Favorite Performance in a TV Show in 2020
Of course there are any number of performances in any given year that deserve to be lauded, and 2020 is no exception in that regard. But rather than break things down more specifically we each just offer you our favorite performance of 2020. Who did we miss and can you forgive us?
Andrew Grevas: Judy Greer (Kidding)
Greer’s performance as a grieving mother trying to figure out how to move forward with her life provided the emotional core for this standout series. While Jim Carrey’s Jeff provided the elements of fantasy and often absurdity, Greer’s character anchored us in the reality of what this show was truly about and that reality was often tough to observe. It’s a testament to her acting that Jill never came across as villainous or unlikeable as she defied the audience’s desire to see her and Jeff reunite. To cope with losing her son, in an accident she was the driver in, Jill needed to go it alone to pick the pieces of herself up and Judy Greer gave an all-time great performance in a really layered, complex and emotionally heavy role.
Christopher Blackmore: Antony Starr (The Boys)
His performance as Homelander grips your eyes and burns itself onto your memory. Homelander is a dangerous, complicated character that commands the screen whenever he swoops in. It’s refreshing to see a character you adore to hate and I look forward to seeing where Starr’s performance takes this cerebral character.
Simon McDermott: Letitia Wright (Small Axe)
In amongst a very strong cast that includes Shaun Parkes and Malachi Kirby, Letitia Wright still manages to shine brightly with a confident and charismatic portrayal of Black Panther Altheia Jones. From rallying people at a protest to representing herself and defending her actions in court to a racist legal system, Wright’s performance is as effortless as it is captivating. She looks as comfortable in billion-dollar blockbusters as she does in this smaller British feature and it speaks volumes to her talent. Wright is one of the hottest young actors working at the moment and it’s only a matter of time before she’s fully recognised, she’s certainly one to watch.
Honorable Mention: Malachi Kirby (Small Axe)
Brien Allen: Amanda Collin (Raised by Wolves)
Raised by Wolves was my pick for “Most Hotly Anticipated Show of 2020” last year, and I was not disappointed. Now is it perfect? No, it is not. It’s more like an insane rollercoaster ride that feels like it almost ran off the tracks a couple of times towards the end. The one thing that kept the show anchored though was the amazing performance of Amanda Collin as Mother.
The premise of Raised by Wolves is that in the near future, a new religion based on ancient Mithraism rises up leads to a war that makes Earth uninhabitable. The Atheist faction sends a small scout ship with two androids (Mother and Father) and 12 human embryos to begin a new colony on Kepler-22b (a real planet believed to be potentially habitable). 13 years later, a Mithraic ark ship arrives and the conflict that everyone was fleeing from begins all over again.
In the midst of all of this, we see Mother pass through the roles of eager newborn herself, a nurturing mother, a grieving mother, malfunctioning android, and even schizophrenic android. And that’s just the pilot episode. What Mother goes through in the rest of the episodes spans the full range of the human experience, from bliss to torture.
First and foremost though, Mother is an android and there’s never any doubt in Collins’ performance. She’s right there in that uncanny valley. Mother is, of course, not supposed to have emotions, or “impulses not dictated by programming” as she puts it. Thus, much of the emotion she expresses comes in the smallest tick or the slightest head tilt—like she doesn’t even know she’s doing it. It’s a perfect performance. You’re rooting for Mother through it all, even though everything happening around her, and to her, is completely unhinged at times.
Runners Up: Sonoya Mizuno as Lily in Devs, Rosario Dawson as Allegra in Briarpatch
Derrick Gravener: Hong Chau (Homecoming)
Laura Linney and Tom Pelphrey in Ozark deserve some major props for their work this season, particularly the latter who was snubbed for an Emmy nomination. Judy Greer also deserves some love for the funny and yet heartbreaking line she often toed in Kidding. A piece of the tiara should also be broken off for Search Party scene-stealer Shalita Grant, but my MVP (most valuable performer) for 2020 has to be Hong Chau in Homecoming. Wonderfully put together and yet frazzled and slowly deteriorating at the end, she made Audrey Temple so captivating, it’s just a shame that the storyline did not turn in the same caliber of work.
Caemeron Crain: Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul)
Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman may be the titular character of Better Call Saul, but I feel like Kim Wexler is its heart. Of course this may be because we don’t know what is going to happen to her in the same way that we do when it comes to other characters, but that’s only part of it. The development of Kim as a character continues to feel both surprising and real, and that’s down to Rhea Seehorn, who I assume won all of the Emmys for the role this year…