In the 1990s, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Laurie Metcalf faced off four times at the Emmy Awards for Best Comedy Supporting Actress. Metcalf took three consecutive trophies (1992-94) for “Roseanne.” Louis-Dreyfus would finally win in 1996 for “Seinfeld,” but only after Metcalf was out of the competition. (Christine Baranski beat both of them in 1995 for the first season of “Cybill.”)
Fast-forward to 2016 and Louis-Dreyfus is the favorite to make history and win her fifth consecutive Emmy for her role as Selina Meyer on “Veep.” Her former rival is now the underdog. Jaws hit the floor when Metcalf’s name was announced as one of the six Best Comedy Actress nominees for her work as Dr. Jenna James on the cancelled HBO series. (For the complete list of Emmy nominations, click here.)
Since her run on “Roseanne,” Metcalf has been nominated three times for Best Comedy Guest Actress: “3rd Rock from the Sun” (1999), “Monk” (2006) and “Desperate Housewives” (2007). Since their showdown, Louis-Dreyfus was nominated twice more for “Seinfeld” (1997 and 1998). She won Best Comedy Actress for the first season of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2006) and reaped an additional four nominations for that CBS sitcom (2007-10).
As the star of HBO’s “Veep,” Louis-Dreyfus has won five Emmys now (four for acting, one as a producer last year). Her show is the most nominated laffer this year with 17 nominations and is the frontrunner to repeat as Best Comedy Series. But could fatigue be starting to set in? Even Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”), who won five Emmys for Best Comedy Actress, could not do so consecutively (winning in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1995.)
Metcalf is not only up for Best Comedy Actress, but she also reaped two other bids — Best Comedy Guest Actress (“The Big Bang Theory”) and Best Drama Guest Actress (“Horace and Pete”) — and is the most nominated performer this year. She recently proved her versatility by earning a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play for “Misery,” losing out to Jessica Lange (“Long Day’s Journey into Night”).
Will Louis-Dreyfus finally take down her former Emmys foe? Will Metcalf keep her winning record and play the spoiler? Or might one of the other nominated leading ladies prevail: Tracee Ellis Ross (“Blackish”), Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”) or Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer”)? Stay tuned to this category, which has turned into a real race for the record books.