Emmys 2013: The Lead Comedy Actress Race in Review, Including Our 6 Dream Nominees

Emmys Best Actress Comedy NomineesThe big question going into the nominations is, can Julia Louis-Dreyfus be beat? Having picked up her third statuette in 2012 — her first for Veep — the Emmy darling is going into this year’s contest as the odds-on favorite. But she’ll face stiff competition from Golden Globe-winning It girl Lena Dunham, not to mention the long-long overdue Amy Poehler.

More Emmy Races In Review | Outstanding Comedy Series | Lead Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actress | Outstanding Drama Series | Lead Drama Actor | Lead Drama Actress | Supporting Drama Actor | Supporting Drama Actress | Outstanding Reality-Competition Series

Review the following slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then hit the comments to vote for who you think are the six best. And check back Wednesday as we tackle the Supporting Comedy Actor race!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Bobby says:

    How Amy Poehler hasn’t won yet still baffles me to no end. I love Laura Dern/Enlightened so much too thus I’d be beyond happy with either of them taking it this year but really I just need an Amy Poehler Emmy to happen once… it’s all I ask and have been asking for since season two. C’mon!

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      I don’t know why this is, but it seems like the more someone becomes overdue for an Emmy, the less their chances of getting one become, particularly in the comedy categories. Take Steve Carrell and Kristen Wiig for example. They couldn’t pull off wins even in their final seasons. The Emmys are weird like that.

    • Laura E. says:

      There is no one who deserves an award more in any entertainment field than Amy Poehler and the Emmys.

  2. Diogo says:

    Despite wanting Amy Poheler to win, I really would like to see Tina Fey win because of this fantastic season.

  3. Parker says:

    AMY POEHLER!!! She deserves it! Some of the others are great as well but she is -literally- the best of the best!

  4. LW says:

    I’m rooting for Sutton Foster, but it’ll probably just go to Lena Dunham or JLD

  5. Joao Gordinho says:

    Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Either one deserves it

  6. alwayshappy says:

    Melissa McCarthy
    Amy Poehler
    Zoey Deschannel
    Lena Dunham
    Sutton Foster
    ( Where is Kaley Cuocu? Big Bang Theory )

    • CC says:

      I think that Kaley falls under the Supporting Actress category.

    • Jamie says:

      I love Melissa McCarthy (Sookie St. James <3 ) but I think Tina deserves the nomination over her. Add Laura Dern for her part in Enlightened's A.M.A.ZI.N.G. 2nd season, and I'd fully agree with your list.

  7. You forgot Casey Wilson from “Happy Endings”.

  8. dude says:

    My vote goes with Mindy Kaling for the win this year but my dream picks are Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschannel, Melissa McCarthy, and Kat Dennings.

    • Yeah, The Emmy’s love to at the very least throw some support to a newer show and The Mindy Project seems like the most likely to get a random nom. Wouldn’t go as far as to say Mindy would win, but I think she has a possible chance of sneaking in.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    AMY! Seriously this will be the sixth consecutive year that she is up for an Emmy and if she doesn’t finally win I will be heartbroken. It is time. Tina has won so many times, Julia won last year for Veep (which was well deserved but it doesn’t need to be repeated), Lena is overrated, especially for season two of Girls, and Zooey and Laura are both great but Amy is far more deserving. Can we please reward her this year? Think of how wonderful her acceptance speech will be!

  10. Lisa says:

    AMY POEHLER for the win
    and MARY-LOUIS PARKER are my nominations. Fey deserves the nomination for being so consistent til the very end and Parker consistently delivered perfect performances on Weed’s even as the show quality got worse and better again in the final year. I’d be happy with a Deschannel underdog win but I think Poehler deserves it so much and Dreyfus simply does not deserve another win.

  11. Adam says:

    Amy Poehler
    Tina Fey
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus
    Zooey Deschanel
    Laura Dern
    Lena Dunham

    • Jamie says:

      Perhaps list if you ask me :) Although I think Amy or Tina should take, everyone on this list is worthy but I’d probably want Lena Dunham to take it home least because she’s a better writer than actor IMO.

