Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox, Better Things (Future Fever)
Adlon was nominated two years ago for guest-starring on “Louie” and now stars in her own show, which managed to be remembered by Emmy voters despite airing early last fall. Adlon’s submitted episode finds Sam trying her best to juggle being a mom, frequently being inappropriate and pretty funny in the process. Adlon would be a cool choice here, and I’m sure she’ll get some votes. Her show has no other support, though, which is a shame, so I don’t know if she can pull it off.

Jane Fonda as Grace Hanson, Grace and Frankie (The Pot)
Two-time Oscar winner Fonda joins costar Tomlin, who is on her third nomination, in this race for the first time for her portrayal of the less bohemian of two divorced women in their seventies who live together following their coming out and subsequent marriage of their husbands. Fonda won an Emmy back in 1984 for her performance in the TV movie “The Dollmaker” and was nominated twice recently for guest-starring on “The Newsroom.” While marijuana usage in comedies is usually a slippery slope to stupidity, in this case seeing the very buttoned-up, serious Grace use “the pot” is a true delight. It’s good that she’s here, but I think voters still prefer Tomlin, and neither of them will be able to beat the younger blood with these episodes.

Allison Janney as Bonnie, Mom (Tush Push and Some Radishes)
Janney is an Emmy powerhouse. This is her thirteenth nomination, and she’s won seven times, two of which have been for this role. More importantly, this is her first time contending in the lead comedy race, and when she was similarly promoted for “The West Wing” fifteen years ago, she won two out of four times following two wins in the supporting category. I don’t think Janney really compares to the others in this race for this particular performance, but another episode about dealing with her absentee mother and the very unique way in which she reacts to that is sure to garner a few votes from eager devotees of this do-no-wrong comedienne.

Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Kimmy Goes to College)
This is Kemper’s second consecutive nomination after being snubbed for the first year of her show. I’m a huge fan of hers and think that this was her best year on the air yet, and her submission is dynamite. There’s no better fit than Kimmy Schmidt to be a taskrabbit, and Kemper did a spectacular job owning the entire episode. I don’t think her show will ever be one that really wins awards, but how awesome would it be if she did?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, Veep (Groundbreaking)
This is Louis-Dreyfus’ eighteenth career nomination, and she’s the five-time defending champion in this race, which would make a sixth win historic. Her show is up to seventeen nominations this year, and it has won Best Comedy Series the past two years. I don’t think any of the competition, including promoted past winner Janney, are strong enough to take her down, especially considering her submission of the season finale, which includes flashbacks and puts her on a surprising course to success. I think she’s going to take number six.

Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson, Black-ish (Being Bow-Racial)
Ross was nominated last year and, earlier this year, won the Golden Globe on her first try against some pretty steady competition. Ross’ submission finds her contemplating her biracial heritage, tying into the show’s main themes of being intolerant when you’re the one often targeted by intolerance. Ross is funny and this half-hour highlights her well. There are a lot of women in this category, and even though Louis-Dreyfus has won five Emmys and no Golden Globes for this role, Ross is still the only one who has defeated her in competition like this.

Lily Tomlin as Frankie Bergstein, Grace and Frankie (The Burglary)
This is the third consecutive nomination for Tomlin. She has six previous wins, none of which are for acting. She’s joined by costar Jane Fonda for the first time this year, and her submission is just as good if not better. Frankie’s reaction to the fact that her roommate owns a gun is one of complete hysteria, and it only gets worse when she directs that energy towards anyone with a gun. It’s a great choice, though I think that Fonda’s presence in the category is likely to take votes away from her.

Who should win (based on entire season): Kemper
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Kemper, Tomlin, Fonda, or Louis-Dreyfus
Who will win: I think it’s going to be Louis-Dreyfus again, though I guess Adlon, Ross, or Janney could upset, in that order.

Next up: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

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