Sarah Paulson's Performance in American Crime Story

Performer of the Week: Sarah Paulson

THE PERFORMER | Sarah Paulson

THE SHOW | The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

THE EPISODE | “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” (March 8, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE To date, Sarah Paulson showed us a cool, calm and collected prosecutor, diligently getting her ducks in a row in building case against accused murderer O.J. Simpson. But in “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” so many of those ducks, plus others, transformed into dominoes that started toppling over in rapid succession, testing the resolve of even the best person.

As Marcia fought battles on multiple fronts, Paulson revealed incremental cracks in the legal eagle’s facade. With every corner of her world slowly crumbling, Clark sought only the comfort of son Travis’ embrace, but instead was met with legal blindsides from ex-husband Gordon. So desperate was she to hold onto her role as mother, Paulson made you feel her plight in informing Judge Ito, “I cannot go late tonight; I have to take care of my kids” — only to then be compelled by her boss to do the exact opposite.

Clark also found herself targeted on superficial levels, as the media mocked her style (of lack thereof). That teed up a sequence, set to “Kissed by a Rose” and dreamily directed by executive producer Ryan Murphy, in which Paulson’s beleaguered alter ego beamed as she underwent what she thought would cure at least one of her ills — “Farrah??” — only to see even that dream dashed upon debuting her new ‘do to the world.

But then came the knock-out blows. First, when F. Lee Bailey laid the foundation for Mark Fuhrman’s downfall, by grilling the detective about his history with the N-word. On the heels of that, Marcia was aghast to learn that her first husband had leaked nude photos to a tabloid. That was the straw that broke this counselor’s back, as she finally gave into tears at the prosecution table, prompting Ito to adjourn for the day.

“I don’t know how to do this,” Clark later copped, slumped to the floor of her office in tears, to colleague Christopher Darden. “I just can’t take it.” And with that devastating series of events passed, our verdict came in: Paulson, a four-time Emmy nominee, has made a case for grabbing gold this September.

zosia-mamet-girls-japanHONORABLE MENTION | This week’s Girls gave Zosia Mamet a stunning showcase of unabashed joy, sweet flirtation, crushing disappointment and even wicked nightclub abandon. As we checked in on Shoshanna’s exciting new life in Japan, the flighty twentysomething received a rude shock: Getting “managed out” of her job due to corporate downsizing. While tearfully relaying the news over the phone to her American boyfriend Scott (Jason Ritter), Mamet deftly showed us just how important Shosh’s career and new life had become to her — and how Scott’s failure to grasp that fact turned out to be an unexpected betrayal. By the time Shoshanna wound up nervously donning a vinyl nurse’s uniform at an S&M club with her Japanese crush/boss Yoshi, their kiss was all but inevitable. But as Shosh packed for her flight back to the U.S. the next morning, Mamet used a conflicted expression, then the slight hint of a smile, to telegraph that her character would be defiantly staying put.

yael-grobglas-performer-of-the-weekHONORABLE MENTION | Leave it to Jane the Virgin‘s unsung MVP Yael Grobglas to turn the painful process of giving birth – to twins, no less! – into a comedic tour de force. Petra completely lost her cool during labor, allowing Grobglas to unleash a storm of wicked barbs and priceless facial expressions (see: the picture to the right). But there was also a vulnerability to the actress’ performance as Petra found herself facing the unknown, with only Jane by her side. She was even – dare we say it? – kind of sweet while marveling at her daughters. After witnessing Grobglas’ impeccable ability to mix humor and emotion, we can’t wait to see what challenges (and laughs) motherhood will bring for her character.

HONORABLE MENTION | In this THE REAL O'NEALSweek’s The Real O’Neals, Eileen declared that if son Kenny’s crush didn’t like him back, the guy obviously had no taste. We’d say the same of anyone who isn’t enamored of Noah Galvin, who portrays the freshly out-of-the-closet teen. In “The Real Lent” alone, Galvin made us wince as he took his big brother’s advice and asked “You gay, bro?” to the object of his affection, then made us LOL as his character put on cologne that he hoped suggested he was “edgy, confident, but also like[d] to cuddle.” The actor made us smile ’til our faces hurt as the date sparked a dancetastic fantasy sequence. And, finally, when Kenny was ultimately rejected, Galvin brought us so close to tears that we almost had to borrow his alter ego’s “classy exit line”: “I’ve gotta pee so bad, I can taste it.”

