“I’m pretty sure at some point we’ll get nominated for some stuff and my prediction is that Eden Sher as Sue Heck will be our first nominee!” proclaimed two-time Emmy champ Patricia Heaton about her co-star on “The Middle” back in 2011. Heaton, who plays Frankie Heck on ABC’s most underrated comedy series, was referring to the actress who plays her hilariously dorky daughter Sue on the laffer.
For five years now, Sher has brought one of the most outrageous, endearing, and funny characters to life week after week with mountains of critical praise, nominations, and awards (Critics Choice, 2012) but has yet to receive any praise from the Emmys. It can be said that the TV academy is to Sher what high school is to Sue – a club that will require some grand feat for her to get any recognition, when in reality she should already be one of the most popular people there.
If you need proof of Sher’s brilliant comedic timing and physical skills look no further than “Unbraceable You,” the recent season six premiere. Sue begins her senior year in high school and declares it “The Year of Sue!” even though there’s right away a snag in her plan as she’s missed the first four days of school thanks to a calendar error.
Things may not have started out so slick but the big part of her goal was to finally, after eight long years, have her braces removed. Though her orthodontist (Richard Kind) advises against it Sue gets her braces off and a day later things start to go from great to bad as her teeth begin to shift. She concedes defeat from the universe and heads back to the orthodontist expecting to have her braces put back on but he tell her the fix can be made by wearing a retainer every night for a year, or: The Year of Sue! To celebrate the news, the Hecks go out for pizza and Sue puts her retainer in a napkin that ends up in the dumpster out back where all the family frantically look for it.
Sher shines throughout the episode but really gets to stand out in two particular spots. She displays impressive delivery during her rapid-fire rant to her mother explaining all the activities she missed and how she is now the only person in her senior class to still have her braces. We also get to see her impressive range during the scene where her braceless teeth start to go wrong. Sher wakes up and smiles in the mirror only to notice her teeth are starting to go every which way. She heads to the kitchen and gets plenty of confirmation from her family. Sue cracks and declares to the universe that she gives up and “You win!” She veers from happy to worried to sad to defeated in just 90 seconds and knocks each emotion out of the park. Hopefully the Emmys finally take notice and declare 2015 as “The Year of Eden!”
Can Sher follow Heaton’s prediction and grab her first Comedy Supporting Actress Emmy nomination? Let’s look at the pros and cons of this Gold Derby Emmy MVP:
Funny and outrageous win! If we look at recent winners like: Allison Janney, Julie Bowen, Jayne Lynch, Jaime Pressly, and Megan Mullally it’s easy to see that Emmy loves crazy, laugh out loud characters for their Supporting Comedy Actresses, and there may be no character on TV that blends the two better than Sue Heck.
It’s never too late to land a nomination and win. Just look to Sher’s co-star Heaton who had to wait three years for her first nomination and four for her first (of two) Comedy Actress wins. Over in Drama Actress, Mariska Hargitay didn’t land her first nomination for “Law & Order: SVU” until five years into her show and her first win caem after seven years.
So you’re saying younger actors don’t have a chance? It can happen, especially in the Comedy categories. In recent years Chris Colfer and Lea Michele (‘Glee”) and Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”) have garnered Emmy nominations for their work. And before then there was a similar trend of younger stars getting their due with nominations for Sara Gilbert (“Roseanne”) as well as “The Cosby Show” kids Lisa Bonet, Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Keshia Knight-Pulliam.
It’s been 20 years since the Supporting Comedy Actress category has brought in someone under the age of 25 into the club: Gilbert for “Roseanne.” Not a good stat to go against especially seeing as there have been several young stars worthy of having broken this streak already (really Emmy voters, what does Sarah Hyland have to do before you notice how great she’s been in your favorite show “Modern Family” for the past five years?).
“The Middle” hasn’t ever been on Emmy’s radar. In five seasons, it has managed to claim only one Emmy nomination (non-prosthetic make-up). And I remind you that this show stars a seven-time Emmy nominee and two-time winner. Point is, it’s going to take a true breakout season for Emmy voters to turn their heads and take notice.
It’s a crowded field in the Supporting Actress race. This past year, not even previous Emmy winner Merritt Wever (“Nurse Jackie”) could make it back in thanks to the popularity of “Orange is the New Black” star Kate Mulgrew and Emmy champ Allison Janney for “Mom”. And we’ll see little attrition here as all this year’s nominees will be eligible again plus more “Orange” ladies looking to claim a spot (including recent Guest Actress Comedy winner Uzo Aduba). Indeed, this field looks to be one of the most crowded and competitive we’ve seen in a long time.
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