With the Emmy nominations just passing and the usual contenders once again going to the gala, I couldn’t help but notice The Walking Dead was once again passed up on awards for the Acting Performances. In fact, this year they’ve been passed up for even the technical awards. Not even an award nomination for makeup or costume design! Why The Walking Dead doesn’t at least get nominated for these awards is baffling.
While in the past the show’s rabid fanbase—which includes me—has been outraged over the lack of nominations for acting, I didn’t think it deserved them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cast (most of it at least) and some of the actors were honest to God great finds, but the show’s plot is spread so thin no one gets enough screen time to show they actually deserve praise in the form of trophies.
This is not the case anymore, and this is by no small measure because of showrunner Scott Gimple. Since he took over at the start of season four, he’s focused more on creating scenarios that examine multiple characters over several episodes, and even several solo character episodes. This allows more exploration of the characters, and it saves on budget because they can keep the same set for several episodes without having to move them to another location.
Without this we never would have seen Beth expand as a character, instead of the other Greene daughter.
This leads me to Melissa McBride’s portrayal of Carol.
Immediately after Frank Darabont was removed as showrunner in the middle of season two, we suddenly saw all of his usual casting collaborators on the chopping block for next season-and-a-half. The fact Andrea was an insufferable idiot may have had less to do with her death than the fact Laurie Holden was hired by Darabont. Andrew Lincoln almost wasn’t cast, his role originally planned for Thomas Jane, who passed it up to play a male prostitute with a giant cock.
Somehow Melissa McBride survived this purge. The writers almost killed her in season three’s episode “Killer Within,” but they ultimately spared her. This proved to be a smart move. In seasons four and five, if anyone deserved a nod from the Emmys, it was McBride.
McBride didn’t even audition for the role. Darabont gave it to her under the impression that she wouldn’t last the season and this is five seasons later. Compare that with Norman Reedus, whose audition was so good they didn’t give him the role of Merle, but they loved him so much they created the character of Daryl specifically for him.
McBride hasn’t even been acting for that long. She’s an industry veteran as a casting director, but acting was only a here and there thing. Now she has by far some of the strongest performances of the show, even surpassing Andrew Lincoln’s maddeningly inconsistent performances.
Surviving past her character’s expiration date in terms of the comics gave her license to take her role somewhere else entirely. Instead of the frail, mentally unstable and naive housewife who was abused (allegedly, but I don’t actually believe she was), we have a strong, well-adjusted survivalist. The show put the abuse center frame, and I found her transformation in season four stupid until Melissa McBride herself explained it with perfect clarity.
A lot of the tactics she used to survive that relationship (with her husband) pre-apocalypse are coming in very handy now. She’s very observant, very methodical. In many ways, I have seen her as a hero from the beginning. Deep down inside, I knew she had struggled against a lot in her life. I knew she was trying and struggling and she was still here. – Melissa McBride on Carol
This is why I believe her comic counterpart is lying about her abuse. She lied for sympathy so people would protect her.
And the Emmy Goes To…
While “The Grove” is one of the show’s highlights and easily one of its best episodes, nothing in her performance is groundbreaking. Even her now distinctive line “Look at the flowers” is a reference to another work. It was a strong performance, but not incredible or thought-provoking. I don’t think she was snubbed in season four. Season five? Damn right she was.
Leading a one-woman charge to take out Terminus and it being practical and not retarded is great television. Her performance didn’t really shine until they reached Alexandria, particularly this scene in episode 12, “Remember.”
Seriously, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, nominate McBride or we riot.
Read More: In Defense Of The Walking Sim