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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31 Comments
  1. Elladara13 says:

    Wish there wasn’t as much revisionist history going on about Marcia Clark on this show. I get it’s a piece of fiction but she did a horrible job at the trial. Even people who thought he did it, if they put themselves in the jury’s shoes they couldn’t honestly find him guilty based on the job she did (not) do. She dropped the ball big time.

    • Ann says:

      I remember watching the trial on tv. I thought she did a good job. Whoever’s idea it was to let OJ put on that bloody glove is an idiot though; I think that was Darden’s idea. But Johnny Cochran’s team did a whole lot better than the prosecutors by playing the race card.

      • Elladara13 says:

        She was the lead prosecutor so the buck stops with her. Your example was one of the many things she messed up.

    • Matrices says:

      The show is not shying away from one of her big blunders (Mark Fuhrman)

    • Carm says:

      The show is not showing her doing a good job. The defense does better than her at every turn. And most people are sure he did it and people have been convicted on a lot less evidence than they had on him.

  2. Steve says:

    Where is Viola Davis? She won the TV this week with her performance in HTGAWM!!!

  3. Jeff C says:

    Viola Davis on HTGAWM. I could not control my eyeballs, pure sadness all around :/

  4. Kristy says:

    Ummm….Viola Davis wrote her name on the Emmy this week on How To Get Away With Murder…and she doesn’t even get an honorable mention?!? Color me confused.

  5. Cate53 says:

    Agreed Paulson was excellent as Marciano in this week’s episode. Of course it is an alternate take that is more sympathetic than the media at the time but she did a great job.

    Also loved Petra on Jane the Virgin and agree her performance this week’s was great. Yael Grobglas has made the scheming selfish Petra on of my favourites (bit like the Mellie turnaround for me!)

  6. LADY_in_MD says:

    I love Jane and Petra’s scenes together the two of them play off each other so well I was tearing up when Jane told her the words her mom and Abuela said when they were in labor oh and the baby names super cute I love how she had no idea about frozen

  7. Jason Paul says:

    Glad to see The Real O’Neals get some love. This week’s episode was much stronger than the weak 2nd episode that aired after Modern Family during its premiere night.

  8. SassyAF28 says:

    what about viola davis for htgawm she was brilliant this week omg

  9. Mr. Tran K says:

    Sarah Paulson’s performance as Marcia Clark should give her an Emmy nomination.

  10. Mak says:

    Where’s Viola Davis!!!!

  11. dude says:

    Sarah Paulson was amazing and HELL YES to Yael Grobglas. She is consistently one of the best actors on Jane the Virgin and has done a remarkable job adding layers and humor to what could be a very superficial character. This week she was fantastic and totally stole the show.

  12. Tv Fan says:

    Ehm Viola Davis?! She just gave the best performance of anyone on network television this year. She was so powerful!!!!

  13. Cris says:

    Viola Davis deserves an HM at least!

  14. Bryan says:

    Yes Zosia Mamet. I wouldve loved it even more if the episode stayed on her the whole time.
    And Yael Grobglas is always reliable to deliver (pun intended!) on jANE THE vIRGIN

  15. pecola says:

    No Viola Davis?!

  16. Jules says:

    Viola Davis was perfection this week. When the nurse handed her her dead baby to hold I lost it. I know she’s been mentioned her a ton but this last episode was some of her best work. Right up there with the “no makeup” episode. I was really impressed with Famke Jansen too. She’s great on the show. She had some great scenes this week.

  17. Cheyenne says:

    I’d call it a three-way tie between Paulson, Sterling Brown and Courtney Vance. The entire cast is brilliant.