Performer of the Week: Yvette Nicole Brown

Community - Season 5A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Yvette Nicole Brown

THE SHOW | Community

THE EPISODE | “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing”

THE AIRDATE | March 13, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | To earn this distinction over Jim Rash in the same week as Dean Pelton unleashed a hilarious, furious rap while dressed as a peanut bar (then broke down and tearfully admitted, “I don’t know what that was!”), Brown couldn’t just be good, she had to be great.

And was she ever!

As the episode began, the funny lady was the chirpy, God-fearing Shirley that we all know and love. But the second Jeff and Hickey convinced her to doff her halo and help them sell a stash of stolen chemistry textbooks, everything about her changed. Gone were her sweet smile and sing-song voice; in their place, a dangerous glint in her eyes and the rat-a-tat speech pattern of a mobster from an old Dick Tracy movie.

As one would hope, Brown appeared to be having a blast unleashing her inner tough broad. She was only getting started, though. Joan Crawford couldn’t have been any more badass than Shirley was while negotiating Britta’s finder’s fee for securing them a fence. And she was downright scary when Chang stumbled upon the scene.

“He can’t leave,” she said simply, her arched eyebrow conveying as much menace as a loaded gun.

Before all was said and done, Shirley had tied up not some but all of her accomplices and learned from guest star Paul Williams that the textbooks that were supposed to make them rich… were misprints. But it didn’t really matter, because by then, Brown had shown us a side of Shirley that was so unexpected and funny, it should’ve been criminal.

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lauren-weedman-looking-dorisHONORABLE MENTION | HBO’s Looking has inspired plenty of buzz — and lots of debate — about its portrayal of modern gay men, but it’s been Lauren Weedman as Doris, the pediatric-nurse roommate of Murray Bartlett’s Dom, who’s quiety stolen every scene in which she’s appeared. Last weekend’s Season 1 finale was no exception, as Doris took on hosting duties at Dom’s pop-up restaurant, exhibiting with minimal dialogue such natural concern and affection for her BFF that you could feel their years of friendship inform her every move. Best of all, though, was the scene in which Doris approached Dom’s financial backer and possible love interest Lynn (Scott Bakula) and tried to smooth over Dom’s earlier cantankerous behavior. Weedman infused Doris’ breezy opening words about Lynn’s flower arrangements and her “spreading pollen all over the place” with an urgency that indicated she had so much more to say — and a hesitancy that hinted she wasn’t sure if she should say them. Finally, though, as Lynn continued to half-ignore her words and make his march to the restroom, Doris stammered to the chase — “Dom’s worth it. He’s just…he’s worth it.” — then turned and walked away. Just like Bakula’s character, we were left surprised, intrigued and definitely wanting to know more. Good thing, then, that Weedman’s been upped to series-regular status for the show’s recently greenlit second season.

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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 15HONORABLE MENTION | Too often, TV cops are held up as paragons of virtue. Sure, they may “bend rules” or get in the face of the occasional perp, but it’s rare that we see deep flaws, the kind that result in deviant behavior. But Law & Order: SVU‘s Kelli Giddish this week revealed to us a Detective Rollins spiraling toward rock bottom, a blowsy cigarette smoker compromised, to the tune of $15K, by a gambling habit. To make good on her debt (and prove she wasn’t an informant), Rowlins ran some sketchy errands for some sketchy people, agonizing each step of the way — never more so than when Benson called her on the carpet. In the end, yes, Rowlins had the opportunity to shrug off some of her bad deeds, committed as they were as an asset to the vice squad. But Giddish made sure we knew that Rowlins’ moral debt might never be paid off.

Which performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below and let us know!

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. Gail says:

    Lauren Cohen deserved it this week. She is always awesome, but really kicked butt this week

  2. Name That Tune says:

    Loved Yvettte this week.

  3. Shaun says:

    I woulda chose Keri Russell or the guy who plays Flint on Black Sails

  4. Tracy says:

    I thought Claire Holt was fantastic this week on The Originals. I would have had her as a mention, if not the performer of the week.

  5. Ron says:

    Great choice this week! It’s all too easy to choose someone from a drama. But comedy isn’t easy, and Yvette gave us a whole new side to Shirley.

  6. CandyCandy says:

    I think Raúl Castillo stole the show in Looking every week and in his last scene in the season finale he nailed it. He was hearbreaking in his break up scene with Patrick.

  7. Arie says:

    I would have said Kate Burton again for Scandal. She was great!

  8. Brad says:

    Vera Farmiga was amazing once again on Bates Motel.

  9. Elyse says:

    She was great in Psych this week too!

  10. megs says:

    Good call on Giddish! That character has really pulled me back in to SVU- Rollins-centric episodes have been my favorites lately.

  11. Sweetheart says:

    Dylan O’brien – Teen Wolf

  12. Anna says:

    Good choices all around! I’ve not been a big fan of Giddish’s character on SVU, but this was a great episode, and Kelly was awesome.

  13. Et al says:

    Yay for Yvette. She has been so wonderful in this role. Excited to see what she does in season six and in the movie ;)

  14. Amber says:

    Claire Holt was great this week, it’s a shame to see her overlooked for a character that Originals fans are going to miss.

  15. Edward says:

    He maybe in the spotlight a little too much but McConaughey performance in the season finale of True Detectives this week warrants him some form of recognition. I would have also given props to Chord Overstreet.

  16. fanfaren says:

    Kelli Giddish was just amazing in #RollinsInTheDeep (Gambler’s Fallacy). Such a frickin good episode it’s my fave of the season and will be hard to top!

  17. Loved loved loved this week’s episode of SVU. Kelli was super awesome! And so was Donal Logue!

  18. abhishek says:

    How come Claire Holt did not get a special mention. I thought she was pretty good especially the last scene where she is driving off smiling as if free from the shackles that held her back

  19. Joey Padron says:

    Yvette was great on this week’s episode of Community. Vince Gilligan’s appearance was good.

  20. DebLG says:

    Good call. Yvette was phenomenal!!

  21. TV Gord says:

    Yvette was great in last week’s episode, too! Her Shirley can too easily be overlooked amid all of the craziness, but her lines crack me up all the time! That Dan Harmon rarely wastes a line on Community!

    • Angela says:

      Yeah, it’s a shame she doesn’t get more proper storylines on the show, ’cause there’s so much they could explore with her character. But she’s great with the one-liners, I love when she lets her aggressive side out, and she’s incredibly funny, and loyal to a fault to her friends. Plus, Yvette herself seems like a lovely person. So I’m all for recognizing her talents.

  22. Josh says:

    I thought Segel and Hannigan put on their best performances since season 2.

  23. Tina says:

    Noel Fisher (Shameless) was amazing this week!

  24. Ella says:

    I find Shirley to be a truly terrible character. She is a self-righteous, sanctimonious hypocrite.

  25. Shroom says:

    Does TVLine have an actress bias or are all of TVs great acting only coming from women? Ever since this column started, I think we can count the number of men featured as Performer of the Week on one hand and it’s pretty close even for the Honorable mentions. I’m not being a misogynist here, but I definitely think that a lot of actors are being overlooked. I don’t even think it’s a feminist thing, I just think that the pool of performers in consideration is a little lop-sided

  26. tara17 says:

    Yvette was fantastic as usual in this week’s episode. Community never ceases to surprise me. The premises are crazy and hilarious and the entire cast sells them well.