Like in Best Drama Actress, the Best Comedy Actress Emmy race is ostensibly a two-person battle: Midge vs. Moira. And this one is even closer.
2018 champ Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) and 2019 nominee Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”) are neck and neck in our early predictions, with 37/10 odds for the former and 19/5 for the latter. Our pundits are almost evenly split as well: Brosnahan has seven Experts and three Editors picking her to win, while O’Hara has four Experts and seven Editors.
But unlike drama frontrunners Olivia Colman (“The Crown”) and Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”), neither Brosnahan nor O’Hara have wins under their belts this season, as incumbent Emmy champ Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”) swept the winter accolades. With PWB and six-time winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) gone for good, voters could honor somebody they haven’t yet in this category or default to an old face.
Brosnahan is the safest prediction since she’s a former champ and the industry adoration for “Maisel” has yet to abate (see: its eight Emmy wins last year, including four for acting, and a surprise Screen Actors Guild Award for comedy ensemble over “Fleabag,” which had nabbed the top prize at every other award show). The actress had also literally been undefeated at all the major awards for “Maisel” until “Fleabag” came along at the Emmys last year, having bagged two Golden Globes and two Critics’ Choice Awards for the first two seasons, an Emmy and Television Critics Association Award for Season 1, and a SAG Award for Season 2 (SAG snubbed “Maisel” entirely for its debut installment). The Emmys may easily go back to a show and performer they clearly love.
But O’Hara has a compelling narrative as well. A comedy legend, she has never won an acting Emmy (she has one in writing for “SCTV”) and is on a fan-favorite show that is experiencing late-breaking success. “Schitt’s Creek” surprised with four Emmy bids last year, including Best Comedy Series and lead mentions for O’Hara and Eugene Levy. It then followed up with a SAG Award nomination for comedy ensemble and an individual one for O’Hara, while Levy was snubbed, a fact that co-creator/co-star Dan Levy did not let his father forget. This is also “Schitt’s Creek’s” final season, so it’s the last chance for voters to reward O’Hara for what has become one of her most iconic roles, the melodramatic, ridiculously accented gift that is Moira Rose. After all, Moira’s favorite season is awards.
Only half of last year’s field is eligible to return — Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”) will miss this cycle — and our odds also forecast a second straight bid for Christina Applegate (“Dead to Me”), who is in third place. The rest of our top six is filled out by stars from freshman shows: two-time Emmy champ Merritt Wever from “Run”, which premieres in April and hails from executive producer Waller-Bridge; Kirsten Dunst (“On Becoming a God in Central Florida”), who received a Globe nomination; and Awkwafina (“Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens”), who won a Globe on the film side for “The Farewell.”
But given that voters like the familiar (and don’t forget, they have unlimited slots on the nominating ballot), we cannot overlook former nominees like Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”), Allison Janney (“Mom”), Issa Rae (“Insecure”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) or the “Grace and Frankie” duo of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. They won’t all make it back in, but one or two could over a newbie.
Be sure to make your Emmy nominations predictions today 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 nominees are announced on July 28. And join in the thrilling debate over the Emmy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.