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Emmy Review: Drama Supporting Actress 

We've been reviewing various Emmy categories as the Academy completes their voting (ballots due Monday). Here's Spencer Coile...

It is an exciting change of pace to see the Drama categories actually become competitive this year. No race demonstrates this better than the Drama Supporting Actress category. After last year's batch of mostly Game of Thrones ladies (with Maggie Smith still sleepwalking her way to another victory), the six ladies this year feel fresh, new, and all worthy of discussion. Uzo Aduba is the only returning nominee (after missing the year before), so all six of the contenders in this category feel viable for the statue. Only one can be victorious...

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nominees: 

Uzo Aduba as "Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren" in Orange is the New Black: "People Persons"

Millie Bobby Brown as "Eleven" in Stranger Things: "The Bathtub"

Ann Dowd as "Aunt Lydia" in The Handmaid's Tale: "Offred"

Chrissy Metz as "Kate Pearson" in This Is Us: "Pilot"

Thandie Newton as "Maeve Millay" in Westworld: "Trace Decay"

Samira Wiley as "Moira" in The Handmaid's Tale: "Night"

Will Win: Aduba is lucky to return, after being dropped out of the category last year. And despite a stellar fourth season, with little talk surrounding Orange is the New Black this year, it may seem her nomination this year is the prize. The same could be said for Wiley. Her work on The Handmaid's Tale is great, and to an extent, this feels like a joint nomination for her final season on Orange is the New Black. Still, she is overshadowed here by her own co-star. Yet while Dowd is a truly compelling villain on Handmaid's, might it be too one-dimensional for voters? Brown is on a buzzed about show and it is not for nothing that she is so young and competing in a category with a slew of veterans. I wouldn't count her out. 

In the end, this comes down to Metz vs. Newton. Metz has a sympathetic, complicated character on a well loved show. With Sterling K. Brown (probably) taking Best Actor in a Drama and This Is Us being so competitive in the Drama Series race, Metz could pull ahead of the pack. Conversely, Newton arguably has one of the most challenging and compelling characters on her show, and she plays every moment with pitch perfect precision. She truly was the MVP in the first season of Westworld. 

I give the edge to Newton, but Metz winning would not be a surprise. 

Should Win: All six of the contenders do fantastic work. And while Westworld was hit-or-miss, Thandie Newton's "Maeve" was endlessly beguiling and deeply compelling. That Emmy belongs to her. 

Could Spoil: As discussed in the Guest Actress category, Dowd is a veteran actress who has not been paid her due yet. If she does not win for her guest appearance on The Leftovers, they might reward her here -- and this would not be altogether a shock. The Handmaid's Tale is the "it" show right now. Or Brown could surge ahead. After all, being so young and giving such a complicated performance is admirable. Not to mention, she seems like the only true acting contender from Stranger Things.  

Your turn! Who of these six excellent nominees is going to win. Who should be winning?  

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Reader Comments (33)

I hope Thandie Newton walks away with this one. Westworld hooked and thrilled me (not sure how I feel about more seasons) and Newton was the strongest link in a very strong chain. One of the all-time great sci-fi performances.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Hayden -- i agree that she was just brilliant on this show (and she's been an uneven actress in the past) so i hope it's her or Ann Dowd who needs an Emmy already. But I think it's going to be Metz or Brown.

August 23, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

All Brown does is stare and not answer questions that could solve some mysteries. I don't get it.

My pick is Metz, who makes me cry.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I agree with the assessment you're making that it seems like a three-way-race between Brown, Metz and Newton. I'd vote for Newton, but I genuinely have no idea who will win between those three women who are all representing Best Drama Series nominees. Right now, my gut says Brown. I also have an odd feeling "Stranger Things" is going to make a bigger showing than people are expecting, taking Drama Series as well.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKieran Scarlett

I'm rooting for Thandie Newton. Amongst a talent cast (my favorites like Wright and Wood were also nominated) she still was the undeniable standout.

I'm disappointed with the outcome of this category. From Amy Brennneman (Leftovers), Tina Lifford (Queen Sugar), Aubrey Plaza (Legion), Maggie Siff (Billions), or Emily Browning (American Gods), there were plenty of exciting choices to go with. Not that any of the nominees are bad per se but half aren't anywhere near the strongest this year. Even on their respective shows Danielle Brooks (OitNB) or Yvonne Strahvski/Madeline Brewer (the HT) were better.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Should? I think all of these actresses are wonderful in their shows, but Newton probably gave the best performance on TV last year. Absolutely stellar.

