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Why Alma Fillcot From Why Women Kill Looks So Familiar

Alma Fillcot is certainly one desperate housewife — desperate to belong and drink cocktails with a group of friends. But when that group — the gossipy and glamorous Elysian Park Garden Club of 1949 Los Angeles — is run by the ruthless Rita Castillo (Lana Parrilla), her goal isn't as easy as it sounds. The Paramount+ anthology series "Why Women Kill" takes Alma's simple desire and turns Season 2 into a salacious tale of murder, infidelity, and well-fertilized roses.

Created by Marc Cherry, who is known for the soap opera "Desperate Housewives," the series "Why Women Kill" is an indulgent romp through another time, beautifully stylized and dressed to impress. If Alma Fillcot looks awfully familiar, that's likely because you've seen her on the opposite side of the law, in a uniform rather than pretty dresses, and in another decade. She's played by critical darling Allison Tolman, who's been a lovely presence on TV since 2014. Here's where you recognize her from.

Allison Tolman solved murders in Fargo Season 1

Coming off a theater career in Dallas, and improv classes with Second City in Chicago, Allison Tolman was working as a temp receptionist when she auditioned for FX's anthology series "Fargo" — inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers' movie. When she landed the part of Minnesotan police officer Molly Solverson, she became the breakout star of "Fargo" Season 1 in 2014, snagging nominations for an Emmy and a Golden Globe (via Daily Beast).

"[Molly is] the heart and the little engine that could of this show. I love the fact that she's this determined, dogged policewoman who's really just putting her head down and plowing through things, for the entire series, against all odds," Tolman said in an interview with Collider. After Billy Bob Thornton's hitman Malvo and Martin Freeman's insurance salesman Lester Nygaard meet, a series of murders shake up the snowy landscape, with Molly intent on solving them. Things, of course, devolve from there.

In an interview with TIME, Tolman praised Molly's relatability. She said, "I think what makes [Molly] so likable is not only that she's not an anti-hero but she's also not good as a foil to anyone else. She's good just because she's simply a good person. She's just doing her own thing. She's not avenging a past lover. There's no dark, dark history. And I think people found that really relatable." Even now, Tolman is still best known for playing Molly, but "Fargo" definitely launched her career.

Allison Tolman did two episodes on The Mindy Project

After doing "Fargo," Allison Tolman got a two-episode arc as a guest on Mindy Kaling's sitcom "The Mindy Project" in 2014. In the Season 3 episodes "Caramel Princess Time" and "We Need to Talk About Annette," Tolman plays historical romance novelist Abby, the best friend of series regular nurse Tamra (Xosha Roquemore). Tamra sets up Dr. Peter Prentice (Adam Pally) with Abby, but Peter leaves their blind date early because Abby doesn't look how he expected. Later, he shows up to her book signing, gets very invested in her steamy writing, and apologizes. Thus, they get together. At first, she's apparently perfect for him — they share a similar disdain for brunch and enthusiasm for day drinking — but her party lifestyle ends up being too much for him. They break up by the end of her second episode, but she's served her purpose: Peter has learned something about himself.

When talking with TIME, Tolman likened her "Fargo" character's relatability to the "The Mindy Project." She commended the comedy, saying, "I think 'The Mindy Project' does a really good job showing a more diverse world where women are different shapes and different colors, and that looks more like a world I understand. I hate to always bring it back to weight, but that's an issue that's near and dear to me because that's an issue I get picked on for all the time now that I'm on television" (the latter point is something she notes because after making her TV debut, she was harassed on Twitter for her weight, but she shot right back at them, as reported via Salon).

Allison Tolman starred in one season of Downward Dog

Following "Fargo," Allison Tolman decided to be picky with what jobs she took. "Because I broke so late — I was in my thirties when 'Fargo' happened — it took a lot of pressure off of me," she told The Daily Beast. "What's the worst that happens? I go back to working in an office? I was just doing that a year ago. So no harm, no foul."

The problem was, she didn't have interest in the side roles that kept coming up for her, she told Vanity Fair. "I felt like if I let it be, Molly [of 'Fargo'] was going to be the closest to an ingenue that I ever played but if I dug my heels in, I might be able to trick Hollywood into thinking I was an ingenue and not a character actress — and I did," she said. Ideally, she was hoping to lead a series as a character with romantic ups and downs, as opposed to someone settled down with kids.

That chance came with 2017's "Downward Dog," an ABC sitcom filmed through the perspective of the pet dog Martin (voiced by Samm Hodges, played by Ned the Dog). In its one season, Tolman plays Nan, Martin's single owner who doesn't have as much time for him as he wants. "I'm actually quite proud of it," she told Collider. "I think it's the perfect little season, and the perfect full story. We couldn't have asked for any better, as far as the quality of the content goes." Unfortunately, it was canceled after that perfect little season. Still, Tolman wants it to reach a larger audience: "I wish that someone would stream it, so we could share it with more people 'cause I do think it was a really special show."

Allison Tolman went toe to toe with Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine

In between leading series, Allison Tolman had guest roles on the popular series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Drunk History." In the "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" Season 5 episodes "The Puzzle Master" and "White Whale," she plays Captain Olivia Crawford, a sharp, progressive competitor for Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) in the bid for Police Commissioner of the New York Police Department. As a woman and a gay Black man with hopes of changing the NYPD, both have prejudices stacked against them amidst their other competition — white men intent on keeping everything running the same.

Despite being rivals, Holt sticks up for Crawford to the selection committee and they become frenemies: she's perfectly adept at slinging ridiculous insults back and forth with him, making for a few hilariously terse scenes. However, when it comes down to a choice between one of them withdrawing from the race or another white man winning, both Holt and Crawford choose to let the other have it ... leading to a mad dash to the mail room. In the end, since series regular Holt has enough plot armor to keep him in the running, and Crawford sent an email rather than physical mail, Holt stays in the race over her. Next season, we learn it was all in vain — Holt doesn't get the job — but the mutual respect found between Holt and Crawford is heartwarming and hopeful, regardless.

Emergence put Tolman back in uniform

Before "Why Women Kill," Allison Tolman's most recent role put her back in the world of law enforcement: Police chief Jo Evans on 2019's "Emergence," who becomes determined to protect the mysterious, supernaturally powered young girl (Alexa Swinton) she finds at the site of a plane crash. It becomes a whole family affair, with her daughter, father, and ex-husband involved. "Who doesn't love a spooky kid?" Tolman told Daily Beast, when discussing the one season series. With people then coming after that spooky kid, the show has a similar vibe to "E.T."

As for what Tolman enjoys about Jo, she said she likes that Jo doesn't have a past that haunts her, like other female characters in a similar job. She said, "There's all this dark past, as if that's what's needed to justify a woman in this position in a dangerous field. I think you could just be a normal woman and choose to work in a dangerous field." If it isn't obvious by now, "normal woman" is what Tolman seeks in a role.

For the New York Times review, Mike Hale praised her performance, writing, "Tolman, with her knack for conveying alert intelligence and sardonic skepticism, is the best hedge 'Emergence' has against being a generic broadcast-network thriller." Although "Emergence" got mostly favorable reviews, especially with regards to Tolman's performance, the show was canceled after the first season. So far, one season roles have been Tolman's luck, but at least whenever one ends, we'll likely see her again soon.