There is no reason to believe that the winner in this category for the past three years, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, can’t pull off a four-peat for her role in Veep. But there could be a sentimental tide brewing for multiple nominee Amy Poehler, who has never won in five previous noms and has her last shot for Parks And Recreation this year. Another Amy, as in Schumer, is hotter than hot and could give our Veep candidate a run for her money, too. These are likely the top three contenders, but when their competitors are the likes of Edie Falco, Lily Tomlin and Lisa Kudrow, maybe all bets are off. But if you were betting, here are everyone’s odds.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Edie Falco Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Falco has 13 Emmy nominations overall and she has won in both comedy and drama races (the latter for The Sopranos, of course). She also has won for her role as the title character in this series, which now has earned her yet another nom for its final season. She won in its first time out in 2010. Could Falco grab another trophy for this last go-round? Considering she has lost the past four years in a row, the bloom might be off this rose, but never count out the incredibly watchable and popular Falco.
Lisa Kudrow The Comeback (HBO)
An Emmy winner for Friends in 1998, Kudrow graduated to the lead actress category for the first run of The Comeback in 2006. She didn’t win, and the show took a nine-year break. But in the tradition of true comebacks, the series returned and now, presto!—so has Kudrow. Emmy voters have proved they cherish Valerie. Can she deliver another statuette for Kudrow and make Emmy history by seeing a star win for a show that was on for one season then off for eight before returning?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Veep (HBO)
Face it: Louis-Dreyfus is beloved by Emmy voters. She’s that rare bird to win an Emmy for three distinctly different comedy series: Seinfeld, The New Adventures Of Old Christine and now Veep. Since the HBO series debuted in 2012 Louis-Dreyfus hasn’t lost once, taking the lead actress Emmy for all three of her nominations. Now that her Selina Meyer character is the U.S. president, she might as well put out an executive order for another statuette. The Louis-Dreyfus train appears to be unstoppable, as usual.
Amy Poehler Parks And Recreation (NBC)
With 14 noms and no wins, Poehler lands the sentimental favorite slot in the category. This very popular comedy star also might benefit from the fact that Parks And Rec itself snagged a second comedy series nom this year. From her Saturday Night Life days to her Golden Globe hosting duties with Tina Fey for the past three years, Poehler certainly is overdue for a trophy. It would be a nice sendoff for an industry fave. If Louis-Dreyfus has competition, it’s going to be right here. Or from another Amy.
Amy Schumer Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
Few performers have the kind of year Amy Schumer is having. With TV stardom confirmed by her show’s seven nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series, and her first starring hit film, Trainwreck, Schumer easily is this year’s “it” comic. She can do no wrong and the versatility she shows in her Comedy Central series could cement a win, except that very few in this category come from mixed-bag programs like hers. There’s always a chance precedent will be set.
Lily Tomlin Grace And Frankie (Netflix)
Tomlin has had 22 Emmy nominations and six wins since her first nom in 1971 for Laugh-In. Believe it or not, this is her first nom for a leading role. Many thought both she and co-star Jane Fonda would make the grade if voters warmed to the new Netflix series, but the one—and only—nomination it got for its freshman run went to Tomlin, who also represents her fellow actors on the TV Academy’s Board of Governors. That can’t hurt her chances, but she’s probably a long shot to actually win this time.
The Winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
It’s an extremely crowded field in this race, with ties resulting in a record eight nominees—one of the largest fields ever in any Emmy contest. That’s the headline here, but the result probably will feel familiar. Last year’s double Emmy winner Allison Janney (who won in this category for Mom, as well as for her guest role on Masters Of Sex) likely will prevail again while the rest of this mob splits the remaining votes six ways from Sunday. Still, it is an impressive field overall and a varied list that includes Mayim Bialik (again for The Big Bang Theory), Niecy Nash (Getting On), SNL’s Kate McKinnon, Veep’s Anna Chlumsky and two-time winner Julie Bowen from Modern Family. They are joined by two stars from new series: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Jane Krakowski and Transparent’s Gaby Hoffman. Hoffman offers up one of the more complex character studies I have seen in recent family comedies. Quite frankly, it seems a shame that even with eight slots there still wasn’t room for the excellent co-star of Black-ish, Tracey Ross. Still, it is Janney’s trophy to lose—and this six-time winner almost never does that.
The Winner: Allison Janney