Dana Brody on Homeland is home after a rehab stint. She’s just met a new boy she likes in rehab, but her doctors tell her she’s free to go. You can’t technically communicate with someone who’s still in rehab, but obviously this new boy has a cellphone. They begin texting each other. And since it’s 2014—well, 2013 when it aired—that quickly translates to a sext. Dana Brody is fully disrobed and snaps a picture of herself to send to her new guy friend.
Millions of eyes roll.
Morgan Saylor, who plays Dana Brody on Homeland, isn’t what’s wrong with Dana. She’s more than a capable actress in a series full of them. But her actions come with the whiff of some out-of-touch writer who continues to make teens say “pot.”
But during the 2013-2014 season—Dana Brody example aside—the material given to child actors finally matched the potential performances. And because it’s unlikely they’ll receive recognition otherwise, I think it’s only fair that we point at least a few of them out.
Game Of Thrones
When I think of capable young actors, the first to come to my mind is Maisie Williams (Arya Stark). During season four of Game Of Thrones, Arya Stark quickly jumped to the number one spot of my favorite characters list in the series. Williams has given the most captivating steely performance in a series with a number of characters that solely embody the trait. But her ability to showcase some of Arya’s vulnerability and her fright have also won me over. And it appears the show’s writers agree: Arya was given the season’s final scene, and I for one cannot wait until she reigns all of Westeros. (That is where this is headed, right?)
Not to be outdone by her TV kid sister, Sophie Turner‘s portrayal of Sansa Stark was equally as magnetic. Sansa is a character that has many times worn her vulnerability on her sleeve, but this season she began to bluntly play the game—not that she wasn’t before. Turner’s ability to gradually make Sansa a more straightforward player this season has won me over just the same.
Just the same, another pair of TV siblings put in Emmy-worthy performances of their own over on FX’s The Americans. Holly Taylor and Keidrich Sellati who play Paige and Henry Jennings were magnificent. Taylor very deftly handled a season-long arc that included a bit of stealth work of her own as well as a faith-based storyline. The way she has managed her storylines has gotten me quite excited with the drive into season three—the Russians wanting Paige to be a covert spy, too.
But don’t discount Sellati, whose character was more concerned with Star Trek, but who broke my heart with his character’s monologue on how he was a good person.
Before the two-part season finale, Louie ventured into a 90-minute episode that was almost entirely flashback, “Into the Woods” parts one and two. The episode called for a Young Louie character, played by Devin Druid. Druid carried the entire 90 minutes wonderfully. The episode was kind of light on comedy, as was much of this season, but Druid played many elements of the show perfectly: comedy, drama, to downright stoner. And Louis C.K. wrote a true-to-life teenage character, which is a rarity on TV.
But I can’t mention Louie without mentioning the actresses who play his daughters Lilly and Jane: Hadley Delany and Ursula Parker. Both have been hilarious for four seasons. Parker, in particular, is someone I would give the supporting actress in a comedy Emmy if I could (and if she weren’t billed as a guest star); there just wasn’t anyone funnier this season. Her monologue about all of her teachers being dumb was both hilarious and incisive.
And the Rest
The daughters on True Detective, the child counterparts in flashbacks on Orange Is the New Black (though technically a lot of those aired next season), and Kiernan Shipka on Mad Men. OK, the truth is I don’t watch Mad Men but everyone always mentions Shipka. Plus, she was great in the season and a half that I did watch.
All these young talents give me hope whenever I see another child actor on my television screen. And I honestly can’t wait to see what they all have in store for us once their series begin next season.