Emmy predictions: Melanie Lynskey (‘Yellowjackets’) could become second ever Best Drama Actress winner for Showtime

With two-time Best Drama Actress Emmy winner and reigning 2022 champ, Zendaya (“Euphoria”), out of contention, this year’s race is wide open. The early leader in our overall odds is Melanie Lynskey, who plays adult Shauna in the Showtime series “Yellowjackets.” If she prevails, she will become just the second winner for the network in this category, following Claire Danes who won for “Homeland” in 2012 and 2013.

“Yellowjackets” tells the story of a wildly talented high school girls soccer team that becomes the (un)lucky survivors of a plane crash deep in the Canadian wilderness. With dueling timelines that show the characters in the past and present day, the series made an impressive first showing at last year’s Emmys, earning seven bids including Best Drama Series and Best Drama Actress for Lynskey.

SEE ‘Yellowjackets’ rave reviews: ‘Chilling and ferocious’ Melanie Lynskey leads ‘wild and weird’ Season 2

In season two, two months have passed since teenage Shauna (Sophie Nelisse) gave Jackie (Ella Purnell) the cold shoulder— to disastrous results. In the face of their deepening hunger and fear, the tension among the Yellowjackets has only grown worse. The harsh conditions of winter are intensifying by the day, and the psyches of the survivors are deteriorating just as fast. Threatened by the darkness of the wilderness— and the haunting memories of it in the present— the former state champs will be forced to make impossible decisions. As they confront the horrible truth of what survival entails, the real nightmare for each of them will be to figure out who they are— and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to stay alive.

In the present day, after killing her lover (Peter Gadiot) in a fit of paranoia, Shauna (Lynskey) must evade Detective Kevyn Tang (Alex Wyndham) and keep her friends from discovering that the mastermind behind Season 1’s extortion attempt is her kindly and indebted furniture-salesman husband, Jeff (Warren Kole). Following the Season 2 premiere, titled “Friends, Romans, Countrymen,” reviews praised the actress, but critics were quick to point out that the best of Lynskey is yet to come. Marya E. Gates (The Playlist), writes, “In episode three, Lynskey delivers a chilling and ferocious monologue that should place Shauna very high in the pantheon of the greatest television anti-heroes of all time.”

SEE ‘Yellowjackets’ eyes Emmy record with 3 Best Drama Actress nominees

The last person from a Showtime series to not only win Best Drama Actress, but be nominated at all, was Danes for her turn as Carrie Mathison in “Homeland.” She prevailed twice in 2012 and 2013 and received three more bids from 2014-2016. Just two others in the network’s history have reaped bids: Lizzy Caplan for “Masters of Sex” in 2014 and Lynskey in “Yellowjackets” last year.

Lynskey currently ranks ahead of Imelda Staunton (“The Crown”), Bella Ramsey (“The Last of Us”), Emma D’Arcy (“House of the Dragon”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Sharon Horgan (“Bad Sisters”), Helen Mirren (“1923”) and her co-star Juliette Lewis (“Yellowjackets”) in this year’s race. Will she be the first to bring home a win for Showtime since Danes did a decade ago?

PREDICT the 2023 Emmy nominees through July 12

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