My 2021 Emmy Wish List ~ TV TALK with BILL CUSHING

By: Bill Cushing – July, 2021

The Primetime Emmy nominations will be announced shortly and every year I like to review the past year in TV and give my list of who I would like to see recognized. It’s always tough to remember all the great work every year, and not everyone can be nominated. The actors that I mention here are the ones that people just might forget, not the ones that are shoo-ins for a nomination. So, here’s my Emmy Wish List…

Michael Dorman (For All Mankind) – Michael Dorman’s portrayal of Astronaut Gordo Stevens was good in season one, but in season 2 he stepped it up a notch. Even undergoing a physical transformation, gaining and shedding 40 pounds as his character struggled with depression. It was a tremendous performance, one of the year’s best, and he shouldn’t be forgotten by the Academy.

Jean Smart (Hacks) – Jean Smart’s performance, as aging stand-up comedian Deborah Vance on HBO Max’s terrific new series ‘Hacks’, is the core of the show. Unlike her character, Smart’s career is anything but winding down. On the contrary, it seems to be getting stronger. She plays Vance with the steeliness and vulnerability that not many others could. She deserves all of the accolades she is getting for this work.

Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale) – The reason we spend most of the time wondering why Commander Lawrence is an ally of June’s or an enemy, is a testament to how well Bradley Whitford plays the role. Whitford made Lawrence seem compassionate, yet at other times seem fatalistic and resigned, drawing us in and confounding us at the same time.

Kelly Reilly (Yellowstone) – In Paramount’s smash hit ‘Yellowstone’ there are some truly memorable performances. But, none more so than Kelly Reilly’s work as resident female bad ass Beth Dutton. Along with her male bad ass counterpart and love interest, Rip (Cole Hauser), Reilly played Beth with such ruthlessness and manipulation that she shouldn’t be forgotten this year.

Jack Huston (Fargo) – I felt Season 4 of ‘Fargo’ was very underappreciated. Chris Rock’s work has gotten the most recognition, but it was Jack Huston’s performance as the OCD riddled Odis Weff that really stood out to me. Huston’s physicality that he gave to the role stole every scene he was in, and that was not an easy task with a cast like that. Huston was truly the best thing about Fargo this season.

Bill Camp (The Queens Gambit) – I fear that Netflix’s excellent limited series ‘The Queens Gambit’ will be forgotten since it premiered so long ago, however Anya Taylor-Joy’s lead performance will most certainly not be forgotten. Bill Camp’s tremendous work as Beth’s mentor and the man that taught her to play and love chess shouldn’t get overlooked. Camp is one of those actors you’ve seen in many things but never knew his name. Hopefully the Academy remembers his name this year.

William Zabka (Cobra Kai) – Netflix’s Karate Kid follow up series gets lots of buzz and rightly so. But the work of William Zabka doesn’t get nearly the amount of buzz that it should. Johnny Lawrence wishes the 80s never ended because that’s when his life was the best. Zabka is the real star of this show, delivering a charming heartfelt performance with lots of humor as Johnny.

For All Mankind – Apple TV+’s alternate history space drama was easily one of the best series on TV this year, if not the best. The series is a political thriller, sci-fi adventure, family drama, and love story, all rolled into one. With incredible writing and acting from the aforementioned Michael Dorman, as well as Shantel VanSanten and Joel Kinnaman who delivered one of the best acted scenes of the year. Many expected a bit of a letdown after the tremendous first season, but the series actually exceeded expectations in season two. Delivering one of the best hours of TV in recent years in its heartbreaking season finale. A Best Drama Series nomination would be well deserved.

Others that I would love to see recognized: Joel Kinnaman (For All Mankind), Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason), Ray Romano (Made For Love), Richard Schiff (The Good Doctor), Chris Rock (Fargo), Sonya Walger (For All Mankind).

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Award nominations will be announced on July 13th.
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