Emmy episode analysis: Maya Rudolph (‘The Good Place’) judges your immortal soul in ‘The Burrito’

Maya Rudolph earned her second Emmy nomination this year: Best Comedy Guest Actress for her guest spot on “The Good Place.” The “Saturday Night Live” alum’s first nomination came in this same category in 2012 when she returned to host that sketch series. This nomination, along with Ted Danson‘s bid for Best Comedy Actor, helped put the critically acclaimed comedy on the map with the TV academy, after the show was snubbed entirely for its first season.

Rudolph’s role in “The Good Place” is certainly one of the most unique among this year’s Emmy nominees. The actress plays the almighty Judge Gen, a supernatural being who decides more difficult cases when it comes to who should be in The Good Place or in The Bad Place.

In Rudolph’s submission, “The Burrito,” Judge Gen is surprised to see our merry band of heroes show up (without paperwork, which the judge surprisingly respects) to plead their case to be granted entry to The Good Place. The judge then presents the foursome with a series of tests to prove they are worthy of ascending to the high heavens.

So will the Emmy judges rule in Rudolph’s favor this year? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

PROS

“The Burrito” plays to Rudolph’s strengths as a comedic performer. Judge Gen has an amusingly casual sensibility for an almighty being, and Rudolph imbues every line with a laid-back charisma. Whether commenting on how obsessed she is with Tahani’s accent or admitting she still hasn’t gotten around to watching “Bloodline,” Rudolph gives the bored judge enough life to steal every scene she’s in.

Rudolph could also benefit from the general goodwill towards anyone associated with “Saturday Night Live” right now. “SNL” earned a staggering nine acting nominations this year, and there are numerous alums nominated now for their other projects, including Bill Hader (“Barry”), Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Molly Shannon (“Will & Grace”), Seth Meyers (“Late Night”), and Rudolph herself. She was never nominated for “SNL” when she was a cast member from 2000-2007 (that was before sketch comedy performers were considered in comedy acting categories), but lately there is so much respect for “SNL” as an institution that she could ride the wave to her first Emmy win.

CONS

“The Good Place” is the least recognized of all the shows represented in the Comedy Guest Actress race. Tina Fey and Tiffany Haddish are in the running for “SNL” (21 total noms), Jane Lynch for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (14 noms), the aforementioned Molly Shannon for “Will & Grace” (5 noms), and Wanda Sykes for “Black-ish” (5 noms). With only one other nomination for “The Good Place,” Rudolph is in a tough position against shows more voters might be familiar with.

Other contenders may have a lot more industry buzz this year. We have Haddish, who became a household name thanks to “Girls Trip” and went on to host one of the best episodes of “SNL.” They also love Fey, Sykes and Lynch to pieces; all three have won Emmys before. Rudolph was also praised for her guest stint, but could “The Good Place” fly too far under the radar despite her strong submission?

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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