Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me: 7–1
For playing: Jen, a tightly wound widow. Pro: Applegate has been one of the great and original comic voices of my lifetime, never playing the same type of character twice. And her nomination over so many other brilliant actresses (including several on Netflix) was one of the nicer joys of this year. I’m always glad to see her competing. Con: That said, surprise nominees at the Emmys don’t usually win. And Applegate has a lot of bad luck at the Emmys (even though she did win once). I just don’t see her prevailing here
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: 9–2
For playing: Midge, the title housewife/standup comedienne Pro: Everything Brosnahan did last year, she did just as well this year. As she tried to pursue a career where she was being blackballed, going to Paris, the Catskills, and on TV; inadvertently coming out to her father (it actually might have been easier in the alternative) and trying to dance between her not quite ex-husband and a new suitor, Brosnahan remained as delightful. The awards people agree — she won just about every award between last year’s Emmys and this one. I’m not sure why she isn’t the favorite. Con: Oh, right. Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I still believe Brosnahan deserves it, but I’m the minority.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep: 17–5
For playing: Selina Meyer, the once and former president. Pro: For better or worse (and on this show, it’s always worse) the Emmys love her. And I have to admit, if the final episode of the series is the one she submitted, it’s the one to go out on. To see that her ruthless ambition, so brutal she would walk over her own daughter to get the presidency, pay off — and yet still end up with nothing — was incredible. Plus, given everything that happened with her health, could the six time winner be a sentimental favorite? Con: She didn’t win last year, and she lost to Phoebe Waller-Bridge at the TCA awards. Would that be enough to deny her one more win?
Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll: 13–2
For playing: Nadia, a video game designer turning 36 again… and again… and again. Pro: Like so many former film actresses, Lyonne has found the perfect place to work in TV. Working in concert with Amy Poehler, she stars and has created a dazzling puzzle box of a series, and created one of the most truly original characters on television. Trying to deal with dying over and over, trying to determine a pattern was both terribly funny and moving. Not a lot of women in this category could do this. Con: Is it too much and too dark for the Emmys to reward? I’d say she might prevail for writing, but there’s another hyphenate we have to talk about who may stop her
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek: 6–1
For Playing: Moira Rose. Pro: If anything, O’Hara’s even more deserving of an Emmy than Levy is. Same background, same great history, same total lack of recognition from the Emmys. (Though if you saw For Your Consideration, maybe they did it for a reason.) O’Hara is another one of favorite actresses, and for those of us who saw her at the Critics Choice awards with Levy, she’s lost none of her touch. Con: In addition to not being named Julia, she’s also on a series that was basically ignored by the Emmys until now. Sentimental favorite, but the Emmys… well, see Eugene Levy
Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Fleabag: 9–2
For: Title role… whatever that is. Pro: Waller-Bridge, the hyphenated hyphenate, created an incredible comedy even by the comparison of other hyphenates. The self-aware, hard drinking sexually robust found religion — well, a hot priest — realized that there was a good person, and helped everybody find happiness, except sadly, herself. There has definitely been momentum building for her the last month. She took every imaginable prize from the TCAs in August. Combined with her work on Killing Eve, if she doesn’t get at least one Emmy, there is no justice. Con: Like Brosnahan, the only argument against her is that she’s the wrong hyphenated actress. But of the nominees in this category, she’s the most likely to be the spoiler.
Likely that Louis-Dreyfus will run the table, but don’t rule out an upset by either Brosnahan or Waller-Bridge (particularly the latter)