Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec
Consider this: Amy Poehler began her SNL stint in 2001. That means she’s been featured on our TV screens for 12 years. She has never won an Emmy. Not for her incredible writing, acting, or directing on SNL and Parks and Rec. I could go on and on about how Leslie Knope is an inspiration and how Amy Poehler’s great acting has prevented the character from being that annoying high school overachiever. But I don’t need to. Come on, Emmy voters. It’s Amy Poehler’s time.
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon on 30 Rock
30 Rock could have been a vanity project. Instead, Tina Fey was smart enough to populate the show with some great actors and let herself be the straight woman. This hasn’t prevented Liz Lemon from being absolutely hilarious. The show’s final season gave Fey the opportunity to handle a huge range of stories, from her perfectly Lemon wedding to completely upending the Stone Age notion that “women aren’t funny.” Leslie Knope is a great inspiration, but let’s be honest: We’re all really Liz Lemon at heart.
Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day on New Girl
Jess Day could easily be a ball of adorable quirks. However, Zooey Deschanel has made Jess someone a lot like the many confused 30 year olds we all love and know. Jess’s unemployment gave Deschanel a base to build a more realistic performance, and she ran with it. She’s also a great comedic actress, but we already knew that. Season 3 wish: Every episode should feature her speaking in a 1940’s newsman voice.
Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project
The first season of The Mindy Project was less than the sum of its parts. By this, I mean that the many hilarious people working on the show haven’t quite figured out how to mesh the workplace and personal stories. The one thing that has been consistently right: Mindy Kaling’s performance. Mindy Lahiri is a little whiny and spoiled, but Kaling is so likable that you can’t help but laugh with her. Mindy gets extra points for some great physical comedy, especially the shower scene with the preacher boyfriend!
Best Supporting Actress
Eden Sher as Sue Heck on The Middle
Eden Sher is the most underrated actress on the most underrated show on TV. She’s one of the best physical comedians working right now, and she actually does a lot of painful looking stunts. Her earnestness is what makes us root for Sue, rather than pitying her. I could easily be annoyed by Sue Heck if she was played by any other actress. Sher makes her one of my favorite characters on TV.
Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock
Only Jane Krakowski could make me simultaneously laugh and cry by singing a song about a rural juror. Jenna may be loathsome, but I’ve been so busy laughing at Krakowski that I’ve never really cared. Her character is a cartoon, and I mean that as a compliment. Her wonderfully bonkers performance rivals some of the The Simpsons’s greatest creations. That’s about as big a compliment as I can give.
Kate McKinnon as various characters on Saturday Night Live
After seeing an explosion of female comedians in the mid-2000’s, SNL has been more male-dominated in recent years. (I’m not accusing the show of being sexist, sometimes things just work out that way.) With that trend in mind, I was very worried when I heard Kristen Wiig would be leaving the show. Luckily, McKinnon has proved to be an amazing impressionist with her Ellen DeGeneres and Ann Romney. She was featured more in her first full year on the show than many seasoned cast members, so it’s only a matter of time before she takes over Wiig-style.
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy on Modern Family
Julie Bowen has a hard job. She has to play an occasionally unlikable character across from Ty Burrell, one of the funniest actors on Modern Family. However, Bowen is more than able to hold her own and minimize the writers’ seeming attempts to make Claire a complete shrew. I don’t think she deserves to win for a third year in a row, but another nomination doesn’t seem unreasonable.
Jessica Walter as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development
On paper, Lucille Bluth sounds like the type of character I’d normally loathe: spoiled, privileged, oblivious. However, she might be my favorite character on AD and that’s all thanks to Jessica Walter’s performance. Walter makes Lucille a brilliant satire of the 1% run amok. Even more impressively, she’s able to locate some genuine emotion buried deep in Lucille’s core. Hard to do with a woman so cold her son doesn’t even know what a hug is.
Some thoughts on drama:
I’m not familiar with most Emmy-friendly dramas except for Mad Men. I just started watching Game of Thrones, and I’m about a season behind on Downton Abbey. I’m sure Maggie Smith will get another nomination, but she can never be nominated for too many awards. Mad Men will get a best series nod, along with well-deserved albeit predictable nominations for Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss. I’m hoping Hamm finally wins an Emmy this year. However, this is the same voting group that never gave Steve Carell an Emmy for The Office so I’m not holding my breath. I also think Vincent Kartheiser is well overdue for an Emmy nomination, especially considering the great work he did this season. Need proof? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpUWrl3-mc8
That’s all until July 18! You’ll know the announcements have been released when you hear someone wailing uncontrollably somewhere in the pacific northwest…