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Emmys 2012: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

July 8, 2012

Ahh, the Emmys. Every year, I hope that the NATAS gets it right. Every year they prove that there isn’t a “right.” I guess I should just let it be. We know the same people get nominated year after year (whether it’s deserved or not). We know that some of the best performances will be overlooked (because that’s just the way it is). And we know that people who write about television will always make lists. Here’s mine.

Here’s how we’ll play it this year: I am working from the Emmy ballots that were sent out to NATAS members. That means, if Rose Byrne is really considered a supporting actress by the fine folks on the Damages set, I won’t complain. I won’t get it, but I won’t complain. Too much. It is what it is. The voting has ended, and now we’re just waiting to see who makes it into the magic six. The nominees will be announced on July 19.

We’re getting to the tough awards. I thought the comedy supporting actor/actress process was difficult, but let me be clear: the drama category is a rough one. That’s because there are lots of great dramas out there. Hell, Parenthood alone could fill a category. And they are never even nominated! In any event, here we go… Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Actress: Morena Baccarin


Pros: Her role is very real. How do you deal with your long-lost husband coming back from the dead? Especially when you have finally found the courage to move on? Baccarin was the best thing about the short-lived V reboot (sorry Elizabeth Mitchell) and it’s exciting to see her move to such a stellar new show.

Cons: Homeland might be considered too much of a tour de force by Claire Danes and the supporting roles (including Mandy Patinkin’s Saul) could be left on the wayside.

Bottom Line: Not getting nominated would be a shame. Baccarin holds her own against some pretty heady actors.

ActressesJoy BryantErika Christensen, Lauren Graham, Sarah Ramos, Bonnie Bedelia, Mae Whitman & Monica Potter


Pros: The entire cast impresses me. Whitman is consistently at the top of her game. Graham has done Emmy-worthy work for years. Bryant is a quiet threat who has really impressed me this season. Ramos had such a strong storyline this season with her worries over college and paying for it. Bedelia portrayed the matriarch of the family in a new light (she’s a little less-involved with her children’s lives unless they come to her while her husband meddles). But this season, Monica Potter just kept knocking them out of the park. From the birth of the new baby to the way she dealt with Max and his Asperger’s to the uncertainty of getting a job because the family needed the money, especially with Haddie about to go to college. Potter stepped up and gave us the reward for those who have been watching her for years. And Christensen blew me away with the adoption storyline. This is an A+ cast.

Cons: Everyone lists someone from Parenthood on their top performances, but always just outside of the magic 6.

Bottom Line: It’s very doubtful any of these women will get nominations, but if they do, I’ll dance in the street.

ActressMaggie Smith

ShowDownton Abbey

Pros: She’s Maggie Smith.

Cons: Downton did fine as a miniseries, but decided to enter as a drama series this year. That could be an issue for the cast.

Bottom Line: I’m going to say she gets a nomination.

ActressJoelle Carter


Pros: Carter has done a great job of carving out her niche in this richly-told series. Her transformation from the start of the series to where she ends up in the season finale is quite impressive. Plus, last year’s supporting actress came from Justified in the electrifying performance by Margo Martindale, so voters could be looking to the show for inspiration.

Cons: Of course, Martindale’s role was like catching lightening in a bottle, so they can’t really expect anything like that to happen two years in a row. Justified is loved by a few and overlooked by many.

Bottom Line: It’s doubtful.

ActressesArchie PanjabiChristine Baranski

ShowThe Good Wife

Pros: Panjabi won for this role two years ago. Baranski has nine career nominations and one win. Both do exemplary work on Wife. Both will continue to do exemplary work on Wife.

Cons: Both seemed to have their screen time cut back this season with the influx of new characters.

Bottom Line: Both should be safe and make the final cut.

ActressesChandra WilsonSandra Oh

ShowGrey’s Anatomy

Pros: There was a time when Grey’s was recognized come Emmy time. Oh was nominated in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009. Wilson was nominated 2006 – 2009. Neither have won. And this year, Oh gave what I consider to be her best performances to date. Pretty impressive for a show so long in the tooth. The scenes from her marriage breaking down were amazing. And Wilson came roaring back into the show with a new love life and a great haircut. Not that the hair matters, but dammit, I thought she looked great.

