Make Your Case: Best Supporting Actress 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!

I feel I have to be upfront here – I only have a passing familiarity with most of these nominees. Mostly because I don’t watch Downton Abbey or The Good Wife. Sorry, Maggie Smith and Christine Baranski… oh, and Joanne Froggatt, I legitimately have no idea who you are. (I have seen a bunch of sassy Maggie Smith quips from Downton, though, and she fucking rocks.)

That being said, now that I’ve made it clear that I shouldn’t be writing this article at all, we’re down to two lovely ladies from shows I actually do watch: Christina Hendricks from Mad Men and Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, my pick for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Don’t get me wrong. Christina Hendricks is EXCELLENT. She’s been nominated for a million years and should have won for at least half of those times (especially the fifth season, when Joan actually slept her way to the top, or at least a partner position). But she was barely around for the first half of season 7, and it just wouldn’t feel right to give her the award for her most underwhelming season yet.

I also understand that, so far, my picks are exclusively Game of Thrones related (that will change!), but it’s honestly just because this season was SO ridiculously good, and a lot of that is thanks to Lena Headey’s excellent performance as the vengeful, bitter Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister. In the books, Cersei gets her own point of view chapters, which give the reader some perspective into how complicated this character really is, and Headey does perhaps the best job of anyone on this show of portraying that without actually having quotes from the book scroll down the screen, Star Wars-style. This season was perhaps Cersei’s most sympathetic yet, in fact. Yes, she’s a total bitch, like, 98% of the time. Yes, she’s unbelievably cruel, and frequently for no reason at all. Yes, she hates the everloving shit out of Tyrion and doesn’t seem to have much reason for that either. But she did lose her son, and while audiences cheered over Joffrey’s death, Headey wept, finally letting Cersei’s purely maternal side come through.

This season also, frankly, threw one huge curveball Headey’s way, which was how they handled Cersei and Jaime’s sex scene in the crypt. Much ado was made (by myself included) about the scene being changed from the consensual sex scene that appears in the books to a flat-out rape scene (no, Alex Graves, it did not “become consensual” by the end, because that’s not how rape works), and the resulting scene was absolutely upsetting to watch. I would prefer not to think about it too much, but Headey took a controversial and disturbing scene and made sure we saw how vulnerable and frightened Cersei was, despite her icy exterior.

By giving Cersei one horrifying scene and lots of confrontations with her completely fucked-up family, Game of Thrones showed us a Cersei we hadn’t seen before this season, even when it was a Cersei we didn’t want to see (and didn’t need to see, because it didn’t need to be a rape… ugh, nevermind). Maggie Smith will probably win and not even show up for the telecast, because Maggie Smith is a certified BAMF, but I think we should reward Lena Headey for the first time this year, for showing us the nuance and subtleties of a character who could so easily be one-note.

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