The 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented on Sunday, Sept. 22, starting at 8 Eastern on CBS, with Neil Patrick Harris as host. From now until Sunday (sometimes multiple times a day), Dan Fienberg and I will be making our usual picks for the major categories – for both what should win and what will (and keep in mind that Dan is much better historically at predictions than I am).
Next up, we’re dealing with the comedy and drama lead actress categories. The former includes three former winners for their nominated roles, while the latter has seven nominees due to ties, which will likely be rendered moot when Claire Danes repeats.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Laura Dern, “Enlightened”
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
Alan’s pick: Another category where any winner would be deserving. (I haven’t finished “Veep” season 2, but Louis-Dreyfus is terrific in it.) I might be particularly delighted to see Dern win, both for the fearlessness of her work as the perpetually difficult Amy Jellicoe, and because it’s the biggest recognition the beautiful final season of “Enlightened” could get. That said, I will continue to pound the drum for Poehler, because it does not feel right to me that she does not have an Emmy for playing Leslie Knope, and for injecting so much warmth and lunacy and joy into that character, and into “Parks.”
Dan’s pick: Great performances. Every single one of them. I’m slightly surprised Lena Dunham went with the cocaine-addled “Bad Friend” as her submission over the season-closing OCD arc or the two-hander “One Man’s Trash,” but that’s just an aside. Similarly, Julia Louis-Dreyfus picking the physical comedy of “Running” over the Allison Janney showdown in “First Response” might not have been my instinct. But I’m afraid I have to be boring and echo Alan: As long as Amy Poehler doesn’t have an Emmy for “Parks and Rec,” I’ll be forced to lament that Amy Poehler doesn’t have an Emmy for “Parks and Rec,” which is a crime. The mixture of comedy, romance and sentiment in “Leslie and Ben” is flawless and is yet another reminder of how good Poehler is at what she does. But really, there’s no undeserving winner from this group.
Alan’s pick: Louis-Dreyfus won last year. I’m told that the back half of “Veep” season 2 (including her submission episode, “Running”) was great, and voters like her in general, having rewarded her for playing both Elaine Benes and Old Christine before giving her another trophy for Selena Meyer. Fey and Poehler will benefit to a degree from being able to submit multiple episodes (the “30 Rock” finale for Fey, the Leslie/Ben wedding two-parter for Poehler), but my hypothetical money’s on Louis-Dreyfus to repeat – and for Poehler to again do something incredibly funny during the ceremony.
Dan’s pick: The mystery here is about the degree of sentimentality Emmy voters are going to have for “30 Rock.” I could do one version of predictions with a “30 Rock” sweep, including Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin and Outstanding Comedy Series and it would be totally plausible. Dunham’s submission episode, while not necessarily “right” by my standards, could very well be right for Emmy voters, because it’s very funny without a lot of the agita that seeped in by the end of the season. But I think the Emmy tally this season suggests that voters are growing to like “Veep” more and if they have growing warmth for a performance that already won, it would make sense for it to win again. [Dreyfus has never won a second Emmy for any of her roles, so a repeat would be significant, in a trivial sort of way.]
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Connie Britton, “Nashville”
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”
Vera Farmiga, “Bates Motel”
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”
Kerry Washington, “Scandal”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
Alan’s pick: Lots of talent here – thanks to ties, the category includes seven actresses yet still didn’t have room for Tatiana Maslany from “Orphan Black” – some in better shows than others, but Danes stands above the rest. (Moss is close when she has more screentime, but she was a supporting player more often than not this year, including in her submission episode, “The Better Half.”) A performance so powerful and memorable that it’s going to keep me watching “Homeland” even if more of the storytelling wheels come off in season 3.
Dan’s pick: You may have heard that Tatiana Maslany isn’t here and that Emmy Rossum isn’t here and you may be all, “So what’s the point?” But these are still seven really good performances, even if I wouldn’t hesitate to recategorize two or three of them as “supporting.” Oversights and categorical quibbling aside, really the only thing working against Claire Danes as the no-brainer “should win” here is the sense that Claire Danes has won something at every award show for the past three years and that most of what we saw her do this season, we’d seen her do last year as well. But if you take familiarity out of the equation and just watch things in a vacuum, Danes is still giving the best performance in this category, probably by a wide margin.
Alan’s pick: Danes has “Q&A,” which is as good an acting submission episode as you’re going to find. Seems an easy choice to repeat.
Dan’s pick: As the defending champion and with “Q&A” as her submission episode, Claire Danes is still the prohibitive favorite, but don’t turn your back on Kerry Washington, who is giving a great performance on a show that couldn’t have more momentum. That a Washington win would make Emmy history is a not-insignificant factor. I’m picking Danes only because I don’t have the guts to go out on the limb to predict Washington.
Previously: Outstanding Miniseries or Movie | Outstanding Directing for Comedy & Drama | Outstanding Writing for Comedy & Drama | Outstanding Supporting Actress for Comedy & Drama | Outstanding Supporting Actor for Comedy & Drama