EMMY 2012: Lead Actress – Comedy

Up next, the ladies who make us laugh! And the nominees are:

COMEDY ACTRESS

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in Girls
Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn in Mike & Molly
Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day in New Girl
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in Veep

Wow! Seven contenders for the prize (seems a bit much, right?). Worthy as all these women might be, in my mind the contest comes down to two performers. So let’s make with the honorable mentions.

Melissa McCarthy is a talented performer who deserves a better vehicle than the formulaic Mike & Molly. The show’s nothing to write home about, but McCarthy is so likable and funny that I did not begrudge her last year’s win. In short, there’s a very real chance that she’ll repeat, but one Emmy for this show is more than enough.

Edie Falco is an even more talented performer who makes you forget that she already created one of the most iconic characters in all of TV history with her turn as Carmela Soprano. She also has an Emmy for this titular character. Make no mistake; I don’t have a problem with multiple wins per se, but when it comes at the expense of someone whose mantel should not be bare, I want to see a new winner. Still, Falco is beyond awesome.

Zooey Deschanel is beyond annoying. It’s not entirely her fault. I think. I mean, I tried to like New Girl. I just… didn’t? Couldn’t? In any event, it ain’t my cup of tea, and since Deschanel headlines the proceedings, I’m not a fan of this nomination. I am well aware that the show and the actress have their share of admirers, so a Deschanel win would not be a shock (but I hope it won’t be a reality).

Moving on to Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, also previous winners (Fey for her 30 Rock role and Louis-Dreyfus for shows other than the freshman Veep). Fey as Liz turning into a bizarro version of Heath Ledger’s Joker was one of the highlights of this past TV season. And much like Falco, Louis-Dreyfus makes the condescending, self-absorbed Selina a creation completely separate from Elaine and Christine. If one of them is going to claim victory, I’d put my money on Fey. And I’d really be okay with either actress winning. But…

Okay. So Lena Dunham is all kinds of amazing, the female Louis C.K. She created, she writes, she directs, she is Girls. Her Hannah is so bright but also so screwed up that you want to be her and be there for her. Sometimes, a lot of the time, Hannah is incredibly immature and kind of awful to those around her. But Dunham infuses her portrayal with just the right amount of vulnerability. So if nothing else, you never judge Hannah. It’s a gift to bring a character this real to life, and if it wasn’t for our final nominee, this would be the end of the discussion. Still, I suspect that Dunham is going to get some love in the writing category. She won’t go home empty-handed.

So give Amy Poehler an Emmy already!

Parks and Recreation might not be my favorite comedy currently on the air. It’s not even always the funniest. It is the sweetest. Poehler’s Leslie and her cohorts support one another’s small dreams in a small town. But because Leslie’s quest for city council, the culmination of a life spent working towards making her town a better place, means everything to her, it means everything to her friends, and it means everything to the viewer. Poehler is not without her LOL bits (losing the drinking contest for Ron’s soul to Tammy One comes to mind). But it’s moments like Leslie listening to Ben’s court transcript declaration of love or, more obviously, Leslie’s heartfelt acceptance speech at the end of her campaign that continue to make her one of the most likable characters on television. Poehler deserves to win, the show deserves the boost and exposure that an Emmy might bring their way. I think she’s got a real shot, and while it should be obvious that I’d be okay with several of these other actresses emerging triumphant, I’m pulling for Poehler.

Thoughts?

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