TVLine's Performers of the Week: OITNB's Lori Petty and Uzo Aduba

THE PERFORMERS | Lori Petty and Uzo Aduba (tie)

THE SHOW | Orange Is the New Black

THE EPISODES | “It Sounded Nicer in My Head” and “People Persons”

THE PERFORMANCES | The fourth (and arguably best) season of the Netflix dramedy triumphantly tackled the complex challenges presented by mental illness via the characters of Lolly and Suzanne. Their portrayers, Petty and Aduba, deftly conveyed every conflicted, nuanced emotion as their alter egos remained jailed rather than hospitalized.

Though Lolly was eventually taken to a psych ward (albeit for a murder she didn’t actually commit), her struggle to distinguish between fact and fiction came to head in Episode 7 when Healy found her in a “time machine” she had built out of cardboard and scrap metal. Petty tore at our heartstrings as she held a tight grasp on a potato she thought would help her return to a better time when everything was still possible, and made clear her desire to undo whatever birth defect caused her to be haunted by the voices in her head. This followed an excellent string of flashbacks that let Petty explore what life was like for Lolly prior to her wrongful arrest — a journey that began with her as an aspiring journalist and culminated in her being homeless and selling coffee out of the back of a shopping cart.

Meanwhile, the Aduba-heavy Episode 11 was an absolute gut punch, first by revealing how Suzanne wound up in prison before being forced into a gladiator-style fight opposite Kukudio in present day. To learn that the character was presumably charged with kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter after a series of unfortunate (and inadvertent) events made her situation all the more tragic. As she begged and pleaded to stop being taunted amid every blow she landed on her ex’s face, we, much like Suzanne, were brought to tears. It was an astoundingly raw and real performance from an actress still very much at the top of her game.

unnamedHONORABLE MENTION | We can’t blame Veep‘s Mike for wanting to capture Gary’s election tiebreaker meltdown on video: Because TonyHale is amazing at what he does, the rant was a piece of art. As Selina’s body man lashed out at the rest of the surly, snarky staff for their lack of passion, Hale funneled all of his sadness and anger into a sputtering, shrieking tirade that took down every member of the administration for his or her role in Meyers’ defeat. Hale’s shaky, nervous laughter — one of Gary’s hallmarks — infused the monologue with a slightly off-kilter feel, as though the next accusatory finger-point would tip the bag man off the deep end. It’s rare that the HBO series gives us a peek at Gary’s innermost thoughts; when it does, Hale polishes them into gleaming comedic gold.

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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34 Comments
  1. MJ says:

    Both of their performances were absolutely heart breaking. I felt so bad for Suzanne being forced to fight. I also felt bad for Lolly. When they took her to the psych ward and she was looking back at Healy, I felt so bad for her.

  2. Kevin K says:

    No one from GoT didn’t receive one of the honorable mentions in the season finale? SHAME!

    • Joey says:

      None of the acting on GoT this season was particularly noteworthy.

    • Lala says:

      Don’t worry the real important recognition will come in a few weeks when GOT sweeps the Emmys again like it has always done.

      • DV says:

        Hasn’t it only one like once or twice in the acting field? That’s hardly a sweep.

        • Lala says:

          I was referring to the Emmy nominations which will be announced in a few weeks not the actual Emmy awards…last year GOT had 3 acting Emmy nominations in 2 of the four Drama acting categories. I’d definitely consider it a sweep seeing as GOT only qualifies for the supporting actor/actresses categories.

    • Jeanna says:

      If not an acting nod, can we at least give the director and production crew of Game of Thrones performers of the week honorable mention? That finale was a remarkable episode.

    • 666 says:

      Pff what? LOL! The acting in GoT is dreadful. Be happy the show is so popular for the gorgeous set design and the tits/fights and stop asking for impossibles.

      • Ivo says:

        Your comment is a joke, and you obviously are not watching the show, there were not a single sex scene during the entire season.

  3. Dude says:

    Lolly did commit the murder, she just was defending Alex.

  4. SassyAF28 says:

    What about Carlson young for scream this week? She was amazing when she was screaming and crying in the pool

  5. Joey says:

    Speaking of that Lori Petty-heavy episode, it was pretty impressive to see that younger actress so easily take on the younger version of Lolly that Petty had created. She looked and sounded exactly like her!

  6. Spence says:

    I’m sure she’ll be covered her in another week, but I have to say Danielle Brooks as Taystee in episode 13 was a serious work of art. Lori and Uzo were also exceptional and totally deserved performer of the week

    • Anne says:

      Yaaaa! Brooks is so talented; normally she’s the funny and/or rational one, but her anguish and rage…just dang.

  7. Shaun says:

    Don’t watch those shows and there isn’t much else on competition wise.How about someone from Preacher,maybe Tulip?

  8. Brian says:

    Yes! To Lori Petty getting some love. She was amazing on Orange this season.

  9. N says:

    Lori was mt fave

  10. MMD says:

    Lori Petty and Uza Aduba should both be up for Emmy noms if there is any justice in this world. I just hope that they are able get Lori Petty’s character on the proper meds so she can return or at least recur next season. After all she really didn’t kill anyone.

    • Joey says:

      Out of everyone, Lolly is the one character introduced who, as far as we’ve seen, really didn’t do anything to land in a federal prison. Technically the only charge the cops could have legally arrested her for was public vagrancy, but I’m sure she’s been in jail for other charges. Honestly, a real psychiatric hospital (like what Healy is currently checked into) would probably be the best place for her while they figure out the right medication for her.

  11. Regina Swan says:

    Thumbs up to Lolly’s character, what an emotional scene when she asked Mr Haley if they traveled back in time. It had me balling like a baby. Great performance definitely an honorable mention!!!! Also Suzanne ‘ character the whole 4 seasons definitely shows she knows how to take control of the scene great performances by both would love to see them in future shows!

  12. Anne says:

    Lori Petty *brought* it this season. Damn. If that doesn’t earn an Emmy…..

  13. Me34 says:

    Yes to both of them! Lolly made me felt like crap (in both episode 7 and 11) with those little moments, like when she didn’t get help with her shopping cart and that devastating delivery of “That’s OK. We just keep trying” to Mr. Healy. Suzanne’s heartbreaking storyline is just a combination of bad circunstances, both times on why she ended up in prison (I think her flashback happens to be the best one on the history of the show) and the moment she got in the fight. And as people pointed out in comments above, Danielle Brooks for the end of episode 12 (I didn’t cry that much since Futurama’s “Jurassic Bark”) and the entire 13th episode. And since we’re talking about great OITNB performances, what about Adrianne C. Moore and Taryn Manning for last season? How do they play out in this year’s Emmys?

  14. Sophia says:

    JLD too was amazing this week on Veep…the final shot of her sitting on the bench in the rain looking so lost!! Give her another Emmy already!! Agree with Tony Hale too. Ben was right! Gary’s rant made the whole year worth it

  15. Leo says:

    None from 12 Monkeys? The episode was one of the finest hour on TV and the cast especially Emily Hampshire bring their A Game!!

  16. flutiefan says:

    I have been asking when anyone will start to bring up Lori Petty in the Emmy race. She has been nothing short of a revelation this season. I hope she gets the recognition she deserves for Lolly.

    Uzo sometimes breaks my heart but it’s all more of the same. Others on this show shine as brightly as she does, perhaps even moreso.