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Thursday
Aug172017

Emmy Review: Drama Guest Actress 

By Spencer Coile 

Historically announced with the Creative Arts Emmy Awards Show, Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series is a category often filled to the brim with brilliant performances -- making it no less memorable than the main stage categories. Won in the past by the likes of Allison Janney, Margo Martindale, Carrie Preston, and other incredible actresses of strage and screen, the soon-to-be winner will be joining prestigious company. 

Fortunately, the nominees for the category this year are (for the most part) equal parts memorable and thoughtful -- leaving a lasting impact on their series. Let's dive into this year's nominees and determine who will and should win...

Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series Nominees: 

Alexis Bledel as "Ofglen" in The Handmaid's Tale: "Late"

Laverne Cox as "Sophia Burset" in Orange is the New Black: "Doctor Psycho"

Ann Dowd as "Patti Levin" in The Leftovers: "The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)"

Shannon Purser as "Barb Holland" in Stranger Things: "Jolly Holly"

Cicely Tyson as "Ophelia Harkness" in How to Get Away with Murder: "Go Cry Somewhere Else"

Alison Wright as "Martha" in The Americans: "The Soviet Division" 

Will Win: In many ways, each actress brings something unique to their characters. Purser's nomination is really her reward -- Barb, while an Internet phenomenon, is by no means the type of character that pulls out a win. Cox and Tyson offer beautiful glimpes of humanity, but after weak Emmy showings this year for the shows that house them, they will likely not earn the gold. Wright is stunning on The Americans, turning Martha into a sympathetic and loveable person. After being put through the ringer for so many seasons, there was something so satisfying in watching her find a happy(ish) ending in this season. Still, after missing out in Drama Series, is The Americans a strong contender here? Similarly, Dowd brings necessary antagonism to her role as Patti on The Leftovers, but perhaps the show getting recognized by the Emmys at all is its prize.  

That leaves Alexis Bledel. She is on a hit series that has thirteen nominations total (including as a frontrunner in Best Drama Series). And perhaps most imporantly: she's good. She does not speak a word of dialogue in her entire submitted episode, but expresses anger, hurt, defiance, fear, and love in a short amount of time all through her eyes. It is impressive and heartbreaking and feels like an easy victory. 

Should Win: Again, there is such artistry on display in this category. Aside from Purser (who is totally fine, but just that), no winner here would be upsetting. Still, Bledel's performance has been etched in my mind since first seeing "Late," and that is enough to want to see her win. 

Could Spoil: The Americans has a great track record in this category, so maybe Wright could pull ahead. Dowd is also nominated in Drama Supporting Actress and will likely not win there either. Perhaps they will reward her here instead? 

Your turn. Who do you think will win? But more significantly, who do you want to win in this undersung often brilliant category? 

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Reader Comments (30)

Something I thought I'd never say, but Alexis Bledel deserves the Emmy

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArlo

Cox is the political dark horse with the military trans ban and the white supremacist violence in Virginia and elsewhere. Although, the second half could also benefit the veteran Tyson. Possibly her last chance at Emmy due to advance age. However, this being the Emmys anyone of the nominees has a chance to Tomei their way up to the podium.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Bledel all the way.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

I also want Bledel to win this. I've only seen 3 of the nominees work but I can imagine much eclipsing Bledel's blue eyes telling us everything her mouth couldn't. It's my favourite television performance this year.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

Will win: probably, Dowd or Bledel. But Alison Wright would make such a terrific winner too (altough she was more deserving in The Americans' past seasons).

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStefano

You have to go back decades to find a winner as young as Bledel. This category usually goes for the beloved character actresses or rhe beloved veterans, so I'd imagine Tyson and Dowd would be the favorites.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

Wright or Tyson should win.

