Emmy episode analysis: Betty Gilpin (‘GLOW’) learns to love wrestling (and a hunky wrestler) in ‘Debbie Does Something’

Betty Gilpin has garnered her first Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Debbie “Liberty Belle” Eagan on “GLOW.” Gilpin’s Best Comedy Supporting Actress bid is among the 10 total nominations earned by the Netflix series in its first season. And for voters’ consideration, Gilpin has submitted the fifth episode of the season, “Debbie Does Something.”

In the episode, Debbie continues to develop her professional wrestling persona, the patriotic Liberty Belle, but is struggling to take the sport seriously. And as her training intensifies she hesitantly lets her parents take care of her infant son.

Hardly to her delight, Debbie is then taken by fellow “GLOW” stars Carmen (Britney Young) and Melrose (Jackie Tohn) to a local wrestling show. That’s where Debbie, once the star of the soap opera “Paradise Cove,” is pleasantly surprised to discover the parallels between the sport and soaps. She is especially enamored with hunky wrestling star Dale (Alex Riley), who reveals backstage that he is a huge “Paradise Cove” fan. The two spend the night together, and the morning after a rejuvenated Debbie calls “GLOW” director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) to tell him she’s all-in on the show.

Will Gilpin body slam her way to victory on Emmy night? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

PROS

With about 18 minutes of screen time in a 30-minute episode, Gilpin has a significant presence in “Debbie Does Something,” which traces Debbie’s evolution from wrestling skeptic to wrestling fan. That makes this a great showcase for one of the breakout stars of the past television season.

Gilpin is a hoot as Debbie suddenly discovers her love for the sport (“Oh my god, it’s a soap opera!”), but she also has the opportunity to flex her dramatic chops when Debbie sits down for a tense lunch with her parents, only for her former best friend (and homewrecker) Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) to drop in and make the stress worse.

CONS

While “GLOW” earned 10 Emmy nominations, it surprisingly missed in both Best Comedy Actress (Brie) and Best Comedy Supporting Actor (Maron), perhaps suggesting voter enthusiasm for the series isn’t as strong as initially predicted, especially in the actors branch that decides this race.

In a category that has seen its fair share of repeat winners, Gilpin must contend with several Emmy juggernauts, including two-time winners Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”) and Megan Mullally (“Will and Grace”) and three-time winner Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”).

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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