The biggest question in this category is whether history will actually be made with Julia Louis-Dreyfus taking to the Microsoft Theatre podium for a sixth straight year. The category is one of the more crowded with seven entries, meaning someone came within two per cent of the sixth place nominee and won an invite as well. With three other returnees looking to knock Louis-Dreyfus off her perch, a couple of newcomers including a two-time Oscar winner, and a carpetbagger from the supporting category, this could be one to watch. Or not, if Julia gets her way.
Even Adlon says she was shocked when her name was called as a nominee for the little-buzzed Fox comedy series. It just proves, though, that Emmy voters were watching the show she created with Louis C.K. and in which she plays a single actress trying to raise three kids. The fact she was singled out to join this group makes me think she could be a real contender for the upset win.
Grace and Frankie
For the past two years Fonda has been left out while co-star Lily Tomlin was the only nominee from their Netflix comedy series, but this year the show has gained a little more heat and, with that, the first ever Emmy nomination in this category for past Emmy winner and two-time Oscar winner Fonda. She’ll have to first square off with her co-star in order to break through with a win.
A two-time winner for this character already in the Supporting Actress category, Janney decided she’s the star of the show which has her as the title character. She entered into the Lead Actress race and was immediately accepted with a nomination, her 13th overall. Incidentally she tried this same gambit after winning twice in Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for The West Wing, before switching to the Lead category and winning twice there for the same show. If it worked before…
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kemper has obviously become an Emmy favorite, as has her Netflix show in which she exhibits a kind of Mary Tyler Moore vibe in a traditional sitcom. She is back in the running for the second year but with this kind of competition it is uphill all the way.
This is where history could be made. With a sixth consecutive win in this category for this character Louis-Dreyfus could bust past the record she currently shares with Murphy Brown’s Candice Bergen. Dreyfus is already in the history books for winning Emmys for three separate comedy series. Clearly she is on a roll and the wild politics in real life can’t hurt her chances here.
Tracee Ellis Ross
Ross is back in the category for a second straight year, and has added some heat to her chances by taking home the Golden Globe for the show earlier this year. With the series also nominated again, she could be ripe for a victory. She also is the only person of color in the contest, which certainly helps when you consider the importance of diversity on TV.
Grace and Frankie
Tomlin is clearly a long time favorite of Emmy voters and is now named in this category for a third year in a row. She is a past winner of six Emmys, with 24 nominations. She also represents her fellow actors on the Television Academy’s Board of Governors. It is no wonder they love her, but this year she also has to go head to head with her co-star Jane Fonda and that could be tough.
PETE’S PICK: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Anna Chlumsky received her fifth consecutive nomination here for her role in Veep, but she has never won. This could be her year if you look at the competition and consider that they might cancel each other out. Why? Vanessa Bayer, Leslie Jones and last year’s winner Kate McKinnon are all up for the same show, Saturday Night Live, while Kathryn Hahn and Judith Light will be duking it out for Transparent.
Even though the law of averages says the person without any direct conflict or competition from a fellow cast member should prevail, it would be surprising for Chlumsky to finally pull it off, though she did get a lot of attention on Emmy nomination morning as one of the two celebrity announcers so don’t count her out. However McKinnon is gold these days and another Emmy for her Hillary Clinton impersonation would seem fitting, especially if Baldwin’s Trump wins as I expect.
WINNER: Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live