“I have not always been a very good man, but I play one hell of a woman.” So said Louie Anderson tonight, echoing the opinion of the Television Academy in his acceptance speech after winning the emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Anderson’s win for playing Christine Baskets, mother of the main characters (played by Zach Galifianakis) on FX’s Baskets is believed to be the first time a male actor has landed an acting emmy for playing a (cis) female character. (Jeffrey Tambor of course won the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy last year for playing trans woman Maura Pfefferman on Amazon’s Transparent).
Anderson noted his own mother as informing her performance on Baskets, from whom he said he “stole every nuance, shameful look, cruel look, loving look, [and] passive agressive line.”
The Emmy is Anderson’s third – he previously won twice for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program, for his 1990s Fox animated series Life With Louie.
His win tonight was presaged somewhat by 68th Emmy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel, who quipped during his opening monologue that “I never dreamed that in 2016 my favorite TV mom would be Louise Anderson.”
Anderson started his own backstage remarks without waiting for a question. “These are so much heavier than you think, but then so am I,” he joked while hefting his Emmy, adding “I am just honored and thrilled and I feel like I stole one from some really talented people.” Reiterating his earlier tribute to his mother, Anderson added that he borrows many of his comic bits from her, saying “this is her award,” Anderson said Baskets is about “not fitting in, and then fitting in perfectly… We live in a society of exclusion.”
Anderson also recalled how, as a child, he remembers how the rich kids and the “project” kids were made to line up in separate lines (he was in the project line). “I always had a special place in my heart for being different,” he said. As for next season, Anderson says he hopes the show will say to audiences that “They weren’t kidding. They were really serious about this show.”
Baskets was renewed in February for a second season, set to air on FX in 2017.