    • Jamie says:

      ^ I meant to say Perfect List. Typo Whoops :P

  12. Eric7740 says:

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus
    Courtney Cox
    Zooey Deschanel
    Amy Poehler
    Patricia Heaton

  13. Superhero says:

    It’s just completely ridiculously that Amy Poehler hasn’t won one of these things yet. And frankly, I doubt she ever will win one, which would be just as big an outrage as Steve Carrell never winning one for The Office.

  14. marge says:

    Can the Emmy voters get their heads out of their asses this year and give Amy Poehler her MUCH DESERVED Emmy already?!? Who knows how much longer Parks and Rec will be on, and it would be a Steve Carrell as Michael Scott level of crime if she never wins for Leslie Knope.

    For this category, alone, I really don’t care who else is nominated. Tina’s got hers. Julia’s got hers. Edie’s got hers. Melissa’s got hers. I think Mindy is great, Zoey’s alright, Lena is super talented but… It’s Amy’s turn!!

  15. A says:

    Melissa McCarthy
    Amy Poehler
    Mary Louise Parker (I miss Nancy!)
    Kat Dennings
    Beth Behrs
    Tina Fey (I love Tina Fey but she’s always nominated and winning at the Emmy’s, kinda hoping Amy Poehler or Melissa McCarthy takes it)

  16. Ben says:

    Amy all the way!

  17. lilys87 says:

    Amy Poehler (finally for the win)
    Tina Fey
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus
    Laura Dern
    Sutton Foster
    Melissa McCarthy

  18. Aprilcot says:


    Let’s just nominate her six times. But seriously, folks. Amy Poehler is brilliant on P&R! How did she not win this for the amazing season 4? If I had to choose 5 others I’d go with Tina Fey, JLD, Melissa McCarthy, Martha Plimpton, and Zooey Deschanel. I wouldn’t be upset if any of them won as long as it doesn’t go to the overrated Lena Dunham.

  19. Paul says:

    Betty White Hot in Cleveland
    Melissa McCarthy Mike and Molly
    Kaley Cuocu Big Bang Theory (should be actress)
    Allison Hannigan How I Met Your Mother

  20. King says:

    Julia Louis Dreyfus is getting the award again. She’s consistently funny every episode. What’s even more impressive is that she was able to portray a lot of emotions.

  21. Alley Kat says:

    Lena Dunham is not funny or sexy, so why is she naked on every episode?

  22. Doug says:

    Amy Poehler or JLD, either of those and I’m happy. Lena Dunham is undeserving of an acting nod but she’s the it girl so I’m sure she’ll get a nom too

  23. LE says:

    Amy Poehler!! Give her an Emmy already <3

    I think Mindy Kaling is a really good writer but not a really good actress, I don't think she has much range I find her a one note actress.

    • scooby says:

      Spoken like someone who’s only/mainly seen her on The Office, and not watched many eps of The Mindy Project, if any. She’s got plenty of range, but I think a lot of people that use that term don’t even know what they’re referring to. If you watch interviews with her you can see an obvious different between her, Dr. Mindy, and Kelly.

  24. Zachary says:

    Katie Aselton deserves this award. Not only is The League the funniest show on television, the dialogue is 85% improvised meaning she is doing more work than any of the other actors mentioned on the list. I would accept Poehler, Fey or Levy, but Aselton really deserves it. And seriously? No Martha Plimpton?

    After UAN’s horrendous second season, there is no way Christina Applegate deserves an Emmy. Zooey Deschanel just appears onscreen looking stunned and acting like a child, Lena Dunham is not funny at all (if it wasn’t a half hour, I wouldn’t have realized Girls was a comedy), Mindy Kaling fired Stephen Tobolowsky and isn’t particularly funny and Mary-Louise Parker was always one of the worst parts of Weeds.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      Hmm, I have mixed emotions on your comments. But I am impressed you are willing to go out on a limb to support Katie Aselton. I love The League. And I have to laugh at your comments about Zooey. New Girl really isn’t on on my list of top shows.

  25. Spencer says:

    Amy Poehler needs to have won 3 times by now! I really hope Parks gets some love this year in ALL catergories!

