The Handmaid's Tale has burst onto the scene this year, first with critical acclaim and fan fervor, and now with 13 Primetime Emmy nominations. What's great about the acting nominations for The Handmaid's Tale is that they give recognition to some of the industry's best working actors for the first time.
Of course, that doesn't go for the show's star Elizabeth Moss — quite the opposite, in fact. The actor was nominated six times for Mad Men, and once for Top Of The Lake. Maybe 2017 will finally be her year. However, this is the first nomination for Ann Dowd, Samira Wiley, and Alexis Bledel.
Dowd is nominated twice, which is incredible. Her other nod is for her guest appearance as Patti Levin in the final season of The Leftovers — a role she played regularly in the HBO series' first two seasons. Whether you also know her from Master of Sex, Captain Fantastic, Garden State, Compliance, or just for confusing her with Emmy winner Margo Martindale, Dowd is one of our most talented working character actors.
Though Wiley has shared accolades, namely three consecutive Screen Actor's Guild Awards, with the cast of Orange is the New Black, her individual efforts playing Poussey Washington have never been singled out. Wiley is a Julliard trained theatre artist, and it's about time that her work on television is appreciated.
Bledel, like Wiley but with added '00s nostalgia, is appreciated and loved by fans but has never had the recognition she deserves as a performer from awards. She's very talented, and I'm glad that her small role caught the eye of the Emmys.
None of these women are traditional leading women. That's another important takeaway. Even Bledel, who was somewhat of an ingenue on Gilmore Girls, is playing an unconventional role with a difficult journey on The Handmaid's Tale. That will hopefully lead to these traditions, and ways to define "good" and "conventional," will break entirely.
Until that happens, I'm happy for these hard-working cast members of The Handmaid's Tale who will get to glam it up at the Emmy Awards and receive even more praise for their acting. The era of "prestige television" has given the small screen more attention, so it's awesome that those who have been killing it on TV all along get their due.