With the new summer TV season getting underway, TV Guide decided to list its Season MVPs, the actors whose performances were exceptional — in some cases, much better than the show itself. Let’s take a look at a few of the Guide‘s lady picks and add some deserving players of our own.
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
No argument here. In my TGW SnapCaps, I often comment on Baranski’s standout performance. Diane has always been a compelling character — and an attractive one. But this season, in the midst of tough times for Lockhart Gardner, she became both the heart and the smarts of the firm. Baranski makes Diane a powerful presence, unlike any woman character on TV.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ringer
Ringer had a promising premise that took a while to find a groove. But by then, nobody was watching. Too bad, really, because Gellar showed some real acting chops by playing twins with two completely different personalities and lives. I wish Ringer had gotten better before the end; I just hope SMG’s next show will be as good as she is.
Megan Hilty, Smash
Whether you’re Team Ivy or Team Karen, you have to admit that Hilty herself is a showstopper. I knew nothing about her when I started watching Smash — her background is on stage — but when she’s onscreen, I can’t look at anything else. And god, that voice. Honestly, we all know that Hilty, er, Ivy was born to play Marilyn.
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
I can’t vouch for this one personally — AHS was way too terrifying for me — but praise of Lange’s homicidal Southerner Constance is universal among fans of the show. The good news is that Lange will be back for a second season, albeit as a different character. With an actress of her caliber, the transition should be seamless.
Naya Rivera, Glee
Good to know that more than LGBT fans recognize Rivera’s season on Glee was simply stellar. She took Santana from a somewhat stereotypical Mean Girl to a multi-layered character who came into her own by coming out. Rivera kept Santana sassy, but showed us her soft heart, too. And girl, that woman can sing.
TV Guide‘s other women MVPs include Patricia Clarkson on Parks and Recreation, Elisha Cuthbert on Happy Endings, Felicity Huffman on Desperate Housewives, Leighton Meester on Gossip Girl, Lana Parrilla in Once Upon a Time, and Phaedra Parks on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. You can see the reasons — and the men chosen — at the Guide website.
Who’s missing? Glad you asked.
Shay Mitchell, Pretty Little Liars
As Emily Fields, Mitchell has been one of my favorite characters on TV. The fact that she’s a lesbian is just a bonus. Mitchell, who, believe it or not, auditioned for the role of Spencer Hastings, feels blessed (her word) to play Emily — and it shows every time the character is on screen. I’m certainly glad we don’t have to wait much longer to see her again. I have been haunted by Mitchell’s heart wrenching — and Emmy deserving — performance in the Season 2 finale. I need Emily to be OK.
Claire Danes, Homeland
I can’t quite believe TVG left out Danes. As Carrie Mathison, Danes had our minds reeling, believing that Carrie was psychotic one minute and that she was the only sane person in her universe the next. Danes’ work when Carrie turned from depressive to manic was chilling — and brilliant.
Madeline Stowe, Revenge
Victoria Grayson certainly is not someone I want to hang out with, but Stowe manages to convey the hurt that’s made Victoria turn cold. By season’s end, I wondered if the Grayson matriarch might have been as victimized as David Clarke. I hope somehow Victoria escaped the plane crash so we can see what Stowe will do with her next.
Your turn. Who are your TV MVPs for the past season?