Connor Jessup's Performance in American Crime

Performer of the Week: Connor Jessup


THE SHOW American Crime

THE EPISODE | “Episode Seven” (Feb. 17, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE | If you were to break down Wednesday’s episode of American Crime by lines of dialogue spoken, you’d likely find Jessup’s name somewhere near the bottom of that list.

Although most of the hour focused on Jessup’s Taylor Blaine, the actor didn’t actually say much during the harrowing events that occurred — and that’s why we were particularly gobsmacked by his performance in Episode 7.

Ever since Taylor tearfully confessed to his mom — way back in the season premiere — that the Leland High basketball team “did something to [him]” at the captains’ party, it’s been clear that Taylor’s frustration, confusion, sadness and anger have been simmering just below the surface, despite his pleas for the rape investigation to just go away.

In this week’s installment, Jessup finally let some of those emotions come to a boil, but he remained a master of subtlety from start to finish. As Taylor came into possession of a handgun and debated how and on whom to use it, Jessup quietly showed us all the ways in which Taylor was unraveling: a frustrated sigh, ragged breath, the nervous way his hands curled into fists while considering his next move.

When Taylor eventually did exact his revenge by shooting basketball player Wes on Leland’s campus, the gasp-inducing glimpse of Wes’ bloody torso was hardly necessary; the horrified, manic look in Jessup’s eyes told us all we needed to know about the gravity of the situation at hand.

Later, as Taylor sought out his mother to confess the crime he’d committed, Jessup didn’t break down in tears or scream his dialogue. Instead, he allowed Taylor to become a terrified young boy, too afraid to do more than sit and stare. As he had done throughout much of the hour, Jessup turned silence into pure gold.

unnamed-3HONORABLE MENTION | There’s no shame at all if you reflexively groaned during this week’s How to Get Away With Murder, right after Paula Newsome‘s Joyce Robinson interrupted a plea deal offering 15 years in prison to the man who murdered her son. But the veteran character actress’s raw, deeply moving performance immediately transcended “grieving parent’s courtroom outburst” tropes — and made for one of the ABC Thursday drama’s most compelling Case of the Week arcs ever.  Newsome’s final scene — holding Carlos Miranda’s Jason in her arms as he was taken away to serve a life sentence without parole — was a moment of impossible grace and heartbreaking beauty. Here’s hoping it awakened casting agents to the actress’s considerable talents during this busy pilot season.

unnamed-4HONORABLE MENTION | We knew Agent Carter’s Dottie Underwood is an elite killer. What we know now is that the Black Widow Ops grad can slay with her words as well. In her first arc of Season 2, Bridget Regan delivered a turn that was no less than highly entertaining, with most every utterance from Dottie’s lips a lethal zinger. What pleasantly surprised us was Regan’s A-plus comedic delivery — such as the barely perceptible head tilt when announcing her “surprised face,” the deadpanning of “Your mother?” or the dreamy gaze when likening truth serum to “mother’s milk.” In Dottie, Regan has brought to life a villain as super as the heroes she vexes.

Flexing one’s acting muscles beneath old-age makeup is no easy task, but David Anders‘ sinister wit and pathos shone through all the cosmetic enhancements in Tuesday’s iZombie. When his previously frozen undead father started to thaw out, Anders’ Blaine told him that 50 years had passed during his time-out, hence the actor’s physical transformation. Anders was hilarious in his gleeful malice, painting a fake picture of a post-Rapture world as part of his bizarre revenge scheme. But when his pops begged for assistance, Blaine’s joy turned to pain. “Please help me – where have I heard that before?” he replied. “I know, I said it. ‘Daddy, please help me, [my nanny] Frau Bader beat me.'” Blaine may have been deeply hurt as child, but the damage resulted in one deliciously layered performance from Anders.

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. Jayjay says:

    What about Andy Lincoln on The Walking Dead? He was brilliant last week. Damn, the whole cast deserves the honor for “No Way Out”.

  2. Selma says:

    Yes. Connor Jessup was extraordinary in American Crime and has been since the start. I really hope he gets some Emmy recognition; he was soooooo good. I love that show.

  3. Amanda says:

    Agent Carter yea!!! Those episodes were amazeballs!!

  4. Ally says:

    Louie Anderson as Mama Baskets on Basket should have won. His performance this week was mind blowing and beautiful!

  5. Spence says:

    Jayjay beat me to it, but I feel someone from TWD deserves recognition. Really, anyone. Andy Lincoln as Rick was stellar, Melissa as Carol had great moments, and my personal favorite was Merrit Wever as Denise. She had so many subtle moments that portrayed more than any words could, and displayed a character terrified yet brave and earnestly wanting to help.

    • Lexi says:

      Absolutely someone from TWD should be recognized … it was a great episode. I’ll give it to Andrew Lincoln… wow!! And Merrit Weber and Benedict Samuels. Their scenes together were subtle and strong

    • abz says:

      Just watch American Crime and you’ll see that every single actor’s performance on that show blows any TWD performance out of the water each and every week. This was absolutely the right decision for Performer of the Week in my opinion.

