For the preamble, including an explanation on what exactly the Andy TV Awards are, go here. Shows that received Emmy nominations in these two categories that I don’t watch, and thus had no chance of getting nominations here include Ugly Betty, Pushing Daisies, and 24.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
This category has been getting stronger each year, as more shows have been giving good roles for women, at least when it comes to supporting actresses (there’s still work to be done in the leading actress realm, at least in regards to shows I’d like to watch). Six different shows are represented in these nominees, whereas last year I split the five nominees between three shows. So, yay progress!
The nominees are…
Lizzy Caplan in Party Down – Jane Lynch got to do more of the broad comedy during the portions of the season when she wasn’t off filming Glee, but Caplan’s contributions were more vital (and less annoying… with Lynch, I find a little goes a long way). Whenever the show started going a little too far off the rails with Lynch, Ken Marino, or Martin Starr, Caplan and Adam Scott came in to bring it back down to earth.
Jenna Fischer in The Office – It baffles me how Fischer keeps getting overlooked by the Emmy voters (she’s only been nominated once in 2007), especially since she keeps getting better as an actress. Maybe she’s too cute? In any case, this past season, Fischer was able to break out from the constraints that used to define her performance as Pam Beesly made a go of it at art school, went on a travelling road show with Michael Scott, became a sales person, then finished the season with a sublime moment that should have solidified a nomination at least.
Kaitlin Olsen in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – When the show began, the guys who created it (and fill out the rest of the cast) didn’t have the best idea of what to do with Sweet Dee. Too often she just stood around looking horrified at their actions, instead of being involved in the horrifying actions. Thankfully, that’s changed as the seasons have progressed, making Sweet Dee just as horrible as everyone else on the show, allowing Olsen to play against her skinny blonde type and get ugly. Her best asset is probably her gift for physical comedy, with her pratfall in “Who Pooped the Bed?” being one of the highlights of the season.
Portia de Rossi in Better Off Ted – If you were ranking the best parts of Arrested Development, de Rossi wouldn’t rank at the top. She was pretty great in it, like everyone else, but often overlooked in favour of Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, David Cross, and Michael Cera. In some ways, Better Off Ted is a spiritual successor to AD, so it’s nice to see de Rossi shine here as the best part of the funniest new show of the year. If only they could figure out some way to get her to do the chicken dance.
Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother – Neil Patrick Harris gets all the attention, and he certainly deserves his fair share, but can’t we show a little love for Cobie? She was hired to be the pretty love interest, but with each passing season, she’s grown to be reliably, and stealthily, hilarious. It’s not an accident that the most memorable thing this show has ever done (Robin Sparkles) came from her. Smulders is incredibly game when it comes to getting laughs, going for broke in the episode where the gang was supposed to be watching her show or when Barney was supposed to help her film a resume, all while pregnant. My favourite moment was a small one: when Stella starts yelling at Ted for breaking up her marriage, an eavesdropping Robin demands that Ted “bump this”, proving she’s more “bro” than Ted or Marshall ever will be.
Kristin Wiig in Saturday Night Live – Like the show itself, Wiig was hit-or-miss all season long. Sometimes Target lady is funny, sometimes not (or replace “Target lady” with “Kathy Lee”, or “Nancy Pelosi”, or whatever), and if I never see another Millie sketch again, it will be too soon. Still, she’s the unquestioned MVP of SNL, seemingly appearing in every sketch of the show. She’s also the only nominee I share with the Academy, so I guess on Emmy night I’ll be cheering for her.