  26. Eliza says:

    My girl Amy Poehler!! I think she’s more than deserving. She’s the total package imho.

  27. Brigette says:

    I wish Kaitlin Olsen from It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia would get some recognition. I think award shows don’t take Sunny very seriously, but Kaitlin is seriously the funniest woman in television right now. She’s like the Kudrow of our current era– just original.

    • BHM1304 says:

      I think everyone in that cast, except Danny DeVito, as well as the cast from “The League” submit in supporting races because they are true ensembles. Its a crime no one from either has ever made it to the Emmys. Kaitlin Olsen’s omission each year from Supporting Actress Comedy is absurd.

  28. Scott says:

    Tina Fey (winner)
    Amy Poehler
    Kat Dennings
    Zooey Deschanel
    Ashley Rickards
    Sutton Foster

  29. Lana says:

    Sutton Foster and Martha Plimpton deserve to be co-winners. Both are fantastic in their roles.

  30. Leah says:

    Poehler, Fey, JLD, Zooey Deschannel, for sure. With Poehler winning. The fact that she STILL hasn’t won yet shows how much of a crapfest the Emmys are most of the time.

    • Deg says:

      Love the fact that you gave Amy, Tina and Julia shortened names but the unique name of Zooey Deschanel… you spelled out.

  31. chrisjroof says:

    Funny to me that everyone is freaking out about Amy Poehler never winning…guess who else has never won and its much more of a travesty…Courtney Cox! She’s never even been NOMINATED for an Emmy…not for FRIENDS, not for Cougar Town.

    This is a real shame since she should have probably won at least once for both shows…

  32. JJ says:

    Where is Tatiana Maslany? Is she Supporting??

    • BHM1304 says:

      ‘Orphan Black’ is a Drama — but I’d go with Tatiana Maslany as Alison Hendrix “Orphan Black” for Best Supporting Actress Comedy – that would work just swell.

  33. Britta Unfiltered says:

    My dream list would have to be Lena Dunham, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Krysten Ritter, and Edie Falco. I guess for the win I would go with Lena Dunham. There were a few episodes of Girls towards the end I wasn’t crazy about, but I think the episode where she thought Adam was stalking her was hilarious and would be a good submission. Or the one where she did coke with her roommate.
    For who’s really going to get nominated, it’s going to be Lena Dunham, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Edie Falco. I wouldn’t put money on an Amy Poehler win. Not that she’s not great, but if it hasn’t happened for her by now, it probably won’t. The Emmys rarely award overdue actors. It could be Julia that wins again. That is a definite possibility. But I’m feeling a Lena Dunham win this year. She’s got a few really good episodes to submit and has a lot of momentum with her Golden Globe wins for acting in and producing the show, and also the WGA and DGA wins. That’s quite an impressive feat for a young lady of her age and it just goes to show what a multi-talented person she is. Plus you can’t forget she is the first female director to ever win a DGA for directing a comedy. The Emmys might want to reward her in other areas for that. Slam me if you want for saying nice things about Lena, but it won’t change how I think. I admire her and her accomplishments greatly.

  34. Jared says:

    I’m gonna forgive the fact that you think anything related to BUNHEADS should be worthy of an Emmy and just pretend like I never read that on this site!

    Now, moving on!

    Should win: Amy or Julia
    Will Win: Julia

    My dream picks:

    Amy Poehler, PARKS AND REC (no explanation needed)
    Julia Louis-Drefus, VEEP (no explanation needed)
    Zooey Deschanel, NEW GIRL (perfect timing)
    Lena Dunham, GIRLS (most creative)
    Edie Falco, NURSE JACKIE (most consistent)
    Mary Louise-Parker, WEEDS (nostalgia for the whole series’s run)

    • Daisy says:

      I have to say that while I’m in the minority, I’m glad that someone else agrees with me that Sutton Foster should not get a nomination for her role. Yes, it’s a feat to keep up with (and be able to say) ASP’s dialog, but I don’t find her anywhere near as good as Lauren Graham was on Gilmore Girls and that doesn’t mean that Sutton Foster is deserving just because LG didn’t ever get one. I just don’t really enjoy her performance that much on that show. She’s a little too robotic when she’s saying her lines–like what’s most important is just saying it rather than saying it with some emotion behind it. I don’t know. I’m just not a fan of her in that role. This is just my opinion–I’m not bashing anyone who thinks differently about this. I think that SF is a very, very talented person, but I’m just not loving her in this role.

