Make Your Case: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

For the next week, (Pop) Culturally Informed will be running a brand new series called Make Your Case, where Ben and Nina will take on one major category in turn for next week’s Emmys, pick who they think should win, and make their case. Note: We aren’t going to say who WILL win, but who should. Sometimes these will be one and the same- but we like to choose the road less traveled. Enjoy!

Man, this category is a goddamn doozy. In one corner, you have Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), with whom I am totally unfamiliar. (Sorry. I tried that show. It made me tired.) In another, Josh Charles (The Good Wife), triumphantly coming off of a highly emotional death scene. In another, Jon Voigt (Ray Donovan), who I was not fully confident was still alive. In another, Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), everybody’s favorite Jewish grandpa. In another (whatever shape this is has too many corners), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), who delivered a heartbreaking, painful, and ultimately triumphant performance in the second half of his final season. And, finally, we have Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), my pick to win the Emmy on August 25.

I know, I know, I KNOW. I just caught up on Breaking Bad, because I am ridiculously behind the times, and Aaron Paul is just so incredible in the second half of the final season. He really is. But, ultimately, that season is Walt’s story, not Jesse’s. (Plus, Paul has like sixteen Emmys for this part already.) As for the other contenders, unless we see a ridiculous, Merritt Wever-style upset, I don’t think a single one has an honest chance. This is the year of Dinklage vs. Paul.

That being said… Paul will still probably win, but here’s why Dinklage should. He won way back in Game of Thrones‘ first season, where he was just quipping right and left and being awesome, but he hasn’t really had any Emmy-worthy material since (particularly not while he’s up against a formidable opponent like Paul, to be frank). This season got off to a strong start with Tyrion being accused of Joffrey’s death, and since he spent most of the season in jail, Dinklage had just around three episodes to prove himself: “The Lion and the Rose,” “The Laws of Gods and Men,” and “The Children.” Or, in order: Joffrey’s wedding, Tyrion’s trial by combat, and his final confrontation with his hateful father.

And prove himself he did. Joffrey’s wedding showed a side of Tyrion we’ve rarely seen – the side who wants to keep his head down and stay out of trouble, but unfortunately for Tyrion, trouble usually seems to find him. The scenes between tormented Tyrion and tyrannical Joffrey were practically a master class in acting (hey, where’s Jack Gleeson’s nomination??). When we arrived at Tyrion’s trial by combat, I honestly thought I’d seen Dinklage’s best performance ever – a snarling, furious confession wherein Tyrion defends himself for being a dwarf and a misfit, but not a murderer. But the best was yet to come. Those of us who had read the books knew that a showdown between Tyrion and Tywin was nigh, but GODDAMN, was it great! Dinklage managed to channel basically every single emotion on the spectrum into his performance this season, and “The Children” showed us Tyrion pushed to the breaking point, after his lover, Shae, (who had already betrayed him with false testimony), climbed into bed with his father. Oh, and then he shot Tywin in the dick while he was on the can. Great stuff. Seriously.

But really. Peter Dinklage proved this season that Tyrion Lannister is not just the comic relief – he’s the beating heart of the show. This was his best season by a long shot – honestly, he should win for that single scene where he cries and apologizes to Shae’s dead body – and I hope he snatches that Emmy away from Aaron Paul a week from today. If he doesn’t? Well, that’s just Tyrion’s bad luck.

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