The award goes to…
Jenna Fischer in The Office
Winner for the third year in a row! Okay, so I love Pam. But honestly, this was Fischer’s best work yet, and was a large part of what made season five the show’s best in years. I love how the show has shown Pam grow in stature and confidence as her relationship with Jim deepens, which goes against the grain of most sitcoms, which can only find humour and drama in conflict with couples. The Pam of season one would’ve never been able to make it work with the Michael Scott Paper Company, with the subtle changes we’ve seen since then are a credit to Fischer’s performance.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
This category was jam-packed this year, making it one of the most difficult to limit to six. A big reason for this is because several actresses who give what I’d consider lead roles listed themselves as supporting actresses for the Academy, either to avoid conflicts with their co-leads, or to perhaps give themselves a better shot at nomination (interestingly, it didn’t seem to work, at least not in the cases of the actresses I’m nominating). Still, you know it’s a loaded group when I can’t find room for Hope Davis, CCH Pounder, Elizabeth Mitchell, or Ginnifer Goodwin (who won my award last year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series).
The nominees are…
Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights – Criminally snubbed in season one for a best lead actress nomination, Britton has since been submitting herself for best supporting actress… and continues to get snubbed. She’s been doing some of the best work on television for the past three years, lead or supporting, male or female, comedy or drama, and this past season was no exception. But I guess that’s not enough when there’s people from Grey’s Anatomy to nominate.
Christina Hendricks in Mad Men – Probably the truest supporting role amongst these nominees (either her or Katey Segal below), Hendricks has done so much with Joan Holloway since she was introduced as the office’s queen bee. In many ways, the female characters in season two of Mad Men were the most interesting element (or at the very least a close second to Don Draper), with Joan, Peggy, and Betty getting interesting arcs that announced the start of the feminist movement. Hendricks has gone from playing the office bitch to playing a tragic character, one whose potential was made obvious during her dalliance with the TV division, but wasted as she’s trapped by the social conventions she herself has been too quick to reinforce.
Allison Pill in In Treatment – Last year, young Mia Wasikowska was the breakout performer of In Treatment. This year it was Pill, who was given the most dramatic introduction of any of the new characters of the season, and continued to astonish throughout the rest of the season. April’s episodes were heartbreaking, given higher stakes immediately as Paul was in many ways fighting for her life. It’s a story that could’ve easily felt overdone if not for Pill’s performance, which was as authentic as it was dynamic.
Katey Sagal in Sons of Anarchy – The first season of Sons of Anarchy was Hamlet by way of a California biker gang, with Segal serving as Gertrude with a heavy helping of Lady Macbeth. This gave Segal plenty of scenery to chew (being married to series creator Kurt Sutter probably didn’t hurt either), which Segal did with aplomb. As the season developed, her Gemma was given more depth so as to not just be a manipulative witch, with Segal balancing her scene-stealing with some tender moments.
Chloë Sevigny in Big Love – Sevigny has always been great as the manipulative, selfish, and defensive Nicki, whose persecution complex always lead to some unintentionally hilarious moments, even as she frustrated the hell out of you as a viewer. In season three, we were given a glimpse of what made Nicolette Grant the way she is, giving Sevigny some great material that helped elevate the great work she’s been doing for years.
Dianne Wiest in In Treatment – More than any other show on TV, In Treatment is an acting showcase, earning two nominations in this category that could’ve easily been three if I didn’t decide to cap it to get more variety (sorry Hope Davis… you were still awesome). So that gives a great performer like Wiest an advantage, but also puts all the more pressure on her to deliver (parts of season one didn’t work as well as they could have due to weaker performances from some of the cast). Wiest obviously excels in the format, being the only other cast member than star Gabriel Byrne to return for season two after picking up the Emmy award in this category last year. She could easily pick up a second this year.
The award goes to…
Chloë Sevigny in Big Love
A theory of mine is that each season of Big Love has spotlighted one of the wives. The first was Jeanne Tripplehorn’s Barb, the second was Ginnifer Goodwin’s Margene. Season three was easily the season of Nicki, letting her step away from the Hendrickson clan and then finally start to move away from the horrors she grew up in at the compound. Given that season three might have been the best season of the show yet, giving this award to Sevigny was a pretty easy call (in the past two years, my Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama award has gone to Goodwin and Tripplehorn respectively, so this completes the trio in a way). Maybe next season will spotlight Sarah?