Emmy spotlight: Laurie Metcalf shines in ‘Getting On’

Laurie Metcalf delivered a gem of a performance in “Getting On,” an HBO comedy that just wrapped its third and final season. She starred as Dr. Jenna James, head of a geriatric hospital ward where all good efforts seem to fail. We know that the show, based on the BAFTA-nominated series of the same name, is on the radar of Emmy voters as Niecy Nash reaped a supporting bid last year.

If Metcalf does reap a Comedy Actress nomination, she is likely to face off against reigning four-time Emmy champ Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”). Back in the 1990s, the two competed for Best Comedy Supporting Actress, with Metcalf winning for “Roseanne” three years in a row beginning in 1992. Louis-Dreyfus didn’t win her first Emmy (1996) for “Seinfeld” until Metcalf was gone from the competition.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of Metcalf returning to the derby.

There are  least three open slots this year with Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”), Lisa Kudrow (“The Comeback”) and Amy Poehler (“Parks & Recreation”) no longer eligible.

Critics have been singing her praises. Brandon Nowalk (A.V. Club) says, “Metcalf is a comedic Olympian, milking Jenna’s obliviousness and desperation for all they’re worth.” And Neil Genzlinger (New York Times) notes, “she may be called upon for slapstick comedy, deadpan humor and actual pathos.

The Emmys are smitten with Metcalf. Besides those three wins for “Roseanne,” she also contended for that role in 1995 and has been nominated three times for Guest Comedy Actress: in 1999 for “3rd Rock from the Sun,” 2006 for “Monk,” and 2007 for “Desperate Housewives.”

Sentiment could work in her favor, as Emmy voters might want to acknowledge this under-the-radar performance. They did that when they nominated Laura Dern for the final season of “Enlightened” in 2013 and last year with Kudrow. Both those funny ladies were on HBO and Metcalf could easily fill this spot.

Unlike many trying to enter this race for the first time she is a known quantity. She has worked consistently for the past quarter of a century, most recently appearing in “Horace and Pete” and guesting on“The Big Bang Theory.”

This year, Metcalf  has a standout of an episode submission with “Am I Still Me.” On the day that Jenna is to chair a symposium, she learns that her mother has died. She has to try and keep it together while facing off against Nash’s character Didi who wants to take her mother-in-law out of the ward. Then Dr. Ron Rudd (Grant Bowler) declines her sexual advance. And she loses an award that she was all but certain to win. She delivers the kind of comedic heartbreak that could make voters tick off her name.

While Nash was a surprise in the supporting race last year, that is the only nomination for the show to date. That is particularly puzzling when you consider Oscar nominee June Squibb (“Nebraska,” 2013) has guested on the show in each of its past seasons and was snubbed even after after a rule change took out much of her competition last year.

Potential first-time nominees include Golden Globe and Critics Choice winner Rachel Bloom (“My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), 2015 Golden Globe champ Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”) and recent SAG nominee Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt”). Also in the mix are three leading ladies from ABC laffers — Martha Plimpton (“The Real O’Neals”), Tracie Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) and Constance Wu (“Fresh off the Boat”) — as well as past champ America Ferrara (“Ugly Betty,” 2007) for the first season of “Superstore.”

“Getting On” aired its series finale back on December 13, 2015. Among the competition noted above, many star in shows that have aired more recently.

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