For Your Consideration: Supporting Actors – Jack McBrayer and Dominic Monaghan

[In Week One of Cultural Learnings’ 59th Annual Emmy Awards Nominations Preview, we’re looking at possible contenders for the Supporting Actor awards in both comedy and drama. Today, we present our third set of candidates. For all candidates, Click Here]

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Jack McBrayer (Kenneth the Page)

30 Rock

Kenneth the Page is perhaps one of the simplest characters in all of television. A lowly NBC page for the cast of the fictional The Girlie Show, Kenneth believes in the power of television and little else. We see glimpses of him talking to his skeletal mother, we see moments of absolute naivety, and on occasion his innocence can seem quite exaggerated. And yet, what we originally believed was cluelessness was actually just a different perspective, simple without being stupid. Kenneth believes in the magic of television, and I, as a result of Jack McBrayer’s performance, believe right along with him.

What McBrayer brings to the role is just the right balance of simple and smart, which is such a hard thing to balance. When Kenneth becomes a poker all-star, Jack spends days trying to figure out his tell. However, the point is that Kenneth has no tell. He is capable of looking and acting entirely smart, even when he’s really clueless. However, on the other hand, he is often able to be entirely smart even when he seems simple on the outside.

And it is that innocence that makes McBrayer’s performance so difficult: in the hands of the writers, McBrayer needs to walk the fine line between stupid and naïve every single episode. And yet he always achieves: while certain episodes are worse than others, Kenneth always is as endearing as he could possibly be, and completely funny when required. For being able to strike that balance and create a scene-stealing supporting character, Jack McBrayer is worthy of an Emmy Nomination.

Episode Selection: The Head and the Hair (Airdate: January 18th, 2007)

While the episode’s title refers to a storyline unrelated to Kenneth, and there are technically three stories at play within this episode, Kenneth has by far his finest moments within it. The reason is that he gets copious amounts of screentime with Alec Baldwin, who as per tradition is taking over Kenneth’s job for the day. We get to see Kenneth’s dirty work, the things he has to put up with on a regular basis, plus Kenneth gives multiple impassioned speeches about television. And then, at the end of the episode, he sells his game show idea to NBC executives. While Kenneth plays a major role in other episodes, here his story arc is touching, complete, and funny in a way that is deserving of Emmy Attention.

YouTube“The Head and the Hair”

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

Dominic Monaghan (Charlie Pace)

Lost

I would not be putting Dominic on this list three weeks ago, which I guess is somewhat contradictory. Charlie has been absent from key storylines for a very long time this year, and I was amongst many who was happy to see that he was fated to die according to Desmond’s flashes. And yet, perhaps spurned on by his imminent departure from the show, Charlie began to become likable again. No longer saddled with nothing of consequence, Dominic delivered a performance towards the end of the season that almost made Charlie likable before finally nailing it by season’s end. And that delivery, making me actually care about his fate, is enough for me to deem him worthy of a potential Emmy nomination.

I don’t think we can hold Dominic responsible for many of Charlie’s problems. As more and more characters were introduced over the past two years, Charlie has been shoved aside in a major way. His addiction problems solved, the second season only saw Charlie devolve (His relationship with Claire falling apart in an incredibly lame and inconsistent fashion). The character just wasn’t given anything to do, anything to make him important in the long-term. Dominic has gone on record as being kind of frustrated by it, but the fact remains that he soldiered through.It was shortly after the winter hiatus that Charlie became important, if only by being fated to die. Desmond’s flashes gave Charlie purpose, and Dominic stepped up to the plate. While I was initially almost happy to see it happen, over time it became bittersweet, before I finally realized that I wasn’t ready for Charlie to die. Without Dominic’s performance that wouldn’t have been possible, and as a result I submit him for consideration for an Emmy award.

Episode Selections: “Greatest Hits” and “Through the Looking Glass” (Airdates: May 16th and 23rd, 2007)

The only reason I’m really even considering this is the contents of these final two episodes of the season, because within them Dominic gives his best performances to date. “Greatest Hits” is literally the Charlie show. As he says goodbye to Claire, to Hurley, he knows that he is heading to a watery grave according to Desmond’s vision. As a result, he begins to craft a “Greatest Hits” list of his most important life accomplishments for Claire. It is touching, meaningful, and well portrayed. Follow this up with the culmination of Charlie’s arc in the finale, along with some fantastic banter with the occupants of The Looking Glass, and you have a winning performance.

YouTube“Greatest Hits”

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Filed under 30 Rock, ABC, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, Lost, NBC, Television

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