It feels like Jean Smart has been in everything good I’ve watched over the past few years, sparking entertainment writers and fans to proclaim a “Jeanaissance.” She played an unorthodox therapist to mutants in Legion, a brutal mob matriarch in Fargo (both helmed by Noah Hawley), and a vigilante-turned-FBI agent in Watchmen. After enjoying her charismatic performances in such diverse roles, we fans were hungry for more Smart, and 2021 did not disappoint.
- Ed Tankersley
Head of Contributor Success
Why we needed this fandom this year
Because in a year when we found ourselves watching SO MUCH TV, it was engrossing to see an actor perform in two different roles with virtuosic range. In her turn as the widowed mother to Kate Winslet’s small town detective in Mare of Easttown, she balances a richly human combination of traits: she’s judgmental one moment and doting the next, alternates brashness with disarming vulnerability. In Hacks, she infuses the lead role — a legendary stand-up comedian whose time in the limelight is rapidly running out — with prickly belligerence, bawdy humor, and earnest pathos.
Best fan moment of the year
Smart earned Emmy nominations for both of her 2021 roles, taking home the trophy for Hacks. Delivering her gracious acceptance speech, she received a standing ovation and put lumps in fans’ throats as she memorialized her husband of more than 30 years, Richard Gilliland, who had passed away six months earlier.