Louie Anderson (“Baskets”) won the Emmy for Best Comedy Supporting Actor on his first try last year. That was the first year for the FX series, and the first year under a new voting system that replaced the ranked preferential ballots of years past with a simple plurality vote: just check one name as your choice for the winner. Given his success last year it should stand to reason that he’d be the frontrunner to win again in 2017. But Alec Baldwin ambushed the TV season with his recurring role as Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” Baldwin wasn’t supposed to stick around very long, but then Trump wasn’t supposed to win the presidential election either. Baldwin ended up in the supporting race instead of the guest race and now leads our predictions. But Anderson could still win, especially since he has multiple episodes that could make for a winning submission.
Anderson plays Christine, the frustrated mother to obnoxious adult twins, Chip and Dale (both played by Zach Galifianakis). Throughout season two, Christine is at the end of her rope when it comes to her kids. Chip’s involvement with a group of traveling drug addicts has landed him in jail, forcing Christine to leave Bakersfield to bail him out. To make matters worse, the rivalry between Chip and Dale reaches a new low when the boys engage in a comically vicious fight that practically destroys Christine’s house. But despite these challenges, Christine also finds ways to assert her individuality throughout the season– from trying to exercise and make healthy eating choices, to a new and exciting romance.
In further exploring Christine, season two provides Anderson with multiple episodes that could serve as winning Emmy submissions. In “Ronald Reagan Library” Christine and Chip await Chip’s court hearing, and Christine uses the opportunity to visit the presidential library of her hero Ronald Reagan. While at the library, she bonds with Ken (Alex Morris), a carpet salesman from Denver who has a daughter with a troubled past. The two discuss their political differences — Ken is a Carter-loving Democrat — but the two are drawn to each other, both by their clear mutual attraction but also by their experiences with their irresponsible children.
Later, in the episode “Denver,” Christine visits Ken in his hometown, and we see Christine living for herself rather than for her children. As Ken and Christine’s attraction deepens, Anderson conveys Christine’s new sense of self-confidence as she begins to see herself as a complete woman instead of just as a mother.
But Anderson’s strongest performance comes in the season’s penultimate episode, “Yard Sale.” After her mother dies, Christine holds a yard sale for her late mother’s belongings, but becomes agitated when her brother Jim brings a realtor to the house with plans to sell it out from under Christine. Towards the end of the episode Anderson has not one but two standout moments. In the first, Christine goes to Jim’s hotel room to confront him, and she reveals that while their abusive father always treated Jim as the favorite, their mother made sure that Christine would always be taken care of — and has done so in death by leaving everything to Christine. She tells Jim that although she has never had the chance to live life for herself, she can do so now, and that despite her brother’s condescending objections, he will have no say in anything she does.
Then Christine goes to the bank to deposit her inheritance, and she breaks down sobbing, saying that her mother was the only person who ever believed in her. It’s a cry that reflects not only Christine’s sadness over her mother’s death, but also her joy that someone actually looked out for her, giving her opportunities to take her life in her own hands. Anderson’s performance is full of the kind of emotional range and sympathy that Emmy voters love. We cheer for Christine when she stands up to her bullying brother, and our hearts break during Christine’s cathartic sobs as she releases her anger, her grief, and her joy.
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