Cons: I mentioned Chandra Wilson’s hair. That’s because she’s not going to get nominated and I felt like I should go ahead and really be nice. And Oh… she should be on a film lot right now. But I prefer her on my TV every Thursday night. They won’t be nominated, but these two are golden.

Bottom Line: I think that particular ship has sailed.

ActressAnjelica Huston


Pros: She’s Anjelica Huston, Hollywood royalty and Oscar winner.

Cons: Smash hasn’t treated her like either.

Bottom Line: Unless she pulls a Kathy Bates in Harry’s Law, we won’t be seeing her name on the list.

Actresses: Christina HendricksJanuary JonesKiernan Shipka

ShowMad Men

Pros: They’re on Mad Men. I hate the show, so I don’t know who’s done the best job. I will just leave it at that.

Cons: Mad Men cast members get nominations, but don’t actually win.

Bottom Line: Someone will get nominated.

ActressRegina King


Pros: Having stayed busy since her days on 227, King is a force. Tackling her character’s pregnancy this year, trying to balance her very physical job and worry about being a single mom, King gave Detective Lydia Adams a heart to go along with the brain she’s had for the past few seasons. She deserves the recognition.

Cons: Despite deserving it, she seems to make everyone’s shortlist… just outside of the actual top 6.

Bottom Line: It’s very doubtful, but she is, without question, one of the best actresses of our time. People sleep on her, but she is quite amazing.

ActressRose Byrne


Pros: She was nominated in 2009 and 2010 for this role and continues to churn out great performances. Realistically, she’s a 2nd lead, but who’s going to argue with Patty Hewes about that?

Cons: After dropping out of the race last year due to the show not airing during consideration, Byrne is in an uphill battle to get back in.

Bottom Line: She deserves a nomination, but I’m not sure she will get it.

ActressJennifer Carpenter


Pros: With four consecutive SAG nominations for Dexter, Carpenter is an important part of the show. That being said, the insecure girl with the filthy mouth has never been nominated for an Emmy.

Cons: And with Dexter’s season being as weak as it was, she certainly won’t start now.

Bottom Line: Maybe next year.

ActressKelly Macdonald

ShowBoardwalk Empire

Pros: She was nominated last year and has two Golden Globe nods as well. She’s in there.

Cons: None, unless there’s some sudden turn against Empire.

Bottom Line: She will be nominated.

ActressKarine Vanasse

ShowPan Am

Pros: In a show that only lasted half a season, she was the breakout star. Without trying, she seemed to steal every scene she was in and when she wasn’t onscreen, her absence was felt.

Cons: The show only lasted for a handful of episodes before cancellation.

Bottom Line: Of course she won’t be nominated, but had the show been successful, she could very well be on the list.

ActressLauren Cohan

ShowThe Walking Dead

Pros: In a world dominated by flesh-eating dead people and chest-thumping men, Cohan’s Maggie emerged as the only woman viewers really wanted to root for. Cohan alternately played the role of tough heroine and daddy’s girl with impressive skill.

Cons: No one else is talking about her. Maybe it’s the zombies. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know.

Bottom Line: No, she won’t be nominated.

ActressMichelle Forbes

ShowThe Killing

Pros: She can cry with the best of them. And, she’s still owed an Emmy for her turn in True Blood‘s second season.

Cons: Her role was diminished this year. And, realistically, The Killing didn’t do her any favors by being the show that disappointed viewers.

Bottom Line: It’s extremely doubtful.

ActressKristin Bauer van Straten

ShowTrue Blood

Pros: Without question, the most quotable, most sarcastic, most stylish vampire in Bon Temps, van Straten’s Pam is both hilarious and heartbreaking. With that dripping-with-honey-or-is-it-venom drawl, she pulls you in, all the while planning to suck you dry.

Cons: She’s on a show more known for camp than Emmy wins.

Bottom Line: True Blood is a pulp fiction summer guilty pleasure. Which is a shame, because my girl is a bloody good actress.


Which six (6) actresses would you nominate for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series?


Want more? Check out these:

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series


Not following me on Twitter yet? Get on the sofa: @josephrileyland

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