Make Your Case: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

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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 would venture to say we have two extremely strong contenders in this category this year, with the other nominees falling far behind. Julie Bowen is lovely, but old news. Allison Janney did her best with a mediocre CBS sitcom. Anna Chlumsky continues to do lovely work on Veep. And also Mayim Bialik is here. So that leaves us with two extremely strong nominees vying for that lovely golden statue this Sunday. You have the incomparable Kate Mulgrew, who gave an exquisite performance as prison cook Red on Orange is the New Black (remember, she’s nominated for Season One, not Season Two). And then you have the actress who I’ll be making a case for, Saturday Night Live‘s Kate McKinnon.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a classic Battle of the Kates! And many of you might be disappointed to hear that I’m not cheering on Ms. Mulgrew to win this Sunday. But do remember, here at “Make Your Case” (where, to be fair, we make our own rules), we go with our hearts, not our brains. In fact, it’s all too likely that Mulgrew will win on Sunday. Red was an in integral piece of what made Season One of OITNB the landmark it become. Her antagonistic nature towards Piper mixed with her troubled backstory made for a wonderfully sympathetic character. Not to mention, she has some of the best one-liners on the show. So you’re totally not in the wrong if you want to choose her to win on Sunday.

But no one on a comedy series this year has done as much heavy lifting as Kate McKinnon on SNL. She is the new face of female comedy on that show, hands down. After the departure of Kristen Wiig (an actress said to be one of the saving graces of Post-Millenium SNL, even though a lot of her material was repetitive and grating), audiences were looking to see who would be the new “Funny Lady” on SNL. McKinnon has taken on that role, and then some. Her impressions of celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres are some of the best on the show right now, including my personal favorite, Angela Merkel. And her character work is outrageously compelling in its complexity. “Weekend Update” character Olya Povlatsky never fails to disappoint, and who can forget this season’s wonderful filmed sketch “Dyke & Fats”?

But what makes McKinnon my pick is her sheer dedication to every single sketch she’s in. Some actors on SNL can look like they’re just phoning each sketch in, just going through the motions of what they have to do to get the skit over with. Every sketch that McKinnon is featured in, she is giving it her all, throwing herself into the deep end every time, with no trace of fakeness or artifice about her. She’s quickly turning out to be one of the funniest comediennes on television right now, and her gift for comedic timing and commitment is unmatched right now.

That’s my case for Kate McKinnon. Whether she gets the Emmy on Sunday or not, only time will tell.

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