My Predictions (And Hopes) For the 2024 Emmy Nominations, Week 2, Part 3

David B Morris
9 min readJun 20, 2024

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OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

This category looks to be the most thrilling on Emmy night. It will almost certainly be the most diverse and will feature some of the greatest performances of 2024. Two previous winners from 2023 will face off against the performers who won the previous two years.

I will have no problem if such heavy favorites as Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig are among the nominees in this category: I’ve loved them ever since I first saw them on SNL and earlier this year they returned to host the show that made them stars and made it very clear why we loved them in the first place. But for the purposes of my list I intend to exclude them for two performers who did some of the best work in the past year and have been ridiculously underrecognized during their careers. This will be one of these categories where it is truly an honor just to be nominated.

Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary

In this corner the reigning champion. Just two years in Quinta Brunson has become on the most awarded hyphenates in the history of television. In 2022 she took an Emmy for writing the Pilot of Abbott Elementary. Then in 2023, she took the Golden Globe for Best Actress, her second consecutive HCA award in this category and finally an Emmy for Best Actress. And in her third season as Janine went out to spread her wings at district, she continued to demonstrate everything that makes us love her. We saw her do everything to help both the school and the district. We saw her make a difficult choice because she loved and missed her job too much. We saw her spent so much time experience growing pains. And then in the season finale we saw her literally plan out the best party of the year, saw it go to pieces and finally realize her love match with Gregory in a moment that made our hearts soar. Brunson may not be able to go back to back this year but she will likely be contending for years to come.

Ayo Edebiri, The Bear

In this corner, the breakout sensation of 2023. When The Bear began its run in 2023, it took awhile for the rest of the world to catch up with Ayo Edebiri’s work. But we’ve spent the last year making up for it. She deserved took the Supporting Actress Emmy last year and since she was promoted to Best Actress has been winning every Best Actress award in site, from the Golden Globe to the Critics Choice to the SAG award. Brunson herself knows what a brilliant performer she is: Edebiri has played her sister on a guest cameo in Abbott in Season 2. Edebiri’s work in Season 2 was, if anything, more brilliant than her first year. No longer jaded she was now determined to make the new restaurant a success, is clearly the only realist working behind the scenes, but is still struggling for respect from so many people, including Carmy who she spent as much time facing off with in Season 2 as she did collaborating with.

Edebiri goes into this year’s Emmys with a chance to put her name in the record books: one of a handful of performers who have won Emmys in two different categories for playing the same character. This would put her in some legendary company, including Alison Janney, Ed Asner and Uzo Aduba. I think it is very likely to happen eventually, though I’m not positive it will happen this year. (There’s a very big reason at the bottom.) But Edebiri isn’t even thirty and she has already established herself as nearly as brilliant an icon as her spiritual (and in the case of her role on Abbott, actual) sister Brunson.

Selena Gomez, Only Murders in the Building

A mystery more baffling than anything that happens on this show is how the hell the Emmys haven’t nominated Selena Gomez in this category to this point. I completely blame Elle Fanning for this; all the other nominees in this category for the past two years have been more than deserving but the recognition of Fanning for the bloated spectacle The Great has baffled me.

This is particularly astonishing considering that Gomez has been able to earn recognition everywhere else: the Golden Globes, the SAG awards, the Critics Choice Awards, hell the MTV Movie and TV awards recognized her twice and she actually won the Best Comic Actress in a streaming series over, among others, Jean Smart in 2022. I think at this point she would have to commit a felony (not unlike the ones Mabel has been accused of already over the first three seasons) not to get a nomination this year.

I wrote in my very first review of Only Murders that Gomez was the revelation of the show, not only in being able to be the equal of two legends in comedy but as the only performer I’d had no use for before this series. (I’m not a music fan and her previous acting had never impressed me.) It has been the biggest sin of the Emmys these past two years that she has been practically the only performer associated with this show over the past two seasons to not even get an Emmy nomination. Well she’s gotten another Golden Globe nod and Critics Choice nod and the People’s Choice rewarded with a Best Comic Performance and if you think we can discount them, they also recognized Pedro Pascal and Jennifer Aniston this year. I don’t know what Gomez’s chances will be winning this year — this is a tougher field than the previous two — but she is well past due recognition.

