Friday, September 16, 2011

For Your Consideration: Sofia Vergara

Dear Emmy voters:

This year’s category for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series boasts an impressive list of nominees:

  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
  • Jane Lynch, Glee
  • Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
  • Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live

Now, each and every one of these nominees deserves recognition in the category. Bowen’s balancing act of an uptight mother trying to contain chaos and yet in need of considerable release continues in a long line of Desperate Housewives types, a comic tradition that also includes the likes of Jane Kaczmarek in Malcolm in the Middle. Krakowski brings Broadway glitz to her role as the insecure starlet on Tina Fey’s artfully genius comedy. Lynch's consistently glorious line readings make her monstrous character just a shade more human than what we should be comfortable with. Wiig’s chameleonic sensibilities make her not just a comic treasure, but also a brilliant character actor in the making. And whoever thinks that White can’t light up a room should not be reading my blog and instead be shipped straight to North Korea.

However, there is just one name that matters to me, and the one who truly deserves your attention and your vote as this year’s Best Supporting Actress: the sixth nominee, Sofia Vergara for Modern Family.

If Gina Lollobrigida came back to life and carried on with Sophia Loren’s regal air, but were in love with life the way Vergara is as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, then the world would be a better place.

Initially written as a trophy wife for the show’s patriarch Jay (Ed O’Neill), Gloria is not at all the gold digger that one might have suspected her to be. In fact, an entire episode was devoted to this sensitive topic in the first season of Modern Family, and the character is surely aware that such thoughts must fill the heads of so many others who see them together. The fact is that Gloria doesn’t care what you think, because she is in love with her family, her country and her life. When Jay’s gay son and his partner adopt a Vietnamese baby, she is only too happy to babysit whenever possible because she sees it not in terms of politics, but as a show of their love for one another. Plus, she loves karaoke, and whoever does not love karaoke hates life in general. Gloria is an endless optimist, and it’s too bad that you don’t have the cajones to tell her to her face exactly what you’re thinking.

There are several reasons why Gloria is my clear favourite in the show’s excellent cast. One is that she is gifted with wonderfully mangled English colloquialisms that are endlessly quotable: in one episode, she refers to sugarcoating the truth as “putting on the sugar jacket”. She gives Jay a phone in the shape of a giant pair of lips, because he once mentioned that he would like a saxophone and she (deliberately?) misheard it as “a sexy phone” … and he got it.

She has diabolical fun every so often, getting revenge on Jay’s mocking her culture by making him utter loud, high-pitched shrieks while slapping raw chicken to scare away “the ghosts”. Each of these moments is pure comic gold, worth several repeat viewings.

But perhaps the single most endearing fact that makes her one of TV’s most vital, interesting and wonderful creations is contained in a line in a single episode. When Jay is confused about why or how on earth Gloria ever fell for him, her son Manny tells him straight up, “it’s because she told me that when she met you, she knew she’d finally met her match”. It’s simple: their temperaments actually complement one another in a perfect blend of yin and yang, and the whole is a beautiful comic team to watch. Despite the temptation to do so, Vergara never makes her a caricature.

And Vergara the actor doesn’t just put on airs but becomes a raging monster behind closed doors. Vergara maintains a great Facebook page sharing her energy for life and the great things that are happening for her: her son’s high school graduation and first day at college, her Pepsi commercial shoot with David Beckham, her just-released clothing line with K-Mart, and even a candid shot of her with Lady Gaga backstage at The Tonight Show, where she was clearly in awe and admiration of the pop chanteuse. Vergara is effusive, charming and knowing, and is the kind of guest who you’ll always want to have over for dinner (or at least on talk shows, like on this clip).

As much as I love each of the other nominees and their remarkable work in this category, do yourself a favour and give the Emmy to Sofia Vergara. (After all, Krakowski has a Tony, White and Lynch both have Emmys already, and you can vote for the others next year. Okay?)


The Artful Blogger