Emmy Nominations Week continues here at HitFix, in which Fienberg and I attack the possible nominees from two angles: Dan speculates on who will be nominated, while I pretend like I have an Emmy ballot and say who should be.
Today, it’s time for the comedy sidekicks. While I was sleeping, Dan posted his thoughts on the probable nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a comedy, and if you click through you’ll have my hypothetical ballot…
If the picture above wasn’t enough of a giveaway, and if my writing about her early and often in discussing “Community” wasn’t, either, my first nominee choice (and my probable favorite if I had a hypothetical vote) is Alison Brie. She took a character who was a broadly-sketched cartoon and managed to simultaneously embrace that side of things while giving Annie some real depth and humanity. Anything they ask her to do, she nails, and that includes completely upsetting the apple cart with her chemistry with Joel McHale. Bonus points for one of the funniest “Mad Men” moments of the season, when Trudy asked Pete to come join her in the kitchen.
This was not a very good season for “The Office,” for reasons both too long and too depressing to go into here. One of the few bright spots, though, was Ellie Kemper, who owned every scene she was in as the chipper-to-the-point-of-mental-instability Erin. She was so good I may even one day rewatch “Scott’s Tots,” which otherwise was one of the most excruciating, tone-deaf episodes in the show’s history, just to watch Erin cluelessly cheer Michael on. I’m annoyed Jenna Fischer has yet to win one of these things, but if any performer on “The Office” was Emmy-worthy this year, it was Kemper.
Y’all know I don’t love “Glee.” The point of this exercise, though, isn’t to pick the best performances from my favorite shows, but to pick the best performances, period, and Jane Lynch (who’s the clear favorite to win the non-hypothetical Emmy) was fabulous, even as the writers kept waffling on exactly how human they wanted to let Sue be.
The massive season-to-season improvement of “Parks and Recreation” was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises, and Aubrey Plaza‘s role within that was one of the biggest sub-surprises. We knew she could nail the deadpan sarcastic thing (any scene of Plaza and Nick Offerman trying to out-minimalist each other was a delight), but for guarded, cynical April to become the romantic heart of the series? Her work with Chris Pratt was terrific, but she was nearly as good when matched with any member of the ensemble.
Yvonne Strahovski is a weird case. The show she’s on is rightfully classified as a comedy, yet most of her contributions to it are on the dramatic side of the ledger. Still, the work she does in giving emotional weight to the world of “Chuck” makes a lot of the silliness possible. And on those rare occasions when she’s called upon to do so (like “Chuck vs. the Honeymooners”), she’s shown that she can be funny, even if her job description largely requires her to make you believe any of this could be happening while having crazy chemistry with Zachary Levi.
If this category were solely about who makes me laugh the most, my clear favorite would have to be Merritt Wever. There were times in season two of “Nurse Jackie” where I stuck with the show almost entirely to see what Wever would do and say next. That show’s producers clearly recognized what they had in her and gave her even more material this year, showing that a slightly more street-wise Zoe would be no less funny than the naive nursing student from the start of the series.
Tough omissions: Jane Adams from “Hung,” Yvette Nicole Brown from “Community,” Lizzy Caplan from “Party Down,” Rosemarie DeWitt from “United States of Tara,” Busy Philipps from “Cougar Town,” Sofia Vergara from “Modern Family.”
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org