By Andrew Rabin
Earlier in the week, we debuted our nominees for this week’s Hall of Fame. Today, Rabin’s back with a brand-new statistical calculation to assist your decision-making in this tough race.
Last month I introduced you to ACTOR. Here’s a reminder of what that was all about. Although we are dealing with actresses this month, you’ll be pleased to know I didn’t add two more elements to create a new anagram for ACTRESS. We’re sticking with ACTOR.
So how do this month’s nominees add up? Let’s start with comparing them to each other.
We can learn quite a bit just from this. For starters, awards shows loved Gillian Anderson and Helen Mirren has had a far more successful career than Linda Cardellini.
Before we look at the closest comparables to each nominee, we need to have a word about the sample set. While there has been criticism in prior months for the nominees being too recent, this month created a unique set of issues. It’s just an unfortunate fact that female lead roles in dramas have not been plentiful until the 1980s. Look at the Primetime Emmy Award for lead actress in a Drama Series nominees. There were only three nominees per year until 1975, with a number of those nominees and winners being in miniseries. In 1980, two of the nominated actresses in the lead category were one episode guest stars. For six consecutive Emmy awards in the mid-1980s, one of two actresses from the same show won every year. Of my 100 actress sample set, only 20 of the characters came on shows that debuted prior to 1980, and those 20 actresses ranked as high as 6th and as low as 90th. Now on to the comparisons!
Gillian Anderson, Dana Scully, The X-Files
An easy yes vote here, Gillian Anderson is arguably the female face of the science fiction drama. Her ACTOR points are impressively spread out throughout the categories, including a significant award haul for her time in The X-Files.
Helen Mirren, Jane Tennison, Prime Suspect
A second nominee in the top ten, Mirren overcomes a weak episodes score; of the sample set only one actress appeared in fewer episodes. Still, Mirren’s performance earned plenty of plaudits, and Mirren’s career points grow thanks to honors both for playing the queen and bestowed by the queen. Another easy yes.
Jennifer Garner, Sydney Bristow, Alias
Jennifer Garner could create the first family duo in the This Was TV Hall of Fame, if she were related to Hall of Famer James Garner. Alas, they are not related. Yet Mrs. Affleck should be a yes vote anyway. Unlike many of the 2000s actresses who rank above her (in the sample, Edie Falco and Allison Janney rank 4th and 5th respectively), Garner stands out as the singular lead of her series, not just the female lead. Another yes.
Veronica Hamel, Joyce Davenport, Hill Street Blues
We now get to the point where the ranking is a little low for what I would consider a Hall of Famer. That said, in my mind Debbie Allen in Fame, who ranks immediately above Hamel, is a no-doubter. I’m going to say Hamel is a yes, but this is certainly one where reasonable people could disagree. I don’t usually predict, but I’ll say it here: I think she’s going to just miss induction, with between 55-58% of the vote.
Lauren Graham, Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls
We enter the WB section of the nominees, and the inability of the WB (and UPN and CW) to score award nominations is a severe hindrance to its stars. I’ll say Graham is a borderline pick; after all she only ranks two spots below the surprisingly non-nominated Claire Danes as Angela Chase, but it’s certainly a very iffy case.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This brings us to our second WB star. Look, it does not matter what I write here, it is exceptionally unlikely that SMG’s career defining role receives less than 80% of the vote on this website. She falls only two spots below Graham out of 100 actresses, so I’ll put her in the same borderline group. But again, what I write here is basically irrelevant. Cucumber. You’re voting her in.
Linda Cardellini, Lindsay Weir, Freaks and Geeks
There are few positive spins to put on this. Ranking just behind Melissa Gilbert and just ahead of Courteney Cox is good; ranking just behind Melissa Gilbert in Sweet Justice and just ahead of Courteney Cox in Dirt is bad. Cardellini’s performance is almost uniquely setup to fail the ACTOR formula. Her show is too recent to make any substantial ranking lists or to benefit significantly from the decade bonus. Freaks and Geeks obviously aired for less than even a full season, and despite the show growing into a cult favorite, there has been no revival or movie. And while many of her costars have gone on to wildly successful careers, Cardellini’s career has stalled a bit. This may be unfortunate for a character and actress who is rather popular, and she will certainly perform better in the vote than her statistics show she deserves to. But this one falls short of the Hall.
In conclusion, the statistics show Gillian Anderson, Helen Mirren, and Jennifer Garner are Hall of Fame locks, Veronica Hamel should get your vote, Lauren Graham and Sarah Michelle Gellar are very much on the borderline, and Linda Cardellini is a no. How are you voting?