Andie McDowell finally has her first chance at an Emmy nomination for Best Motion Picture/Limited Supporting Actress for her performance as Paula Langley in Netflix’s “Maid.”
The 10-episode series chronicles Alex, played by MacDowell’s real-life daughter Margaret Qualley, who leaves an abusive relationship and becomes a housekeeper to improve her life and that of her daughter Maddy. MacDowell plays Alex’s bipolar mother, Paula, an artist struggling to make ends meet. She’s been strong in movies like “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Ready or Not,” but her supporting performance in “Maid” is one of her best, allowing her to mix vulnerability , joy and intense emotional rage. As Lucy Mangan told The Guardian, Paula’s role is “gradually fleshed out and always played and treated sympathetically”. Emmy voters, take note.
When Paula is first introduced to us in the series premiere episode, “Dollar Store”, she is a seemingly happy and creative woman living in an RV who is thrilled to see her daughter and granddaughter, ready to help in any way possible. . But as the series continues, Alex’s frustrations with his mother become clearer as Paula shows signs of irresponsibility, as well as bipolar disorder with her extreme mood swings. Everything turns to chaos later when Paula tries to break into the rental house which she no longer has access to and is ordered by the court to spend time in a mental hospital. MacDowell is heartbreaking in her performance when she angrily blames her daughter for putting her there. Inkoo Kang of the Washington Post writes that MacDowell does “the most impressive job of his career, cutting through thoughts and moods as quickly as the pages of a book”.
Something that could help MacDowell receive his first Emmy nomination is that TV stars of years past have been nominated and won Emmys for playing bipolar characters. Claire Danish won back-to-back Emmys in 2012 and 2013 for her role as Carrie Mathison on “Homeland,” a character who throughout the Showtime series struggled with mental illness while trying to defeat terrorists. More recently, Zendaya won an Emmy in 2020 for playing Rue in ‘Euphoria,’ a character struggling with anxiety and ADHD, but later in the first season he admits she has bipolar disorder, her swings authentically portrayed throughout the HBO series.
MacDowell has been acting in film and television since the 1980s, and an Emmy nomination for “Maid” would mark her most high-profile nomination yet. In a prolific career spanning over 80 credits, she won Best Actress at the Los Angeles Film Critics and Film Independent Spirit Awards for her performance in Steven Soderberg“Sex, lies and video” (1989). She shared some ensemble awards for Robert Altman“Short Cuts” (1993) by , and the most notable awards ceremony for which she received the most nominations was the Golden Globes, where she was nominated for “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”, “Green Card”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, and more recently, “Maid”.
Qualley also received a Golden Globe offer for her lead performance, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, and she also looks set for Emmy recognition, which would land mother and daughter a well-deserved double nomination. . As Kristen Lopez said in Indiewire, “It’s no surprise that MacDowell and Qualley are fantastic together, having a natural ease and conveying a sense of dark history between them.”
MacDowell has considerable competition in the Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series category. We can start with Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus”, the standout female performance of Mike Whiteof HBO’s remarkable drama series. According to Gold Derby odds, the other four players considered favorites in this category are Kaitlyn Dever in “Dopesick”, Connie Breton in “The White Lotus”, Laurie Metcalf in “The Dropout” and Ellen Burstyn in “The First Lady”.
Alan Sepinwall in Rolling Stone calls Paula “one of the richest roles [MacDowell] ever had”, and I completely agree. MacDowell has the chance throughout 10 gripping episodes to develop a fascinating three-dimensional character with bipolar disorder, who has a passion for creating art, and whose relationship with his daughter and granddaughter is always complicated. Emmy voters, please don’t let MacDowell’s brilliant turn in “Maid” go unnoticed.
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