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For a moment, don’t think about the Emmys. Instead, just think about the wide array of female faces and voices on television at the moment. While male roles struggle to break through from a macho hero/villain/goofball dynamic, there’s a staggering array of shades of gray — and loads of color — when it comes to female characters.
Now, start thinking about the Emmys again. Specifically, think of the women in the nominee list. They’re neurotic singletons, scheming con artists, self-aware overworked moms, self-deluded mob wives, enterprising pot dealers and “ugly” aspirational magazine assistants — and, most important, they’re endearingly human. Portrayed by such clear-eyed talents as the lauded America Ferrera (who already took home a Golden Globe as Betty Suarez on ABC’s “Ugly Betty”), Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly on NBC’s “The Office”) and Kyra Sedgwick (Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson on TNT’s “The Closer”), they make up much of TV’s heart and soul today.
So where does this leave Emmy voters? In one of the biggest quandaries of the year. Expectations are that the new blood sprinkled through the nominees is poised to overtake the veteran names, but those vets — like three-time winner Edie Falco (HBO’s “The Sopranos”) and two-timer Julia Louis-Dreyfus (CBS’ “The New Adventures of Old Christine”) — are not going down quietly. And Mariska Hargitay (NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU”) is poised to take home a second statue in as many years. Over in the supporting arena, it’s pretty wide-open — six choices per lineup and no clear favorite — with only one nominee who has picked up a previous statue (Holland Taylor of CBS’ “Two and a Half Men”).
Many deserving names failed to make it this year. But stellar ensemble casts can make picking and choosing the hardest part of all. Best, then, to stick to the party line: It’s an honor just to be selected. As Tina Fey, nominated as lead comedy actress for NBC’s “30 Rock,” notes: “I am more than incredibly proud to be the fifth best actress on a comedy. It’s a tough competition, so that’s how I see it. I’m honored just to be in the same category with these women.”
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