When an actress is best known for the high speed of her dialogue and having hair shaped like a donut, "Emmy nomination" is typically not the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions her name. Girls ' Zosia Mamet, however, is not most actors; over the course of the series' three seasons, she's managed to make what could've been a caricature of a character into a complex, flawed, and lovable human being, and has wowed us every step of the way. The other Girls actors may be given more material to work with, but no one makes the most of her time on-screen as well as Mamet does, week after week.
Case in point: March's season three finale, "Two Plane Rides," in which Mamet, in the few short scenes she was given, blew viewers away by showing a Shoshanna more vulnerable and real than we'd ever seen her before. First, there was the graduation issues; after going to pick up her cap and gown, she learned that she didn't have enough credits, and reacted by destroying her dorm room in a fit of rage normally suited for Hannah or a rejection-hurt Marnie. Mamet made her character's anger feel both justified and pitiful, reminding us through her emotions and gritted-teeth dialogue that the last thing Shosh wanted, but was now likely to happen, was to be just as lost and confused as her three best friends. Not being able to graduate made Shosh angry, yes, but more than that, it got her scared.
Yet it was Mamet's later scene, with her ex-boyfriend Ray, that was the most impressive. Like all the best Shosh scenes, it began with indignation — "we're gonna have a chat," she ordered Ray, after learning he'd slept with Marnie — but it ended with heartbreak. As she attempted to her ex back, only to discover that he, unlike her, had moved on, Shosh seemed both more childlike and more mature than she'd ever been.
“I just wanna be your girlfriend again and I wanna pretend that I was never not your girlfriend before," Shosh begged Ray, before adding a desperate "please. Please," but it wasn't enough. Ray didn't want her, and on the same day that she'd found out that her academic life had fallen apart, her romantic life did, too. It was the most quietly painful moment of the finale, and it's all because of Mamet's devastating performance.
"Two Plane Rides" wasn't the only episode last season in which the actress stunned us, however. Episode seven, "Beach House," saw Mamet infuse Shosh with a confidence we didn't know she had, taking apart her friends — "I wanted to fall asleep in my own vomit all day listening to you talk about how you bruise more easily than other people," she hilariously (and rightfully) told Hannah — and proving herself far more aware than the ditzy, naive girl she'd seemed to be in the season's first half. "Beach House" was Girls' best episode last year, and in large part, that was due to Mamet's balance of brutal honesty, indignant frustration, and most of all, a bitter hint of self-recognition.
It's unlikely, though, that Mamet will actually get the Emmy nomination she deserves. As great as the actress was in those episodes, too much of last season left Shoshanna in the background of her friends' lives, if she was given any screen-time at all. Still, if voters were as wowed by the character's transformation in those last few episodes as the rest of us were, it could just happen. And, if not, perhaps it'll at least make them think twice before dismissing Girls as Lena Dunham's show, and nothing more; she may be a supporting character, but Shoshanna, as played by Mamet, could carry the series, if only she was given the chance.