TIFF 2019 Sarah Paulson / John Bauld / Wikimedia Commons
It’s pretty rare for a female celebrity to be liked, universally.
I mean, no one is ever truly liked universally – but there are plenty of men who receive near-ubiquitous praise. Some deserve it (Tom Hanks comes to mind), others have never really done much for me (Chris Pratt, Chris Pine… all of the Chrises). But, whatever you think of them personally, it’s hard to deny; the world loves men.
Women, on the other hand, generally have a harder go of it. For every “it’s so cool that Elton John is still going” there’s an equal and opposite “Madonna needs to pack it in.” The New York Times recently posited that Dolly Parton was about the only female celebrity people could positively agree on. I’d like to humbly add one more person to that list: prestige-TV queen, Sarah Paulson.
Of course, by even saying that, I will have awoken the contrarians. “She’s not that great”, they’ll say. Someone will mention that she “seems like a bitch”. And there’s the always brilliant, “who?”.
But that last one is a little hard to believe in 2020, because Sarah Paulson has likely been in at least one thing you liked.
If you’re a horror fan, she’s been in every single season of American Horror Story. She’s played a different character in each, and I hear she’s brilliant. I wouldn’t know, I’m not a horror fan. But if you are, that’s eight seasons of lockdown content right there.
If you’re more into real-life crime stories, you can’t go past The People v. O. J. Simpson [Netflix]. Paulson’s breath-taking turn as prosecutor Marcia Clark rightly earned her an Emmy, and forever changed the public perception of Clark. It’s rare that a TV show has you kind-of rooting for both sides, but it’s a trick The People v. O. J. inexplicably pulls off, thanks in no small part to career-peak performances from an assortment of stars. Selma Blair as Kris Jenner is particularly inspired. But no one else in the cast quite reaches Paulson’s heights.
And never fear if you’ve seen all that already, the binge-TV mainstay already has a brand new miniseries in the can. Mrs. America [Neon], led by the always magnificent Cate Blanchett, tells the story of the women’s movement in America. Blanchett plays the ultra-conservative Phyllis Schlafly, a well-cast Rose Byrne plays Gloria Steinem. Paulson herself plays a made-up character, and she seemingly isn’t the real draw for this one.
And yet, at the same time, she is.
For me (and, I would imagine, for a lot of people) the name “Sarah Paulson” has become synonymous with quality. Whether she’s playing lead, or bringing up the rear, if she’s in it, I probably want to watch it. According to early reviews, Mrs. America is bloody fantastic, and given that most of us have some extra lie-around time at the moment, I’d say it’s worth a watch.
Of course, Sarah Paulson is also a film star. She was brilliant in Ocean’s 8, amazing in Carol, and awesome in Bird Box. But, so far, she’s really shone playing big parts for the small screen. Much of her filmography is totally binge-worthy. And in these times, that’s exactly what we need.
So stay home. Save lives. Go and watch something with Sarah Paulson in it. You’re welcome.Support Villainesse