TVLine's Performer of the Week: Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus

THE PERFORMER | Julia Louis-Dreyfus

THE SHOW | Veep

THE EPISODE | “Mother” (May 15, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE | A spoiler alert about the 2016 Emmy race for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Louis-Dreyfus is going to win for a fifth straight year, thanks to her work in last Sunday’s Veep.

As embattled president Selina Meyer awaited a recount in the all-important swing state of Nevada and learned her elderly mother had suffered a devastating stroke, Louis-Dreyfus hilariously unearthed a new layer of her character’s brutal self-absorption, cut with an unexpected dose of relatable humanity.

Louis-Dreyfus beautifully captured the way Selina stuffed down an undercurrent of shock and sadness as, in a rare quiet moment without her staff by her side, she said goodbye to the woman who’d brought her into the world. Eyes darting to and fro, she found surprising poignancy by repeating a colleague’s empty platitude: “Those who you love cannot be lost, because they’re always a part of you. So…” Moments later, though, the actress brought into stark relief her blindly ambitious character’s utter disregard for everyone and everything around her, ignoring daughter Catherine’s sobs and giddily sharing, “We got good news about Nevada!”

Later, at “Mewmaw’s” funeral, it was clear Selina was well past any kind of mourning phase, nixing her mother’s favorite Tim McGraw song (“this is a funeral, not a NASCAR race!”) and taking a profoundly profane meeting with Qatari diplomats (“They’re into ass-play?”). When Selina learned she’d been defeated in the recount just seconds before being called on to give a eulogy, however, Louis-Dreyfus grieved deeply and tearfully — “I have lost so much… it’s just not fair” — not for her mother, but for her own political future. Sure, Selina’s brutal putdown of the deceased — “Thomas f—ing Kinkade couldn’t paint Memaw in a positive light” — could’ve been uttered about POTUS herself, but thanks to Louis-Dreyfus’ incomparable comedic skills, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

NCISHONORABLE MENTION | Michael Weatherly saved his very best for last as Tony processed Ziva’s death — and the daughter that came with it — in his NCIS send-off. Amidst quieter scenes where he bonded with the lass who knows him as “Abba” and bid colleagues adieu, Weatherly brought DiNozzo’s fury to the fore when he found the squad room empty. “What am I doing [here]? What are you doing? What are wedoing?!” he roared at an arriving Gibbs. “We’ve lost agents before, and it’s, ‘All hands on deck!'” When Gibbs noted, “She’s more than an agent to you,” Tony fired back, “She was a daughter to you…. She was no more to me than anybody.” He was of course lying, as evidenced when he moments later avowed, “I’ll breathe when Trent Kort is dead” — affirming both his resolve and his deep sense of loss.

unnamedHONORABLE MENTION | Watching someone grieve is hard. But watching someone who you know hates ceding control grieve… man, that hurts. And as Bates Motel‘s Alex fought to keep his feelings of anger and despair in check in the wake of wife Norma’s murder, Nestor Carbonell made us ache along with, rather than just for, the widower. Whether the sheriff was raging at stepson Norman (“I’m gonna prove you did it, ya piece of s–t!”) or storming the morgue to tearfully replace his bride’s wedding ring on her finger (“I love you… I always will, whether you’re here or not”), the emotions his portrayer cut deep to unleash were so raw and honest that, at times, we had to look away, if only to dab at our eyes.

unnamed-2HONORABLE MENTION
| Every episode of Orphan Black is a showcase for Tatiana Maslany‘s unbelievable versatility. Still, this week’s hour was a standout as the actress’ performance ran the gamut from heartbreaking (as Cosima) to hilarious (as Krystal) to devastating (as Beth). Cosima’s tearful goodbye to Kendall Malone was moving enough, but then Maslany released an anguished, piercing cry like we’ve never heard before when Cosima learned of Delphine’s sad fate. Never one to rest on just a single clone portrayal, Maslany also brought to life a woman on the brink during Beth’s final hours, and then did a one-eighty, completely changing her posture and voice as the uproariously clueless Krystal. Maslany was so captivating as each character, we temporarily forgot that two of our favorite sestras — Alison and Helena — weren’t even in the episode.

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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41 Comments
  1. fdasdfasdf says:

    Is it just me or is this season of Orphan Black the best yet? They truly took the show back to its season one roots while keeping the best parts of seasons two and three. I’m constantly in awe this year.

    • Jon says:

      It really is so fantastic this season! And yeah, I didn’t even realize that Allison and Helena weren’t even in this episode until I read this article.

    • Mel1975 says:

      This year has been spectacular! I love how they’ve managed to tie it all together and bring Beth back into the mix. The addition of Krystal has added much needed humor. Tatiana amazes me with her talent. I sometimes have to remind myself it’s just her portraying all of these brilliantly crafted characters. She deserves all the awards. All. Of. Them.

      I’m curious where the season’s heading after this week’s heartbreaking episode. Also, where the hell is Helena and why isn’t anyone looking for her?

    • Dude says:

      I’m obsessed with this season. OB is at the top of their game and Krystal has earned the title of best clone. Loving her.

