Pamela Adlon is back in the Emmy race for Best Comedy Actress for her work as single mom and working actress Sam Fox on FX’s “Better Things.” This is her second straight nomination for the role. She’s already an Emmy winner for her voice-over work on “King of the Hill” (2002), and she received four nominations over three years for acting, producing, and writing for “Louie” (2013-2015).
Adlon has submitted the episode “Eulogy” to Emmy voters for consideration. The episode begins with Sam teaching an acting class and then shooting a car commercial. When she comes home to watch TV with her kids one of her commercials pops up, but her daughters Max (Mikey Madison) and Frankie (Hannah Alligood) would rather watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Sam is furious that her children don’t appreciate her work and demands that they speak about her as if they were speaking at her funeral. The girls treat the request as a joke, so Sam storms out of the house.
When Sam returns her children and friends are indeed presiding over a mock funeral. As Sam lies in the center of the room her children deliver beautiful and heartfelt eulogies that move Sam to tears. She embraces them for finally showing her the love and respect that she has always wanted.
Will this submission be enough for her to win her first Emmy in this category? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
Voters love to see a range of emotions in a submission, and this episode certainly delivers. There’s a lot of humor in the first half as Sam delivers biting critiques to her acting students, followed by a hilarious sequence that reflects the tedium of working on a commercial. Then she gets to display real emotional fireworks as Sam berates her children, and then tears up when hearing their eulogies.
The submission features Sam as both a working actor and a single mom to ungrateful teenagers. This gives Adlon a double dose of the kind of empathy that usually attracts Emmy voters.
Adlon directed every episode of the show’s second season, and she wrote or co-wrote a majority of the episodes. Voters, particularly actors, may be impressed by her versatility.
Adlon has been the sole nominee for “Better Things” both times she has contended for this award, while each of her competitors are on shows that got at least two Emmy nominations. So the series may not have enough overall support among voters to garner her a win.
Much of the impact in the episode’s climax is due to the performances of Madison and Alligood as Adlon’s daughters. So Adlon doesn’t have the opportunity to close the episode with as much of her own emotional punch.
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