Monday, July 30, 2007

Poll Results - Who Should Win The Emmy For Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy?

We had a very good turnout this time around. Eighteen votes were cast and the voting was quite close between first and second place. In a tie for fifth place with no votes were Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds) and Holland Taylor (Two And A Half Men). In fourth place with two votes (11%) was Jaime Pressly, who plays Joy on My Name Is Earl. In third place, with three votes is Vanessa Williams as the deliciously devious Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty. However the big point getters were Conchata Ferrell as Berta on Two And A Half Men with six votes (33%) in second, and Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam on The Office with seven votes (39%).

While I'm not surprised that Jenna Fischer won this poll, I am more than a little surprised by the strength of support for Conchata Ferrell. Don't get me wrong, I've like Ferrell as an actress since I first noticed her on George Clooney's first series called ER (or rather E/R and okay it wasn't really his show, but those are mere details). In fact, about the only show that I haven't liked Ferrell in was Hearts Afire and that was primarily because of the way that the producers screwed up the series after the first season by "reimagining" it. It's fair to say that Ferrell plays a fairly stock sitcom character in Two And A Half Men, the outspoken housekeeper, but just because the character is a stock type doesn't mean that the right actor or actress can't make it memorable. As Toby OB, pointed out in the comments section, "When I do watch an episode, (and although that's rare, I always enjoy the show), I find it's her quick shots in a scene that are the funniest. She has a great sense of delivery and the writers give her great material to work with."

As far as Jenna Fischer goes, it's fairly obvious why her character is extremely popular as well. She is as close as The Office comes to a true female lead. Her character, Pam Beesly, is involved in the major on-going subplot – the complicated Pam and Jim situation which is full of that old debil "unresolved sexual tension." Fischer's role isn't as showing as Ferrell's – she's not firing off quick shots and one liners – and indeed it's almost a straight role when compared with Rainn Wilson's Dwight or even John Kasinski's Jim, but it is a crucial role if for no other reason than that it humanizes Jim while at the same time emphasizing the sense of quiet desperation that is a major factor in the humour of the series. You get the sense that Pam is capable of doing something better but that she, like most of the show's characters, is trapped. Pam has that look of someone trapped at a dead end in her career (and trust me when I say that it took a lot of self -restraint not to post the picture Jenna Fischer did for Jane magazine - it's in "naked Lucy" territory).

Who do I think will win the Emmy in this category? It's a pretty talented field that makes it hard to eliminate people, however I have difficulty seeing either Perkins or, sadly, Ferrell winning. In the case of Ferrell it is the general critical scorn that is directed at Two And A Half Men in particular and the outspoken housekeeper role in general. Holland Taylor has a slightly better chance than Ferrell if only because the Academy and the critics tend to like the theatrically trained Taylor (I tried in vain to find the quote from a critic who said that Two And A Half Men was undeserving of any nominations...except of course for Holland Taylor). In the end I think it will come down to Fischer, Jaime Pressly and newcomer (in this Emmy category at least) Vanessa Williams. What Fischer has going for her is that The Office is an established show and a critical darling. The same is true of My Name Is Earl and Pressly is in an extremely showy role. Williams on the other hand is in a new show that is a critical and commercial success. And she's playing a villain which is always an asset – villains are freed of the restrictions that are imposed on "ordinary" people. While I fully expect Jenna Fischer to win the Emmy, I will not be at all surprised if Pressly or Williams (in particular) win.

New poll up in a few minutes.

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