Emmys 2013 wishlist: Sutton Foster of 'Bunheads'

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sutton-foster-bunheads.jpgWe'll make this easy: You simply can't have a category called Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and not include Sutton Foster from ABC Family's "Bunheads." It would just be stupid.

But the Emmy nominations are no strangers to stupid, and Foster is a real long shot for a nomination this year. Not because she doesn't deserve it, but because she's on a network Emmy voters never pay attention to and in a show that's barely even supported by that network.

ABC Family couldn't be bothered to submit "Bunheads" for Emmy consideration in any category (it's glaringly obvious that Foster justifiably submitted her own name on the ballot, which performers are free to do). So, we're not hopeful.

Unless, by some miracle, enough voters actually saw anything that Foster did over the course of "Bunheads'" increasingly rich 18-episode first season. As washed up showgirl-turned-small town dance teacher Michelle, Foster is the driving force of the witty, weird and wonderful series that sprung from the unique mind of "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino.

bunheads-sutton-foster-abcfam.jpgJust as it's impossible to imagine the show without Sherman-Palladino's whip-smart dialogue and idiosyncratic storytelling, it's equally difficult to envision it without Foster's goofy, graceful and always game performance. Together these two women set about reinventing the screwball dame for the 21st Century, episode by episode. The result is a remarkable blend of verbal and physical comedy all delivered in service of a fully-formed character brimming with hopes and dreams and disappointments.

If you need examples, watch Michelle wake up in bed with a possum, argue in circles on a private road, struggle to stay awake during a meeting with an accountant or accidentally mace her students backstage during "The Nutcracker" (happy holidays!).

Emmy voters could literally pick a "Bunheads" episode at random and they'd be assured to see nomination-worthy work from Foster. (If you want something specific, try the pilot for a great introduction to both Michelle and the series' distinctive tone or the winter finale, "Next!," for a prime example of the emotional depth and range of her performance.)

And let's not forget that Foster also sings and dances with the flawless expertise of a two-time Tony Award winning Broadway musical star (because she is). With "Glee" a sad shadow of its former self and the "Smash" reboot going down in flames, there's an unfortunate dearth of TV shows that channel the vibrant possibilities of musical theater. Foster almost single-handedly makes "Bunheads" that show.

Of course, she's surrounded by a terrific supporting cast of multitalented women of all ages. And it's another credit to her performance that Foster is perfectly matched with whoever she shares the screen with, be it Kelly Bishop as free-spirited mother-in-law Fanny, Stacey Oristano as local oddball Truly, or any of the four central ballet students/bunheads -- Sasha ( Julia Goldani Telles), Boo ( Kaitlyn Jenkins), Ginny ( Bailey Buntain) and Melanie ( Emma Dumont).

Even though she's one of the most creative voices in TV today, it's tough to know if Emmy voters are aware of Sherman-Palladino's work. She was nominated for an Emmy herself back in 1992 for writing an episode of "Roseanne" but "Gilmore Girls" earned only a single nomination (for makeup) in its seven season run. "Gilmore" star Lauren Graham deserved to be in the running multiple years and never cracked the field.

Still, until we see the nominations, we won't know for sure. And here's what Michelle would say (or sing) to that:


Who's on your Emmy wishlist for this year? See more of Zap2it's picks at our Emmys page.

Check back with Zap2it for full coverage when the 2013 Emmy nominees are announced July 18 at 5:35 a.m. PT.
Photo/Video credit: ABC Family