  35. Magali says:

    Amy Poehler (c’mon now is the time Emmy voters!)
    Tina Fey
    Mindy Kaling
    Zooey Deschanel
    Sutton Foster (a long shot but really deserving she is my discovery of the year!)
    Courtney Cox (and nominations for best performance by a prop for “Big Joe”, “Big Carl”, “Big Lou” and “Big Tippi”)

    I have a feeling Lena Dunham will probably take this and for the first season of Girls I would agree but the second season was so uneven and more importantly not really that funny it’s hard for me to root for her…

  36. Russ says:

    My picks:
    Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
    Patricia Heaton – The Middle
    Mindy Kaling – The Mindy Project
    Laura Linney – The Big C
    Melissa McCarthy – Mike And Molly
    Amy Poehler – Parks & Recreation

    I think Laura Linney should win for season 3 of The Big C. She is marvelous. Melissa can always win another Emmy next year for Mike & Molly. I love her to.

    I love Julia Louis Dreyfus but Veep is just not funny. I loved her in Seinfeld and Old Christine. These two shows were hysterical and she was deserving of the Emmy. I only hope that the horrible and unfunny Tina Fey and Lena Dunham don’t get nominated. Both of these actresses(?) are just horrible, especially Lena.

    • Christian says:

      The Big C is being submitted in the mini-series category. However, you’re right that Linney was fantastic and it should be interesting to see who will emerge victorious between her and Jessica Lange (AHS: Asylum) come emmy night!

  37. KD says:

    Looking at some of these shows, I wonder if there needs to be a dramedy section, because a lot of these shows are more dramas than comedies.

  38. Parker says:

    Amy Poehler!

  39. Babybop says:

    I don’t care who’s nominated (though I find it silly to nominate people who are basically playing themselves, like Mindy and Zooey) but Amy Poehler needs to win this year!!

  40. I wonder how many actors and actresses look at past catagories to decide which they should enter? I mean all the Modern Family cast agreed they were all supporting so thats what they choice and Friends all agreed they were leads. Jon Cryer went into supporting for years and Charlie left and went into lead catagory. He always had a ton of screen time with Charlie. I was suprised last year or the year before
    when Rob Lowe put his name in Lead. But he probably thought with Modern Family guys atking up most of the spots that would be his best bet.

  41. Patti says:

    Melissa M from Mike and Molly
    Zoey D from New Girl
    Jane L from Suburagory

  42. Sam says:

    It is mind-boggling how Amy Poehler has yet to win an Emmy for Parks and Rec. I honestly can’t think of a current actress more deserving of an Emmy.
    Also, Martha Plimpton, Edie Falco, Tina Fey, and Laura Dern are all pretty spectacular.

  43. Carla says:

    1. Lea Michele
    2. Kat Dennings
    3. Zooey Deschanel
    4. Beth Behrs
    5. Courteney Cox
    6. Amy Poehler

  44. Nata says:

    Edie Falco
    Patricia Heaton
    Mindy Kaling
    Laura Linney
    Melissa McCarthy
    Amy Poehler

  45. LilAngel says:

    Lea Michele is stunning and carries the show

  46. Alexandra says:

    Tina Fey and Lena Dunham. As much as I like the rest, they don’t crack me up like these 2

  47. nathan says:

    Dream list would be
    *Kat Dennings
    *Amy Pohler
    *Courteney Cox
    *Zooey Deschanel
    *Mary-louise Parker
    *Patricia Heaton

  48. Damn Gurl says:

    I love glee (don’t judge) but Lea Michele had strong DRAMATIC role in the break up episode (which was actually well written). She had no comedy and has a 1% chance of being nominated.

    Amy Poehler (win)
    Tina Fey
    Mindy Kaling
    Lena Dunham (season 2 finale was more dramatic).