The TV Czar’s Emmy Ballot: Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

The supporting actress in a drama series category is one the category I’ll admit to not having the full picture. Shows that usually produce Emmy contenders such as Downton Abbey, Parenthood, and Grey’s Anatomy are not part of the Czar’s rotation. Granted, how much those shows contribute to actual Emmy nominees is up for debate, but they’re at least considered when the contenders are being tossed around. That being said, the six women make up the best supporting actress performances I have seen all year. All of these women give remarkable performances and deserve to be in any Emmy discussion.

Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones

What a difference a year makes. During last season’s trip to Qarth, Clarke struggled to bring out the Khaleesi we fell in love with during season one. Granted, it’s very difficult to play someone stomping around asking everyone where her dragons are. This year, she got a lot better material to work with, and as a result, she produced some of the more memorable moments of the season. Her destruction of the city of Astapor (the video is below) is really an amazing set piece. The overhead view of her marching out with all the Unsullied is truly magnificent. This was the Khaleesi we all knew existed. The writing was far better, but Clarke’s performance was just as brilliant.

Lena Headey, Game of Thrones

In the books (so I’m told), Cersei is a pretty one dimension evil Queen. On the television show, Headey’s performance beautifully showcases the humanity inside of the icy Queen. It would be incredibly easy to just play Cersei as pure evil and have fun doing it. Instead, Headey makes the character incredibly compelling because she plays the character with such an inner anguish that is easily seen by the viewer. She takes what should be one of the most hated characters on the show (and still may be) and finds a way to make her sympathetic. She had many fine scenes with both Tywin and Tyrion as she discovered she had lost control of her psycho of a son.

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

Anna Gunn

Many people have rightly enjoyed the incredible male performances on Breaking Bad. However, Anna Gunn’s performance as Skyler has grown increasingly impressive with each passing season. She has accumulated many impressive moments throughout the show’s run, but her work this season cemented her status as a virtuoso performer in a series with many such performers. She created probably the most memorable image of the season (her floating in the pool), and she wonderfully executed her role as the woman trapped in the world of Walter White. She was able to capture the struggle of a woman who truly has no say in her situation and can only wait, and hope, that something comes to free her.

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Hendricks has become the old maid of the group. After 6 seasons of Mad Men, it seems ridiculous that she hasn’t won a trophy yet for this performance. It seems especially egregious when you consider how incredible she was during some of season five’s biggest episodes. Granted, she doesn’t get a ton of things to do during the season (this season included), but she always maximizes her screen time. Her ability to bounce off her male castmates while finding ways to outwit them is pretty fun to watch. Her head-on collision with Don Draper this season made for some very compelling television. Overall, it was a another fine season for Hendricks. It might not have been as great as season five, but her performance is still worthy of a nomination.

Olivia Munn, The Newsroom

The issues behind writing for women on The Newsroom has been well documented. Emily Mortimer and Allison Pill were both given some really unfortunate scenes that gave a lot of the chauvinism arguments some teeth. That being said, one exceptionally written female character on the show happens to be played by Olivia Munn. As Sloane Sabbath, Munn got a great opportunity to showcase her wide range of acting abilities. Her confidence and swagger oozed through the screen as she held her own in scenes with Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterson. In addition, her sense of humor was a perfect match for the Sorkin style of dialogue. Long the focal point of derision of people claiming she was overrated, Munn’s performances in 2012 (including Magic Mike) showcased her impressive acting chops. The derision may never subside, but it may be tougher to hear them over the sound of her Emmy nomination.

Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

One of CBS’s most award-worthy programs, The Good Wife has become a playground where good actors and actresses come show off their skills. The guest stars always shine in conjunction with the core group. As a result, anyone who has significant screen time on the show gets seen in a certain light. Because it’s viewed as one of the smartest shows on network television, many people on the show get more respect for their work than they probably should. This description definitely doesn’t apply to Christine Baranski. A frequent nominee of the Academy, Baranski is no stranger to Emmy success, though she has yet to win for her role as Diane Lockhart. Baranski lends such an impressive amount of gravitas to any scene she’s in. She’s a very fine actress in a role perfectly suited to her talents. She’ll probably be deserving of a nomination until the show ends.

Others receiving votes: Morena Baccarin, Joelle Carter, Natalie Dormer, Kelly MacDonald, Gretchen Mol, Kiernan Shipka, January Jones, Abigail Spencer

I’ve shown you mine, now what about yours? Who are your top six nominees?