I anticipate some angry readers…okay, perhaps not. But you know I’m not particularly normal in my tastes…; that doesn’t mean that my choices are poor. I feel strongly for them all, particularly the top 5.
Runners Up (Alpha): Tina Fey in 30 Rock, Sally Field in Brothers & Sisters, Calista Flockhart in Brothers & Sisters, January Jones in Mad Men, Leighton Meester in Gossip Girl, Elizabeth Moss in Mad Men, Mary Louise Parker in Weeds, Kate Walsh in Private Practice
#10: Ellen Pompeo in Grey’s Anatomy
as Meredith Grey
I’ll continue to tout Ellen, because she continues to deliver. Say what you want about Grey’s the show Ellen keeps on delivering as Grey the person. She’s had a middling season, she was on quasi-maternity leave for the first half…but she was particularly moving as the season drew to a close. The somewhat clichéd storyline in the finale managed to come off because she was so on point.
#9: Marcia Cross in Desperate Housewives
as Bree Hodge
She’s one and a half of the reasons I’m actually planning on watching the next season of Desperate Housewives (the half being Vanessa Williams). It’s not that the show is horrible, but Cherry seems to have forgotten how to make the four women part of one story and not turn the show into four unrelated plots. Her arc last season was maddening at times, but it’s why I’m continually impressed with Marcia. She doesn’t sweat it, and attacks each episode with sincerity. She deserves more.
#8: Courteney Cox in Cougar Town
as Jules Cobb
Though Cox was never my favourite of the Friends, I’d wager that she was the most underrated. More than her lack of Emmy love, people rarely realised the difficulty in making Monica Geller work just right. And Jules is a completely different creation. Just the right amount of candid, funny and odd. It’s nice seeing her front and centre and she more than holds her own among the cast members.
#7: Jeanne Tripplehorn in Big Love
as Barb Henrickson
At the best of times my allegiance will often remain with Sevigny’s middle wife, but Jeanne’s natural cadence is irresistible. It’s anyone’s guess why she hasn’t managed to get a bigger career (for the life of me, the first film I can think of with her is Mickey Blue Eyes, which doesn’t say much). In the season argument pitting her against Paxton she easily comes out on top (no disservice to Paxton).
#6: Christina Applegate in Samantha Who?
Cancelled years before it’s due, it’s a pity that Christina Applegate is remembered for being the talented comedienne she is. In some ways Samantha’s brand of kookiness is just too good to be true, but in that way she’s the perfect headliner for an underrated show. Christina works excellently with her entire cast, moreover unlike many leading comediennes she’s never upstaged by her supporters. Is the writing slanted towards her? Not so much…she’s just always on the ball.
#5: Lea Michele in Glee
as Rachel Berry
I think that her episode submission (Sectionals) was excellent, but I’m not sure she’s a Lead. It depends on the episode really. I don’t have a problem with her overassertive character, but sometimes I think that that character is what prevents people from realising how much she’s doing. She’s no Barbra, but she sings and acts at the same time…that’s rare to be honest, and it’s really not as easy as it looks.
#4: Patricia Arquette in Medium
as Alison Dubois
I was nervous about the move to CBS, but it managed to work. She’s still able to pull of the comedic bits in a fairly straight drama and a particular Halloween episode was only one of the few aces this past season. It seems like the awards’ bodies have all but forgotten her, which is unfortunate because she still continues to turn in good work.
#3: Glenn Close in Damages
as Patty Hewes
She tentatively called it the best role she’s been given last year at the Emmy’s. It’s not, of course, but she’s delivering brilliant performances on it and if we can’t get on her the big screen why not the small? Patty is still too gargantuan at times, and no one seems to be able to have the upper hand with her. Still, Glenn makes it work. Her chances of a third Emmy are nonexistent…what with Julianne Marguiles and all, but at least cable is saving the show for a fourth season.
#2: Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation
as Leslie Knope
Poehler’s Leslie is a difficult one to play. She’s ferociously devoted to her job, despite her craziness. Even more, she’s brilliant at it, even it’s just a government job in the Parks & Rec department. Poehler makes such a ridiculous devotion real and we never doubt Leslie’s honesty even as we watch her being continuously ridiculous and making some decidedly poor choices. It’s like at the end of the season when she has that goodbye with Schneider – in her way, she’s dedicated to making the world a better place. One bit park at a time.
#1: Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer
as Brenda Leigh Johnson
Against all logic Kyra Sedgwick manages to get better with each season of The Closer. She is The Closer (really, that’s her job) and from Brenda’s idiosyncrasies and insecurities to her bravery and dedication she nails it all. I don’t even notice the accent anymore, I can’t say if it’s on-point but it certainly is convincing. More than that, though, Kyra’s tenacity is formidable and her talent is difficult to ignore.