October 2, 2023

Why Ella Purnell could get Emmy nomination for Yellowjackets


Jackie Taylor may have died at the end of “Yellowjackets‘” first season, but Ella Purnell‘s Emmy hopes for the second season are still very much alive.

While there’s not yet official confirmation that Purnell has been submitted for the Showtime hit this year — we’ll know for sure when Emmy ballots are released for the start of voting on June 15 — she is eligible in Best Drama Guest Actress, having appeared in new footage in less than 50 percent of the show’s nine episodes this season.

SEE ‘Yellowjackets’: Sophie Nélisse deserves a taste of Emmy love for her heartrending work in ‘Qui’

Purnell’s key appearance is in the season premiere, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen,” in which she returns as a ghost version of Jackie who plays MASH with and taunts her best friend Shauna (Sophie Nélisse). Though ghost Jackie is more of a figment of Shauna’s imagination than a full-fledged reincarnation of the fan-favorite character, Purnell still brings the same amount of depth to the part as she brought to the real Jackie in the first season and makes enough of an impression for her performance to stick in your memory. What also keeps her turn top of mind throughout the rest of Season 2 is that Jackie — or rather, the memory of her — continues to loom over the season even after the second episode, “Edible Complex,” as the Yellowjackets are forced to grapple with the loss of and their decision to, uh, eat their former captain.

Whether Emmy voters will now also eat up Purnell’s guest stint likely depends on how much residual goodwill there is for her Season 1 work. While she was left out in the cold (sorry) for the first season, most fans of “Yellowjackets” would probably agree that Jackie’s arc — the queen bee in high school who’s unable to adapt to life in the wilderness, where social norms are upended and survival skills and manual labor are required — is among the show’s most effective (and tragic) storylines so far and beautifully executed by Purnell. The actor just had the bad luck of competing in supporting against all the other members of the young cast plus Christina Ricci for a first-year show that was trying to find its footing at the Emmys.

SEE Tawny Cypress (‘Yellowjackets’) on playing ‘despicable’ Taissa Turner: ‘I feel like I won the lottery’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

But circumstances are different this year. If Purnell is on the ballot for Best Drama Guest Actress, she will most likely be either the sole “Yellowjackets” contender or one of its very few in the category and could soak up most of or all the love for the series. Plus, she will have history on her side, as the guest acting categories are typically very welcoming of performers who’ve previously been ignored for their shows in supporting. Last year alone, Colman Domingo (“Euphoria”), Marcia Gay Harden (“The Morning Show”), James Lance (“Ted Lasso”), Christopher McDonald (“Hacks”), Arian Moayed (“Succession”), Kaitlin Olson (“Hacks”) and Tom Pelphrey (“Ozark”) all landed noms — and in Domingo’s case, a victory — for their series in guest after getting the cold shoulder for them in supporting.

What’s more, after earning seven citations for its first season — including one for Best Drama Series and two for acting, for Melanie Lynskey in lead and Ricci — “Yellowjackets” is now a familiar title to Emmy voters that could enjoy an uptick in nominations for its second season as it’s only grown in popularity and visibility since its debut. And considering that the guest categories are oftentimes the easiest for a surging show to expand into, you shouldn’t be shocked if Purnell, who is in 15th place in our drama guest actress odds at the moment, winds up with an Emmy bid for the buzzy series on July 12.

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