Note: This post is the latest in an on-going series of pieces exploring the major categories at the 2015 Emmy awards. We will cover actors, actresses, and series – Comedy and Drama – through the end of the voting period on August 28. See something you like or a performance you’d like to single out? Share the posts and create some Twitter buzz! We’ll see you at the Emmys.
Gird your loins, everyone, because ADTV is having octuplets! Well, not really. It’s just the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category. And, no, bringing up the plethora of nominees this year will never get old. Instead of having 6 or 7 ladies nominated, the category has ballooned up to a robust 8 participants thanks to a percentages rule. At least they come from a variety of different comedy programs. Does anyone in particular stick out, or is the number of nominees too overwhelming?
Performer: Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler in The Big Bang Theory
Episode: “The Prom Equivalency” (Season Eight, Episode Eight)
Highlight: The gang decides to re-enact their high school proms because no one had a memorable one (except Penny, naturally). Amy reveals that her prom wasn’t exactly like everyone else’s.
Why She Could Win: Lest we remind everyone that Bialik is the only acting nominee from The Big Bang Theory this year? That sound you hear is Jim Parsons reaching for another glass of scotch. Bialik’s Amy has always been a sort of (dare I say it?) pathetic hopeless romantic when it comes to her relationship with Parsons’ Sheldon. More impatient women would have given up on him years ago, but she presses on. Amy was actually on the clean-up crew at hers, so geeks voting at home might be able to relate to her character and her disappointing high school experience. Fans of the show will also remember that this is when Sheldon tells Amy he loves her. Fans also might be sad at how their relationship was put on hold at the end of the season.
Why She Could Lose: Would voters really throw Bialik a bone just because Big Bang was so overwhelmingly snubbed this year? It seems unlikely that they would just toss a trophy her way when the field is so packed. Amy’s unrequited love of Sheldon is cute, but it’s something that can get tiresome whenever it’s the focus of the scenes between the two of them. If her last name was Parsons, she might have a better shot.
Performer: Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy in Modern Family
Episode: “Valentine’s Day 4: Twisted Sister” (Season Six, Episode Fourteen)
Highlight: Claire and her hapless husband, Phil, celebrate V-Day by reviving their sexy role-playing game as a couple who meet in a hotel lobby, but Claire begins to worry that she isn’t enough for her husband. Claire steals a bottle of champagne from a hotel bar and then forces her husband to go skinny dipping.
Why She Could Win: Bowen’s Claire Dunphy is a mash-up between a sexy MILF and an off-kilter self-consciousness. The bond between Claire and Phil is rock solid, so it’s nice to see Claire actually questions her doofy husband’s desires in this episode. When she’s pretending to be someone else, Bowen exudes a confidence that is missing from her normal persona. We are literally watching her act her ass off, and it’s fun, relaxing and sexy all at the same time.
Why She Could Lose: Is this Bowen’s best episode this season? While the chemistry between her and Ty Burrell is as strong as ever, she doesn’t necessarily shine brightest in this episode. Claire’s boldness (and subsequent paranoia) definitely drives the episode, but Burrell is just as funny. The side stories are strong in this episode as well. Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Sofia Vergara may stick to their shtick, but we love these characters for these exact reasons. Plus, Bowen has won twice already in this category.
Performer: Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer in Veep
Episode: “Convention” (Season Four, Episode Five)
Highlight: Duh—Amy lets Selina have it. This was Emmy clip ready from its conception.
Why She Could Win: Amy gets to do what every person in America dreams of: telling off your boss. Frustrated with Selina’s newest advisor, Karen, Amy flies off the handle and delivers an unapologetically obscene rant that should get points for how ballsy it is. It wouldn’t work if you didn’t feel Amy’s bottled up rage, and, boy, do you feel it. “You are the worst thing to happen to this country since food in buckets,” should be handed to someone to say in the upcoming election just to see if anyone can deliver it with Chlumsky’s verve. They’ll fail.
Why She Could Lose: Is one epic rant big enough to net Chlumsky a win? I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time arguing against this. The fourth season of Veep was met with somewhat lukewarm response, but everyone remembers that tirade.
Performer: Jane Krakowski as Jacqueline Voorhees in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Episode: “Kimmy Gets a Job!” (Season One, Episode Two)
Highlight: Jacqueline treats her son’s birthday as a welcome home party for her husband.
Why She Could Win: The fact that Krakowski never won for playing Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock is a crime. A crime, I tell you! In the second episode of Kimmy Schmidt, we continue to see how out of touch Jacqueline Voorhees really is. She is worried that her marriage to her husband is on the brink of falling apart, so her mind is reeling as to how she should welcome him home. At one point, she even puts on a stewardess outfit, because she’s sure her husband will remember how they met. Krakowski is a pro at this material (she likens Kimmy’s decorations to “the reception for an Appalachian incest wedding”), so seeing her back on television as a vapid, insecure, arrogant mess is a joy…
Why She Could Lose: …but is it too similar to her role as Jenna Maroney? A lot of fans complained that Krakowski was simply playing the same character she did on 30 Rock, and she wasn’t delivering anything new. The overcrowded category doesn’t help matters either, but that argument could be given to anyone this year.
