Leading ladies of Showtime series have won this award for the past two years — Toni Collette (“United States of Tara,” 2009) and Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie,” 2010) — and another is likely to prevail this year as Laura Linney (“The Big C“) leads among our experts, editors and users.
Linney plays Cathy Jamison, a woman diagnosed with cancer who takes the news as a new lease on life but also refuses to tell her family. She has submitted the pilot, in which she also battles with an elderly neighbor over a construction project, tries to help her homeless brother, and has issues at home with both her husband and teenaged son. The performance offers a great mix of comedy and drama. Linney has won all three of her previous Emmy bids and is likely to add a fourth to her collection.
The returning champ Falco will have a tough time winning again with her submission “Rat Falls.” In the episode, Jackie discovers that rats are getting into her drug stash hidden in the ceiling. While it was certainly her funniest episode, the writing lacks the heft of the first season.
Amy Poehler received her second nod in a row for her role as Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation.” In “Flu Season,” Leslie refuses to accept she has the flu as she prepares for a town meeting to discuss the Harvest Festival until she is forced to check into the hospital. The strong side effects of her medicine bring on hallucinations and prompt lots of physical comedy. However, Poehler may not stand out in the strong ensemble cast.
First-time nominee Melissa McCarthy (“Mike and Molly“) also went for an episode that saw her character, Molly Flynn, overreacting to cold medicine she takes just before her first date with Mike (Billy Gardell). She comes completely coming out of her shell, talking about everything, and getting sick in the car. Other than a nod for art direction, this was the only Emmy recognition for this freshman series.
2008 champ Tina Fey contends for the fifth year in a row as Liz Lemon on “30 Rock.” In “Double-Edged Sword,” Liz is on a flight piloted by her boyfriend Carol (Matt Damon) that never leaves the runway. She leads a rebellion against the bad treatment but with two other major storylines in this episode, the screentime for Fey is limited.
Martha Plimpton submitted “Say Cheese,” one of her strongest episodes in the first season of “Raising Hope.” Her character, Virginia Chance, is trying to prove she is not the craziest person in her family. Flashbacks recall when her perfectionism ruined several family portrait sessions. Plimpton could be primed for an upset.
Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil discusses the race with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum.
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