Outstanding Lead Actress in A Comedy
Again, a problem with quantity over quality. Having seen all five of performers, I don’t deny that they are extraordinary actresses who are great at what they do and none of them don’t deserve to be here. My problem is why they couldn’t have opened the door to at least one more. Why is their nothing for Applegate’s sister in arms, Linda Cardellini? Why is there still nothing for Selena Gomez for Only Murders in the Building. I’d be upset about Bridget Everett, but she’ll get more chance. Still guys, next year maybe go up to six? Anyway, let’s get to it.
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me. Odds: 4–1. For Playing: Jen, a widow dealing with the latest in a long line of a series of crises. Pro: If there was any justice in the world, Applegate would win the Emmy hands down this year. (Of course, if there were any justice in the world this would not be the last role Applegate would ever have to play.) It’s not just that she’s the sentimental favorite in this category; it’s that this is one of the greatest roles in a long line of incredibly great roles this gifted talent has played over an incredible career, spanning more than thirty five years. Jen is one of the most complex, darkest and hysterical characters in a long line of brilliant female characters at the center of comedy in this century. But unlike so many of them (the ones that were at the center of so many Showtime comedies) Jen is a good person coming out of so many tragedies and acts out of love more than any other darkness in her and is no mastermind but just someone trying to make good even as things just spiral. The last image we have of Jen is incredibly sad, but it’s also one of triumph. It’s as good an image for both her and the series we’ve loved. Con: It has been Applegate’s misfortune during the run of Dead to Me to constantly be facing some of the greatest female comedic performances in the history of the medium; indeed, the group this year is actually the least formidable of the bunch. (Which as you will see is saying a lot.) And the Emmys has not been sentimental in any major category for a very long time.
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Odds: 39–10. For Playing: Midge Maisel, the stand-up comic who finally makes it big — and finds out that success can be as lonely as failure. Pro: We’ve spent so much time in love with Brosnahan for four wonderful seasons that we have been blind to her flaws. The final season made it very clear that eventually all those flaws would come at a cost. In the flashforwards we saw that Midge did achieve the success she had longed for — but it turned out not to be as rewarding as she thought. She suffered through failed marriages; she was isolated from her children, her husband went to prison, and she ended up estranged from the manager who had helped her climb to the top. Midge spent as much time rising to success as a comedian as she did apologizing for her failures as a mother, a daughter and a friend throughout the final season and it is a credit to Brosnahan that we remained with her throughout. Con: Brosnahan has already received more than her share of recognition from almost every major awards show the past several years. Jean Smart’s absence from this category raises an opportunity, but it is far more likely the Emmys will recognize a newer face.
Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary. Odds: 17–5. For Playing: Janine, the devoted first grade teacher trying to move on from the breakup of her long-time boyfriend. Pro: She should have won last year, in my opinion. She has also won the Golden Globe in this category as well as almost every major other award in some form. It’s likely she’ll win in one or more other categories, but her performance is another one of those perfect accomplishment in creating one of the most cheerfully enduring characters in this decade. We met Janine’s sister and her mother, which explained a lot about who she is. We saw her struggle with a new relationship and begin to realize her flirtation with Gregory — who let’s face it, we all ship. And we saw our hearts getting broken as Janine realized that she needed to find a way to be by herself. Janine deserves this. So does Brunson. Con: Everyone thought she was going to win in this category last year and she didn’t.
Natasha Lyonne, Poker Face. Odds: 9–2. For Playing: Charlie Cale, who knows when everyone’s lying and who is always running into death. For: I was overjoyed that Lyonne received the TCA prize for Best Comedic Performance. Lyonne has been one of the great talents in TV comedy for more than a decade and she is absolutely wonderful as Charlie, on the run for the mob and who keeps running into death every time she stops for gas. The series is in every respect an homage to Columbo and Lyonne clearly sounds more and more like Peter Falk with every stop she makes and each murder she solves. But we never forget just how dark the road she is traveling is, and how she seems to be running to trouble rather than running from it — something that was made very clear in the Season One finale. Lyonne has deserved an Emmy since Orange is the New Black. Con: How many people are even willing to acknowledge a show on Peacock is quality, much less deserving of Emmys? I think Lyonne will win in this category and for this show, but not yet
Jenna Ortega, Wednesday. Odds: 9–2. For Playing: Wednesday Addams, sent to a boarding school full of misfits trying to solve a mystery. Pro: Ortega is Wednesday in a way that even Christina Ricci could not quite master. Ortega has in many ways become the major ‘it girl’ of this year, getting recognition for pop culture for her performance and going viral in all the best ways. Ortega’s deadpan delivery is unmatched in a way that very few actresses can match (that’s why everybody laughed when she and Aubrey Plaza, the previous master presented together at the SAG awards this February.) This show is a good one but it would not work without the brilliant work of Ortega in every single scene. She will win some day. Con: Unfortunately, she’s become the flashpoint of a lot of controversy, particularly due to backlash against the show as well as some comments she made about writing her own dialogue that the WGA in particular did not like. I think they’ll forgive her eventually but this is not the year for it.
My Prediction: I really want Applegate to win, but I still am absolutely fine with Brunson taking the grand prize that’s she more than earned.
Tomorrow, I will deal with Supporting Actor in a Comedy where it gets more complicated.