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EW Community MVP of the Week: Jonathan Banks

MVP of the Week | Week of Mar 5–11

The EW Community was built by and for people who love television. And we, the writers of the EW Community, especially love it when we get to witness brilliance in our favorite medium. Every week, we are blown away by a few showstopping performances.

In this regular column, “EW Community TV MVP of the Week,” we honor the actors who gave this week’s most commanding performances.

MVP of the Week:

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut
Better Call Saul,
Five-O

Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Until this week, Better Call Saul had mostly confined Mike Ehrmantraut, one of the beloved Breaking Bad characters to cross over to the spin-off, to a tiny, demeaning, parking lot ticket booth. Fans have been waiting for him to play a more prominent role in the show, and the sixth installment, “Five-O,” was finally his time to shine. The Mike-centric hour, which featured Saul (Bob Odenkirk) only briefly, was the most stunning episode of the series thus far. Mike’s past has always been largely shrouded in mystery, and this episode’s flashbacks finally showed us what made him into the solemn, no-nonsense fixer, enforcer, and occasional hit man viewers have grown to love.

Banks owned the hour, giving a tour-de-force, Emmy-worthy performance. It culminated in a riveting and lengthy monologue where his normally stoic character shed the first tears we’ve ever seen from him, as he broke down about his role in his son’s death. It was a rare moment of vulnerability from the same man who, earlier in the episode, had a bullet wound stitched up by a shady veterinarian without batting an eye. The show may not be named after him, but Banks was certainly the star this week. —Erin Conley

 

Runner-Up:

Alison Wright as Martha Hanson
The Americans, “Walter Taffet”

FX

Martha Hanson is becoming a force to be reckoned with on season three of The Americans, asserting herself as a strong woman of the ’80s, tired of the patriarchy and unafraid to take what she wants. She’s explored foster parenting, learned to fire a gun, and mastered the Kama Sutra.

This was Martha’s week to show what she’s really made of. Alison Wright’s performance was a beautiful show of subtlety when she could have easily fallen into hysteria. She was feeling all the feelings—fear, panic, guilt, the adrenaline of not getting caught (yet). But while we could see every one of those emotions bubbling near the surface, she maintained a cool front that escaped notice of her often dimwitted male coworkers. —Wendy Hathaway

 

Runner-Up:

Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller
Broadchurch, “Episode 2.2”

BBC America

Before Broadchurch, Olivia Colman was best known for her work in comedy. You’d never know it based on her searing performance as Ellie Miller. Ellie’s tough exterior belies a deep well of pain and a barely concealed rage that her husband killed Danny Latimer, and concealed it right under her nose. In “Episode 2,” she watches in horror as David Tennant’s Hardy takes the stand and is torn apart by the Defense for her actions after Joe was arrested at the end of season one. Watching her crumble as Joe’s confession is subsequently dismissed is devastating.

When you combine that with the chemistry she has with Hardy, the way she bonds with Claire Ashworth in an attempt to get the truth about the Sandbrook case, and the way she stands and takes Beth’s vitriol at the end of the episode, you have an awe-inspiring performance worthy of MVP Status. —Kim Rogers, Head Over Feels

 

Runner-Up:

Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,
Season 1

Netflix

Ellie Kemper has been making audiences laugh for years with roles in The Office and Bridesmaids, but Kemper’s breakout role is the title character in the new Netflix sitcom, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kemper plays the lovable, quirky yet strong Kimmy Schmidt, who was recently freed after 15 years of living underground in a doomsday cult. Kimmy may be 29 years old, but she’s a 14-year-old at heart.

Kemper is able to bring an innocence to Kimmy without making her a doormat. Do not let Kimmy’s doe eyes and big heart fool you; this chick is strong as hell and is a ray of positivity. Who needs a therapist when you can just get some wisdom dropped on you, Kimmy-style? Like this piece of knowledge: “We’re different and you can’t break us!” Congrats, Ellie Kemper, for so perfectly capturing the amazing Kimmy Schmidt. —Kait Calabro

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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