The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards take place tomorrow, after a year in which many of us consumed more television than we ever have before. After all, the pandemic kept many of us at home, and thanks to the proliferation of streaming services, there have never been as many series on-air (or online) as there are now. It’s a particularly competitive year for the Emmys, as the sheer volume of quality television series is overwhelming. Mare of Easttown, The Queen’s Gambit, WandaVision, Hacks, The Mandalorian, Ted Lasso … too many shows and not enough categories.
Of course, given that its Emmys weekend, we started thinking about past snubs and missed opportunities. These are the performances that remain our favorites, but were never awarded when they were airing. Some of these are missed opportunities, while others are glaring exceptions. Here’s a few of our top picks for performances that should have taken home an Emmy.
Elisabeth Moss has already garnered a shelf of awards thanks to her harrowing performance as June in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. But before that, most of us knew her as Peggy Olson on AMC’s flagship series Mad Men. Over seven seasons we saw Peggy rise from newbie secretary to head copywriter, coming up with some of SCDP’s best ad campaigns. Olson’s performance from shy office girl to confident woman in charge was an epic journey, with plenty of hilarity and heartbreak along the way. Don Draper may have been the lead, but it was Peggy that served as the soul of the series. I mean, the GIFs alone are worth an Emmy:
I would be remiss if I didn’t include another actress on this list. Keri Russell was best known for playing winsome college student Felicity Porter on The WB’s college soap Felicity, where she made headlines for cutting her signature curly hair short. So when she joined the FX spy thriller The Americans, we didn’t know what to expect. Russell’s Elizabeth Jennings is a powerhouse performance of a wife, mother, and Soviet spy living as an ordinary American travel agent. Throughout the series, Russell’s ice-cold assassin always stuck to the mission while her husband/partner Phillip often wavered with crises of the soul. Her brutal efficiency began to show cracks as the bodies piled up, anchored by Russell’s intensely focused performance. It was, for my money, the best television performance of the 2010s. After all, what other character was simultaneously the villain and the hero of their own series?
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers is an iconic performance. In re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer it is clear that Gellar had the charisma, talent, and comedic chops to make the character work. Not to mention the physicality and emotional rage to sell the tender moments. For Season 5, Episode 16 “The Body” alone, Gellar should have been recognized and won. That role belongs to her and there are few actors who can pull that off.
Much of the cast of POSE – Billy Porter won in 2019 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, but as far as individual awards outside of that historic moment, the noms have been very lacking for the performances thus far (I still haven’t seen the final season.) This year they have won some Creative Awards and Mj Rodriguez joined Porter in being nominated so things are looking better. I don’t know if Mj will win this year, but her historic nomination came two seasons too late. It is sham that Indya Moore and Angel Curiel didn’t get noms for their season 2 performances. To add insult to injury, the fact that Angelica Ross never got a nomination for Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Candy is a crime.
Who makes your list of all-time Emmy snubs? Let us know in the comments!
(image: 20th Century Fox)
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