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Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) is very likely to make it five wins this year, matching her with Candice Bergen’s stellar total in this category for Murphy Brown between 1989-1995 but besting her in that her wins would be consecutive. Her episode, “Mother,” about her response to her mother dying is as Emmy-baiting as you could possibly get in this category and although she had a handful of episodes to submit this was a no-brainer.
But is there an upset in the mix? If so it’s probably going to come from Laurie Metcalf (Getting On). A surprise nominee here, Metcalf is also an Emmy favorite with three wins in Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Roseanne back in the 90s and seven other nominations since, including THREE this year alone (she’s also nominated in Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Horace and Pete and Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for The Big Bang Theory). That’s a big boost in her favor but interestingly, and likely to her disadvantage, there are striking similarities to Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her submission. Metcalf’s episode, “Am I Still Me?” also features her character dealing with her mother’s death but it happens off camera and isn’t the focal point of the story like it is in Veep. Metcalf’s Dr. James is an equally unlikeable character who is despised by her co-workers (as JLD’s Selina Meyer is) but something Getting On does that Veep doesn’t as much is give its supporting cast plenty of room for their stories. This reduces Metcalf’s screentime a bit but it’s still a superlative episode in what is a very underrated and underwatched show. But, the Emmys have shown they love actresses in hospital comedies (that are often more drama) as Edie Falco and Nurse Jackie can prove.
Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish) has a good submission too, involving the perception of her neighbor not inviting her family to their swim parties due to racial stereotyping. The show deals with these perceptions head on rather consistently and does so in a much more traditional sitcom style compared to Veep or Getting On and Ross shines here, although she might have had better episodes that showed more range.
Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer) and her ‘gun show’ episode follows an issue that is close to her heart and skewers the ease of gun buying rather savagely but it’s this single skit that is the only standout in the episode. Schumer feels very ‘last year’ now and I don’t see her being a factor here. Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) earns her first nomination after being snubbed last year and submits a decent episode (“Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!”) but, like her co-star Tituss Burgess, not her best. Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie) is not grabbing a seventh Emmy win for “The Test” but it’s a good submission.
Here are the rankings for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series from the Emmy Experts: