Emmys 2012: The Supporting Drama Actress Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees

This year’s Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama contest is going to be a fun free-for-all, and we might be surprised by who ends up on top. After all, without a clear frontrunner — like last year’s winner, Margo Martindale — it could also be time for oft-nominated Christina Hendricks, brand-newbie Morena Baccarin, or frequently-overlooked Regina King and Maggie Siff to make a grab for the gold.

More Emmy Races In Review | Outstanding Drama Series | Lead Drama Actor | Lead Drama Actress | Supporting Drama Actor | Outstanding Comedy Series | Lead Comedy Actor | Lead Comedy Actress | Supporting Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actress | Outstanding Reality-Competition Series | Outstanding Movie/Miniseries

Review this slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then vote below for who you think are the six best. And check back Thursday as we tackle the comedy races!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. cat says:

    If Jan Jones had been in more than two episodes this season of mad men then the overweight Betty storyline would have been a great emmy reel for her. But the writers sidelined her even more than usual this season so it ended up a wasted storyline.

    Anyway, I’m rooting for Christine Baranski.

    • Misakh says:

      I agree with you on the arc of Betty this season… But hey, Weiner said she’ll be back in a big way next season so let’s just wait for it… I want the slim Betty back then slap Megan back where she belongs in the show — that is a guest role assisting Don!

      Right now, I just want Moss to win the Lead Actress race…

  2. Melissa says:

    Honestly I don’t know why Emmy Rossum of Shameless is never acknowledged. There may be stronger leads that deserve it more, but I really believe she deserves a nomination at the very least.

    • sara says:

      Because this is best supporting actress. Emmy was mentioned a lot in the Leading Actress post.

      • Melissa says:

        Oh gees. I don’t know where my brain was yesterday! Definitely thought this was the lead’s post when I wrote that I guess! Thanks for the correction :)

  3. becka says:

    Sandra Oh deserves at least a nomination. She’s the only reason I still watch Grey’s.

    • the girl says:

      Yes. I can easily admit that Grey’s is both soapy and teetering on the edge of ridiculata but Sandra Oh was beautiful this year.

  4. Anna says:

    It is ridiculous that Maisie Williams is not on this list. I love Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of Daenerys but there is no contest between the two. Maisie is probably the best female actress on Game of Thrones. She shouldn’t be overlooked for being young.

  5. Lia says:

    Lauren Graham, c’mon!

  6. Marco says:

    Why no Lena Headey in my list of choices?

  7. Ben says:

    Christine Baranski is the Best !

  8. I had to smile at Saffron and Inara being next to each other in the post.

  9. TheBeach says:

    I was surprised to see Megan Hilty on this list. I think she and McFee are the leads on Smash. No way is she a supporting character.

  10. grace2552 says:

    I love Monica Potter, but if we’re handing out supporting actress nods for Parenthood, isn’t Erika Christensen infinitely more deserving? Especially this season – her storyline with Zoe was SO compelling! It was really well-written, but it wouldn’t have been half as interesting without Erika.

  11. anonymouse1013 says:


  12. liz says:

    I think Erica Christensen deserves to be on this list. She was INCREDIBLE on Parenthood this season with Monica Potter!

  13. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Morena Baccarin, Christine Baranski, Anna Gunn, Christina Hendricks, Regina King, and Kelly MacDonald. And I would like to see Christina Hendricks win. I think the risks they took with her character in the last couple of episodes could finally get her that Emmy.
    I’m guessing who really gets nominated is: Anna Gunn, Christine Baranski, Christina Hendricks, Kelly MacDonald, Archie Panjab (an Emmy voter favorite, unfortunately), and Maggie Smith (even though last season of Downton Abbey sucked, she will still be a favorite). There is a chance they could pass over Christina Hendricks for the win and give it to Maggie Smith simply because she is Maggie Smith and because Emmy voters will think somehow voting for anything Downton Abbey related makes them educated and literate.

  14. Laa says:

    I didn’t vote because Maisie Williams wasn’t included. :)

  15. Sareeta says:

    Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, and Lena Headey all deserve a nod. It’s sad that the younger actresses will probably get overlooked both because of the genre of GoT and their age, but they were so good in season 2.

  16. Avron Meyer says:

    Maggie Smith in the lead now followed by my fav, Morena Baccarin from Homeland.

  17. Tahoe Mike says:

    Count me as another vote for Maisie Williams! She was impossible not to watch this season. Lena Headley was great too. The performance level on Game of Thrones is terrific across the board.

    My real gripe is the total lack of recognition for “Treme.” Khandi Alexander was amazing as LaDonna, both this season and last. Lucia Micarelli was also awesome as Annie Tee. Both of them deserved to be recognized.

    Treme is incredibly well written, and the actors do a fantastic job. Part of what is so amazing about the actors in this show is the way they blend and work with the huge number of non actors, and real musicians, in the cast. They make it look seamless.

    Why does this site consistently ignore such an amazing show? For those of you who haven’t checked out Treme, do your self a favor and give it a look.

    • Pamela says:

      Tahoe Mike, I wonder if TVLine is just being very realistic in that the Emmys pretty much ignored Treme’s (creative/production team) predecessor The Wire as well. I’m being generous here!. Not that they should of course. I agree that the show, and Khandi Alexander are wonderful. And I hope HBO are pushing it as hard as possible for noms.

      Then again, TVLine hasn’t put Lena Headey, a fairly obvious supporting pick in my book on the list so maybe there just wasn’t room on the page!

      There are many previous examples of fantastic shows being ignored at the Emmys: Just look at Friday Night Lights, almost consistently ignored ’til its final season. Or Buffy which never got acknowledged. Doesn’t make them any less good in the long run but the Emmy acknowledgement would be nice.

      But like you, I’ll keep on telling people to watch it to, just as I did The Wire before it!

  18. Darcy says:

    I’m so disappointed you are routing for some emmy love for Parenthood but didn’t mention Erika Christensen. Her performance this whole season brought me to tears.

  19. Gilda says:

    Lana Parilla has added so many layers to that character and does such a good job playing really three roles (Stable boy regina, Evil Queen, and Mayor Mills) differently while also remembering that they are the same character at heart, just changed by age and environment. I’d love to see the Emmys break out of their tradition of not nominating scifi and fantasy shows; I think the blatant stereotyping that they do of these shows makes them a lot less respectable. It’s foolish and it discredits what could otherwise be a very well-rounded award show, in my opinion.

  20. Gilda says:

    A little surprised Lana Parilla didn’t enter the lead actress race. Obviously Ginnifer Goodwin is one of the two heriones and therefore should be in the lead catagory along with Jennifer Morrison, but I actually feel like Regina got as much, if not more, screen time than Snow/Mary Margret. Snow/MM has come in and out of focus depending on the episode, but Regina is pretty much always playing a primary antagonist in either fairy tale land against the character of the week, or, if Rumple’s doing that, continuing her fight with Emma and Henry in Storybrooke. But three actress in the same catagory on a show can do some major vote splitting, so I guess it was a smart movie. If submitting here ups Once’s chances, I’m all for it.

    • dee says:

      I think Regina and Gold/Rumple are equal “leads” of the show, more so than Snow/MM because Snow is only secondary to Regina’s story line. Her stories revolve AROUND her hiding from Regina / being punished by Regina etc. Regina and Rumple may not be the forefront of every episode but their mark is always there and they have the strongest presence even if they’re only on screen for 5 mins. Emma could also be seen as a lead if the focus was only on Storybrooke “land”

      • Sasha says:

        According to the creators, Emma is the lead and Snow, Charming and Rumple are the core characters.

        • Gilda says:

          Hmm, interesting. I guess that would make some sense if they’d included Regina. But I really think she’s just as central as any of them. I think Regina and Rumple have pretty equivalent roles and purposes on the show. But ah well

  21. Brandy says:

    Why is January Jones on here?? She’s had about 20 min of screen time all season. And while amusing, hardly deserves an Emmy nomination.