      • Ron says:

        I agree with both sides. I’m in complete agreement that Connor Jessup deserved Performer of the Week. His performance was so heartbreakingly moving. But I agree with others that say someone from the cast of TWD (likely Andy Lincoln), or even the collective cast, deserved an honorable mention. Andy Lincoln/cast of TWD, Performer of the Week? No. Honorable mention? Absolutely.

        • abz says:

          Personally, I wasn’t as moved by Andrew Lincoln’s performance this past week as everyone else, particularly that scene beside Carl’s bed. It felt very “look at me, I’m acting”. As for the rest of TWD cast, I didn’t really see any other standout this week either.
          Maybe its just because I find myself getting a little tired/increasingly bored at times with TWD and the whole Alexandria storyline and I can’t stand Morgan. I’m hoping that Jeffrey Dean Morgan coming on soon will make things a little more interesting again.

  6. Annie says:

    Definitely the best choice. Incredible performance – heck, the whole cast of American Crime deserves kudos but this past episode was definitely Jessup’s time to shine.

  7. Sam says:

    I honestly believe that woman from law and order svu deserve some mention! It was good acting

  8. abz says:

    Thank you for recognizing Connor Jessup. This actor has been amazing and I hope his career only goes up from here. Everyone on this show has been absolutely incredible. Connor Jessup, Joey Pollari, Regina King, Lili Taylor, and Felicity Huffman. This show is one of the most intense and heartbreaking shows I’ve ever watched and each week is an emotional experience.
    I only really care about two things for the Emmys this year and that’s for both the shows and casts of American Crime and The Leftovers to receive the nominations they absolutely deserve.

  9. Erin B says:

    Blaine is such a bad guy, but David Anders makes me root for him.

  10. Charlene says:

    Connor Jessup was exactly the correct choice.

  11. John Davis says:

    Yes! Connor!

  12. star says:

    The last time I cried while watching a show was during mcdreamys death on greys anatomy, but I cried this past Thursday because of the lady from how to get away with murder, even the guy going to jail made me cry. I hardly get invested in case of the week but paula Newsome on HTGAWM made me invested, I could feel every emotion she had, such an amazing actress, she deserves more.

  13. Angela says:

    “American Crime” and “How to Get Away with Murder” both in the column this week. Woo :). No argument here on both Connor and Paula’s performances.

  14. juan says:

    I watch all these shows and agree with absolutely each one of these. I swear American Crime has the best performances and Conner Jessup did amazing this week expressing all of Taylor’s emotions. Dottie Underwood is a delight even though she is evil and that’s due to Bridget. Also the guest starring role of Paula Newsome was great too where is really felt bad for the mom but saw the hope in her after the horrible situation.

  15. opus says:

    SOOOO glad you selected Connor Jessup as performer of the week. An amazing episode and performances by all but particularly Connor. Wish more of you were watching this show. It is truly great.

  16. Sean says:

    So glad Paula Newsome was recognized. I have always finally been a fan of hers whenever she pops up (even in commercials). I was excited back in the day when she was a regular on Women’s Murder Club (I THINK that was the title, with Angie Harmon). I’m always surprised she doesn’t get more work and this proves my bafflement! She is so good, people!

  17. dan says:

    Paula Newsome’s performance on HTGAWM was terrific! Typically the “case of the week” is the weakest element of the show, but this past week it was the best element. Excellent choice in recognizing Ms. Newsome’s. I hope the Emmy voters were watching!

  18. Dan says:

    I was hoping Anna Faris would get some love this week for Mom, but I’m sure in the coming weeks there’ll be some opportunities for her given the fallout from this week’s episode.

  19. Bruce Pettus says:

    Both Connor Jessup and Joey Pollari are giving award winning performances. It’s gut wrenching to watch and probably the best network program in the history of television. Thanks ABC.

  20. karoline says:

    To whom do I admit that I have been waking up every morning, heartsick and brokenhearted, as if Taylor were my own son? To whom do I turn for comfort, because I know somewhere in the world I’m sure there is a soul so tortured, and I may have not sensed that i should open a line of communication that may have helped?
    I feel as if I am in recovery from a broken heart, and I must remind myself that this is, at once fiction, but non-fiction at the same time.
    I have a teenage son whom I love and adore. I am certain I would kill someone who took advantage of him and abused him so badly. This show has created a space in my heart for any child who is so woefully misunderstood.

  21. Diane says:

    I agree the way Connor Jessup expresses the way he is feeling with just the looks on his face is incredible. Both boys are so heartbreaking to watch. The way they are bullied and treated is very hard to watch. I agree with a statement I read a few weeks ago about feeling like you need a shower every time Felicity Huffman speaks. I am very curious to see how this season ends. This season I think is better than the first but both are very good,