Welcome back to another edition of Emmy Hopefuls, our ongoing series that is really all about one subject: Recognizing the performers who, inexplicably, have been snubbed repeatedly from awards organizations over the years for some of their work.
In general, you could say that Suits is criminally underrated from major awards shows. While Patrick J. Adams received a SAG Award nomination early on in the show’s run, the USA series has since been snubbed repeatedly at both the Golden Globes and the Emmys.
When it comes to Sarah Rafferty and her character of Donna Paulsen, the snubs feel all the more important. Donna is one of those characters who, ten years down the road, is still going to be remembered as one of the most notable characters on this series, let alone all of cable TV. She is formidable, intelligent, ambitious, and at the center of many different notable moments. She’s a signature character from a long-running series that should have been recognized more years ago — especially thanks to Rafferty’s brilliant performance.
It would be easier to just play Donna as this super-confident legal secretary-turned-executive who owns the office and provides valuable insight when need be. Rafferty brings so much more to the role than just that, though she also excels in some of these moments with everything from funny quips to valuable insight. She’s heartfelt and vulnerable when she needs to be and heartbreaking and distraught at others. Donna as a character doesn’t always break down her emotional walls so when she does, they are infinitely more powerful. Rafferty is aware of that and allows some of these moments, whether they be with Gabriel Macht, Rick Hoffman, or someone else, to stand out. Think especially in terms of her scenes in 7×11 and 7×12 — some of these were painful and difficult but you could put yourself directly into Donna’s shoes.
One of the challenges that comes with playing any character on TV is trying to find a relatable touchstone that can appeal to almost everyone. On paper, we don’t have all that much in common with Donna — yet, in some of the moments this season, whether it be her fighting for her new position in the firm or wrestling with her feelings for Harvey, there was such a striking relatability present in every moment. So many of us have, whether it be emotionally or occupationally, been in her shoes before. She’s found that slice of the character that can reach out and impact everyone watching. That made us want to root for Donna more, and moving into season 8 we would argue that she is more captivating than ever.
Why hasn’t a nomination happened yet? – Part of the struggle for Suits is that it has some comedic, optimistic moments; strange as it is to say, but the Emmys often like to look at darker material for some of their nominations. Beyond that, the series at this point has also been on for seven years; typically, the Emmys tend to ignore long-running shows in favor of things that are new and generating a ton of headlines. That’s why many long-running shows are often ignored from major networks.
Regardless of whether or not Rafferty ever gets the Emmy love she deserves, we personally think Donna and her performance will go down as one of TV’s best from the past decade. We have a feeling many fans of Suits will feel the same way.
Do you wish that Sarah Rafferty as Donna would be the recipient of some more Emmy love in the future? Be sure to share in the comments!
Meanwhile, be sure to like CarterMatt on Facebook for some more news and other insight regarding Suits. That is where you can also discuss the show with other fans. (Photo: USA.)