Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lily Tomlin and Amy Schumer are back in the hunt for the Best Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy, but voters have brought in some new blood this time around, including both Ellie Kemper of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Tracee Ellis Ross of Black-ish, who somehow inexplicably were overlooked in their first season, while number two proved the charm. Add to the fold a three-time Emmy winner in Laurie Metcalf, appearing here for the first time with a surprise nod for Getting On, and you have a vibrant race, where the goal will be to turf out the President, as Louis-Dreyfus goes for a record-tying five wins in a row.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
It was surprising last year, in its first crack at the Emmys, that Kemper was left out of this category, despite the fact that the show she stars in received seven nominations. This was something that had to be rectified in the show’s second season, and voters have done just that by giving Kemper her first ever Emmy nod, even if the series itself received just four nods this time around. Kemper’s bright presence on the show is the anchor that keeps it afloat, and Netflix is going to spend big to remind voters of that fact.
When you are on a roll, you are on a roll. With 21 nominations overall, and seven wins, including one for every year of Veep’s existence, there is no reason to believe this enormously popular TV star can’t make it a record-equalling five in a row, especially in an election year in which a woman has become a major party’s presidential nominee. The show itself has by far the most overall nominations in the comedy category. So it looks like, once again, Louis-Dreyfus is the incumbent with the edge.
Though Louis-Dreyfus is formidable, Metcalf is the story here. A three-time Emmy winner in the ’90s for Supporting Actress in Roseanne, Metcalf has since received several nominations for various series in the Guest Actress category, including an incredible two more this year in both Comedy for The Big Bang Theory and Drama for Horace And Pete. Her third nod this year represents her first Lead Emmy nod ever, and the triple play that puts her back in the hunt for the first time in nearly a decade.
Tracee Ellis Ross
Overlooked in the first season of Black-ish, even though co-star Anthony Anderson made the grade, voters have made sure this solid rock would not be passed over again, and so she now has her first ever Emmy nomination. She can definitely compete, as she has made Rainbow Johnson every bit an equal in the series, going toe-to-toe with Anderson every week. If voters want a change, they might want to look here.
Inside Amy Schumer
Schumer landed a remarkable four nominations this year, including a repeat visit, despite the fact that the show that takes her name is not in the Comedy Series category, but rather Variety Sketch Series, where it won last year. Schumer has a distinct advantage as the only nominee here not in a more traditional kind of role, and she really gets to show multiple sides to her talent. It didn’t make a difference last year, though, and there are other categories voters know they can honor her in.
Grace and Frankie
It seems Tomlin can get an Emmy nomination just for showing up. She has 23 nominations with six wins, and this is her second consecutive year in this category. If there were any justice, her co-star in the Netflix series, Jane Fonda, would be nominated right here with her. But Tomlin has the magic touch as the happyish Frankie, and Emmy voters just can’t get enough of her. Is it enough to win, especially with Netflix splitting their votes between her and Kemper?
PETE’S PICK: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. You were expecting me to say someone else’s name?
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
This is a very strong field overall, but the elephant in the room is Allison Janney, winner here for the previous two seasons in Mom—and likely to be the one to beat again, as the TV Academy just can’t get enough of her. With seven previous wins overall, if she wins again, she will tie Cloris Leachman as the most honored actress in Emmys history. Veep’s Anna Chlumsky is deserving, but she has lost three times previously. Transparent’s Gaby Hoffmann is good in a complicated role and is back again this year. Niecy Nash should be happy with her Getting On nomination, but the real competition for Janney comes on two fronts: Transparent’s Judith Light is equally popular and a veteran, and SNL’s Kate McKinnon steals that show weekly.
PETE’S PICK: Allison Janney making history.
This post was originally published August 18, 2016.