Jennifer Hudson Dove Cameron

Performer(s) of the Week: Hairspray's Jennifer Hudson and Dove Cameron

THE PERFORMERS | Jennifer Hudson and Dove Cameron

THE SHOW | Hairspray Live! (Dec. 7, 2016)

THE PERFORMANCE Live musicals are always a gamble, but when you’re pocketing a pair of queens, at least the odds are in your favor.

Though nearly everyone in the cast of NBC’s Hairspray Live! delivered captivating performances on Wednesday, TVLine is declaring this one a tie between Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (as dynamite diva Motormouth Maybelle) and Disney Channel darling Dove Cameron (as pretty-racist-in-pink Amber Von Tussle).

Hudson didn’t appear until midway through the three-hour broadcast, but just like the plate of glazed ham in her hand, she had something truly delicious in store for the audience. Her Motormouth was consistent — grounded in her truth and maternal to a fault. When the mood was light, she made a joyful noise, but when skies turned gray, she too went dark, conveying an eerily relevant message through gut-wrenching, face-melting vocals.

Meanwhile, Cameron didn’t miss a beat, nailing every cutting remark, vocal run and dance step with such effortless precision that it forced everyone around her to step up their game. She also used her natural charisma to turn a traditionally loathsome villain into someone you never wanted to leave the stage. (Don’t get us wrong, we’re still firmly #TeamTracy, but we also wouldn’t have said no to an encore or two from Amber.)

Chandler Riggs Walking DeadHONORABLE MENTION | Ironic, isn’t it? Chandler Riggs has never seemed to us a stronger leading man than in the episode of The Walking Dead that knocked Carl all the way back from badass assassin to scared little boy. And to be clear, that’s not a diss of the 17-year-old actor’s tough-kid routine — it was impressive enough that we weren’t surprised it “scared the s—” out of Carl’s intended victim, Negan. But where Riggs really shone was in the moments when his character was at his most vulnerable — when, lip aquiver, he revealed to the villain what he hid beneath his bandages and, under extreme duress, performed the most heartbreaking rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” that we ever hope to hear. Definitely one to keep an, um, eye on.

unnamedHONORABLE MENTION | In Rectify‘s penultimate episode, Aden Young broke our hearts by revisiting Daniel’s past and then pondering his future. His recollection of being gang-raped in a prison shower was devastating, a six-minute monologue in which Daniel found distraction in the “blessed drops” falling from a nearby spigot. Just as heart-wrenching was his dismissal of the notion that Chloe stay put, letting him be “good, weird Uncle Dan” to her unborn child. “I’m mad for you. You’ve given me if not hope, hope for hope,” he initially responded. But a series of numbers — “19 years and eight months away” from true freedom, three hours of sleep a night, making “$314 a week” at a job he is lucky to have — formed his case against the playing of house. “It’s not romantic,” he observed. “It’s stark. It’s real,” as was Young’s impassioned performance.

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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30 Comments
  1. iHeart says:

    I so called half of this

  2. webly3 says:

    The fact that Aden Young wasn’t Performer of the Week this week is mind boggling. I watched Hairspray Live! and thoroughly enjoyed it and would have definitely gave an Honorable Mention to JHud, but the work that Young did on Rectify was outstanding. Also, I disagree on Chandler Riggs’s performance. I don’t find his acting very believable. It has improved, but he still is a weak link among the ensemble.

    • Ricky23 says:

      I wish that they had waited until next week for the finale of Rectify as I can imagine that will be a doozy and would be a better episode to give him Performer of the Week. He’s phenomenal in the role as are all of the cast.

      • K says:

        I’ve seen people mentioned two weeks in a row before. Let’s hope Aden Young gets it. I know he was mentioned once before, but Clayne Crawford has been consistently breaking my heart as Teddy too. I hope Daniel shares scenes with Amantha, Teddy, and Tawney before it’s all over.

        • Ricky23 says:

          I would imagine he will have a conversation with Amantha – hopefully a face-to-face not just a phone call. Did Daniel ever apologize to Teddy for what he did to him – if he didn’t it would be good if he did but I somehow think the focus for Teddy will be to see if he and Tawney can move forward with a relationship. Maybe next week Aden Young gets performer of the week and Clayne and Aigail and the woman who plays Janet as honorable mention. Need to have the tissues ready…think we’re all going to need them.

    • Tim says:

      Agree with you 100%

  3. LADY_in_MD says:

    I cried along with the rest of the cast during “I know where i’ve been” very much enjoyed Hairspray Live the girl they picked for Tracy did a great job too seeing how this was her first time performing on tv my only issue was with the sound at some points I could barely hear the singing

  4. Temperance says:

    I don’t get the Dove Cameron love. She was fine, but others were significantly better. She was pretty invisible.

