I have a lot of opinions about television, actors, characters and awards. My opinions don’t always align with the mainstream. For example, I still don’t really understand Downton Abby or Mad Men. When I watch them, I like them, but I don’t feel a burning desire to watch them on my own. So the Academy and I aren’t exactly twins. Because of this, I thought the world should know who I think deserves accolades for their performances and where I think the Academy got it wrong.
The Academy and I do agree more on actors than actresses, such as Michael C. Hall, Don Cheadle, Max Greenfield and Ed O’Neill’s well-deserved noms, so most of my list consists of the incredible actresses that have made television better over the past year. I am awarding them an Em-y. Aka an award from Emily. I’m Emily. Some of them won’t surprise you because I’ve talked about how great these people are before, but I’ve thrown in a few new faces as well!
I can’t tell who is a supporting actress, who is considered a lead actress, who is a guest star etc. so I’ve broken my winners down into Comedy and Drama and organized them alphabetically. I had a hard time with even that! Some of these shows definitely toe the line between the two.
Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer in “Veep”
You may remember Anna Chlumsky as charming Vada Sultenfuss in the classic movie My Girl. After taking a bit of a break from acting, she returned better than ever to the new hit show Veep. As one of the Vice President’s advisers, Amy is sarcastic, to the point, and a quick thinker. When I started watching the show, it was Amy who really stood out to me and quickly became my favorite character. Even in the background of scenes she brings energy to the role. Her annoyance with some of the other characters makes me crack up, and she says some truly heinous and hilarious things. Comedic timing is something Anna has in spades and she easily holds her own with queen of comedy Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Eliza Coupe as Jane Kerkovich-Williams in “Happy Endings”
Eliza has always played characters with their own brand of humor. I first loved her as an incredibly dry new recruit at Sacred Heart Hospital on Scrubs. In Happy Endings, she has created perhaps the funniest sitcom character of all time. Jane is definitely a little crazy, a little uptight, and a lot funny. Her banter with her sister, Alex, and with her husband, Brad, make for some of the funniest interactions I’ve seen on prime time television in ages. It’s hard to explain how funny the character is, but I compiled some great clips in the piece I wrote about Jane and Brad being the absolute best couple on television. Without the manic energy of Eliza Coupe and the deadpan delivery, Jane would not be half as funny.
Mark Deklin as Blake Reilly in “GCB”
GCB does not get enough credit. It was sarcastic, it was hysterical and it was heart-warming. I was honestly shocked to hear it got canceled since so many people I knew watched and enjoyed it. The cast was amazing and included Leslie Bibb, Kristin Chenoweth and Annie Potts. The real breakout star in my eyes, though, was Mark Deklin. As Blake Reilly, husband to Cricket Caruth-Reilly and one half of the Caruth-Reilly empire, Mark brought humor and heart to the role. Blake was secretly gay and married to Cricket for business, social and friendship reasons. Both found the physical aspects of a relationship outside of their marriage and yet they quickly became one of my favorite couples on television. Mark brought so much to the character in the little time he had. Blake’s love for Cricket was genuine and their scenes were a joy to watch. He was also a wonderful friend to Leslie Bibb’s character, Amanda Vaughn. Blake was the glue that held the show together, thanks to Mark’s thoughtful portrayal.
Dawn Olivieri as Monica Talbot in “House of Lies”
Don Cheadle got an Emmy nod for his role as Marty Kaan in House of Lies, which was well-deserved. Dawn Olivieri’s character Monica, however, is really the one that intrigues me most in this twisty character-driven show. She is manipulative, seductive and clever. She is also loving, vulnerable and incredibly charming. Dawn balances the two sides of Monica so well, making her scenes some of my favorite. I’ve talked about House of Lies and my thoughts on Monica more in-depth previously because I feel that more people need to experience how darkly funny this show really is.
Allison Williams as Marnie Michaels in “Girls”
Playing the straight man character isn’t easy, especially on a show so full of craziness, highly charged emotional conversations and drama. Allison pulls it off spectacularly, injecting Marnie with a quieter brand of humor in situations where her friends are flipping their lids. Whenever she pulls out a hilarious line, it’s a delightful surprise and often winds up being much funnier than anything else happening. When I discussed my feelings about the show, I named Allison Williams as the main reason I continue watching.
Jennifer Carpenter as Debra Morgan in “Dexter”
Deb is such a compelling character that could have been much more boring without Jennifer Carpenter. Her constant cursing doesn’t seem ridiculous and out of place, which I consider quite a feat. Instead, it is a part of who Deb is. Deb is vulnerable but desperate to be tough. She cares so much about her family, her job and the people she has been sworn to protect. The most recent season had some twists that could have seemed out of place on another show, with another actor, but Jennifer sucked viewers into Deb’s story. I will always worry how Dexter’s life will affect Deb and I’m excited to see how Deb reacts to Dexter’s secret because Jennifer Carpenter has made sure that Deb is a character I care about. Perhaps it will be the upcoming season that earns Jennifer a much-deserved Emmy.
Angie Harmon as Jane Rizzoli in “Rizzoli and Isles”
Angie Harmon has no problem playing tough characters or being involved with law enforcement. Despite her long tenure as Abbie Carmichael on Law & Order, I would argue that Jane Rizzoli can already be seen as her best role. She can be dramatic and comedic multiple times in the same episode and this is where Angie’s talents truly shine. Jane is tough and cocky when it comes to her job but confused and searching for more when it comes to her personal life. Angie strikes this balance perfectly. The best parts of this show are the relationships among the characters. Jane’s relationship with her mother and brothers is touching, her relationships with her former and current work partners are impenetrable, and her relationship with her best friend Dr. Maura Isles is a crucial component of the show. The chemistry between Angie and Sasha Alexander, who plays Isles, makes this show a hit.
Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills/The Evil Queen in “Once Upon a Time”
The way that Regina Mills revels in her own power and control is what makes her, in my opinion, the most enjoyable villain on television. Lana Parrilla brings a spark to the character that draws the viewer in and a vulnerability that keeps them there. The Evil Queen may not be the hero of this tale but she is the character I care most about and that is due, in part, to Lana’s portrayal. The writing is of course excellent, but there is a glimmer in The Evil Queen’s eye that could not be scripted.
Piper Perabo as Annie Walker in “Covert Affairs”
Piper can play literally any role convincingly. Her career is incredibly diverse and includes many of my favorite films. Nothing has ever been as perfect for her as the role of Annie Walker in Covert Affairs. Annie is tough, sassy, sweet and caring. With Piper’s portrayal, it feels to the viewer as if they are experiencing the events on the show. Even if I don’t always understand the plots, Annie is a great character who I love to watch get out of jams.
Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass in “Gossip Girl”
Just hear me out, okay?! Don’t write me off just yet… Gossip Girl may not be Downton Abby, but it’s an enjoyable show thanks in large part to characters you can root for. Chuck Bass, penultimate playboy, used to be the absolute worst. But Ed Westwick transformed him into a character that often leaves me sobbing at the end of an episode. He brings the right mixture of smarm and desperation to the role. My favorite episodes are the ones where Chuck is happy and the worst episodes are when he’s sad, because when he’s sad, you’re sad. That’s just how it is. That definitely takes skill on the part of the actor. Plus, Ed’s British accent in real life is basically the polar opposite of the grumbling whisper of Chuck Bass.
Those are all my picks for Em-ys this year. Who do you think an Em-y should have gone to? Did I leave out a favorite of yours, or include someone you also absolutely adore? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter!