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Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Actress in a Comedy Series

With Julia Louis-Dreyfus returning to the race, someone's going to get bumped in one of the Emmys' most competitive categories.

BETTER THINGS "Nesting" Episode 3 (Airs Thursday, March 14 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

Pamela Adlon in “Better Things”

Suzanne Tenner/FX

Last Year’s Winner: Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won six years running, though the “Veep” star was ineligible last year, which led to Rachel Brosnahan’s first win. But, among the many actresses to be nominated and lose over the last seven years, Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”) is currently zero for the last four, Tracee Ellis Ross has lost the last three years in a row, and both Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”) and Allison Janney (“Mom”) have lost two years running.
Fun Fact: Only four actresses have won Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for multiple roles. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for “Veep” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine”; Mary Tyler Moore for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”; Lucille Ball for “I Love Lucy” and “The Lucy Show”; and Bea Arthur for “Maude” and “The Golden Girls.”
Notable Ineligible Series: None, really. Every actress nominated for the past two years remains eligible in 2019.

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (listed in alphabetical order). This article will be updated throughout the season, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz from the 2019 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, September 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

Historic favorites clash with contemporary breakouts in an incredibly crowded Best Actress in a Comedy category. Every actress nominated last year is again in the running, as well as everyone from 2017, too. Rachel Brosnahan is back to defend her crown for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Pamela Adlon is gunning for her third consecutive nomination for FX’s “Better Things”; Allison Janney looks to represent broadcast with another nod for “Mom”; Issa Rae wants another shot at the trophy for HBO’s “Insecure”; Tracee Ellis Ross is hoping voters haven’t started overlooking ABC’s other family comedy, “Black-ish” (after starting to cut ties with “Modern Family”); Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda will fight it out over Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” if they both can’t return to the fray. Ellie Kemper wants one more shot for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and, of course, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is back to reclaim her crown for “Veep.”

That puts us at nine returning nominees already, and we haven’t even broached the newcomers. First and foremost are two streaming standouts: Natasha Lyonne blew people away with “Russian Doll,” and it’s doubtful anyone will forget her turns (each one of them) come summer. Aidy Bryant stepped up in Hulu’s “Shrill,” delivering an endearing turn filled with layered exuberance. So long as enough voters find the comedy, she’ll make some noise on the campaign trail. Maya Rudolph needs a bit of a resurgence around Amazon’s “Forever” (but she’s certainly great in it), as does Regina Hall for “Black Monday (but the reviews are there). Meanwhile, Emmy-winner Christina Applegate is returning to the fray in Netflix’s upcoming “Dead to Me,” which could get some timely buzz with a just-under-the-wire release.

Waiting in the wings are previous contenders yet to break in. Alison Brie has to be right on the edge of a nod for “GLOW,” and Catherine O’Hara is pulling in more fans every season for Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek.” Kristen Bell is riding a wave of goodwill for “The Good Place,” and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a much more notable name for “Fleabag” Season 1 than when she broke out in the Amazon comedy in 2016. Toss in a few outgoing favorites like Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), and the “Broad City” duo of Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, plus the incoming BFF duo of Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle for “PEN15” — hoo boy, the field is stacked!

Predicted Nominees:

  • Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
  • Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  • Aidy Bryant, “Shrill”
  • Julia-Louis Dreyfus, “Veep”
  • Allison Janney, “Mom”
  • Natasha Lyonne, “Russian Doll”

Spoilers: Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”; Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”; Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”; Alison Brie, “GLOW”; Issa Rae, “Insecure”; Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”; Kristen Bell, “The Good Place”; Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”

In a Perfect World: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, “Broad City”; Justina Machado, “One Day at a Time”; Gina Rodriguez, “Jane the Virgin”; Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”; Maya Erskine, “PEN15”

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