This category might be experiencing its first real shakeup in years. Veterans such as Melissa McCarthy in CBS’ Mike and Molly or Lena Dunham in HBO’s Girls may both see themselves not being nominated for the first time since they began on their shows. It is possible either of them could be nominated, especially based upon name recognition, but with the new faces in this category, it is likely at least one of them will experience their first Emmy snub. What also opens up this category is Taylor Schilling not being eligible in this category this year since the Television Academy has ruled Orange is the New Black as being a drama series.
Veterans who can rest assured that their nomination is guaranteed is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has won the Emmy in the last three years for her performance as “President Selina Meyer” on HBO’s Veep. Amy Poehler’s work on NBC’s Parks and Recreation will be recognized again, especially with the show having finished its final season this year. While Louis-Dreyfus appears to be the frontrunner for a fourth time this year, Poehler may be able to pull off a win with voters who may want to award her for her series work with Parks and Recreation, while it would also be an ode to recognizing her prior work on Saturday Night Live as well. This sentiment can also be extended to Edie Falco, whose Showtime series, Nurse Jackie, concluded as well this year. Falco has already won an Emmy for her role as “Nurse Jackie,” and despite the show not being a fan favorite, voters have always shown sentiment towards Falco and have nominated her. If the sentiment has run out with Falco, and it is a possibility with the competition this year, she too could be seeing a snub this year. However, Falco’s work in the series finale of Nurse Jackie has critics and fans raving, which might ensure she has a chance for one final nomination with the show.
Emmy Rossum in Showtime’s Shameless likely will be ignored by voters again, as will Mindy Kaling for FOX’s The Mindy Project. Critics currently are raving about Amy Schumer’s performance in Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, yet the show’s narrative style may be offputting to some voters. The one veteran who has a good chance of being nominated again is Lisa Kudrow in HBO’s The Comeback. Kudrow is a fan favorite and critics have raved of her performance as “Valerie Cherish” in the show’s second season. The Comeback’s first season concluded back in 2005, which was well received by both critics and got Kudrow a Best Actress in a Comedy Series nomination. Given the level of praise Kudrow has gotten from this long-awaited second season of The Comeback, she is undoubtedly looking at the possibility of a second Emmy nomination. However, Kudrow’s chances are marred by the fact that The Comeback is a lesser known comedy show and doesn’t have the aggressive traction that other shows have this year.
In the wide spectrum of freshmen shows, Gina Rodriguez’s performance as “Jane Villanueva” in The CW’s Jane the Virgin is a strong contender to be nominated, especially after her surprise Golden Globe win this past January. However, Jane the Virgin is a relatively small show, which could hurt Rodriguez’s chances. Also, as indicated with Andy Samberg with last year’s Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe win doesn’t necessarily guarantee an Emmy nomination. Voters may instead favor Ellie Kemper for role as “Kimmy Schmidt” in Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which is the more popular and noticeable performance amongst fans and critics. Yet the biggest question in this category is whether or not both Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin will be nominated for the Netflix series, Grace and Frankie. Very easily, since both are campaigning for Best Actress, they could see themselves canceling each other out for the nomination. To avoid this scenario, the show may campaign one of the actresses stronger than the other to ensure one of them will get a nomination. In such an instance, it will be likely producers will push harder for Jane Fonda to get the nomination. However, both Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin offer some of the best performances of their careers in Grace and Frankie and it is not outside the realm of possibility that both actresses will be nominated, which would be at the expense of another actress. If voters push for Grace and Frankie to be nominated for Best Comedy Series, and it is a possibility, both Fonda and Tomlin could benefit from that push.
Below are Dan’s predictions for Best Actress in a Comedy Series:
1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”
2. Amy Poehler – “Parks and Recreation”
3. Lily Tomlin – “Grace and Frankie”
4. Jane Fonda – “Grace and Frankie”
5. Edie Falco – “Nurse Jackie”
6. Ellie Kemper – “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Spoiler: Gina Rodriguez – “Jane the Virgin”
Long Shot: Mindy Kaling – “The Mindy Project”