Performer of the Week: Lili Taylor


THE SHOW | American Crime

THE EPISODE | “Episode 1” (Jan. 6, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE | From the first moment of American Crime’s second season premiere, we could tell that Ms. Taylor’s performance would be something special — and that was before we’d even laid eyes on her. The emotion in her voice as blue-collar mom Anne reported son Taylor’s rape to the 911 dispatcher spoke volumes about not only her character’s love for her boy but also her — and, shortly, our — absolute horror over his assault.

From there, the drama flashed back, revealing how Anne gradually learned what had transpired. At first, she was every parent who’s ever been called into the principal’s office, as Ms. Taylor unleashed her alter ego’s disbelief and anger that her kid had gotten himself suspended from the elite school that she’d worked so hard to get him into. But, when at last Anne got the whole story out of Taylor (Connor Jessup, a shoo-in for a future Performer of the Week), Ms. Taylor’s eyes shone with the pain that the Blaines now shared.

Finally, as Anne realized that Headmaster Graham was an adversary, not an ally — she warned Taylor’s mom against using the R word when his “bad choices” were to blame — Ms. Taylor all but exploded in a fiery display of righteous indignation and incredulity. She was so good, in fact — so earnest, so raw — that we don’t know whether to be hopeful or afraid that the best is yet to come, because it’s sure to be as hard to watch as it will be compelling.

Cassidy FreemanHONORABLE MENTION | Cassidy Freeman gets to do some nice, nuanced work on Longmire, but she was able to share her talent with a far wider audience this week via a memorable turn on the NCIS/ NCIS: New Orleans crossover. As Eva Azarova, a GRU sleeper agent suspected of being on a killing spree, Freeman first showed us the character’s stone-faced, pistol-brandishing side, as the character guarded her secrets. (Freeman also was able to dive into some rollicking action scenes, trading gunfire and body blows when a skirmish broke out.) But once Eva’s true agenda came forth, that’s when the Smallville alum pulled us into the character’s inner conflict, baring her soul during an intense interrogation, and then bidding Abby’s brother Luca adieu with a sweet kiss.

POTY KHONORABLE MENTION | All hail “the queen of all queens”! No sooner had Galavant’s hero learned that The Enchanted Forest was a gay bar, not an actual forest, enchanted or otherwise, than out twirled pop goddess Kylie Minogue to steal the musical comedy’s second season premiere. With cheeky abandon, the disco diva objectified the “beefcake happy meal” in song, making “Off With His Shirt” not just an insta-classic but an “It’s Raining Men” for a new age. (If we may, a secondary honorable mention to Glenn Slater, whose mischievous lyrics left us giggling like the immature schoolkids that at heart we still are.)

| Nine times out of 10, Scorpion‘s Happy does not live up to  her namesake. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised (and moved) by Jadyn Wong’s performance last Monday, in which the guarded Happy showcased a few moments of long-awaited vulnerability. After barely surviving an Arctic blizzard just hours before — scenes that allowed Wong to put Happy’s fear and loneliness on display — Happy let her guard down in front of her father, admitting that she’s not the carefree personality that her parents are. Although the conversation was quiet and understated on Wong’s part, the actress still communicated the gravity of the moment. It’s not often that we see this side of Wong’s character, but her performance had us clamoring for more.

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. Between Georgina Haig, Jake McDorman AND Bradley Cooper, I thought this week’s Limitless was filled with Performers of the Week!

    • Ian says:

      Yeah, I thought Georgina’s clipped, sorta mechanical delivery was very smart. She was playing a genius even without NZT.
      And I couldnt get into the last season of American Crime, but the 2nd season premiere was so compelling. Lili was fab.

  2. leprecaun28 says:

    Lily Taylor is a fantastic actress and doesn’t get credit enough for it

    • Joey says:

      I really still love her most for her role as Lisa on Six Feet Under. Definitely not the most likable character at all, but you could always read every emotion she was putting out there perfectly.

  3. Haley1020 says:

    I wish Melissa benoist had been mentioned she was fantastic this week

  4. spindae2 says:

    I was really stunned by Lili’s performance. She was so on point, no overdramatic moments. Just a confused Mom wabting some justice

  5. Juan says:

    The premier for American Crime was so incredible and full of amazing performances but I agree that Lily Taylor was the best this week. The pain and confusion the mom felt was so real. I’m so excited for this season to continue. Even better than last season, everyone needs to watch this.

    • I agree. Every one needs to watch this season. Felicity Huffman has shown great range as an actress in the two roles in this series thus far. And Lily Taylor’s grief and anger was heart breaking. And the kid who played her son was just so on point.

  6. Mr. Tran K says:

    Wish Amir Arison had been mention this week. His performance on Blacklist was nothing but outstanding. Think of Aram as like the male version of Chloe O’Brian from 24.

  7. Jan says:

    Excellent choice. Ms. Taylor was amazing!
    I also expect American Crime to get several nods in this category. Wonderfully talented cast.

  8. Beckers0505 says:

    Really glad Lili Taylor www picked this week. She was phenomenal! Can’t wait to see how she is the rest of the season.

  9. Gianni says:

    Amir Arison really brought something amazing to his character on the Blacklist this week. Stand out performance of the show! Its great to see that he getting to be more than the awkward tech guy with with an unrequited crush. His range of emotion in this episode was stellar.
    Normally James Spader eclipses the performances of the other actors but Amir stole the show for me. I hope his character gets more screen time now.

  10. HAP says:

    I’m completely on board with the selection of Lili Taylor. My earliest recollection of her was in the 1988 movie Mystic Pizza. Might I suggest that you check that movie out on IMDB to see the staggering number of successful actors that appeared in that film, early in their careers.

  11. Really? says:

    Happy to see Cassidy Freeman and Jadyn Wong get a shout out this week–both ladies, knocked it out of the park. Very well done.