TV Fanatic Emmy Preview: Supporting Actress in a Comedy

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The 2011 Emmy Awards will be hosted by Jane Lynch September 18. In the weeks leading up to the event, TVF staff writer Dan Forcella will watch every episode submitted by various actors in various categories and present to you his analysis on each contender.

It's the TV Fanatic Emmy Submission Mission, readers, and it started with Lead Actor and Lead Actress in a Comedy, then moved on to Supporting Actor in a Comedy.

Next up? Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, in which the MC herself is a strong contender, if not the odds-on favorite. Here's TVF's breakdown:

Terri, Howard and Sue

It seems as if the year of Betty White has been going on for over two years at this point. She hosted SNL, which she won a guest acting Emmy for, she was in hit movies, and she recently won the SAG Award for Best Actress in a Comedy.

While her new show Hot In Cleveland is much too broad in its comedy stylings to register with the in crowd, White’s performance as Elka has never been the problem. In her submission episode, “Free Elka,” the comedy legend takes advantage of the fact that the elderly blatantly making fun of people and cursing like sailors never gets old.

Between opening the episode playing a harmonica and singing “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen,” a guest appearance by Mary Tyler Moore, and a bunch of perfectly timed zingers by White, there is reason to say she doesn’t have a chance to take down all of the returning nominees in the category.

If she wants to find someone to blame on Emmy night, it might as well be Kristen Wiig. With her third straight nomination in the category for her work on Saturday Night Live, Wiig decided to submit the episode of SNL, “Host: Jane Lynch.”

From an ethics side of things I agree with the move; it was Wiig’s strongest performance of a subpar year for the actress. Strategically, I never would have given more material for returning champion Jane Lynch to work with.

Yes, Wiig outperforms Lynch in almost every sketch they do together during the episode, which you might assume would hurt the defending champ, but that’s not the point. The fact that Lynch is out there doing something so different from her work on Glee shows a certain amount of versatility that will secure her a second straight Emmy.

Having said all of that, I do not want to underscore the fact that Lynch deserves to win this thing solely on the merits of her own submission, “Funeral.”

It is an episode that she plays many sides to Sue Sylvester. She is mischievous to start out as she re-routes the glee club's plane to Tripoli. After the news that her sister passed away, Sue becomes shut off from the world, while still managing to throw out hilarious insults to the high school students. Lynch then finally gets to break out the tears as Sue struggles through her sister’s eulogy. It is a truly magnificent performance.

Friendly Fight

You would think the two ladies of Modern Family have as good a shot as anyone with how much the academy loves their show, but it’s hard to predict either Julie Bowen or Sofia Vergara to top Lynch or White. Neither is as funny in their submissions as Betty White, and clearly neither has the dramatic moments that Lynch does.

From an outsider’s perspective, it seems Team Modern Family is throwing all of their eggs into the Julie Bowen basket, because she is fantastic in Vergara’s submission, “Slow Down Your Neighbors.” 

Her Claire is responsible for the title as she chases down a crazy neighbor with a megaphone and street signs. Vergara is fine in it, but it is definitely not one of her best performances of the season, as Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez steal the show during each of the bike riding scenes. Meanwhile, in Bowen’s “Strangers on a Treadmill,” Gloria basically disappears while Claire has to deal with Phil and his less than funny jokes.

Finally, no one is going to tell you that this was one of Jane Krakowski’s best seasons on 30 Rock, which mostly had to do with a lack of screen time because of her pregnancy.  In her submission though, “Queen of Jordan,” she really gets to play up a character that Hollywood might enjoy… someone really making fun of reality television.

In this episode of the NBC sitcom they go all out in creating a Real Housewives-like parody, in which Krakowski’s Jenna attempts to get noticed in any way possible. Her outrageous acts of throwing wine, attempting to fight others, and staging her own intervention, might be enough to keep her in the conversation, but then Jane Lynch’s name will be brought right back up.

My final standings

  1. Jane Lynch – Glee
  2. Betty White – Hot In Cleveland
  3. Julie Bowen – Modern Family
  4. Sofia Vergara – Modern Family
  5. Jane Krakowski – 30 Rock
  6. Kristen Wiig – Saturday Night Live

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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