By John Kubicek
Michael Emerson is one of those actors in serious danger of being typecast. He won an Emmy for his intensely creepy performance as Ben Linus on Lost. Before that, he won an Emmy for his guest appearance on The Practice as a serial killer. So naturally, Parenthood has cast him as a children’s party entertainer.
Emerson makes his first post-Lost television appearance tonight as the Amazing Andy, a bug enthusiast with Aspergers syndrome on Parenthood (10pm on NBC). It’s an unusual role for the gifted actor, but it could also be the one he needs to transition himself out of Lost.
On Parenthood, the Braverman’s throw a birthday party for their son Max, who also has Aspergers. Since the kid loves bugs, they hire the Amazing Andy and His Wonderful World of Bugs, an insect presentation hosted by Emerson’s character. Within the show, the storyline helps the family accept that people with Aspergers can lead productive and independent lives.
More importantly, it gives Lost fans a chance to see a new side of Emerson. I’ll admit that the first time he shows up on Parenthood, it’s impossible not to associate him with Ben Linus. Driving up in a giant bug car, it was impossible not to be creeped out. But by the end of the episode, Emerson finds a way to escape his previous roles and make the Amazing Andy a sympathetic and relatable figure.
Perhaps this is how best to break out of being typecast as the terrifying villain. Parenthood gives Emerson the chance to still utilize his quirky movements and clipped speech pattern, but it also lets him be vulnerable and empathetic. Think of this performance as a palette cleanser for Emerson’s career.
Source: Buddy TV