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Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Julia Louis-Dreyfus remains the favorite, but she's facing serious upset possibilities for the first time in years. [Updated September 16]

Veep Season 7 Episode 1 Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep”

Colleen Hayes/HBO

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. 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

Is it time for change or not? That’s the central question to the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series race, as four of the six nominees are brand new to the category and the two others are defending champions.

Out of respect, the conversation has to start with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. With a win in 2019, the TV legend will become the first actor to take home an Emmy for every season of a long-running series. She’s six-for-six with “Veep” so far, and there’s no good reason to vote against her for the final season — she’s that good, still revealing new sides of Selina Meyer and still keeping audiences riveted with laughter in each new episode. Plus, that final scene… there’s simply nothing like it.

That being said, Louis-Dreyfus is a defending champion, but she’s not the defending champion: “Veep” sat out last year’s race, and Rachel Brosnahan made the most of its absence, taking home her first Emmy for the beloved Amazon comedy, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” With more nominations for the series in Season 2, Brosnahan would be the favorite any other year — but there’s competition from within her own network, let alone Louis-Dreyfus.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge had a great Emmy nominations morning, with two of her programs combining for 20 total nominations. Most experts would’ve bet on “Killing Eve” to get more than “Fleabag,” but its the performer’s Amazon comedy that pulled in 11 nods — the Emmys will want to honor her somewhere, so will it be here? Not if Natasha Lyonne has anything to say about it. While this race is definitely divided into two tiers, with the aforementioned three with the best odds and the remaining nominees looking to move up, Lyonne has the weight of Netflix behind “Russian Doll” and more nominations than all but one of her competitors in this category. (“Russian Doll” snagged 13 nominations, more than “Fleabag” and “Veep.”) She could make a run, especially if the Amazon competitors split votes.

Meanwhile, there’s Catherine O’Hara. The legendary comedian, actor, and writer hasn’t been nominated since 2010 and hasn’t won since writing “SCTV Network 90” in 1981. Over those years, she’s built up a lot of goodwill, and the fact that her show has been an underdog for years only benefits her dark horse narrative — she may not be the expected winner, but she’s got a lot of fans. The same could really be said for Christina Applegate, though on a shorter timeline. The “Dead to Me” star was nominated four times between 2003 – 2009 (and won once), but this is her first nod in a decade. She’s well-liked, but may not have the momentum to compete with this year’s heavyweights.

Power Ranking the Nominees:

  1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
  2. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”
  3. Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  4. Natasha Lyonne, “Russian Doll”
  5. Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”
  6. Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”

Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Could Win: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”
Should Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

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