Emmy spotlight: Paula Malcomson shines in ‘Ray Donovan’ Season 4 cancer storyline

As Abby Donovan, the long-suffering wife of a Hollywood fixer (Liev Schreiber), Paula Malcomson has delivered solid work throughout “Ray Donovan’s” run. In Season 4, however, she outdoes herself with a subplot that finds her character battling cancer while fighting to protect her family from the mob. Our fingers are crossed that Malcomson, a dependable TV vet with such credits as “Deadwood,” “ER” and “Sons of Anarchy” under her belt, will parlay this exceptional story arc into her first Emmy nomination as Best Drama Supporting Actress.

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For most of “Ray Donovan’s” run, Abby has been a passive character, her struggles more or less a result of her husband’s work and bad behavior. Yet this season, she aims to take control of her own destiny, especially when it comes to her life-threatening illness. Should she be nominated for an Emmy, Malcomson would have to pick an episode to submit to judges for consideration. Although she has several great ones to choose from, “Little Bill Primm’s Big Green Horseshoe” would be a strong submission.

That’s the episode in which she fights her teenage daughter (Kerris Dorsey) over her 34-year-old boyfriend, comes to grips with shooting a home invader, and reveals her cancer diagnosis to Ray. Critics reacted warmly to the episode as well, with Sean Candon (Spoilertv.com) saying, “Abby’s reaction to killing a man was startling in its realism, as she completely breaks down in the aftermath, thus giving some of the best material Paula Malcomson has had to work with on the show so far.”

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Malcomson couldn’t have picked a better time to break through at the Emmys. Last year’s Drama Supporting Actress victor Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”) is no longer in contention, and the late summer start for “Game of Thrones” knocks out Emilia ClarkeLena Headey and Maisie Williams as well, leaving only Maura Tierney (“The Affair”) and Constance Zimmer (“UnReal”) to contend against four newcomers.

“Ray Donovan” has been quietly gaining momentum as well. Last year, the show reaped drama bids for Lead Actor (Schreiber), Supporting Actor (Jon Voight), Guest Actor (Hank Azaria) and Directing (David Hollander), winning for Azaria. Voight previously contended for the show’s first season in 2014 and Schreiber broke through in 2015.

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