As NBC’s hit series “This Is Us” closed its first year on March 14 (and no need to worry, we’re guaranteed at least two more) we’re hoping Emmy voters were able to see through their tears and notice two of the show’s best performances this season: Golden Globe nominee Chrissy Metz and Daytime Emmy nominee Justin Hartley, who play twin siblings Kate and Kevin Pearson.
The award-winning drama series not only centers around Metz and Hartley, but also parents Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca Pearson (Golden Globe nominee Mandy Moore) and adopted son Randall (Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown). For their parts, Metz and Hartley have received some of the best reviews of their careers, and rightfully so as both have arguably the trickiest characters on the show.
Hartley has been around the TV drama world for a while now, both in daytime and primetime. “This Is Us,” however, seems to have catapulted him into a different spotlight and one that deserves Emmy’s attention. When we’re introduced to Kevin we see his model good looks as the star of a hit comedy series “The Manny.” But then Hartley decides to peel away at that notion and we see Kevin grapple with wanting to be taken seriously as an actor, not being happy with any relationship/one-night-stand he’s in, fighting to bond with his brother Randall, and most of all struggling with himself.
Hartley plays to all of this and more in what should be his Emmy episode submission, “Jack Pearson’s Son.” In this episode we see Kevin fighting off nerves of opening night of a play he’s financed and stars in, which is supposed to introduce him as the “serious actor” he strives to be. He is also doing what he can to reconnect with his ex-wife who we find out he cheated on years earlier. But probably the most poignant moment is when Kevin gets a call from Randall who apologizes for missing his opening night and Kevin notices his brother seems to be crying and having some sort of breakdown. Kevin opts to head to his brother’s office to comfort him over his big debut. It’s a scene in which Kevin embraces Randall and one in which Emmy should do the same for Hartley.
Speaking of potential one-note characters, while we may see Kate battling her weight on the show, the brilliance of Metz is that she breaks through that as a focal point and what she actually has us feel with Kate is what defines her the most. The struggles with her career goals, her relationship with Toby (Chris Sullivan), and coping with the loss of her father all reveal a deeply layered, strong and vulnerable character. That was never more evident than in Metz’s two strongest episodes of the season, “Three Sentences” (an Emmy caliber submission) and “What Now.”
In “Three Sentences” Kate decides to attend a weight loss camp after plans at surgery fall through. As Kate goes through the ups and downs of being in the program in one of the meditation classes she learns that she can’t truly succeed at her goals until she releases what’s ailing her. Kate lets out a loud, emotionally packed yell while beating drumsticks beside her and we see her breakthrough.
In “What Now” the passing of Randall’s biological father William (Ron Cephas Jones) opens up a flood of emotions leading Kate to push Toby away as he shows concern and curiosity about why it’s so hard for her to discuss her father, a great scene between Randall and Kate discussing loss, and finally Kate revealing to Toby that she puts the blame for her father’s death on herself. It’s reasons like this that Metz hovers around the top of Gold Derby’s early racetrack odds at 10/3 to take home the Best Supporting Actress Emmy.
Both Metz and Hartley will hope to land Emmy nominations in the supporting races this year, while the three other main cast members look like they’ll content in lead. This could help pave the way for not just very deserving nominations, but a potential win in the category as we all at Gold Derby know what it takes to win a golden statute: impact, range and hugability — three things that Metz and Hartley play to perfection.
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