Image via HBO Max
Jean Smart is an outstanding, unique actress. Very few careers compare to the 71-year-old, who has been in the acting business for over 40 years. She has received numerous notable awards and is only the second artist, after Betty White, a pioneer of early television, to win all three Comedy Emmy Comedy nominations – Lead Actress, Supporting Actress, and Guest Actress.
After earning supporting roles on television, her first major television role came in 1985 when she was cast to play Charlene Frazier Stillfield on the comedy series Designing Women. This role opened the door to so many others as she starred Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story as serial killer Aileen Wuornos, The Yearling, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, and some others in the 90’s. She became even more famous in the 2000s, starring in more prominent shows and films, Broadway productions and blockbusters. Now she can boast of one of the most extensive and brilliant filmographies in existence.
So here is a list of the best Jean Smart TV shows and movies, ranked from worst to best.
mistress is a 1992 comedy starring a legendary cast of Robert De Niro, Danny Aiello, Eli Wallach, Robert Wuhl and Martin Landau. Written by Barry Primus and JF Lawton, the feature film focuses on Marvin Landisman, a penniless Hollywood screenwriter and director who has his years-long screenplay read by a former producer, who offers to help him find investors for his film help. Here, Smart plays Patricia, an alcoholic flight attendant who is also the mistress of one of the investors who promises to invest in Marvin’s film.
9. shape women
Smart plays Charlene Frazier, the office manager at Sugarbaker & Associates, arguably one of her most popular roles. shape women is an American television sitcom created by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason that focuses on the lives of four women and one man who work together at an interior design firm called Sugarbaker & Associates in Atlanta in the 1980s. Smart had a recurring role on this sitcom until leaving in season five, only returning for a guest appearance in season six.
24 is an American action drama television series created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran. The show focuses on Jack Bauer, a counter-terrorism agent who prevents acts of terrorism such as presidential assassination, bomb blasts, bioterrorism and cyber warfare and brings down those responsible. Here, Smart appears in season five as First Lady Martha Logan, the wife of the President of the United States, who disregards her husband’s behavior in office and decides to go public to end his career.
7. Samantha Who?
Created by Cecelia Ahern and Donald Todd, Samantha Who? is an American television sitcom that aired from 2007 to 2009. The show focused on Samantha Newly, a 30-year-old vice president of a real estate firm who develops retrograde amnesia after a hit-and-run accident. Smart plays Samantha’s mother, a narcissistic housewife who has a complex but intriguing relationship with her daughter. The sitcom features other names such as Christina Applegate, Kevin Dunn, Tim Russ, Jennifer Esposito, and others.
6. Mare by Easttown
In this American crime drama series, created by Brad Ingelsby for HBO, Smart stars as Marianne “Mare” Sheehan, a local hero and cop in Easttown, Pennsylvania, who investigates the recent murder of a teenage mother while trying to keep her own life before decay. Mare by Easttown was critically acclaimed and received a whopping 16 nominations at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, with Smart also receiving an Emmy nomination for her impressive performance.
Based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller / Legion, Legion is an American superhero television series created by American director and producer Noah Hawley. It follows Haller, a schizophrenic patient who was diagnosed at a young age and has been in and out of various mental hospitals since his diagnosis. Here, Smart stars Melanie Bird, a sophisticated psychiatric therapist who is also a human leader of an organization of mutants called Summerland.
Guardian is a limited series based on the 1986 DC Comics series of the same name. It aired in 2019 and was created by Damon Lindelof, who also served as executive producer and writer. It is a sequel set in the same alternate reality 34 years after the events of the comics. Smart was introduced much later in the show as Laurie Blake, the second silk specter to have since become an FBI agent and a member of the Anti-Vigilante Task Force.
3. Sweet Home Alabama
Sweet Home Alabama is a 2002 American romantic comedy-drama fantasy starring Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Ward and Mary Kay Place. It focuses on a tempestuous relationship between Melanie, a successful New York fashion designer, and her estranged husband Jake. Smart has a supporting role as Stella, Jake’s mother, in this captivating film. She gives a compelling performance that really stands out in her extensive filmography.
Inspired by the 1996 film of the same name, Fargo is an American black comedy crime drama created by Noah Holloway. The series follows an anthology format, with each season set in a different era and location, with a different storyline and mostly new characters and cast. Smart appeared in season two — along with names like Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jesse Plemons, and Ted Danson — as Floyd Gerhardt, the matriarch of the Gerhardt family.
Jean Smart is Deborah Vance in this American comedy-drama television series directed by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky. Vance is a legendary Las Vegas stand-up comedy diva who must reinvent herself in order not to lose her residency at Palmetto Casino. The show explores the relationship between Vance and Ava, a young comedy writer who is unable to find work due to a previous mishap and her reputation for being self-centered and arrogant. The series has received multiple critical acclaim and has received various awards, including Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing, Outstanding Directing and for Intelligent, Outstanding Lead Actress, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.