When Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her sixth consecutive Emmy for playing Selina Meyer on HBO’s Veep, she also made history by winning the most Emmys for playing a single role. When the final season premieres in 2018, it will actually be outside of Emmy’s eligibility window, and we won’t see Louis-Dreyfus at the podium again at this upcoming ceremony. She’s become such an Emmy staple (she’s won 8 times total) that it will seem kind of strange to not see her being awarded another well-deserved trophy for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Do we have a clear contender to keep Louis-Dreyfus’ spot warm until she returns to the race for Veep‘s final season? Let’s take a quick look at who is eligible to finally win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
We all know that the Television Academy has a teensy problem with changing up their nominees, so Louis-Dreyfus’ absence is an opportunity for some fresh blood. This past season, the Lead Actress category nominated 7 women instead of the usual 6. There is a possibility for that to happen again, but chances are someone is going to fall out.
Looking back at this year’s nominees, the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Better Things’ Pamela Adlon. Even though she is the creator and face of the FX comedy, she was one of the more delightful surprises on Emmy nomination morning. Season 2 of Better Things actually received more positive reviews than the debut season (based on Metacritic scores, season 1 averaged at 80 while season 2 sits pretty at 96), and more people might discover it before it’s time to consider Emmys again.
The other surprise this year was Jane Fonda joining her Grace and Frankie costar Lily Tomlin. It was assumed that both screen legends would get in for the Netflix sitcom when it first debuted but only Tomlin managed to get in. The show has a devout fanbase, and who doesn’t love seeing these legends being honored with nominations?
Of all the women nominated in this category in the last few years, it feels like black-ish‘s Tracee Ellis Ross is the lady in waiting. She won a Golden Globe this past year and many people have predicted her to take the Emmy from Louis-Dreyfus in the 2 years. So far her Bow Johnson has done some dramatic work in this newest season of black-ish. In the second episode of this current season, she struggles with postpartum depression after the birth of her latest child, and she actually gains some respect from her mother-in-law, played by (the also criminally underawarded) Jenifer Lewis.
Keep an eye out for Mom‘s Allison Janney, though. She switched from Supporting to Lead this past year and scored another nomination whereas that change would hurt other actresses. She could build a house entirely out of Emmy Awards, and she could use an addition.
A lot of pundits thought that some names were going to be announced this past year for their debut seasons.
Sarah Jessica Parker is Emmy royalty from her days on Sex and the City, but Divorce failed to click with voters (receiving only one cinematography nomination). Season 2 is set to debut in January instead of sometime this fall. Will Parker benefit from Divorce being fresher in voters’ minds? Also from HBO was Issa Rae’s Insecure, a massive critical favorite that garnered zero Emmy love. You’d think that Rae creating the show would have bolstered her chances, but the Television Academy passed her up on nominating her in multiple categories. Insecure‘s second season has already aired completely.
The other big name that got tossed around this past season was Kristen Bell for NBC’s The Good Place. Fans of the The Good Place are rabid, and they are dying to see her get nominated for her work on the heaven and hell comedy. Are they just Veronica Mars and Frozen fans who appreciate Bell’s snarky delivery on the show, or does she actually have a fighting chance with this season season? While her sitcom remains very well-reviewed, her unlikable character might turn some voters off.
Other names that constantly get tossed around are Constance Wu for Fresh Off the Boat, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson for Comedy Central’s Broad City, and Rachel Bloom for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
While it seems that Emmy voters will probably cast their votes for the same people every single year, there are some exciting prospect to shake up this Lead Actress race.
Netflix’s GLOW has two killer lead performances from Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin, and both women could find themselves nominated next year. Brie’s desperate actress might connect with more voters, but no one can deny the impression Gilpin made when the show debuted this summer. The show is over-the-top, funny, and theatrical. It also doesn’t hurt that the show is very bingeable. Coming off of a historic year for women at the Emmys packed with nostalgic nominees, GLOW could be huge next year.
Kathy Bates should never be counted it out when it comes to awards, so we should mention her work on Disjointed. Working in Bates’ favor is Chuck Lorre’s involvement, but the show debuted with not much fanfare. Bates is a longshot.
Of the newest faces debuting this fall, the best bet is Rachel Brosnahan for Amazon’s upcoming period comedy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. As a 1950’s housewife who discovers an independent career in standup comedy, Brosnahan is a standout. She’s headstrong and focused in the role, and Amazon succeeds best when it comes to the comedy categories. Since the show is an hour long, it will have to appeal to compete in the comedy side of the Emmys, but that shouldn’t be a problem considering it’s about a comic. When Amazon released the pilot online, it received an overwhelmingly positive response. Maisel will debut this November (right in time for people to binge it around Thanksgiving).
As of right now, there are two former Emmy winners that could find themselves back in the race for reviving beloved characters.
Debra Messing was the final cast member of Will & Grace to snatch a trophy for the NBC sitcom, and she could find herself back in contention. The revival has been mostly well-received, and Grace has a lot of fun physical humor this season.
The other iconic character making a return is from Roseanne Barr in the ABC reboot of Roseanne. Rumor has it that the show will debut in early 2018 putting it right in the sweet spot of eligibility. Both Barr and Messing won an Emmy each for their work on their respective sitcoms.
If we were to foolishly make early predictions, they’d go something like this:
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Allison Janney, Mom
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Debra Messing, Will & Grace
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie