Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” for episode “Kimmy Goes to a Hotel”
IMDB Synopsis: On Fake Christmas, Kimmy and Dong take a trip to the Poconos, and a Jewish family claims that Jacqueline’s prized Mondrian is rightfully theirs.
It’s hard not to be charmed by Ellie Kemper’s enthusiasm and comic timing. She is an infectious ray of sunshine that lights up the screen whenever she is on. It’s sad that with such great, challenging and fun material she chose this clunker of an episode. It starts well enough with her celebrating fake Christmas, only to have it ruined by a cast of crazy characters. The rest of the episode is spent with her going to a run down hotel with her love interest, Dong. There are a couple fun moments where she hits him in the head repeatedly with a phone during sex. However, there is not much to the episode. Fans of the show may vote for her due to love of the character. However, this episode will not win any new converts.
Julia Louis Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in “Veep” for episode “Mother”
IMDB Synopsis: Selina is forced to put her campaign on hold when her mother suffers a stroke.
With four consecutive wins for this character, can anyone take down Julia Louis Dreyfus? It will be hard to now that Louis Dreyfus submitted possibly her series best episode. As Selina rushes to her estranged mother’s bedside, Louis Dreyfus is able to create a rich, textured and overall hilarious portrait of a woman struggling to reconcile her complicated feelings with her mother. Perhaps the best moments of the episode comes at her mother’s funeral at the end. Selina sits in the pew, unable to conjure up tears for the press. Suddenly she hears of her loss in Nevada and breaks down on the podium in hilarious fashion. On top of her performance, the episode is a contender in both the writing and directing categories. Plus, “Veep” is the nominations juggernaut in comedy. With such a strong submission, she’ll only lose if voters are fatigued of another Julia Louis-Dreyfus win.
Laurie Metcalfe as Dr. Jenna James in “Getting On” for episode “Am I Still Me?”
IMDB Synopsis: On the day of her ‘Sympoosium,’ Dr. James is plagued by unexpected complications. Patsy embraces his truth, and DiDi finds herself caught between her work and family. Dawn and Dr. James see uncanny visions of themselves in two British visitors, Dr. Pippa Moore and Sister Den Flixter.
Julia Louis Dreyfus has competition for best submission of the year. As narcissistic doctor Jenna James, Laurie Metcalfe hits it out of the park. Jenna competes for an award in the field of elderly stool against a contemporary more smug than herself. Her attempts to assert her stature are thwarted by her staff at every turn. This is epitomized in an emotional scene where Didi breaks her mother in law out of the hospital, much to Jenna’s chagrin. The hilarity comes to a head at the Symposium as Jenna gets drunk, propositions the doctor she has been eyeing, and makes a scene when she loses the award. With three nominations this year alone, Metcalfe has the love of voters. If they watch the episode, she could beat Julia Louis Dreyfus much like she did throughout the 90s when they would go up against each other for “Roseanne” and “Seinfeld.”
Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow “Bow” Johnson in “Black-ish” for episode “Sink or Swim”
IMDB Synopsis: After Dre notices that his neighbor Janine has never invited his family to any of her pool parties, he assumes she is racially stereotyping them as a family that doesn’t swim. Meanwhile, Jack and Diane are a part of the Girls’ and Boys’ Rovers Organization, and they envy each other’s activities.
In terms of sheer laughs, Tracee Ellis Ross knocks it out of the park. Each moment she is on screen, she either nails a punchline or delivers a stunningly funny reaction shot. Her episode “Sink or Swim,” finds her at ends with the more involved moms at her children’s school. She tries to teach her kids that it is more fulfilling to find joy in work than in “yoga and pilates.” This leads to a hilarious confrontation at a pool party where Ross’ Bow gets into a verbal spar with one of her fellow Moms only to find out she is a doctor as well. It’s a fun episode that also tackles the many layers of feminism. With “Black-ish” on the rise, Ross is in play. Her episode is one of the lightest and funniest, which could help her if voters are in the mood for a straight comedy.
Amy Schumer as Various Characters in “Inside Amy Schumer” for episode “Welcome to the Gun Show”
IMDB Synopsis: Amy sells guns, appears on “Game of Thrones” and tries to convince Liam Neeson to bury her loved one.
Amy Schumer had quite a year last year. Starring in a summer blockbuster and receiving multiple Emmy nominations for her show, Schumer had her ducks in a row to steal a win in this category. Losing to Julia Louis Dreyfus, Schumer is back again this year, submitting an episode heavily targeted against gun violence. Her opening skit as a QVC host is quite funny and the punch of the episode happens towards the end as she relives the experience of having people gunned down in a theater watching her movie. If voters are feeling political, she might be able to squeak a win out. However, other skits, such as the “Game of Thrones” one or Liam Neeson’s funeral parlor, are duds. She’s a possible spoiler, but it will be hard to do against this competition.
Lily Tomlin as Frankie Bergstein in “Grace and Frankie” in “The Test”
IMDB Synopsis: Frankie needs to renew her driven license and pass the test again. Grace decides to reconnect with old friends.
Lily Tomlin is going through a quiet career Renaissance. Between “Grace and Frankie” and last year’s indie hit “Grandma,” it is great to see Tomlin acting. Compared to “Grandma,” however, “Grace and Frankie” is much more of a lob, in terms of acting talent. As the hippie stoner Frankie, Tomlin gets a few genuinely funny chuckles and has great chemistry with co-star Jane Fonda. This episode in particular has a couple quite funny set pieces as Frankie tries to pass her driving test at the DMV. Tomlin gives it her all and sells quite a few of the punchlines. However, the episode, and the show itself for that matter, are so disposable it’s hard for her to leave a lasting impact. Being a legend might win her some votes, but not enough to win.