2011 Dream Emmy Ballot: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

It’s that time again, folks. The Emmy nominations will be announced on July 14, which means I have almost an entire month to flood this space with hopes, dreams and predictions about what could happen come nomination time. To kick things off, I’ll be bringing back the Dream Emmy Ballot. It’s something I did last year and even with my much smaller readership back then, folks seemed to enjoy it. You can find the archives of previous Dream Emmy Ballot posts here.

In any event, just a qualifier or two: This is obviously my Dream Emmy Ballot. Meaning, these initial picks are going to be who I would love to see be nominated for the awards. I know that many of these people don’t actually have a chance in garnering a nomination, just as I know that I will miss some of your personal favorites because I don’t watch that series. I watched more television than ever this season, so I imagine my personal picks will more closely align with more “official” selections, but nevertheless, this is all based on my personal taste and wishes. I’ll do more concrete, objective analysis as we get closer to the actual nomination announcement. Secondly, these picks are all based on the official nomination ballot, just so you know.

Unfortunately, today’s category is kind of a drag. For whatever reason — mostly the fact that women don’t get enough good, leading roles in comedy — there are few worthy nominees in the Leading Actress in a Comedy Series field. So few that I can’t barely make it to six nominees. In fact, I have four that I am really invested in and then I’ll rattle off the final two because I’m a completist. Those final two ladies do deserve some recognition, but not enough that I can bring myself to “nominate” them.

Definite picks:

Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

I have a confession: I pretty much hated Amy Poehler while she was on Saturday Night Live. She was often funny, but sometimes came on too strong and seemed to lack much warmth. I cannot remember a time in my life where I am so happy to be proven wrong a few years later. Leslie Knope is one of my favorite television characters of all-time and it’s mostly because of Poehler’s multi-faceted and hilarious performance. My concerns about her warmth were either entirely off-base or just a reflection of the kind of material she was given while on SNL because she’s goofy, comfortable and charming as Leslie. This is a character that could have come off much less intelligent and welcoming that she is, but Poehler and the writing staff have worked really hard to make sure that Leslie is a lead that everyone in the audience can root for. This whole ballot is obviously based on my personal hopes for how the nominations and awards will go, but outside of a few nominations for Community, this is the person I want to win the most. She really deserves it!

Tina Fey, 30 Rock

As I said when writing about Alec Baldwin on the male side of this category, 30 Rock had a sneaky comeback season in 2010-11 and Tina Fey was pretty damn good throughout. Liz Lemon’s various personal disasters were all great this season (well, outside of whatever the hell was going on in that weird finale) and the series found yet another game guesting man to bounce off Fey’s awkward energy in Matt Damon. There are other people in this category that I’ll personally be rooting for, but if Fey submits “Double-Edged Sword” and the voters see the insanity that unspools from her Liz and Damon’s Carol, they’ll both probably walk home with hardware. Fey was also very strong in the live episode and the somewhat problematic extended 100th episode.

Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope

I think I love Raising Hope and I didn’t quite realize it until thinking about this process. When I was considering Garrett Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton for possible nomination, I went back over some of the first season’s episodes and reveled in just how fantastic they were — and mostly because of Dillahunt and Plimpton. And while Dillahunt’s Burt is often the target of the series’ goofy and odd humor, Plimpton’s Virginia gets to be the somewhat stable emotional center with the fairly consistent humorous moment. Plimpton is great in everything, but this is a role really suited to her strengths. She can be abrasive without coming off totally bitchy and heartfelt without being too sappy. And like Dillahunt, she works really hard to make sure that we are laughing with the Chances instead of laughing at them. Big distinction.

Courteney Cox, Cougar Town

Of all the cast members of Cougar Town, Courteney Cox’s performance is probably my least favorite, but that’s not entirely fair to her. A.) Cougar Town features a loaded cast with top-to-bottom comedic firepower. B.) Cox is supposed to be really, really annoying as Jules, so my frustration with how she acts sometimes is probably more reflective of the purpose of the character than anything else. I’ll say this: Courteney Cox is a gamer, she’s completely willing to make a fool of herself at the drop of the hat. More importantly, as the second season of Cougar Town progressed, Jules became much more interesting and complex and much less bothersome and annoying. This is a testament to Cox’s work, despite some of the nagging issues.

Sure, why not:

Laura Linney, The Big C

I have seen two episodes of The Big C. Laura Linney is very good in The Big C. She will be nominated and most likely win this award. I guess I can’t complain.

Lea Michele, Glee

Listen, Glee sucks most of the time and for a lot of the second season, the writers were unable to give Lea Michele the kind of material she deserved. Michele is a really adept comedic actress, but most of the time the series just puts her in situations where she has to cry and be mopey, melodramatic and sometimes, very annoying. She can still handle the dramatic parts of her character and I still quite like Ms. Michele even though the critical mass has apparently turned against her and decided she’s an awful person.

Notable performers left just off the list: Nope.

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