Could Margo Martindale make an Emmy comeback for “The Americans”? She won Best Drama Guest Actress twice (2015-2016) for her role as KGB handler Claudia, but she missed the cut in 2017 when she was eligible to compete in the supporting category. With the show bidding farewell this year voters could get sentimental and send her off with a final Emmy hug, just like they did with Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey“).
The circumstances for Martindale and Smith are quite different in a few ways. Smith was eligible as a supporting actress every year she contended, including the first year of “Downton” (2011) when it was considered a miniseries instead of a continuing drama series. But Martindale has spent most years of “The Americans” as a guest, graduating to the supporting category in season five when her number of episodes exceeded the limit for guest stars.
However, there are a few striking similarities. Both actresses were nominated for their first four years in a row: Smith for Best Drama Supporting Actress from 2011-2014, Martindale for Best Drama Guest Actress from 2013-2016. Both won twice in a row: Smith from 2011-2012, Martindale from 2015-2016. And both were snubbed in their fifth seasons.
But when “Downton Abbey” signed off after its sixth season the television academy welcomed Smith back into the fold. Not only that, she won. Could Martindale be a similar sentimental favorite after “The Americans” signed off in 2018 after six seasons of its own? She’s at a disadvantage in one significant way: she has never been nominated for Drama Supporting Actress for this role, only Drama Guest Actress. The one time she competed as a supporting actress (2017) was the one year she missed the cut.
That said, Martindale is a favorite of the academy with three wins out of her five previous nominations, including one in this category for her work as villainous Mags Bennett in “Justified” (2011). And she had more material in season six of “The Americans” than she had in season five. Claudia was a grandmotherly figure to Paige Jennings (Holly Taylor) as the young woman was introduced to the world of espionage. She also reminisced about the death of her family back in Russia and responded to a betrayal by Elizabeth (Keri Russell) with simmering rage.
Thus far the only Emmys won by “The Americans” were the two won by Martindale, so if voters are feeling especially enthusiastic about the show’s final season they might be most inclined to give her their farewell hug.
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