    What about Lauren Graham? I’d choose her in a second over the annoying Monica Potter.

  22. Ruby says:

    Not enough people are watching Southland. That’s the only think I can think of for why Regina King is not winning this poll OVERWHELMINGLY.

    Jennifer Carpenter is the most underrated actress in Hollywood.

  23. princessme says:

    wow where are lena headey and katharine mcphee? how can you compile a list like this and leave out these two talented actresses?

  24. Misakh says:

    Glad that Kiernan Shipka made your list…

    I hope she gets nominated and wins… Can’t imagine the reaction of Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, John Slattery, Christina Hendricks and January Jones in the audience… Sally just won an Emmy ahead of them!!!

    Her “Are you there God? It’s me Sally” moment still haunts me up to now… Mad Men is really showing its bests for the past few episodes…

  25. Amaia says:

    It’s a pity Michelle Forbes is not appearing a lot this season on “The Killing” but in only 5 minutes she can make a great performance. But, Anna Gunn should receive some credit for her great performance on “Breaking Bad”.

  26. Liz says:

    Emilia Clarke, ‘Game of Thrones’
    Christina Hendricks, ‘Mad Men’
    Sandra Oh, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
    Archie Panjabi, ‘The Good Wife’
    Lana Parrilla, ‘Once Upon a Time’
    Maggie Smith, ‘Downton Abbey’

  27. Alexandria says:

    2 Words; LANA PARRILLA!!!!! :D

    • Sandy says:

      I so agree. Shes the best out of all of them. They ought to give a reward for being outstandingly gorgeous. I hope she wins.

  28. TaraFan says:

    Sweet Maggie Siff brings to Tara Knowles a complexity and sensitivity matched only by her own. More so than any other actor, I use Maggie’s personal traits to inform my choices for Tara. I’m sure that happens with all actors and writers on long-running shows, but it still fascinates me every season that often Maggie’s concerns about Tara parallel Tara’s emotional life. I’ve said this before, but the character of Tara is often the most difficult to write. Tara is the bridge between the civilian world and the outlaw world. Often adopting the point of view of the audience—wondering why she’s falling in love with men that do such bad things. Her opinions and feelings ping-pong back and forth across the emotional table. Sometimes her arc feels like a runaway train. Fortunately, in the hands of Maggie, that runaway train is always real and fascinating to watch. – Kurt Sutter

  29. downsidebob says:

    AGAIN MISSNG. New good additions rizzoli & isles,leverage, burn notice, person of intwrest

  30. shane says:

    What About Jessica Lange????????

  31. chuckles says:

    um, where is the love for Jesika Nicole? She was amazing on Fringe playing 2 Astrids.

  32. Karina says:

    Lana Parrilla and Morena Baccarin!

  33. Katie B. says:

    Lana Parrilla needs to be nominated! I mean she gave a heart and soul to an otherwise hated character! She’s introduced so many layers and was able to bring out every little emotion that one could possibly feel (EVEN when she isn’t speaking).

  34. jeremy frank says:

    cersei? gretchen mol? is this site stupid or are the emmys stupid?

  35. BAMItsBritters says:

    I believe it’s the year of the newcomer. She shined on ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time’, and plays one of the most complicated characters on television. She has the talent, now all she needs is the support! Please, vote L A N A P A R R I L L A .

  36. dee says:

    Though I’m surprised Lena isn’t listed as well.
    She’s been amazing this season.
    Emilia had more to work with last season imo

  37. Anita says:

    Lana Parrilla’s talent is outstanding, the show wouldn’t be as much as interesting/entertaining if she weren’t playing EQ/Regina. Also she gave the characters on OUAT so much life and layers, it is fun to watch.

  38. dude says:

    Lana Parrilla. She’s simply brilliant.

  39. Fernando says:

    Morena Baccarin – She is the best

  40. fiona walsh says:

    Lana Parrilla all the way. She is outstanding as the Evil Queen/Regina. Fantastic actress who has made me love a character that I would normally despise. Hope she gets a nomination.

