Before “Veep” sat out last year’s cycle, it was difficult to remember a time when Julia Louis-Dreyfus wasn’t winning Best Comedy Actress Emmys for playing Selina Meyer. Even harder: remembering the last time someone other than Louis-Dreyfus had garnered back-to-back statuettes (forget about six in a row). But now Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) could be the first person not named Julia Louis-Dreyfus to win consecutive Best Comedy Actress honors since 2001.
Repeat champs was all the rage in this category in the ’90s, with Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown,” 1990, 1992, 1994-95) and Helen Hunt (“Mad About You,” 1996-99) claiming eight of the 10 awards that decade; Kirstie Alley (“Cheers,” 1991) and Roseanne Barr (“Roseanne,” 1993) were the one-timers. Before JLD’s reign, Patricia Heaton was the last to defend her title, winning in 2000 and ’01 for “Everybody Loves Raymond.” After that, there were 10 different champs for 10 different shows — including Louis-Dreyfus for “The Old Adventures of New Christine” — before “Veep” came along.
1. Jennifer Aniston, “Friends” (2002)
2. Debra Messing, “Will & Grace” (2003)
3. Sarah Jessica Parker, “Sex and the City” (2004)
4. Felicity Huffman, “Desperate Housewives” (2005)
5. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2006)
6. America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty” (2007)
7. Tina Fey, “30 Rock” (2008)
8. Toni Collette, “United States of Tara” (2009)
9. Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie” (2010)
10. Melissa McCarthy, “Mike & Molly” (2011)
“Veep’s” absence last year paved the way for Brosnahan to snag her first Emmy, one of eight that “Maisel” won. “Maisel” outperformed “Veep” in nominations this year, earning 20 to just nine, but it will be a tall task for Brosnahan to retain her title against an icon like Louis-Dreyfus, who’s aiming to go 7 for 7 at the Emmys for “Veep,” and against whom Brosnahan has never faced at an awards show. Even if “Veep” wins nothing else, a victory for Louis-Dreyfus could be viewed as one final farewell hug for the series.
Louis-Dreyfus aside, some brand new faces (to this category) will also make Brosnahan’s title defense tough. Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s “Fleabag” is clearly an industry favorite and went from zero nominations for its first season to 11 for its second and probable last season. The legendary Catherine O’Hara snuck in for “Schitt’s Creek” for the first time. Natasha Lyonne‘s “Russian Doll” bagged 13 nominations for its first season. And former Emmy champ Christina Applegate made the cut for her freshamn hit “Dead to Me.” Or to put it another way: Brosnahan has never faced off against any of these people before either.
Our early odds currently have Louis-Dreyfus out in front, followed by Waller-Bridge, Brosnahan, O’Hara, Lyonne and Applegate.
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