Performer: Gaby Hoffmann as Ali Pfefferman in Transparent
Episode: “Rollin’” (Season One, Episode Three)
Highlight: As Maura continues to come out to her family, Hoffmann’s Ali experiments with drugs and sex. A threesome on “moon rocks.” What more could Emmy ask for!
Why She Could Win: The Emmys clearly like Hoffmann this year. Not only is she nominated in this category (everyone had money on Judith Light here), but she’s up for Guest Actress in a Comedy for HBO’s Girls. Ali quite literally breaks up a threesome when she’s high on “moon rocks,” a drug that’s apparently like E. When she proposes a threesome with her buddy and his roommate, everyone is down, but she accidentally breaks it up when she suggests that the 2 guys want to actually want to hook up with each other. It’s a hilarious moment that makes you cringe at the same time—something Transparent excels at in its first season.
Why She Could Lose: How secure is Hoffmann in this category? Is the nomination the win? A lot of people still think Transparent should be in the drama category, and the show definitely rides that fine line where other women in this year are doing more “obvious” comedy.
Performer: Kate McKinnon as Various in Saturday Night Live
Episode: “Taraji P. Henson/Mumford & Sons” (Season Forty, Episode Eighteen)
Highlight: Hillary Clinton struggles with technology in the cold open.
Why She Could Win: McKinnon has always been a force of nature since she joined the sketch comedy series, and she’s consistently the strongest player even when the skit is falling flat. She has the enviable ability of throwing herself into almost anything and not worrying that she will look like a total fool. As the 2016 presidential election slowly approaches, the Hillary Clinton impersonation is in full force—expect it to only increase when the show comes back in the fall. Her cold open as the presidential hopeful makes Lady MacBeth’s ambition look like a preschool game of Red Rover.
Why She Could Lose: You can’t scrub a turd into gold. Even though McKinnon is gung-ho every week, she can’t do very much with the material she’s given. In this episode, she knocks it out of the park as Hillary, but the only other big part she plays is Jane Lynch in a pitiful Hollywood Game Night riff. If she would have submitted an episode as that whacky cat owner, she might have a better chance of winning.
Performer: Niecy Nash as Didi Ortley in Getting On
Episode: “The 7th Annual Christmas Card Competition” (Season Two, Episode Four)
Highlight: Didi slow dances with the doctor she has her eye on even though she tells him it can’t go any further.
Why She Could Win: Nash is primarily known from her roles on Comedy Central’s Reno: 911! and TV Land’s The Soul Man and a slew of short-lived sitcoms (she has Scream Queens coming up). As a newcomer to the show, I was surprised by Didi’s stillness and quietness. From just the episode I watched, I got to see a different side of Nash that I had never seen. Didi seems like she just wants to do her job and keep her head down, and she has accepted that she will never be able to get with the hunky doctor that has caught her eye. The episode’s title comes from a picture of a woman’s vulva circulating around the hospital after it was accidentally entered in a Christmas card contest. The doctors match the picture to an elderly patient, and they spout medical terms out of embarrassment of the incident. Didi tells it to her straight: “This is a picture of your pussy.”
Why She Couldn’t: I can’t be the only one who didn’t realize that Getting On was still on the air? It’s a show that has been brushed under HBO’s program carpet, and surely some voters might blow off watching the episode just due to fatigue. Co-star Alex Borstein gets broader comedy in this episode as her character, Dawn, squabbles with her boyfriend, and Emmy-winner Laurie Metcalf spends the majority of the episode talking about female fecal incontinence. Nash could get commended for more serious work but forgotten for not being as overtly funny.
Performer: Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett in Mom
Episode: “Dropped Soap and a Big Guy on a Throne” (Season Two, Episode Eighteen)
Highlights: Bonnie injures herself and becomes tempted by prescription drugs.
Why She Could Win: Let’s be realistic. Janney could fart on a snare drum for 22 minutes, submit it, and it could land her an Emmy nomination. She won two (count ‘em two) awards just last year, and she probably has an entire shelf in her house dedicated to the gold she won for The West Wing. There’s a reason for this: Janney steals every scene she’s in on Mom. It feels like a show that shouldn’t work, but it ultimately does because of her mixture of cutting wit and down-to-earth charm. If last year started a streak of winning for her, I personally wouldn’t mind.
Why She Couldn’t: With Big Bang getting virtually shut out, are people feeling some Chuck Lorre fatigue? Perhaps people aren’t as enthusiastic as I am, and they want to award one of the other 124532 nominees in this category. Is awarding her 3 trophies in 2 years too much?