    • canadian ninja says:

      Not just you, definitely loving it even more than season one this year. Starting with the Beth story through Mika and now Krystal, both of whom need to come back and meet their sisters. Krystal’s reaction will be epic!

  2. CAN says:

    Vera Farmiga should have gotten a mention too. How she played dead was a scary thing to watch!

  3. Johnny Dawg says:

    No Sarah Shahi? What?

  4. Darlene says:

    And the Emmy goes to Michael Weatherly! Yeah, he nailed it as the man of many walls loses the battle and every wall crumbles leaving raw, heartbreaking emotions on display.
    .
    And the bonding moments with his daughter…incredibly adorable and then some.

  5. Andre says:

    Sarah Shahi from Person of Interest blew everyone out of the water this week.

  6. Susie says:

    My Performer of the Week is Sarah Shahi for her incredible work in Person of Interest. Fierce and devastating all in the same episode.

  7. Bradley James on Damien.

  8. AD says:

    I thought Sarah Drew was phenomenal in the Grey’s finale!

  9. Cosima’s performance broke my heart to bits. That double whammy would have brought a giant down, but not the Leda clones! Evie was a total monster doing that to Cosima.

  10. Hanouf says:

    C’mon!! sarah shahi should be in the top of the list seriously her performance was phenomenal>__<

  11. bluji says:

    I knew MW was going to be on the list after watching the NCIS finale. He pulled an amazing performance for that sendoff episode.

  12. I think this list is spot on. While I have never watched NCIS or POI, I am totally on board with all the others listed. I think every one above should get strong Emmy consideration. If Bates Motel and Tatiana Maslany don’t make the cut again this year, I will let out a Cosima-like cry more powerful than the Black Canary’s. Also, Thomas Middleditch was pretty funny this week, too. VEEP and Silicon Valley should tie for best comedy this year, and SAG Best Ensemble Cast.

  13. Mel1975 says:

    Person of Interest’s Sarah Shahi and Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany owned TV this week. Owned. It.

  14. Roberta says:

    Tatiana Maslany deserves every award-best actress in a drama, best actress in a comedy, best supporting actress, etc. no one in tv even comes close to her acting chops.

    • Ain’t that the truth? I remember her in Being Erica as poor addicted Sarah and she was already good, but no idea what she could become! I’m in awe of her every week!

  15. jenna says:

    great picks, julia louis dreyfus was fantastic this week, the eulogy at the end of the episode was hilarious

  16. Douglas from Brazil says:

    Veep last sunday was the best episode of the season so far and one of the show’s best. I laughed the entire episode. I hope Julia wins again and Veep grabs that second win too.

    • The Beach says:

      The writing on Veep is so good and funny and their delivery so rapid-fire that I often have to watch it twice to make sure I catch everything.

  17. brooke says:

    Sarah Shahi’s performance on Person of Interest 6,741 should have EASILY been a contender here. Can’t believe she didn’t make the cut!

  18. I bow down to Tatiana every time she’s on screen – just incredible – and YAY for lovely Nestor, glad he’s getting some love at last!

  19. Ian says:

    I’m calling next week’s already! Catriona Balfe KILLS it in this latest episode of Outlander. I was emotionally exhausted by everything Claire goes through and the sheer power of it at the end. Throw her all the awards.

  20. SassyAF28 says:

    i wish you guys had mentioned joan allen in the family series finale she was fantastic

  21. darkangel200 says:

    I loathed the NCIS finale, but Michael Weatherly’s amazing performance is one thing the fandom can agree on. Too bad the show threw him aside and wasted him for so many years, because *this* is what they could have had. What a waste. Thank you for acknowledging his talent though, which rose high above the material given him.

  22. Maureen says:

    Sarah Drew was riveting in Grey’s this week (actually she has been for the past two seasons).

  23. Sarah Shahi – Shaw returns in Person Of Interest. Sarah blew our minds. She gave one hell of an emotional performance that made me crying like a baby…

  24. King says:

    Sarah Shahi and Tatiana Maslany for me.

  25. LAwoman says:

    It’s like TVLine was reading my mind. Julia, Nestor and Tatiana were on the top of my list too! I even thought Vera Farmiga was great just being a corpse, she’s that good.

  26. patrickmaloney33 says:

    Rosario Dawson on Daredevil doesn’t get nearly the credit she deserves and she’s better than 3 of these performers! (Tatiana Maslany is the exception)

  27. I find myself impressed with Misha Collins each week. His portrayal as Casifer is fantastic. At least an honorable mention.

  28. Layla says:

    I think Chloe Bennett deserved at least mention her acting was incredible this week I could feel every emotion she was feeling. Also, Sarah Drew ACED her performance on greys anatomy I was in tears just hearing her scream.

  29. JMark (formerly JM) says:

    So happy for Nestor’s recognition! He often gets overlooked since Vera and Freddie are so outstanding each week. Tatiana was amazing as always as was Sarah Shahi–it’s too bad the latter didn’t get a mention.

  30. Luli says:

    Tatiana was amazing as always. She deserves al the awards. I’ll add Sarah Drew to the list of honorable mentions, she was incredible in the finale.

  31. fiberlicious says:

    “Which performances knocked your socks off this week? ”
    .
    Premier of Preacher: WTF did I just watch???