Bledel was terrible on Handmaid's Tale.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Jess -- we watched different shows!

loved Bledel in Handmaid's Tale but I'd vote Ann Dowd because she really needs an Emmy and only two nominations to date is not enough for her genius work on The Leftovers and The Handmaid's Tale

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I would give it to Alison Wright who deserved nominations (if not wins) at least for seasons 3 and 4... She's the real revelation of the show and i was soooo glad when she first appeared in season 5 : her performance is much more deserving of an Emmy than Martindale's (she was in seasons 1 & 2 but 3 AND 4 ? I don't think so....).
Anyway, The Americans is such a perfect show i would love to see it continue its winning streak at least in this category.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClement_Paris

from this category. my rankings would be 1. Wright, 2. Bledel, 3. Dowd, 4. Cox, 5. Purser and I did not see Tyson so can't comment on her.

Bledel will win because her show has they hype/love and she is in the show's best episodes and has a gut punch of a mini-story line but she is also terrific so I don't mind at all.

It is much harder to win for a smaller performance/story arc like Wright's this season.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

didn't martindale win this prize once for a nothing submisson? the actual acting does not count that much.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Ann Dowd for the win! I hate her character but her acting is superb! Plus it also means a win for THE LEFTOVERS!

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

Alison Wright, because she was terrific in a few scenes this season and because she should have already won for her towering performance in the episodes that lead to her exile in Moscow. She made me cry and that's not easy.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Dear Nathaniel, would you consider having a TV smackdown in the guest performances categories? :)

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAna

Bledel was just phenomenal and if she wins I will be thrilled. Her scenes just broke my heart. She did so much with just her eyes. That being said I am very happy for Shannon Purser's nomination who was such a grounded presence in Stranger Things. I haven't seen the rest of the nominees so I can't really judge the rest. I love Laverne Cox, but I'm really behind on Orange is the New Black so I can't comment on her nominated performance.

August 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Episode submissions are less important now so I think it's for either the bigger shows (Handmaid's or Orange) or the better known name (Ann Dowd).

I'm going with Cox as a hunch. She has a combination of both and perhaps the most powerful submission episode.

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve_Man

Alexis Bledel on The Handmaid's Tale is her atonement for all those years of grating, horrible acting on Gilmore Girls.

She would get my vote (but I secretly would love a Barb win).

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

They'll vote for Ann Dowd thinking it was Margo Martindale.

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Adam-I am 100% fine with that if it means Dowd winning her Emmy for Patti Levin.

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Ana -- well, too late for that this year but more TV acting discussions is probably a good idea.

August 18, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This is such a competitive category! I feel like I could make a case for almost any of these performances...except Barb on Stranger Things.

Bledel deserves it. She does so much without any dialogue, but I'd love to see Ann Dowd finally win SOMETHING!

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

Gosh so many options... but for heaven's sake hand that emmy to Wright already.... wait, no, Dowd. Wait!

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterG.ShaQ

I think it's between Bledel, Cox and Dowd. Let's not underestimate the impact the political climate may have on voting, and that could get Cox over the line...but I must agree that Bledel is a very strong contender, no doubt the front runner and probably will win.

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatty

I agree with those who say that Wright should win, not only for this season, but because she's deserved to win an Emmy for the last two seasons of The Americans. Bledel was surprisingly great, though, and if she won, I'd be pleased.

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Even though Tyson has some Emmy hardware, her episode submission might get voters. Her character is showing signs of dementia soooo...

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

The fact that Robin Weigert wasn't even nominated (for Big Little Lies) is the real loser here.

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Mareko, I don't know if Weigert is eligible in this category. I think she would have been in Supporting Actress in a TV-Movie or Miniseries, which was already stacked (and nominated Dern and Woodley).

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

Honest, Tyson should have won this category a few years ago when HTGAWM had it's first season. Do Emmys like doing make up awards? Then she has a chance.

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Alison Wright would've gotten my vote. She's so damn good.

August 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Mareko

This category is Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series so only Drama series can compete here. Big Little Lies was entered in Miniseries or T.V Movie reason why Robin Weigert had to compete in Best Actress in Supporting Role in T.V Movie or Miniseries (although I do not remember right now if she was registered)

August 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

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