Christina Applegate is nominated for Best Comedy Lead Actress for her role as grieving widow Jen Harding on Netflix’s “Dead to Me.” This marks Applegate’s third nomination in this category, having earned back-to-back nominations in 2008 and 2009 for “Samantha Who?” She earned two additional nominations for Best Comedy Guest Actress for her recurring role on “Friends,” winning the Emmy in 2003. Applegate has submitted the episode “I’ve Gotta Get Away” for Emmy consideration.
The episode centers around Jen and best friend Judy (Linda Cardellini) as they attend a grief retreat in Palm Springs with their therapy group. Judy takes the retreat very seriously, but Jen has only two things on her mind: alcohol and seducing Jason (Steve Howey), a hunky widower from Las Vegas. Despite repeated run-ins with their group leader Pastor Wayne (Keong Sim), Jen rejects any kind of therapeutic help in favor of free margaritas.
After a disastrous romantic encounter with Jason, Jen apologizes to Pastor Wayne for her cynicism and confesses that her late husband cheated on her before he died. Instead of mourning her husband’s death, she fears that she’s starting to hate him. Later, after almost being hit by a car, Jen vows that she will start putting her life back together.
Can Applegate score a second Emmy win? Let’s examine the pros and cons of her submission.
If Emmy wins were still determined solely by tapes, then Applegate has certainly submitted well. Emmy voters love a drunk, and Jen is heavily intoxicated through much of the episode, which simultaneously adds to the comedy and the tragedy of her situation. We see Jen’s drunken attempts at seduction, as well as the depths of her grief when she confesses her fears to Pastor Wayne.
Applegate is a television veteran and has played more than her fair share of light-hearted, ditzy blondes. But on this series, she is a revelation. Jen is raw, damaged and flawed, and voters who think they’ve seen everything that Applegate has to offer may give her a second look — and a second Emmy — after seeing this performance.
While we feel sympathy for Jen, there are several moments in the episode where Jen’s insensitivity borders on cruelty. Voters unfamiliar with the show may be turned off by Jen’s behavior.
Every other nominee in this category comes from a show nominated for Best Comedy Series, and Applegate is the sole nomination for “Dead to Me.” Emmy voters tend to reward performers from shows that have more widespread support.
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