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Julia Louis-Dreyfus Goes for a Final Veep Emmy Against Stiff Competition

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy may be the most competitive category in years.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in Veep (HBO)
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in Veep (HBO)

    The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards are coming at us in just a short few weeks. And whether you're gearing up for an office pool or just playing a private game of "toldja so" with the know-it-alls on Twitter, it's good to know how the races are shaping up. It's so much better to go into an awards show being able to tell the favorites from the underdogs. Then, when a Melissa McCarthy or a Merritt Wever or a Kyle Chandler end up winning, you'll have an even better appreciation of what this moment means to the people involved.

    With that in mind, Primetimer is breaking down this year's major Emmy categories. Who are the favorites? The underdogs? What's the story for each of these races?

    This year's Outstanding Actress in a Comedy field is almost entirely different from last year's, with only defending champ Rachel Brosnahan to bridge the gap. New series like Dead to Me and Russian Doll, plus Emmy voters finally catching the snap when it comes to shows like Fleabag and Schitt's Creek make this one of the most satisfyingly worthy acting categories not only this year but in many years. Add to that the fact that Veep returned from its year off for a final season that saw Selina Meyer at her most unhinged, and suddenly this well-balanced slate has a heavy fruntfunner.

    Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

    • Christina Applegate in Dead to Me
    • Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep
    • Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll
    • Catherine O'Hara in Schitt's Creek
    • Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag

    Last Year's Winner: Rachel Brosnahan ended Julia Louis-Dreyfus's 6-year winning streak in this category, though the fact that Veep took last year off so that Louis-Dreyfus could deal with her cancer treatment gives that streak-breaking a bit of an asterisk. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has still never lost a nomination for Veep.

    Nominees' Pedigree:

    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 26 The most Emmy-honored actress of our time, her nominations — and 11 wins, including a record 8 acting wins — cover her work on Seinfeld, Veep, and The New Adventures of Old Christine.
    • Catherine O'Hara: 7 Five nominations — and her only Emmy win — came in the '80s for SCTV (O'Hara shared a writing award with, among others, John Candy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, and her Schitt's Creek spouse, Eugene Levy), with one for the HBO film Temple Grandin, and then this one for Schitt's Creek.
    • Christina Applegate: 5 In addition to her Dead to Me nod, Applegate was nominated twice for Samantha Who and twice as a guest star on Friends (she won once).
    • Phoebe Waller-Bridge: 5 Four nominations are from Fleabag this year, while one was for her writing on Killing Eve last year.
    • Natasha Lyonne: 4 Before Russian Doll, Lyonne's only previous Emmy nomination was in Guest Actress for Orange Is the New Black.
    • Rachel Brosnahan: 3 Two nominations for Mrs. Maisel plus one as a recurring guest star in House of Cards.

    The Frontrunner: The awards experts at Gold Derby don't seem to see much point in beating around the bush: Julia Louis-Dreyfus will most likely take one more Emmy for the road.

    The Likeliest Spoiler: Rachel Brosnahan's win last year certainly indicates that Emmy voters watch and like her show. Or at least they did in season 1. But the buzz around Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag has eclipsed almost every other comedy this year. If Waller-Bridge didn't have a writing category she could win instead (she does, and likely will), she might be a more significant threat to topple JLD.

    The Feel-Good Long-Shot: The beauty of this category is that any of the remaining women are the feel-good long-shots. There's Catherine O'Hara, comedy legend, finally getting recognized for several seasons' worth of great work on Schitt's Creek. There's Christina Applegate, who got to dig into a juicy part as a grieving widow who spares no affection for the outside world, and got to pour so much of her own story into it (including her breast cancer survival and a nod to her Broadway productions). And there's Natasha Lyonne, a survivor in her own right who got the most perfectly tailored role she could have asked for, on a show that celebrated her particular brand of eccentricity as a vital part of the cultural fabric. It's honestly tragic that they can't all win.

    Stat to Chew On: This is the first year that none of the broadcast networks are represented in this category.

    Prediction: It's going to be Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but thanks to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, it's the first year in a long time where the atmosphere feels right for an upset.

    Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, Dead to Me, Fleabag, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Russian Doll, Schitt's Creek, Veep, Catherine O'Hara, Christina Applegate, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Natasha Lyonne, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Rachel Brosnahan