A message to members of the TV Academy: Want the easiest way to placate grouchy TV critics? Nominate Rhea Seehorn for her work on AMC’s Better Call Saul.
This really should be a breeze. This isn’t one of those situations where you’re ignoring The Wire or the first few seasons of Friday Night Lights or The Americans entirely and so no one expects you to recognize their casts. Plus, didn’t you see how grateful folks were when Kyle Chandler and Matthew Rhys finally surfaced on Emmy radars, however belatedly? Saul is a perennial outstanding drama series nominee and a show that has picked up acting nominations for Bob Odenkirk, Giancarlo Esposito, Jonathan Banks and Michael McKean (albeit for the wrong season) over the years.
So why not Seehorn? Wait. No. Let me rephrase that. So how can you possibly keep ignoring Seehorn? I know you already feel comfortable nominating Esposito and Banks from Breaking Bad and they’re both top-notch on Saul as well, while Odenkirk remains the spinoff’s tremendous centerpiece, but Seehorn is the heart and soul of Better Call Saul.
In a series in which many of the main characters’ futures are already sealed, Seehorn’s Kim Wexler represents the great unknown. Is Jimmy McGill pushing Kim into criminality, dooming her morally, if not mortally? Or might it turn out that it’s Kim and her untapped fascination with con artistry and disproportionate revenge that might be the true bad influence in this ill-fated love story?
Seehorn’s depiction of Kim’s internal ethical conflicts and her journey of self-discovery make the answer to those big questions pragmatic and emotionally suspenseful. That was especially true in the first part of the sixth season, which found Kim on parallel spiritual tracks co-orchestrating the elaborate long con against Patrick Fabian’s Howard Hamlin and looking to expand her pro bono platform. Is Kim Wexler missing from the world of Breaking Bad because she chose the light and abandoned Saul Goodman to his life of shady clients and shadier compromises, or because she slipped into a deeper darkness, whipping her perfect ponytail all the way? Viewers are about to find out.
The greatest obstacle to Seehorn’s Emmy recognition might be that, at this point, she should clearly be competing as a lead. There’s no show without Odenkirk, but without Seehorn, there might not be stakes. If any voters are struggling because of categorical accuracy, perhaps check out “Hit and Run,” which represents Seehorn’s wildly assured episodic directing debut, complete with simmering tension and bursts of perfectly staged visual comedy, and a great acting showcase as well, with her first extended scene opposite Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut.
There’s no wrong way to nominate Seehorn for Emmys, and this year she offered new opportunities.
Don’t miss those opportunities, voters. And while you’re at it … Please consider Fabian and Michael Mando, less recognized pieces of the cast who shined in this run of Better Call Saul episodes.
This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Why ‘Better Call Saul’ Star Rhea Seehorn Deserves an Emmy Nomination