In a somewhat unusual situation, there are two defending champs in the Lead Actress Comedy Series category this year since six-time winner Julie Louis-Dreyfus was not eligible last year, thus enabling Rachel Brosnahan—then a first-time nominee in this category—to take the prize. Both are now competing against each other, and that is what’s grabbing the headlines among Emmy-predicting pundits. But a dark horse could come through with a win should the frontrunners cancel each other out, and that is what makes this especially intriguing.
Dead to Me
A past four-time nominee, Applegate was last in this category in 2009 for Samantha Who?, which earned her two nominations for its short run. She is also a previous winner in the Guest Actress Comedy category for her role in Friends—a handy feat for that show. Now she’s made an instant splash in the late-breaking Netflix entry, Dead to Me. The show is renewed, so we will probably see her back here again next year, but this doesn’t look a likely win first time out, however darkly funny she is in it.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Amazon Prime Video
This show came bursting out of the gate, winning eight Emmys in its first short season. One of those went to Brosnahan, who swept the awards circuit in the title role, finally culminating in an Emmy win. However, last year she didn’t have to compete with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. In normal Emmy circumstances, a second consecutive win for such an overpowering role would be a given, but not this year. Mrs. Maisel has her work cut out for her this time around.
And speaking of the 800-pound gorilla in this race, Louis-Dreyfus made Emmy history two years ago when she won her sixth consecutive Emmy for this series. No actor had done that before. The next day she got a cancer diagnosis, which she has happily beaten. This year, Louis-Dreyfus is going for seven out of seven, and she is the one over which everyone else has to somehow triumph. Not likely.
As a creator and star of this very offbeat series, Lyonne has a show and a performance that has created instant buzz, not only for the series, but also for herself. It’s hard to categorize, since it deals with death and other issues that might not be considered the stuff of rollicking comedy, but that difference could actually be a plus if voters don’t expect the typical thing. A long shot.
Like her Schitt’s Creek co-star Eugene Levy, O’Hara is a past winner and multiple Emmy nominee for her writing contributions to SCTV, and although she was also a previous Emmy nominee as Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/Movie for Temple Grandin, this is her first acting nod in any comedy category, making her also something of a sentimental favorite for this little show that finally could. Levy’s chances are better than O’Hara’s, but wouldn’t it be lovely anyway to see her pull off an upset?
Amazon Prime Video
If there is truly to be an upset in this category it will probably be at the hands of this British actress, who not only stars in this much-buzzed series, but also created it and has an additional nomination for writing. After being largely ignored for its first season, it came roaring back with 11 nominations. Waller-Bridge is also known for her writing contributions to Killing Eve, which earned her a nod last season. But it is Fleabag, which already won her a BAFTA this year, that has people talking.
This is the most crowded of all Emmy acting categories this season, with a whopping eight nominees, indicating that there’s widespread support for a number of contenders here. They include defending champ Alex Borstein, who’s back for a second round, competing against her Maisel co-star Marin Hinkle. Sian Clifford and Olivia Colman are both up for Fleabag, and with a recent Oscar, Colman could be one to watch. Anna Chlumsky has been nominated for six out of seven Veep seasons, so you might think she’s due. Kate McKinnon has won twice here for SNL, and GLOW’s Betty Gilpin and Barry’s Sarah Goldberg round out the rich category.
WINNER: Olivia Colman, Fleabag