    • dude says:

      Naw, I’d say she was one of the standouts. Her and Jennifer Hudson were by far the best. Martin Short and Harvey Fierstein were also good. Ariana Grande, Andrea Martin and Maddie Baillio were acceptable while Kristin Chenoweth, Derek Hough, and Ephraim Sykes were rather disappointing. Garrett Clayton was just the worst.

      • Temperance says:

        Dove didn’t register for me. Everyone else was decent – and Clayton was a lot better than Zac from the movie. He could certainly dance, and his voice was great. He’s supposed to be a superficial Elvis-wannabe.

      • Luli says:

        The girl that plays Inez was great!

  5. Matt says:

    I was really hoping for Jaime Pressly from Mom. I thought her performance was heartbreakingly good.

  6. Paul says:

    Many Moore This Is Us struggling with the question Did I do this to you r erring to her daughter Kate after dealing with a doctor telling all about Gastric Bypass surgery.

  7. MLD says:

    Fully agree that Aden should have been Performer of the Week bar none. What will it take for him to get some Emmy love in 2017 given this is the last year of the show? Fan support helped get Tatiana Maslany her ultimate Emmy (although I would argue it was not for the right year). I’d love to see the lead dramatic actor and actress statues go to Aden Young for Rectify and Vera Farmiga for Bates Motel, another vastly overlooked and deserving show with strong lead acting. Hairspray was ok, Jennifer was good with one standout song (surprise, she can sing!) and I would haven her an honorable mention at best.

  8. Danyelle says:

    I know you don’t usually cover Rectify so I am glad to see Aden here this week, that Chloe scene had be bawling. Also glad to see Dove C. mentioned as well as Hudson (what a voice!)

  9. Carlos Alvarez says:

    Jaime Pressly for Mom was very good this week from her talking about her mother’s suicide to her scene at the Dr’s office with Anna Farris. I was very impressed with her acting on the dramatic side.

  10. Alec says:

    To me: Jennifer Hudson, Aden Young and Jaime Pressly (Mom).

  11. MLD says:

    Carl on The Walking Dead? No…

  12. Joey Padron says:

    Happy Aden Young got an honorable mention. He did great in last episode before the finale, he’s always great on Rectify.

  13. kirads09 says:

    i am putting in an honorable mention for Brendan Fraser on The Affair as Gunther. 1st Ep – creepy by just stalking and presence. Then we see him in Noah’s flash back – the nudge he gives him and how he is pacing around while Helen and Noah (tried) to have a conversation. That never goes well for them, does it? Then Ep 3 – we are shown more. This is going to be so good. Brendan already getting some buzz about it. That is why I started watching. I don’t know if this is just a long arc or whether he will be in all season. I hope so – I will watch as long as Brendan is on. I don’t normally watch The Affair. Too dark, depressing and dismal. I don’t find ANY of the characters particularly likable at all. But when I read Brendan was guesting, had to tune in. Can’t wait to see more. I have to bristle a bit at the “unrecognizable” thing. Sure – he’s aged and gained weight. If you are expecting him to look like he did as Rick in the Mummy – he doesn’t – but that was 1999 folks! That jawline and kinda weird (but sexy) shaped lips – couldn’t miss that it was him. As he always has, Brendan leaves me wanting more. I think he has more depth to him and is underrated as an actor. Hope this starts a huge comeback for him if that is what he wants.

  14. Alec says:

    Oh, and Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood were just perfection in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Samuel Barnett in episode 7 and Elijah Wood in episode 8.

  15. N!loofar says:

    Just give Aden Young all the awards! 😭 Rectify is a perfecct show.

  16. Paul says:

    OMG…Aden Young has broken my heart with his performance as Daniel for every season of Rectify. His performance is stunning in a cast of stunning performances. The best, most intelligent show on TV. I loved JHud in Hairspray but comparing her with Aden Young is apples and oranges. Aden all the way!

  17. abz says:

    I think Jaime Pressly gave a pretty great performance on Mom this week. It’s nice seeing a different side of Jill. I’m completely with Christy though on the whole baby thing. Jill should have a baby if she wants to at some point, but at this moment she’s not having it for the right reasons nor is she ready for it.
    Also, I love Bonnie, but there was something off with her character this past episode and the writing. I know they were trying to make her look comedic, but she just came across very cold and rude.

  18. Aden Young is amazing. I don’t know how I’m going to live without Daniel and Rectify :'(

  19. jerrired says:

    All great choices. Since she did so great on Hairspray, I can finally admit I regular watch Liv and Maddie, mainly because it’s an actual decent kid’s show and Dove’s acting (playing twins with very different personalities) is very good. So I’m happy to see she got recognized here. Jennifer Hudson was OUTSTANDING on Hairspray. They need to make more musical movies just with her in it. Also I just recently caught up with this season of Rectify, Aden has been just amazing all season but last week’s episode, he was true to character and little quiet amazing acting moments. I’m really looking forward to the series finale this week. Can’t wait to see Aden on other projects in the future.