This week I’ll be pretending that I have an Emmy vote and discussing my picks for all the major categories. Once it gets closer to the time that nominees are actually announced, I’ll do an official “picks” column. Today: Lead Actress in a Drama Series!
Two things before we get going: First, I’m only choosing performers or writers that are actually on the ballots, so these choices are all real possibilities. Second, unlike in the writing categories where I decided to give each series an opportunity at only one slot, so these categories won’t be dominated by one writer or team, acting categories have the chance to be filled with multiple performers from one series. I wanted to stick to the one-per-program rule, but just couldn’t in some categories, so with this being my dream ballot, I might as well ignore many “rules.”
Now, this is a nice category. I like all my picks and even left off the most obvious choice. Women are obviously given more to do on the dramatic side of things.
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Connie Britton might have been better off submitting as a supporting actress nominee this go around, but that doesn’t take away from her fantastic and powerful performance as Tami Taylor. Not only is she the most attractive school principal of all time, but a believable one as well. When Tami has to deal with the community bullies or anything West Dillon-related, she handles it with professionalism and class, and thanks to Britton’s performance we can easily buy that she could be a real principal. Plus, even though it has been mentioned repeatedly, no television family is more believable and features actors with more chemistry. In season four, Tami shares wonderful moments with Eric and especially Julie that again prove just how damn good FNL is.
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Skyler is a character that found herself in an awkward position throughout the first two years of Breaking Bad. While she should have been somewhat of a victim, her lack of depth in season and questionable reactions to Walt’s slow detachment from his family in season two made her easy to hate. But in season three when she becomes more in on the illegal activities, suddenly, she’s more likable. Basically, it’s a terribly difficult performance to pull off and even in the episodes I didn’t like Skyler, that wasn’t Anna Gunn’s fault. She’s called upon to be less flashy than her male counterparts, but this season the material finally reached her skills. The actress is completely deserving of the bump from supporting to lead actress and it will be interesting to see how far the Breaking Bad loves spreads out.
Katey Segal, Sons of Anarchy
I haven’t seen much of Sons’ second season — I’m just getting into it — but I’m not sure I need to for Katy Segal to be one of my picks. If I had watched the first season live, she would have been on my ballot last year and everything I’ve seen and read about her work in season two is pushing me to stump for her even more. While her character was less likable in season one, the second season brings more depth and humanity to Gemma after she’s raped. Segal is the one performer from Sons of Anarchy that has even a little bit of a chance of being nominated, but with this being a stacked category, I’m not sure how good her chances actually are. What a shame.
January Jones, Mad Men
January Jones finds herself in the same kind of position that Anna Gunn is in, playing a woman who initially should have been a sympathetic victim, but because of her own actions and the general aura of cool surrounding their male partners, seem like thankless bitches — or in Betty Draper’s case, brats. However, again, not January Jones’ fault that her character was written that way. Nevertheless, both Jones and Betty were given more and better material to work with in Mad Men‘s third season and the young actress handled it well. She might have to play a whiny brat often, but she nails it and as Betty became more sure of herself, so did Jones. She’s still the weakest actress on the Mad Men cast, but this is her season and if she’ll ever win, it’s now.
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
The Good Wife is a finely made television procedural with some solid long-term development and really well-sketched out characters. I can’t say anything bad about The Good Wife. But I don’t watch it regularly or even semi-regularly. But much like The Big Bang Theory and Jim Parsons, I can completely respect and acknowledge the quality of both the series and its lead. In this case, Julianna Margulies is wonderful as Alicia Florrick and I believe that all the hype behind the performance has to be correct. She’ll be nominated and might just win. Good for her.
Evangeline Lilly, Lost
Now, hear me out. I never thought I’d be typing that name with this post. Especially based on past work and the difficult nature of this category. But then I watched the last few episodes of Lost, especially the finale, and saw Evangeline Lilly often dominate the scenes she was in. How in the hell did this happen? How, in the biggest finale in recent television memory, with a number of powerhouse actors surrounding her, did one of the most disliked characters on the series become so integral and likable again? After a good two seasons of being remotely useless and regularly easy to hate, Kate finally turned back into the strong, loving woman we watched her be in seasons one and two. And although some of that has to be contributed to the writers actually caring about her again, a lot of it has to go to Evangeline Lilly’s performance. She was my favorite part of the finale, and not just because of her black skirt.
Sorry Glenn Close!
Lead actor, comin’ at ya!
Past days of the Dream Ballot