Performer of the Week: Alex Borstein

THE PERFORMER | Alex Borstein

THE SHOW | Getting On

THE EPISODE | “Please Partake of a Memorial Orange” (Dec. 6, 2015)

THE PERFORMANCE | There’s probably a special place in hell for the kind of person who’d hijack a memorial service to serve her own desperate, attention-seeking needs. But the cringe-inducing comic touch Borstein brought to Dawn Forchette’s meltdown on last Sunday’s Getting On was nothing short of heavenly.

We’d already known that Nurse Dawn had opted out of dialysis for her end-stage kidney failure — mainly because her doctor’s cheerful news about her bloodwork meant an inevitable end to the elaborate pity party which she’d been throwing for herself. But after colleague Marguerite (Lindsey Kraft) caught Dawn gorging herself on half-and-half, pound cake and bagels in the break room, Borstein unleashed the petty viciousness that’s almost always percolating behind her pitiful character’s eyes — hissing, “Mind your own business, p—y!”

When Dawn later learned that her recklessness had actually put her life in danger, we saw her carefully orchestrate a meltdown in the middle of a farewell service for Birdy — a sweet, long-time resident of the Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit — as well as other patients who’d died that month at Mount Palms Memorial Hospital. As her closest confidante Didi (the fantastic Niecy Nash) attempted to stave off the attempted interception — launching into a spoken-word rendition of “California, Here I Come” dedicated to her late patient — Dawn spilled to horrified onlookers the story of her blighted ovum, then read a poem that was (naturally) all about herself: Dawn comes to work hard every day, so people get well quicker/ She tends to them as best she can, but the truth is she’s so much sicker.

Panicked that a last-minute (and equally inappropriate) eruption by her boss Jenna (Laurie Metcalf) was stealing focus from her plea for a live kidney donor, Dawn began a tearless, sobbing tantrum. “I am here for a reason! I have a lot to give! I deserve a kidney!” As much as you wanted to look away, Borstein’s delivery — part petulant brat, part terrified wretch — wouldn’t allow it. By the time Dawn unexpectedly manipulated Jenna into offering said organ, Borstein managed to make her character’s joyous eruption — jumping up and down and chanting “I got a kidney! I got a kidney!” — hilarious, grotesque and a little bit triumphant.

TRANSPARENTHONORABLE MENTION | Amazon’s Transparent would be nowhere without the strength of its ensemble. However, its Season 2 premiere worked largely because of Amy Landecker, who gave her bravest performance yet as unhappy newlywed Sarah. Whether silently conveying an immediate sense of regret as she walked down the aisle, or falling under the spell of anxiety at her reception before verbalizing her growing disdain for Tammy, Landecker excelled at showcasing her on-screen ego’s trepidation and self-absorption. In allowing the performance to be as vulnerable as it was, Landecker accomplished the rare feat of building empathy for a character that probably doesn’t deserve it.

LEAHONORABLE MENTION | Scream Queens’ season finale might have been all over the place, but there was one thing viewers could count on throughout the hectic two-hour reveal-a-thon: Lea Michele’s rock-solid performance as — spoiler alert — the show’s big killer, Hester Ulrich. From her hilarious explanation of how she became a neck-braced monster to her chilling final confrontation with Jamie Lee Curtis’ Dean Munsch, Michele proved once again that she’s capable of handling anything Ryan Murphy’s team can throw at her… including a bedazzled eye patch.

