Emmy episode analysis: Uzo Aduba could make history for ‘Orange is the New Black’ role

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The Emmys may have knocked “Orange is the New Black” into the drama races this year after it competed as a comedy last year, but Uzo Aduba is back in the running. She contends for Best Drama Supporting Actress after winning Best Comedy Guest Actress in 2014, and if Aduba reigns victorious again for her portrayal of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix series, she will be the only performer to win for the same role on the same show in both drama and comedy races. To notch her place in the history books, however, she will first need to get past her rival nominees and she hopes to do that with the help of her episode submission, “Hugs Can Be Deceiving.”

Click here to see the updated list of all 2015 Emmy episode submissions

As the bond between manipulative Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) and Suzanne begins to grow we are given a glimpse into Suzanne’s backstory where we learn that she was adopted by a white family at a young age. The family treated her no differently than their other biological child, even while she was harassed by others for her eccentric nature. This treatment of Suzanne seemingly carried on throughout her life, and we later see her crack under the pressure of her parents to perform during her high school graduation, much like the prison Christmas pageant where she ran off the stage at the end of season one.

We then discover that after the Christmas pageant Suzanne ran out of the auditorium to find Piper (Taylor Schilling) in a battle with Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), and Suzanne, in a rage, knocked Piper out, inadvertently saving Piper from committing a potentially deadly crime. Back in the present day we see Suzanne still treated as an outcast in the prison, with Vee seeming to be an understanding presence, taking Suzanne under her wing.

Does the episode pack enough of a dramatic punch to earn Aduba a historic Emmy? Let’s look at the pros and the cons:

“Hugs Can Be Deceiving” has all the ingredients of an Emmy winning submission: impact, range and huggability, and Aduba is such a force on screen that she commands every scene she’s in.

Last year “Orange is the New Black” was the most nominated comedy series, with five of its actresses garnering bids and Aduba winning Comedy Guest Actress. This year’s shift to drama wasn’t kind to the show overall (it received only four nominations), but that didn’t stop Aduba from becoming the only returning nominee from the show to make the transition over.

Though Aduba could have won with her submission alone under the old voting system with small judging panels deciding the awards, Aduba’s chances skyrocket with the expansion of voting to more of the acting branch (potentially making this more of a popular vote). Consider her SAG victory just eight months ago.

“Orange is the New Black” took a massive hit at the Emmys in its second season. After being the most nominated series on the comedy side last year, it is now the least nominated of the seven Best Drama Series contenders.

To that point, Emmy voters may still think of “Orange” and all associated with it as comic regardless of where it’s competing. And with a character whose nickname is “Crazy Eyes,” it doesn’t help the drama argument much.

There’s stiff competition here. “Mad Men‘s” farewell may lead to a win for Christina Hendricks, while the popularity of “Game of Thrones” could swing it in Lena Headey or Emilia Clarke‘s direction. And with the new voting system, veteran Christine Baranski, having worked with nearly everyone in the industry, could see her name called for her work on “The Good Wife.”

Experts Emmy predictions: All 32 categories

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Photo Credit: Netflix

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