Despite appearing in every episode in the first season of “Orange is the New Black,” Uzo Aduba won her Emmy this year as Best Comedy Guest Actress because she was contracted on a recurring basis. However, for the recently concluded second season, she was upgraded to the main cast. As such, she will have to contend in the Comedy Supporting Actress category; that pits her against co-star Kate Mulgrew who was nominated for the first season as Red Reznikov but lost to Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”).
With her promotion, Aduba was given considerably more material as prison inmate Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. Indeed, she is such a strong presence on the show that she currently ranks sixth in the catch-all supporting actress category at the upcoming Golden Globes. Be sure to make your predictions in that race at the bottom of this post.
Below, we detail her two standout episodes. Which of these should she submit if she reaps a bid? Or do you think there is another one that is even better? If so, let us know in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
“Hugs Can Be Deceiving” (Episode 3)
Synopsis: Crazy Eyes’s past is explored in flashbacks that reveal an awkward social development that was not helped by her mother’s attempts to integrate her into society. In the present day, Crazy Eyes gains a mother figure in new inmate Vee Parker (Lorraine Toussaint).
Standout scene: In a flashback to her high school graduation when she is set to sing on stage, she breaks down under pressure from her mother and her jeering classmates. She cries, yells and slaps herself repeatedly. It is tough to watch because it is the culmination of our dread that has built over the episode’s earlier flashbacks and is a dark moment for this fan favorite.
Analysis: Aduba has 18 minutes of screen time in this 59-minute episode. The much-anticipated flashbacks to her childhood (and include four minutes of the character being played by younger actresses) give voters a fully-realized and self-contained arc for the character. It is even complete with a redemptive final scene in which she stands up to fellow inmate Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), who had mistreated her and whom Crazy Eyes sees as analogous to her mother. However, this episode does feel like it would be better as a Drama Supporting Actress submission, as Crazy Eyes’s outbursts are played for tears and not laughs.
“We Have Manners. We’re Polite.” (Episode 13)
Synopsis: Following Vee’s brutal attack of Red, she manipulates Crazy Eyes into taking the blame. After she is exonerated and Vee is implicated, Crazy Eyes cries over the loss of her mentor.
Standout scene: Crazy Eyes is the primary suspect for most of the episode because she behaves erratically when questioned. She becomes a one-woman show, doing impressions, putting on accents, addressing an invisible audience, reciting a poem that includes the episode title and neighing like a horse. It is the definition of tragicomedy: the material is broad but also serves as a catalyst for Crazy Eyes’s scheduled transfer and trial.
Analysis: The major drawback to this episode as Aduba’s submission is screen time. Voters will have to wait 25 minutes before she even appears, which is longer than it will take to watch a typical episode submitted in this comedy category. She ultimately clocks in at nine minutes, but the episode is 91 minutes long. However, Aduba had the least screen time by a considerable margin in her category last year but still prevailed, suggesting that voters place much greater value on the impact of a performance than its size. This is a better showcase of range — at least on a comedic level — than the flashback episode.