WILL? If we were in the episode submissions era, I have no doubt in my mind Uzo Aduba would be walking away with this. Perhaps the best submission for acting this year. She's also the only one besides Brown who was recognized by SAG, so I think you're underestimating her chances and her popularity. Her episode alone is a reason for me to have her as a strong contender, I imagine she'll get most votes from those who seek out episodes to decide their votes.

It's actually tricky. Dowd is a veteran, double nominee and in a popular show who's showcased in two of the episode submissions. Just not sure if the sentiment is enough to pull off a win. Brown was the breakout star of the possible Drama Series winner, as was Metz. Newton had the most acclaimed role here and the most challenging. So..

Brown's role is probably too genre and subdued to recognize here. Notice how no Game of Thrones actor has won besides Dinklage, who has a lot more dialogue and zingers than his costars. Metz has the weakest submission of the lot, so I worry how that might affect her. I think it'll be Newton for the acclaim, the role, the episode, her name recognition and the popularity of her show. But it's a really close race.

1. Thandie Newton
2. Uzo Aduba
3. Chrissy Metz
4. Ann Dowd
5. Millie Bobby Brown
6. Samira Wiley

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve_Man

but also... how on earth is METZ supporting if Sterling K Brown is lead? with the structure of the show it's basically 5 leads (the parents and the big three) or all supporting.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Thandie Newton should have won an Oscar ages ago for Besieged

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I love Newton in Crash, I'm happy she won a Bafta for that, wish she had been nommed for Oscar. She's been the frontrunner in all awards show so far and lost them all, so maybe she'll come short again.

It is rare for a performer who was dropped to come back into the fold and win, but Julianna Margulies did it recently with the Good Wife in Lead Actress Drama, so I would not discount Aduba.

Ann Dowd's best chances are in guest. Here she has both a despicable character plus vote splitting from Wiley. Metz could be a spoiler a la Camryn Manheim winning for The Practice back in the late 90s.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

I know is time to discuss the Emmys (THE HANDMAID'S TALE, THE CROWN, BIG LITTLE LIES, RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE for all the wins!), but on september 5th, AMPAS Governors will reunite and vote the Honorary Oscars. Who they will be this year? I will love if you do a post for we speculate!

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon

This category is bursting with great performance. That said if I was picking my favorite then I would choose Newton with Brown as my runner up. When it comes to The Handmaid's Tale I think Dowd is amazing, but the character is a little too one dimensional and I prefer Wiley in her more nuanced role.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

I think Metz or Newton is gonna take this. But I would go with Wiley. She's such a warm, magnetic presence in a very dark and dreary show. Although Dowd is very good, too.

That being said, if Winona Ryder were nominated, as she really should've been, she'd get my vote.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

After a re-watch of Stranger Things... wow! Millie is amazing in that role, and not just for someone her age (it's incredible how she can tap into so many emotions and barely say a word). I wouldn't be mad if she won (except for the fact that I wouldn't want her to peak so early), but like many here, my vote goes to Thandie Newton. I had a lot of problems with Westworld, but she was a clear standout. Chrissy Metz does fine work, but her corner of the show is not the most exhilarating (the problem with This Is Us has always been that the Randall corner rose so clearly above the rest that one is usually left wanting from everyone else), Dowd and Wiley are both terrific, but didn't really floor me as much as others in that show (if Wiley had been nominated for OITNB, that would have been a different story) and Uzo is always amazing (f she hadn't won already, I'd be rooting for her here, her submission was heartbreaking). This is an exciting category for sure...

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I'm hoping for Newton if only because she needs encouragement to keep giving performances like THAT. She's such a wildly uneven performer (even sometimes within the same performance) and it was great to see it all so incredibly well focused here. Plus they love the show.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Have not seen This is Us (too many other shows to watch!)

