Performer of the Week: Shiri Appleby

Shiri Appleby UnREAL Finale

THE PERFORMER | Shiri Appleby


THE EPISODE | “Future” (Aug. 3)

Among the flurry of favorable adjectives one could use to describe UnREAL‘s Rachel Goldberg — due largely to Shiri Appleby’s consistently layered performances — “unpredictable” is perhaps the most fitting. And never was Rachel, nor Appleby, more unpredictable than during this week’s season finale.

The complicated events of the finale forced Rachel to present a completely different face to nearly everyone she encountered on the Everlasting set, a feat she accomplished with such conviction that it left us wondering if Appleby had somehow cloned herself into five different, equally-flawless actresses.

Between Rachel’s fake-down (that’s a fake breakdown) over Adam, her attempted manipulation of Anna and her haunting exchange of “I love you”s with Quinn, to compile each of Appleby’s breakout moments throughout the finale would be impossible. So let’s just celebrate her stunning portrayal of a woman at her wit’s end and look forward to another season of twisted perfection.

Frankly, it didn’t even matter which contestant Adam eventually picked; in our book; Appleby won that finale.

JulieHONORABLE MENTION | Much has been written about the “likability” — or rather, the lack thereof — of Julie Klausner’s acerbic, self-involved character in Hulu’s new comedy Difficult People. But unless her Julie Kessler winds up sitting behind you (and your kids) at a Broadway show or making cringe-worthy jokes during your Oscar party, who cares? In just a half hour, Klausner brings to life a woman who you’ll secretly laugh with (“An understudy, it’s like a fancy word for disappointment,” she cruelly tells some tiny theatergoers at a matinee for Annie) and openly laugh at (as she pees herself on a Brooklyn sidewalk due to an Uber malfunction and the shock of having her Twitter hacked). The brilliance of Klausner’s performance is the way she not only detaches Julie from any sense of social appropriateness — but defiantly insists that despite all evidence to the contrary, she’s in the right. It’s all a bit of a tightrope walk — how often can you enjoy an acidic dessert without a balancing note of sweetness? — but Klausner’s sly wit makes it go down easy.

JasonHONORABLE MENTION | Dr. John Ellison has had enough of the Complications (upon complications) that stemmed from his saving of Antoine Tyler’s life. So this week he told the lad’s dad “EZ” how it was going to be, in a face-off that afforded Jason O’Mara the opportunity to intensely go toe-to-toe with the incarcerated gang leader. Having suffered physical and emotional torment on a daily basis, John laid out two options, one of which buys the good doctor and his fam peace in perpetuity. Otherwise, he tells all. “Dead or alive, I will bury you,” John made clear, O’Mara’s piercing stare shrinking the towering convict down to size. When EZ tried to play the Protective Dad Card, O’Mara let surface John’s deep-seated feelings on the matter, having had to stand by, helpless, as his young daughter succumbed to cancer. “I would do anything to trade places with you, to have a child who could be saved,” he bellowed, “so figure it out!”

Which performances form the past week knocked your socks off? Hit the comments!