Emmy episode analysis: Rachel Brosnahan (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’) steals the show in ‘Thank You and Good Night’

If there’s one person entering Emmy night who should have a speech prepared, it’s Best Comedy Actress front-runner Rachel Brosnahan for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” A previous nominee for “House of Cards” (Best Drama Guest Actress in 2015), Brosnahan took home Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards earlier this year for the freshman season of this Amazon series. She plays Midge Maisel, a 1950s housewife who pursues a career as a stand-up comic after her husband Joel (Michael Zegen) leaves her. With six-time reigning champ Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) taking a year off from the race, Brosnahan looks like almost a lock to win.

In “Thank You and Good Night,” Midge (Brosnahan) and her agent Susie (Alex Borstein) drink away their troubles after Midge’s onstage tirade against powerful comedienne Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch) gets her blackballed from the New York comedy scene. While hungover the following day, Susie reads her the bad news over the phone. Midge then prepares for her son’s birthday while her parents (Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle) fight. And Joel wants to reconcile and move to California. It all culminates in Midge’s triumphant return to the stage with the help of comic Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby).

Can Brosnahan win for this episode? Let’s dive into the pros and cons.

SEE Brian A. Kates (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ editor) on capturing the ‘wild’ style of great stand-up comedy [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

PROS:

Brosnahan picked up Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards for the show earlier this year, so that momentum gives her some wind beneath her wings going into Emmy night.

With 14 Emmy nominations and preceding victories at the Golden Globe, Critics Choice, and PGA Awards, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has a strong chance of winning Best Comedy Series. It would be hard to imagine the show winning without its marvelous lead actress going along for the ride (although stranger things have happened). In recent Emmy history we’ve seen a number of sweeps across categories (“Game of Thrones,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies,” to name a few), so if “Maisel” is on that track it works in Brosnahan’s favor.

Brosnahan couldn’t have picked a better year to contend in Best Comedy Actress. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is out of the running because the last season of “Veep” won’t air until next year. Though previous nominees Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”), Allison Janney (“Mom”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), and Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”), or fellow first-timer Issa Rae (“Insecure”) could all benefit from Louis-Dreyfus’s absence, Brosnahan feels like the most likely heir to the throne.

SEE Bill Groom (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ production designer) used his memories to recreate 1950s New York City [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

CONS:

Did Brosnahan submit the right episode? Usually first-season acting contenders enter the pilot for consideration, but Brosnahan chose the finale instead. Could it confuse voters who may not have seen the entire season?

Despite her Golden Globe and Critics Choice wins, Brosnahan was snubbed at SAG (as was the rest of the cast, for that matter). Given the overlap between guild voters and the industry insiders who make up the TV academy, could this be a bad sign?

The Golden Globes aren’t exactly the best predictor when it comes to the Emmys. Since 2010 not a single Globe winner for Best TV Comedy Actress has gone on to prevail at these awards. The Critics Choice Awards aren’t much better: since 2010 they’ve only correctly predicted Louis-Dreyfus in 2013 and 2014, and no one else. So even though those victories certainly don’t hurt Brosnahan’s case, perhaps we shouldn’t put that much stock in them.

Make your Emmy predictions, so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before the ceremony on September 17. And join in the fun debate taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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