2011 Dream Emmy Ballot: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

It’s that time again, folks. The Emmy nominations will be announced on July 14, which means I have almost an entire month to flood this space with hopes, dreams and predictions about what could happen come nomination time. To kick things off, I’ll be bringing back the Dream Emmy Ballot. It’s something I did last year and even with my much smaller readership back then, folks seemed to enjoy it. You can find the archives of previous Dream Emmy Ballot posts here.

In any event, just a qualifier or two: This is obviously my Dream Emmy Ballot. Meaning, these initial picks are going to be who I would love to see be nominated for the awards. I know that many of these people don’t actually have a chance in garnering a nomination, just as I know that I will miss some of your personal favorites because I don’t watch that series. I watched more television than ever this season, so I imagine my personal picks will more closely align with more “official” selections, but nevertheless, this is all based on my personal taste and wishes. I’ll do more concrete, objective analysis as we get closer to the actual nomination announcement. Secondly, these picks are all based on the official nomination ballot, just so you know.

More supporting category fun today, folks. The Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category is more jam-packed that I would have guessed before taking a look at the ballot. This is a pleasant surprise, but it also makes for a more challenging selection process on my end. Much like the actor side of this category, I had something like 20 names on my original shortlist, but I’m a professional, I found a way to cut it down.

Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation

If Aubrey Plaza’s April would have just stayed the hateful, dryly sarcastic intern for like five seasons, it still would have been pretty wonderful comedic gold. Plaza is just that good in that kind of role. But by throwing April knee-deep into a relationship and very soon after, marriage, with Andy, the character has become more interesting and yet still stayed true to herself. April in love is still so clearly April, but with a slight tinge of enthusiasm and maturity that really shows Plaza can do more than an eye roll. The best thing I can say about April and therefore Plaza’s work is that the relationship with Andy didn’t harm her comedic potential whatsoever and in fact, it gave her more to do. It takes some real talent to pull off that transition without much difficulty.

Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs, Community

You are all probably so shocked to see that my Community flag is flying very high in yet another category. For the record, I believe Brie and Jacobs are the fifth and sixth Community performers I’ve “nominated” already and this is only the sixth post I’ve done. In similar Emmy posts, columns, etc., I’ve seen a lot of love for Alison Brie and I do totally understand it. By nature, both she and her character are completely game for anything the series tries, from spaghetti western-themed paintball to conspiracy theories to Dungeons & Dragons. Her charm and commitment are both intoxicating and there were a number of times during season two where it felt like she was becoming the star of the series. And that’s all well and good, Brie is great. But I have to say this: I really, really loved Gillian Jacobs’ work this season and I think she’s getting a bit lost in the shuffle with these kind of discussions. Britta is a less flashy role, but in my opinion and much more difficult one. She just screws everything up and that kind of personality doesn’t fit into the confines of paintball or the KFC space simulator or even D&D. If you notice, Britta is on the sidelines in a lot of the series’ “big” episodes. But in the second half of the season when she was given more to do, Jacobs’ Britta was just awesome. And we can’t forget the season two premiere, which might have been her most complex portrayal of Britta to-date. There, she had to play vulnerable and scared Britta, terribly egotistical and self-congratulatory Britta, awful Britta and then sort of hurt Britta. She might not be the internet’s young darling like Brie and Annie, but Jacobs was fantastic this season and deserves some dap for it.

Yvonne Strahovski, Chuck

Listen, Chuck pretty much sucks at this point. Throughout season four, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that I put any effort into keeping it around a few years ago because all it’s really done since is disappoint me. But amid the consistently problematic plotting and generally mediocre writing, Yvonne Strahovski continues to turn in really tremendous work as Sarah Walker. Even though this season focused so much (read: too much) on Chuck’s mother and the Volkov family, Sarah quietly stole it out from underneath them. Confident in her relationship with Chuck, Sarah was often very funny and just generally warm in ways that we had only see her in short bursts previously. Of course, she also got her fair share of ass-kicking sequences and big crying moments, which sort of takes away from the “comedy” part of the category, but definitely doesn’t hurt Strahovski’s work. “Chuck Versus Phase Three” is one of season four’s best episodes and it’s a complete Strahovski tour-de-force. I’m really ready for Chuck to be over so she can get better, more interesting jobs.

Naya Rivera and Heather Morris, Glee

I really enjoyed Naya Rivera and Heather Morris’ work in season one of Glee. But if you would have told me in May 2010 that Santana and Brittany would become A.) the most interesting and B.) the heart of the series in the second season, I probably would have laughed in your face and maybe even covered it with a slushie. Alas, here we are. We all know that Glee season two had its ups and downs, but nearly all of the big “ups” involved Rivera and Morris. The production team and the performers figured out how to keep Santana’s edge and Brittany’s naivety and stupidity intact while still deepening both characters emotionally. Their confusing, complicated, awkward, sometimes funny and oftentimes very heartfelt relationship problems were most certainly the best part of the season’s second half and both actors did a wonderful job with the material they were given. Naya Rivera has quickly become the standout performer on the series, especially comedically, but Heather Morris turned in one heck of a dramatic performance when called upon as well. They might have started as one-note villains, but now both ladies can handle anything Glee throws at them.

Performers left just off the list: Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, Modern Family; Busy Phillips and Christa Miller, Cougar Town; Casey Wilson and Eliza Coupe, Happy Endings; Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock; Rashida Jones, Parks and Recreation

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