It all used to be so simple. There were three networks (OK, four once Fox joined on in the late eighties). There were maybe a few dozen legitimate contenders vying for Emmy attention. Voters could knock off their viewing in a weekend or two.
Suddenly HBO became a player. Then the rest of cable followed suit, and then the streamers Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Now you’ve got close to 500 scripted shows in the Primetime Emmy mix. How things have changed.
Given the sheer tonnage of quality product competing for the attention of voting members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences this year, it’s inevitable that many worthy contenders in the performing categories will be overlooked.
With voting set to end next Monday (June 24), we here at Casting Networks are concerned that some deserving actors and actresses could slip through the Emmy cracks. So here are eight that merit your consideration:
CHRISTINA APPLEGATE – “Dead to Me,” Netflix (Lead Actress in a Comedy)
Because she portrayed such a bimbette so memorably in her first role on “Married … with Children,” Applegate doesn’t get nearly the attention she deserves for being such a terrific actress. That should start to change given her career-altering role in “Dead to Me,” which demonstrates both her impressive dramatic chops and comedic range as she portrays a grieving widow who takes up with the wrong crowd. It’s the best work she’s ever done. By far.
MICHAEL McKEAN – “Better Call Saul,” AMC (Supporting Actor in a Drama)
Long hailed as a comic genius in the Christopher Guest repertory and particularly for his work in “Spinal Tap,” McKean is nothing short of a revelation in “Better Call Saul,” the “Breaking Bad” spinoff in which McKean often gets lost between star Bob Odenkirk and castmate Jonathan Banks. As Odenkirk’s older brother Chuck McGill, McKean plays the complex character (confined to his home due to being tormented by electromagnetic hypersensitivity) with equal parts vanity, bitterness, and humanity
MOLLY SHANNON – “The Other Two,” Comedy Central (Supporting Actress in a Comedy)
Shannon has been underappreciated following her stint on “SNL” (1995-2001), which shockingly ended nearly two decades ago. Playing the mother to a YouTube sensation in “The Other Two,” Shannon’s character undergoes an emotional breakdown before becoming obsessed with the goal becoming a star herself. It’s both uproarious and harrowing at the same time.
STEPHAN JAMES – “Homecoming,” Amazon (Lead Actor in a Drama)
As the veteran Walter on the Amazon thriller, James—a 25-year-old Toronto native just starting to break stateside—has the daunting task going toe-to-toe with none than Julia Roberts in extraordinarily lengthy dramatic scenes. James proves himself more than up to the task. In fact, their exchanges are a thing of intense beauty, as memorable for what they express nonverbally as much as for through their dialogue.
NIECY NASH – “Claws,” TNT (Lead Actress in a Drama)
Nash portrays Desna, the owner of a South Florida nail salon, in this provocative and entertaining TNT hour. Desna’s emotive range is all over the map, yet she never loses her sense of authenticity, All that’s fake about her portrayal are her nails. The insane premise (salon owner finds herself tangled up with the Florida mob) makes for some tantalizing moments that charismatic Nash delivers in spades.
GERALD McRANEY – “Deadwood Movie,” HBO (Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries/Special)
It’s easy to overlook McRaney in the “Deadwood: The Movie,” which premiered on HBO on May 31. One reason is that his character, the real-life miner and tycoon George Hearst, didn’t join the show until its final season 13 years ago. But McRaney—and Hearst—more than make their mark in the movie. He’s a villain you love to hate. But don’t look for any moustache twirling. Subtlety is the watchword here.
TITUSS BURGESS – “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Netflix (Supporting Actor in a Comedy)
This one’s a bit of a cheat, because Burgess has been nominated in the Comedy Supporting Actor category for four years running. This year, however, is his last shot since “Kimmy Schmidt” is no longer on the air. And Burgess deserves to win that trophy as Titus Andromedon, Kimmy’s flamboyant, self-centered roommate, so much so that it would be a crime were he to be denied. Give it up, TV Academy.
MARISA TOMEI – “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” ABC (Lead Actress in a Movie/Miniseries/Special)
The one thing that everyone agreed on in the wake of the one-night “All in the Family”/”Jeffersons” Norman Lear reboot on May 22 was that Oscar winner Tomei did a phenomenal job in her portrayal of Edith Bunker. She didn’t overdo her imitation of Jean Stapleton. Rather, she managed to capture the essence of Stapleton’s performance and, in so doing, delivered an homage that never crossed the line to parody.