  41. AvidCinner says:

    I will be extremely disappointed if Lana Parrilla does not get at least a nomination for Best Supporting Actress – even though I think she’s definitely not a supporting actress in Once, however, if it helps her chances of being nominated by being in that category, I’m all for it.

    OUAT is my new favorite TV show, surpassing Game of Thrones, True Blood, and Dexter, however, I have to admit that I would not watch the show at all if Lana wasn’t in it – her portrayal of Regina Mills/The Evil Queen was absolutely brilliant, she is something special to watch. Finally a fairytale “villain” with so many different aspects within one character. Lana brings the typical villain-like traits of both ruthlessness and vengeance to Regina and The Evil Queen, but also adds some atypical villain aspects like – a sense of empathy, conscience, regret, and sadness – not to mention a hilarious sense of humor and heaps of sarcasm. I think I’ve experienced the whole spectrum of human emotion while watching this season of Once – thanks to Lana Parrilla, she’s just that good!

    For those of you who thought – TLDR – here’s the edit:

    Basically, Lana is brilliant – ALL THE AWARDS!

    • BAMItsBritters says:

      I don’t know you, but let me just say I LOVE YOU! ;) Haha. That description was epic. Amazing. Fantastic. THAT is why she’ll win. | Vote Lana |

      • AvidCinner says:

        Why thank you, fabulous stranger and fellow Lana lover :)
        She definitely deserves both a nomination and, of course, the win!
        So excited she’s currently in the lead here with the most votes ..

  42. Alexa says:

    Lana Parrilla takes the cake <3

  43. Mandy says:

    Sandra Oh was beyond amazing this season. The episode where she and Owen break up was pure talent.
    Archie Punjabi is also amazing. Her quiet pain in the elevator and all those moments with Alicia… wow.

  44. Me says:

    I’ve come to adore Lana Parrilla, so much. Her character is just so layered and complex, not to mention very beautiful. At one moment I’m horrified by her actions, then the next I feel like she’s tugging on my heartstrings because she’s being so vulnerable. And I love her sense of humor, how her lines are often so dry and delivered with a deadpan expression. She’s very intriguing. :)

  45. eowyn972 says:

    You better vote for LANA or the Oncers SHALL DESTROY YOUR HAPINESS

  46. Tuane Debacker says:

    Lana Parrilla #simplesassim

  47. criscasantos says:

    LANA PARRILLA deserve more then everyone!!! She is the BEST!!!

  48. Hallie says:

    LANA PARRILLA ALL THE WAY!! She is outstanding actress and her charater(Regina) is so deep and full of pain and Lana does a perfect job with beinging the pain inside her come to life. Go Evil Regals let’s make Lana pround <3

  49. Phoebe says:

    Lana Parrilla deserves this for her outstanding performances, her tear jerking performances, her heart breaking performances and for just being an all round AMAZING actress.

    She’s been given so much to work with as she has to play multiple characters throughout one season of Once Upon a Time. Four characters in 24 episodes of a new TV show is sometimes more than some actors ever play and she had to channel four different personalities and play characters that have been through many different things.

    Most actors come up against a wall, they can’t properly portray the emotions felt by that character but Lana does it perfectly. She lives vicariously through her characters and she changes herself! She even said that she watched a scene from one of the episodes and she didn’t even recognise herself! She changed, she wasn’t herself! She had to be someone else and she did it perfectly. She deserves at least a nomination to show how amazing she is at acting and playing characters that are totally different and not at all like anything she’s ever played before.

    Many people don’t know who she is and that’s fine, but you should! I love many actresses in this poll and otherwise and I’ve seen many shows/movies with actresses in who give outstanding performances, but I’ve never seen someone as talented as Lana Parrilla. I’ve never seen someone who deserves as much recognition for her acting like Lana. No one I’ve seen has ever been able to do what she’s done and is doing with her acting and I really believe that she deserves at least a nomination.

  50. david says:

    Where is Jessica Lange ?