Marcia Gay Harden, So Help Me Todd

Harden is by far one of the greatest actresses in any medium, yet for someone who has won both a Tony and an Academy Award, she seems to be one of the most undervalued. I’ve been in awe of her work on TV for more than two decades and every time she appears on TV, she immediately makes a mediocre show better (as in her guest stints on The Newsroom and How To Get Away With Murder) and a great show spectacular (her incredible stint as Claire Maddox on Season 2 of Damages) And yet while she has had a vast career throughout TV and has received three Emmy nominations, it seems vastly inadequate to all of the great roles she’s played.

I truly believe had it not been cancelled Harden would have received an Emmy for her work as Margaret on So Help Me Todd. In addition to everything else Harden is a gifted comic foil, as we saw on such one season shows as Trophy Wife and Uncoupled. Her work as the incredibly uptight and always beleaguered Margaret Wright was one of the best performances in her long career and it truly seemed like she was on an arc that would have guaranteed. Alas the series was canceled and so were chances.

There is a possibility that she could get nominated this year anyway for her guest work on The Morning Show. But I’d prefer if she was nominated for her work here. Like the character she played, she worked hard to get there and she deserves recognition before the opportunity is thrust away.

Devery Jacobs, Reservation Dogs

Of all the incredible performances in the cast of Reservation Dogs, Jacobs has by far the best chance of her co-stars. Not only did she receive her second consecutive Critics Choice nomination for Best Actress earlier this month she received a nomination from the TCA for individual achievement in Comedy. She has won awards for her work from various LGBTQ+ groups for her work, even though the character she plays is not. And her work as Elora has been the heart of Reservation Dogs and continued to be in the final season.

We saw Elora decide to make the bold move to leave the reservation and apply to college. She spent much of the final season dealing with the fact that her birth father was actually alive. And in the penultimate episode, one of the most brilliant in the entire run, she finally met with her white father and learned the truth of both of her parents and learned she has a family. (On a side note, Ethan Hawke deserves a Guest Actor nod for his work.)

Jacobs’ is currently a borderline choice by Gold Derby. She ranks seventh and the field only has room for six. With all due respect to Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, both of whom are two of my all-time favorites, I think Jacobs is more deserving than either of you. Besides you’ll both get another chance for your series. Jacobs’s won’t and she’s earned it.

Jean Smart, Hacks

This is the rare case of saving the best for last and not using hyperbole. Jean Smart was as much a legend as Deb Vance the character she has brilliantly portrayed for three seasons on Hacks before that show started. She’s already won back-to-back Emmys in this category for the first two seasons. First time around, she won every award in her path for Season 1. The second time around, she divided many of the awards with Brunson but while that was going on, we learned that she was undergoing heart surgery. Now that Hacks has returned for a third season, we remember why he love Deb Vance and at the same time, love to hate her.

Deb reached the top of the food chain at the end of Season 2 and spent Season 3 chasing her dream — being able to host late night. We saw her spend much of the third season demonstrating how difficult is it to love her, if you’re in her family and how problematic it can be to work for her. Then in the season finale, she got her dream, double crossed the woman who got her there — and in the most controversial move so far, saw the student become the master.

Smart started rising in the odds against Edebiri the second Hacks dropped on HBO and is now practically dead even with the performer whose been the odds on favorite in this category since January. When you consider her health that caused the delay in Season 3, it might very well make sentimentality add to Smart’s chances (much as Deb would loathe the idea of sentiment) But strictly on merit, Smart is going to be a formidable contender going into this and it will be very hard to choose between these brilliant comic fireballs. I know I’m going to have a lot of trouble doing so.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Gina Rodriguez, Not Dead Yet

It was going to be one of two choices for this category: Gina Rodriguez or Daisy Haggard. When it came to pure talent, both more than deserved it for playing characters whose lives went to hell in a handbasket. Both have been robbed for their work on other classic shows: Haggard for Back to Life, Rodriguez for Jane The Virgin. It’s a very tough call and I would be fine if either got it. But for the purposes of this article I will go with Rodriguez’s incredible work as Nell in the gone too soon season. Her character was far more messed up than the role she played on Jane The Virgin, but just as warm and dealing with more crises. She was a little harder to love than Jane was but easier to root for. And considering that I consider her being denied even a nomination for a role she won every other award in the book for, I felt the Emmys more than deserved to make it up to her than they did Haggard. I know the chances of her getting nominate were more remote than talking to the dead, but Nell was able to that, so….

Tomorrow I deal with Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy. I’m going to have a lot of fun with that one, I’m telling you up front.

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David B Morris

After years of laboring for love in my blog on TV, I have decided to expand my horizons by blogging about my great love to a new and hopefully wider field.