2011 Dream Emmy Ballot: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

It’s that time again, folks. The Emmy nominations will be announced on July 14, which means I have almost an entire month to flood this space with hopes, dreams and predictions about what could happen come nomination time. To kick things off, I’ll be bringing back the Dream Emmy Ballot. It’s something I did last year and even with my much smaller readership back then, folks seemed to enjoy it. You can find the archives of previous Dream Emmy Ballot posts here.

In any event, just a qualifier or two: This is obviously my Dream Emmy Ballot. Meaning, these initial picks are going to be who I would love to see be nominated for the awards. I know that many of these people don’t actually have a chance in garnering a nomination, just as I know that I will miss some of your personal favorites because I don’t watch that series. I watched more television than ever this season, so I imagine my personal picks will more closely align with more “official” selections, but nevertheless, this is all based on my personal taste and wishes. I’ll do more concrete, objective analysis as we get closer to the actual nomination announcement. Secondly, these picks are all based on the official nomination ballot, just so you know.

Here we are at the final acting category, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. I’m a bit short on time today, so I’ll going to burn through these a little quicker than I’d like, but such is life.

Anna Torv, Fringe

Anna Torv came into her own on Fringe during season two, but during season three, she became the dramatic center to the series’ best season. Not only did she handle both universe’s iterations of Olivia, she played countless variations of those two characters, a future version of Olivia, William Bell stuck in Oliva’s body and probably three other roles I’m forgetting. She was a bad-ass, a heartbroken lover and all beats in between. I know that the Emmy voters don’t pay attention to A.) science fiction or B.) lowly-rated programs that air on Friday nights on FOX, but Anna Torv’s work throughout season three of Fringe was one of the best performances on all of television during this season.

Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights

Like I said in my little bit on Kyle Chandler in the male side of this category, it still feels weird to think that Connie Britton actually has a decent chance to garner a nomination in this category. Although Britton was probably given better things to do last season, she was still wonderful throughout the fifth and final season of Friday Night Lights. She did some really great work once Aimee Teegarden’s Julie ran back home from her dysfunctional first semester of college and was particularly awesome in the final few episodes when she and Chandler’s Coach debated/argued over what to do with their future. It seems only fitting — and fair — that both actors in the greatest television marriage of recent memory are awarded for their work one final time.

Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

Elisabeth Moss has bounced back and forth from the lead to supporting categories over the last few years, but I think this year, she made the right choice and it could pay off. Not only was Peggy more integral to the overall narrative in season four, Moss’ performance was even better. I know people are going to point to “The Suitcase” as this bastion of greatness and of course, they should. But Moss had a number of tremendous performances before and after that, adding up to her best overall work on Mad Men. Although my heart would love to see a Torv or Britton victory, my head says that Moss should take the category this year. She was that good.

Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Last year, Julianna Margulies was a sure-thing to win the award in this category. And then the Emmy voters decided to randomly acknowledge Kyra Sedgwick’s performance on The Closer. It made absolutely no sense. Luckily, the Kings and the rest of The Good Wife writing staff made sure to give their leading lady even more meaty Emmy-worthy material to work with. There were more complications, both personal and professional, for Alicia Florrick in season two and in general, Margulies did a nice job of portraying a certain sense of progression and independence for the character, even before all the late-season personal drama spiked up again. But yeah, any of the season’s last three episodes could be her Emmy submission and she could/should win.

Lauren Graham, Parenthood

Like her co-star Peter Krause, Lauren Graham is in the unfortunate position of starring in a massive ensemble drama that very few people watch. But even more so than Krause, Graham deserves this nomination. Without Graham, Parenthood would be much more melodramatic. She injects a great amount of life and humor into the proceedings. And even when she’s called upon to be part of those melodramatic situations like she was throughout the season half of season two, Graham handles herself masterfully. She’s an expert crier. If Krause is the mostly calm, somewhat steely center of the series, Graham is the other half of that, often messy, but always heartfelt and emotional. Let’s not even talk about the fact that she was never nominated in this category for her work on Gilmore Girls.

Mireille Enos, The Killing

The Killing had dozens and dozens of issues throughout its first season, but the performances were not one of them. Similarly, detective Sarah Linden was a problematic character, but none of that was Mireille Enos’ fault. In the early episodes, her work was particularly engaging because it seemed like the character’s cipher-like personality had a purpose. Ultimately, it really did not, but Enos still kept chipping away, trying to make the character interesting with the bare-bones material she was given. Despite my problems with the final few episodes, I did enjoy how Enos allowed her character to become more frantic and unhinged. I hope that’s the Sarah Linden we see in season two.

Notable performers left just off the list: Lena Headey, Game of Thrones; Jennifer Beals, The Chicago Code; Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy


3 responses to “2011 Dream Emmy Ballot: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series”

  1. I completely agree whith everything you said about Anna Torv. She has so many episodes that she completely carries, and has such an amazing range, within one episode or even a scene from one extreme to the other. I am actually shocked that she is not one of the favourites.
    Frankly if she does not get a nomination, and they go for the usual suspects, you wonder what the criteria are.
    Anna Torv should win the Emmy.

    I am not sure if the Sci-fi bit hinders or far more the wrong network and the way Fringe was put on the friday..
    I read a comment from an Emmy voter in writing at Goldderby, and he was pointed by forummembers towards Entrada, he said after he had posted the ballot, that if he had not been advised, he would not have voted for Fringe, given the fact it is a series on a network with a reputation for handling their quality programming badly. So Fringe on HBO would have been Emmy.


    1. I am one of those who loved Olivia Dunham from the start,in season 1 you can see the foundation of the Olivia in season 2 and 3 laid there.

      Anna Torv is much underrated in my view, because of a character that is introverted, subtly shows her emotions etc.
      Only great actors can bring that stillness, that introspection and draw the viewer in.
      The combination of being strong and vulnarable at once, is another.

      So a long deserved recognition would be a nomination for Anna Torv.


  2. Love your comments on Lauren Graham. She is amazing in Parenthood, and deserves this so richly.


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