The 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards won't happen until September 18, 2016, but the initial ballots for potential nominees have hit the airwaves. In the massive sea of potential nominations, we have consistent possibilities like Big Bang Theory, Orange is the New Black, Modern Family, and American Horror Story with performer potential from each show. There is the possibility of some dark horse candidates like Bates Motel and Better Call Saul, but only time will tell as we wait out the summer.
But on the subject of Emmy potentials, one show's history specifically comes to mind. If you have ever watched American Horror Story, you are well aware of the show's history with Emmys, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards, going to Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, James Cromwell, and Lady Gaga. Along with the performance awards, the show has received numerous Emmy awards and nominations and other platforms for hairstyling, costumes, art direction, editing, sound mixing, and much more. In all of the showers of praise surrounding this show and statues being handed out, there seems to be one name that is consistently missing from the bunch, and that person is Sarah Paulson.
Who is Sarah Paulson?
Paulson has been around since the beginning of American Horror Story, but her filmography didn't start there. She made her film debut back in 1997 with a starring role in Levitation. She has since appeared in films such as The Other Sister, Serenity, Martha Marcy May Marlene, 12 Years a Slave, and the recently Oscar-nominated film Carol.
She's always done both film and television and starred in shows such as American Gothic, Jack & Jill, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. She got her start in American Horror Story with the minor role of Constance's neighborhood psychic, Billie Dean Howard. The 41-year-old actress has since appeared in every season of American Horror Story to date.
What roles has she taken on in American Horror Story?
Sarah Paulson's involvement with the series became greater after the portrayal of Billie Dean in Murder House. She has since portrayed numerous characters and has staked her spot as a series superstar with her roles, consistently rising in popularity and importance as the series went on. Let's take a look at the variety of roles she has tackled since appearing on American Horror Story.
American Horror Story: Murder House (2011)
As we've said, Paulson played a low-level Los Angeles psychic in this season. Truth be told, Murder House was the only season in which she was not nominated for a Primetime Emmy, and it was probably just because the role was so small. She only appeared in a total of three episodes. However, Murder House wasn't the only time we got to see Billie Dean.
American Horror Story: Asylum (2012)
Sarah Paulson got her first AHS lead supporting role in Asylum as the investigative journalist Lana Winters. She channeled the essence of Winters in a flawless way by portraying the evolution of the character as she went from freedom to imprisonment to victim to superstar. For me personally, Lana Winters was Paulson's best role and although it earned her an Emmy nomination, she didn't win.
American Horror Story: Coven (2013)
The portrayal of Cordelia Foxx was an interesting role for Sarah Paulson to take. In her sophomore lead effort she once again faced off with the AHS queen, Jessica Lange, as the daughter of the current supreme witch, Fiona. With this role came jealousy, power, injury, lust, and acceptance. Although she did a great job playing the rising supreme witch and eventual leader of the coven, she again lost out on an Emmy.
American Horror Story: Freak Show (2014)
Paulson's acting chops were amped up in Freak Show as she played not one, but two characters at the same time. Portraying the siamese twins, Bette and Dot Tattler, gave us the first real glimpse at what Sarah Paulson is really capable of in terms of versatility and devotion. Obviously there was a lot of CGI and practical effects involved, but there's no denying that it takes a lot to pull off playing two distinctly different characters at the same time. Sadly, she still was passed over for an Emmy, despite being nominated.
American Horror Story: Hotel (2015)
Unfortunately for Hotel, it was sadly and overwhelmingly disliked by a lot of the AHS fanbase. The season just didn't carry a lot of the same elements and qualities that previous seasons possessed and held some of the lowest weekly ratings of the whole series. Even with that said, there were some shining stars within the season and one was definitely the character of Hypodermic Sally.
Sarah Paulson once again showed her versatility and commitment by playing this ghost host junkie and (for the second season in a row) a second character by also reprising the role of Billie Dean Howard. There's no telling just yet if she will receive an Emmy nomination for her work in Hotel, but she is on the Emmy ballots, so it is very likely the pattern of nominations will continue.
So, why exactly does Sarah Paulson deserve an Emmy?
Aside from her work in American Horror Story: Hotel, Sarah Paulson took on the role of district attorney, Marcia Clark, in The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. This show took television by storm and is on the Emmy ballots for more than just Outstanding Limited Series. Just to name a few, It is also on the ballots for these categories:
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Cuba Gooding Jr. & Courtney Vance
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Sarah Paulson
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Sterling K. Brown, Nathan Lane, David Schwimmer & John Travolta
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Connie Britton & Keesha Sharp
As far as Sarah Paulson goes, the devotion she put into The People v. OJ Simpson definitely was quite an undertaking on its own. However, she not only portrayed Marcia Clark with passion and devotion, but she did it simultaneously with her role as Hypodermic Sally on American Horror Story: Hotel. Entertainment Weekly stated back in January that Paulson deserved an Emmy (or two) for the decision to take on two major roles in two completely different Ryan Murphy productions at the same time.
"Every time I go into the trailer, we have to take Sally off. Take off my nail polish, we have to de-bruise me, take my hair and my track marks off. Part of leaving Sally and becoming Marcia. Marcia takes longer...We have to be a little more precise. She is a real person."
As if you couldn't already tell, I am definitely lobbying for Sarah Paulson to not only make it past the Emmy ballots and into the nominations, but for 2016 to be her year and finally win. For me personally, her first Emmy should have come after the portrayal of Lana Winters with American Horror Story: Asylum and for her to have already gone this long without the recognition is absurd. With the amount of work put in this past year for the filming of both American Horror Story: Hotel and The People v. OJ Simpson, I would definitely agree that she not only deserves the Outstanding Supporting Actress statue, but the Outstanding Lead Actress statue as well.
The only question remaining is: Will she be able to defeat Lady Gaga? I might just be me, but I sure hope so. Her craft, devotion, and talent is far superior, and it shows. I just hope the Emmy voters are able to look past pop culture and see the obvious.