If I had an Emmy ballot: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama

Senior Television Writer
06.14.10 55 Comments

Continuing Emmy Nominations Week here at HitFix, it’s time to turn our focus from the drama supporting actors (which Fienberg and I each dealt with earlier today) to the slightly less-crowded but still very competitive field of drama supporting actresses. Again, Dan is giving his rundown of people he thinks could be nominated (along with a few people he finds deserving but doesn’t give a chance to), while I’m listing the six people I would choose if I had an actual Emmy ballot. (And I’m going based on who submitted themselves in which category; you can see the actual performers’ ballot here.)

Dan’s gallery is here, and after the jump, my six supporting actress picks…

This field isn’t quite as loaded as its male counterpart, but I still came up with more than a dozen people whose nominations and/or wins would please me. I thought of continuing my “only one actor per show” approach from this morning, but in this case, there were a couple of situations where I simply couldn’t choose between two co-stars, and ultimately loved them both too much to try. (Also, none of the actresses that missed my cut would have made me feel quite as upset as if I had, say, not had room for Bryan Batt on the men’s side.)

Case in point: both Khandi Alexander and Kim Dickens have been absolutely brilliant on “Treme” at playing two characters dealing with major losses tied to the storm. (Alexander with her missing brother, Dickens with her failing restaurant and wrecked home.) So much of what they do happens in between dialogue – the long pause as Dickens ponders having sex with her annoying sometime-boyfriend, or Alexander trying to hold herself together as she conceals a piece of bad news from everyone she knows on Mardi Gras – and if they both somehow landed on an actual ballot (I doubt either will, sadly) I wouldn’t know how to decide between them. 

Elisabeth Moss wasn’t quite as present in this season of “Mad Men” as she was in the first two, as the show focused heavily on the Draper marriage. When called to serve, though, she was outstanding, whether showing Peggy beginning to assert her professional and sexual independence, or suffering undeserved verbal abuse from mentor Don. With Joan leaving the firm midway through the season, Christina Hendricks was also absent quite a bit, but she was wonderful at showing Joan’s growing realization that the life she’d strived for years to get was a colossal disappointment. Plus, she played the accordion! And the hospital waiting room conversation between Joan and Don is on my short list of “I’d nominate this person based on nothing else but that scene.”

I came close to doing three pairs for this category, with Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson from “Grey’s Anatomy,” but ultimately decided this was a baby I’d feel okay splitting, and went with just Oh. Not that Wilson isn’t always fantastic, and particularly in the finale; I just think Oh was given better material throughout the season as Cristina wavered between what was good for her love life and for her career, and she consistently nailed it. And she was also pretty spectacular during the Seattle Grace Under Fire finale.

When “Friday Night Lights” began, Aimee Teegarden wasn’t an obvious weak link the way Minka Kelly and Taylor Kitsch were (and Kitsch would, of course, evolve into one of the show’s most essential performers), but nor did she stand out in a very deep ensemble. That’s no longer the case. Julie Taylor can be as maddening and inconstant as any typical teenage girl, but Teegarden sells the hell out of her shifts and swings, and she had a lot to work with this year as Julie prepared to say goodbye to her parents, her boyfriend, and her town. 

Tough omissions: Lisa Edelstein from “House,” Ginnifer Goodwin and Chloe Sevigny from “Big Love,” Sharon Gless from “Burn Notice,” Yunjin Kim from “Lost,” Archie Panjabi from “The Good Wife,” Maggie Siff and Ally Walker from “Sons of Anarchy,” Mae Whitman from “Parenthood” and Chandra Wilson from “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com

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