least tenuously in reality. Merritt Wever’s Zoey Barkow is not just the best character on Showtime’s underappreciated Nurse Jackie but one of my favorite characters on television right now; I know she won last year, and–given the Emmy’s predilection for repeat winners–I wouldn’t at all mind to see her at the podium again this year. Meanwhile, Anna Chlumsky continues to do excellent work on HBO’s Veep; Amy snatching the coveted spot of campaign manager this season was great, and she can spout out the poetically profane dialogue of this series with the best of them. Love her.
That leaves us with Kate Mulgrew, whose character Red manages to stand out so vividly amongst the already vivid and vibrant cast of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. I suppose it bears repeating that OitNB ain’t really a comedy, but that was its submission category, so here we are. Regardless, Mulgrew’s understanding of this character is simply breathtaking; she knows how to balance her intimidating nature with the softer sides to her (often revealed in those heartbreaking flashbacks). I’m pulling for you big time on this, Red! Finally, that leaves Chelsea Peretti, the one actress on this list that without fail had me in stitches at least two or three times an episode. Her Gina Linetti is an unapologetically unique creation; I mean, her dance in the briefing room? Man, I’m still laughing about that. The fact that Peretti managed to steal scenes left and right from the cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a feat in and of itself, but as the season progressed, so did her character, and Peretti matched the evolution step for step. I’ll do a dance of my own if her name winds up on the final ballot.
Well there it is, my first Dream Emmy ballot! Stay tuned for my next one later in the week: Supporting Actor in Comedy Series!