Great casting is one of the things best defined by what it isn’t. There’s an alchemy to assembling a cast, especially a larger ensemble, that can only be achieved with luck and a keen eye. And while the 2022-2023 TV season saw plenty of standout performances and jaw-dropping transformations, these four first-year series have managed, in entirely different ways, to maintain the same balance between star turns and sharply fleshed out supporting roles. Here are four series worthy of Emmy Award consideration for their casting prowess.
Tony Gilroy’s gritty sci-fi/spy thriller is the grown-up, character-driven “Star Wars” so many of us have been waiting for. But Cassian’s origin story wouldn’t have been so brilliant without the talented cast built around Diego Luna by casting directors Nina Gold and Martin Ware: Stellen Skarsgård as the eccentric antiques dealer who organizes the Rebel Alliance; Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma, the Imperial Senator who surreptitiously funds the fledgling group; Kyle as Syril Karn, the Deputy Inspector obsessed with catching Cassian; Denise Gough as Dedra Meer, the ambitious supervisor of the Imperial Security Bureau; Fiona Shaw as Cassian’s adoptive mother, Maarva, who urges him to join the rebellion; and Andy Serkis as Kino Loy, Cassian’s fellow prisoner and floor manager at the Imperial Factory facility who ultimately aids in their daring escape. What made their performances unique, however, was the unusual structure of three-part episode blocks that provided character arcs for greater emotional impact. —Bill Desowitz
“A Friend of the Family” (Peacock)
Nick Antosca’s fact-based drama about an abduction as improbable and bizarre as it is heartbreaking walks a tonal tightrope in which it avoids becoming so dark as to alienate audiences, yet never trivializes or softens the real-life story on which it’s based . Casting directors Carrie Audino, Tara Feldstein, Chase Paris and Laura Schiff have assembled the perfect ensemble to deliver Antosca’s delicate vision: from Jake Lacy as the series’ persuasive and chilling villain to Colin Hanks and Anna Paquin as of his victim’s beleaguered parents, the performances here are uniformly startling and moving. —Jim Hemphill
“Mrs. Davis” (Peacock)
“Mrs. Davis” does not walk a fine tonal line; she walks simultaneously as seven tonal lines in different corners of the multiverse, one of which is in the style of “Looney Tunes”. It is a challenge to find actors who can balance the needs of the show for multiple variations of slapstick comedy and heist, western and fantasy quests, sly tech commentary, and delicate religious quest for meaning – not to mention that one of them is playing a version of Jesus Christ who spends his time managing a metaphysical falafel restaurant Yet each of the major players (from Betty Gilpin’s nun on a mission to destroy a world-changing AI to each of the actors playing that AI by proxy) feels, like all great casting choices, intended for her role.Victoria Thomas stars in a lot of movies and TV shows, but “Mrs. Davis” offered some particularly tricky challenges that she makes seem as easy as a good magic trick. —Sarah Schachat
“Welcome to Chippendales” (Hulu)
Hulu’s “Welcome to Chippendales” included all the ersatz hunks of the ’80s as no mean feat (we can discuss the changing ideals of male beauty at a different time). But what took the limited series about the creation of the men’s strip club chain to another level was the casting director of the key foursome David Rubin put at the center: Kumail Nanjiani, Annaleigh Ashford, Murray Bartlett and Juliette Lewis. All four provide a complementary zip to the others, whether it’s watching chief employee Steve Banerjee (Nanjiani) and Nick Da Noia (Bartlett) argue or Steve’s wife Irene (Ashford) sniff cocaine for the first time with the costume designer Denise (Lewis). They fight, they argue, they create – even in the heightened reality of an 80s drama, they feel uncomfortable colleagues. And then a murder occurs and the ragged camaraderie takes a jarring turn that exposes only what has been lost. —Marco Peikert