WORSTHONORABLE MENTION | “You probably don’t want to get to Level Two Jimmy-Drunk around all these people,” Edgar warned Mr. Shive-Overly at the start of You’re the Worst‘s season finale — and oh, we are so glad the cynical Brit didn’t heed his friend’s advice. If he had, we wouldn’t have been treated to such a layered, entertaining and, above all, truly funny performance from Chris Geere as Jimmy (poorly) navigated his many levels of intoxication. We weren’t just impressed by Geere’s ability to believably slur and stumble across the baby shower at which Episode 13 took place. It was the way he masterfully and hilariously zig-zagged across Jimmy’s emotional conflicts, bouncing from angry to sad to content and back again, that kept us fixated. Until the FXX comedy returns next year, we’ll be raising many a Solo cup full of trash juice to Geere’s superb performance.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

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. Roki says:

    Well deserved for lea michele. She was underrated throughout the season but her performace in the season finale was great, especially the last scene with jamie lee curtis was epic

  2. Lucas says:

    I think Zahn McClarnon, Kirsten Dunst and Patrick Wilson did a stellar job on this week’s episode of Fargo. At least one of them should be mentioned.

  3. Leo says:

    Lea Michele needs her own show ASAP and one not produced by Ryan Murphy & Co.
    Plus, the whole cast of Agents Of SHIELD deserves a shout-out.
    And Constance Wu is also amazing this week as Lao Ban Santa.


    I kinda thought Regina King and Emma Roberts should be on the list.
    That performance by Regina King when she was on that bridge with her daughter was magnificent. Especially when she started communicating with signs… that hit me right in the feels.
    I also thought Emma Roberts has really outdone herself in the finale. She was very hilarious and her acting deserved significant praise!

  5. haley1020 says:

    what about candice patton and jesse l martin for the flash this week!? those 2 almost brought me to tears omg

  6. byron says:

    Just also want to say there was a pretty fascinating guest star turn by Brooke Lyons on iZombie, which I thought might have gotten an honorable mention…

  7. Eli says:

    Nothing for ‘The Leftovers’?

  8. I think Jonny Lee Miller’s scenes with Alfredo should’ve been mentioned because he managed to show so much emotion while unraveling the evidence surrounding his friend.

  9. Dennis says:

    Can’t wait for the MAD Tv reunion!

  10. sorude says:

    “Lea Michele’s rock-solid performance:. Amen! She is unappreciated. People transfer their frustration for Ryan on to Lea way too often. She has only done what is asked of her and 99% of the time is spot on.

  11. Dude says:

    YES to Lea Michele. I’ve been sort of underwhelmed by her thus far but she was easily the best thing about the finale. Fantastic performance.

  12. R
    Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone, powered by Easyblaze

  13. Guest says:

    Agreed on Lea Michele. I’ve always been a fan, even if people hated Rachel Berry (and many transferred that hate on to Lea), she was always a solid performer. Her whole run as Hester has been very well done and under-appreciated, the moments when the camera wasn’t on her were great, you could see that she always “on”. And this episode, especially, she really shone. Hopefully she will get something good next.

    • anon 49 says:

      Amen to the transferring of hate. People act like she has this mystical powers and is to blame for all things wrong with the Ryan’s writing and his projects. She also gets hate for being able to get along with Ryan.

  14. john utah says:

    Getting on is the darkest comedy ever. Gonna miss em all

  15. cuius says:

    A mention for Patricia Heaton of The Middle – after 153 episodes they could be “phoning” it by now, but the whole cast work at it, and she gave it the full treatment this week

  16. Petey says:

    Neicy Nash should get a HM just for being so great on tv shows.

    Like seeing Lea Michele on this list. No matter if she gets one line or pages of dialog from Ryan she has always deliveres.

  17. Ashley says:

    I know it’s random and was unlikely to happen, but I was sort of hoping that the little girl who plays Emma on General Hospital would get an honorable mention after her performance on Thursday.

  18. niloofar says:

    No Rupert Friend, he was dirturbingly great in the lst episode.

  19. niloofar22 says:

    No Rupert Friend, he was dirturbingly great in the latest episode.

  20. flowerduh says:

    I give props to Alex because her performance was REALLY funny! I’m sad that Getting On is no longer with us after tonight.

    Also Chris Geree in, “You’re the Worst” was also rock solid. In fact the whole cast was funny! Can’t wait for next season.

  21. lll says:

    The west family on the flash, Emma/Hook on OUAT (more hook than Emma), and Emma on GH should get an honorable mention.