Emmys 2013: Ranking the Best Comedy Actress Nominees

30 Rock - Season 7

The Emmys are finally coming! They’re only 10 days away! Seems like years we go we learned that all these hot men were nominated for TV’s biggest night, and now it’s time to explore my favorite category: Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. Today I’m ranking the nominees from “least deserving” to “most deserving and lovable and awesome alwayz,” so try to keep up.

6. Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie


I’m sorry, but Edie Falco said it herself when she took home the Emmy for Nurse Jackie back in 2010: “I’m not funny!” That’s not to say she doesn’t give a fine performance on the series (much like Merritt Wever), but I prefer this category stay purely within the lines of “actually funny actresses.” Remember when Toni Collette won for United States of Tara?  It’s like, is it really a comedy if you’re morphing between identities and scaring the hell out of your family? John Corbett spent that entire show in a state of dead-eyed panic. Was Rachel Getting Married secretly a comedy too? And don’t answer too quickly about Debra Winger punching Anne Hathaway in the face. That’s only funny in theory.

5. Lena Dunham, Girls


I like Girls, and sometimes it doesn’t get the credit for being, you know, pretty goshdarn real. I’m not so much a fan of the bizarre arc the show took in the second half of season two (because I have a thing about ear wax), but Lena Dunham’s combination of Liberal Artsy intelligence and constant befuddlement as Hannah Horvath make the show more often than not a one-of-a-kind adventure in listless twentysomething languor. Unfortunately, if I can nick the show for anything, it’s that Dunham’s acting never ventures out of those two dimensions. She is much stronger as a writer and director than an actress, and again, if we’re talking about pure hilarity, I have to throw the Emmy kudos at her competition. Write a jilted eBook about it, Hannah!

4. Laura Dern, Enlightened


Enlightened’s second season is so effing excellent, and thank the lord, you can watch the whole series right now on Netflix. Then you can lament the fact that she show is over like a real TV blogger over at the AV Club, or whatever. I’ve had high award-season hopes for Laura Dern ever since she kicked ass in Rambling Rose alongside her mother, and now she has unanimous critical praise to buttress her chances for a post-cancellation win. That said: Uggggh, we get more laughs from the top 3 here. You know the drill.

3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep


Veep’s second season was uniformly strong, with Selina’s hapless authority finding tons of new ways to outdo (or underdo?) itself. As much as Veep is a deeply current series, some of JLD’s mannerisms are definitively old-school: When Selina forces herself awake during television interviews? I sensed some Vitametavegamin overtones there. She’s also got a touch of Liz Lemon brass (“Gotta get out of here before I set fire to one of these nerds,” she snapped during the finale), and Glenn-Close-in-Damages-level edginess. (“Jonah, hey listen, settle something for me. You like to have sex and you like to travel? Then you can f*ck off.”) The woman makes it look easy. If she hadn’t already won, I’d vault her to the top of the list.

2. Tina Fey, 30 Rock


Liz Lemon is one of the great TV protagonists, and in 30 Rock’s seventh season, she was as emotionally conflicted and vulnerable as she was quippy and harried. Not that I demand Liz Lemon be anything more than the blerg-blurting hellcat I’ve known and loved, but the arc with husband Criss Chros (James Marsden) was shockingly real, yet completely of a piece with the rest of 30 Rock’s lunatic universe. That IKEA trip? Deliverance-level gritty. Now that the show’s over and I’ve begun re-watching it like a sad zealot, my final plea is that Tina Fey get a second Emmy Actress win for her most diverse performance on the series yet.

1. Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation


Now, usually the thing I love about the Emmys is that sometimes certain actors win three or four times in a row because they deserve it. Bryan Cranston? Deserves it. Laurie Metcalf? Deserved it. But still it irks me that Amy Poehler hasn’t picked up an Emmy (any, ever) for her subtle, yet goofy work as Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec. As Pawnee’s main dame, she’s flawed and hilarious, but august and confident. This show has a sly way of making you feel like part of a family, even more so than 30 Rock, and the main reason for the show’s lovable air is Amy Poehler’s ability to do just about everything wrong, yet rebound with a telegenic grin. Come on, Emmys. This is the year. Plus, she’ll give an AMAZING speech.