It has been eleven years since Julie Bowen first rose to prominence as Carol Vessey, a high school English teacher who was the object of affection for a bowling alley lawyer on NBC’s “Ed.” Despite critical praise, none of this talented cast ever earned Emmy recognition. The network cancelled the series in 2004 after four seasons, after which Bowen made recurring appearances as Jack Shepherd’s (Matthew Fox) ex-wife on “Lost,” and then later on “Weeds” as the lover of Nancy Botwin’s (Mary-Louise Parker) teenage son Silas (Hunter Parrish). For two seasons she was a regular on David E. Kelley‘s “Boston Legal,” a two-time Best Drama Series nominee that won acting awards for James Spader, William Shatner, and Christian Clemenson.
Bowen received her first Emmy nomination last year for playing Claire Dunphy on ABC’s hit comedy “Modern Family.” In that race, she submitted “My Funky Valentine,” in which a game of role-playing with her husband, Phil (Ty Burrell), goes terribly awry, but it’s likely that no submission could have topped Jane Lynch, who proved to be unbeatable for the “Power of Madonna” episode of “Glee.”
Bowen is nominated again this year for Best Supporting Comedy Actress, and Lynch may again be her toughest competition with a pair of impressive performances to her credit: a mostly dramatic turn in the “Funeral” episode of “Glee” as well as broad comic work on Kristen Wiig‘s “Saturday Night Live” submission, which Lynch hosted. Betty White is also a top contender, for the TV Land sitcom “Hot in Cleveland“; the TV veteran won her sixth Emmy just last year for hosting “SNL.”
But will Emmy voters want to award Lynch again for “Glee” on the basis of her guest-hosting work on a different show? And will they be as impressed by White’s work on “Cleveland” as they were by her “SNL” performance, which was the watercooler event of last season? If not, the door might be open for Bowen, who also has two strong episode submissions for the price of one thanks to her co-star Sofia Vergara, who is also nominated in this category.
Gold Derby editors Chris Beachum and Rob Licuria viewed the episodes submitted to Emmy judges, and both agree that Vergara made a mistake by submitting “Slow Down Your Neighbors,” in which she has a minor storyline about learning how to ride a bicycle. “Slow Down” turns out to be a better submission for Bowen than it is for Vergara; Bowen’s storyline is the basis for the episode’s title, which refers to Claire’s zealous crusade to stop a reckless driver from speeding through the neighborhood.
For her own submission, Bowen entered “Strangers on a Treadmill,” in which Claire and her brother, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), agree to tell each other’s spouses some home truths. Both of these episode showcase bolder performances from Bowen, who usually plays straight man to her scene-stealing on-screen husband. And “Strangers” ends on tender moments with her husband and daughter that offset her character’s controlling behavior on both reels.