Earlier this year Sarah Jessica Parker returned to the Golden Globes with a Best TV Comedy Actress bid for “Divorce,” the new HBO comedy about a couple (Parker and Thomas Haden Church) in the midst of a bitter separation. Parker took four trophies in that category for her previous HBO series “Sex and the City” (2000-2002, 2004), which also brought her Emmys for Best Comedy Actress in 2004 and Best Comedy Series in 2001. Could her return to HBO, coupled with that recent citation from the Hollywood Foreign Press, pave the way to Emmy #3?
“Divorce” was created by “Catastrophe” star Sharon Horgan, herself a recent Emmy nominee for Best Comedy Writing for the Amazon series (she shared that bid with co-creator and co-star Rob Delaney). Parker is loved by the TV academy as well, with eight additional nominations for “Sex and the City” (Comedy Actress in 1999-2003, and Comedy Series in 2002-2004). This combination could prove prestigious enough to appeal to voters.
But for Parker to win, she’ll have to take down reigning Emmy queen Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who made history by winning this award five consecutive times for “Veep” (2012-2016). Yet while Louis-Dreyfus has proven she’s dominant enough to set that record, she’s also proven it’s possible to win this prize for different roles. Prior to the HBO political satire, the actress took this award in 2006 for “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (she also has a Best Comedy Supporting Actress trophy for “Seinfeld”).
Mary Tyler Moore (“The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”), Bea Arthur (“Maude,” “The Golden Girls”) and Lucille Ball (“I Love Lucy,” “The Lucy Show”) also won this award for two different roles. That’s an elite group, but it shows that Emmy voters are willing to revisit an awards favorite in a new role. So Parker could be the latest star to win a prize for returning to television.
The new Emmy voting system might help her chances as well. Winners used to be determined by voters ranking the nominees in order of preference. Last year that was replaced by a plurality vote: just pick your favorite contender from the list of nominees. As we saw last year with shocking victories for Tatiana Maslany (Best Drama Actress, “Orphan Black”) and Ben Mendelsohn (Best Drama Supporting Actor, “Bloodline”), a small but passionate fan base can turn a long-shot into a winner under the new rules. With six nominees in a category, you could theoretically win with as little as 17% of the vote.
Both Laurie Metcalf (“Getting On”) and Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer”) are out of the running this year, leaving Louis-Dreyfus, Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), and Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”) as the only returning contenders in the category. It’s likely one of those empty slots will go to seven-time victor Allison Janney (“Mom”), who recently switched from supporting to lead for the CBS comedy. So who gets that last slot?
Besides Parker, other strong contenders include Golden Globe nominee Issa Rae (“Insecure”), Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Kathryn Hahn (“I Love Dick”), Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”), Oscar champ Jane Fonda (“Grace and Frankie”), Emmy darling Tracey Ullman (“Tracey Ullman’s Show”), BAFTA winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”), past Emmy nominee Minnie Driver (“Speechless”), and multiple Emmy nominee Lena Dunham (“Girls”), to name but a few in this crowded field.
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