Of the others, Newton would be my #1, Wiley my #2 (her episode submission is killer) and Dowd my #3

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHuh

It's going to be anyone but Newton because things never go my way... -_-

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Metz is a LEAD, dammit. I want Thandie to take it; she makes Westworld watchable. But I wouldn't be sad if Metz or Wiley or Dowd win. I like Aduba, but honestly, she's not the only award-worthy performer on OITNB.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Thandie Newton is the only worthy choice. Aduba did her usual big eyed schtick and has been over praised throughout the years. Brown and Metz are solid but not award worthy. The Handmaid's Tale actress are fine but both have delivered better work in other shows. Overall a weak category.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia

I'm rooting for Wiley, although I think she should have been nominated for Orange instead.

August 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

THANDIE NEWTON is my bet. She`s the BEST thing in Westworld, she owns every scene she`s in with such intensity and when she hits, she hits you hard, it`s a beautifully crafted performance that reminds us how powerful and engaging she can be ( Beloved, L'assedio, Crash) and yet how criminally underused she is. Close second ANN DOWD cause I just LOVE The Handmaid`s Tale and although it is Ms. Moss show, Dowd is excellent in it ( as is everybody else, but Moss just has this Bette Davis vibe that is electrifying). Chrissy Metz, as deliciously heartwarming and complex as she is, would be a surprise for me, a nice one though.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEder Arcas

I don't really agree that Ann Dowd's is a "despicable character." The show kept trying to make me feel things for Serena Joy and Nick that weren't there while I was really curious about Aunt Lydia's backstory, given the small doses of kindness she showed the handmaids. How did she become an aunt, exactly? Was it that or die? (It's one of the failures of the show's first season that they never gave us her backstory, while wasting time on others.) I think the fact that Dowd makes me wonder about these things is precisely what makes it a great performance - I'd give her the Emmy.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I'd vote for Brown, but Winona should have been nominated.
Newton is probably going to win though.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

I think Metz is lead in This Is Us, but from the storyline I felt her male co-stars had more to do, esp. in the last episodes, so she's pushed into Supporting. But nevertheless she's great. I hope she wins.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Nathaniel--I suspect whoever made the category decisions knew on some level that Sterling K. Brown (with his career trajectory/previous Emmy win and best-in-show performance) would have an easier time competing against Hartley and Ventimiglia who both had more to prove as "serious actors".

Metz is an unknown and they probably put her in supporting as to ensure she wouldn't be competing with Mandy Moore, who campaigned hard for that lead nomination I'm sure many had good reason to suspect she'd get (regardless of what you think of Moore's performance). I agree with you that they should all be supporting.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKieran Scarlett

Thandie Newton is amazing. It's my favorite TV performance since Regina King's Lydia Adams.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Newton and Brown are the most worthy, so I'd be happy if either won but I'm especially pulling for Newton.

Dowd and Wiley are both great. Maybe not win-worthy great, but very fine nominees.

Aduba is very good but it just doesn't feel like her year.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Dowd's work in The Handmaid's Tale is great supporting work. I can agree that Aunt Lydia could be seen as one-dimensional based on how she's written, but the performance? Nope. She brought a lot to that role and revealed new shades of her character the more the show progressed. I love that scene in "A Woman's Place" where Aunt Lydia tells Ofwarren that life isn't fair and kisses her on the eye. By the end of the season, I couldn't help but see Aunt Lydia as a victim of the system, rather than as a villain. I think Dowd submitted the wrong episode, though, which could cost her.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Come on Spencer, Newton ain't winning for a genre show, doesn't matter if her performance is great. Metz is winning this, I have little doubt about it.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatty

Rhea Seeh...oh.

I'd actually vote for Wiley here. I suspect, however, this is where voters throw WESTWORLD a bone.

August 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

For what it's worth (and maybe nothing!), Metz and Mandy Moore were submitted in Supporting at the Golden Globes.

August 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

Ann dowd deserves to win. Also, Rhea seehorn should have been nominated for better call saul

August 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArghavan

I just watched the first two episodes of This is Us and, to be very honest, it was kind of a bore .... After everything i heard and the Emmy Nominations, i decided to give it a try but i just can't see what everybody loves about it.
Above all, i don't get all the Chrissy Metz hype. Her character in annoying and her take on it isn't fresh at all, and don't get me strated with her boyfriend : i want him to be hit by a car everytime he opens its mouth.....
Also, are we really meant to believe Milo and Mandy are 44 ???!!!

August 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClement_Paris


August 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterErnie

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