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Margo Martindale: World conqueror

'Justified' Emmy winner guesting on basically every TV show this winter

By Kenny Herzog Feb 12, 2013 2:36PM
Is it just us, or is Margo Martindale single-handedly reviving the days when familiar character actors would routinely pop up in virtually every major primetime series on air? After years on the margins of obscurity, the 61-year-old turned "key lime pie" into a catchphrase during her stint on "Dexter," and then struck Emmy gold as a coal-mining benefactor, rural crime matriarch and purveyor of intoxicating "apple pie" moonshine (that Margo sure loves pie, literal and descriptive) in an unforgettable second season of "Justified." Now, 2013 seems destined to be the year of Martindale. 

Margo Martindale | "Justified" | "Smash" | "The Americans" | "New Girl" 

That handy roll call of Bing links you see above highlights just a few of the winter hits she's spicing up with her cagey, witty Southern charm. First, she made the insufferable two-hour "Smash" premiere marginally juicier as tyrannical American Theatre Wing honcho Miriam Abramson. Tomorrow, she'll be infiltrating "The Americans" as KGB spies Philip and Elizabeth's faux-grandmother/informer in a recurring role ideally suited to her duplicitous capabilities. (And don't forget to check in with our recap following the episode, wink wink.) 
But then we flip a switch next month when she goes for laughs as Nick's overprotective, Jess-leery mother. She'll even be coming full circle back to "Dexter" home Showtime in the Sept. 29 pilot of "Masters of Sex," as the titular (we swear, no pun intended) Dr. Masters' uptight secretary. 

In an era when even Oscar winner Kathy Bates can't be guaranteed that her series will avoid the ax, we say hurrah to a similarly 60-something actress getting constant, meaty work on the boob tube (again, no referential pun on "Masters of Sex" intended). You may say the notion is as vital to contemporary American pop culture as apple pie. Or not. It's up to you.

"The Americans airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX. "Smash" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. "New Girl" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.