2023 Emmys Predictions: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series


We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be presented over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, with an edited presentation of the ceremonies to be broadcast on FXX at a later date. Finally, the 75th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards take place on Monday, September 18, and air live on FOX at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race

Jean Smart, who won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, is likely sitting out of this year’s Emmy race as she recovers from a heart procedure, and gets back to filming “Hacks” Season 3, leading a whole number of possibilities on who could win in her absence.

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The easiest assumption is Quinta Brunson, the creator and star of “Abbott Elementary” who has won several awards this year including a Golden Globe. Some other contenders with circumstances to take into account are former winner Rachel Brosnahan, who enters the race for the last time as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are also on a farewell tour for Netflix’s “Dead to Me,” which has earned them both nominations in this category before. Though the stakes are even higher for Applegate post-multiple sclerosis diagnosis. The actress has indicated that this may be her last awards season in general, as she finds a new normal regarding her health.

The last actual recent nominee to be back is Elle Fanning, in contention for Season 3 of Hulu’s historical comedy “The Great,” but there are also the actresses who were right on the cusp of getting in last year, coming back stronger with their second season like Devery Jacobs (“Reservation Dogs”), Selena Gomez (“Only Murders in the Building”), and Bridget Everett (“Somebody Somewhere”).

Ana Gasteyer (“American Auto”) and Rose McIver (“Ghosts”) are two other examples who could be added to that list, but differ from the rest of the pack by being the stars of network sitcoms. An interesting question to think about this Emmy season is if “Abbott Elementary” is an outlier, or have TV Academy voters generally warmed back up to primetime TV comedies as a whole this year.

As for the contenders coming off of debut seasons, the most likely nominees are “Wednesday” star Jenna Ortega” and “Poker Face” creator/star Natasha Lyonne, who’s streaming series have managed to capture the zeitgeist, but it would be unwise to diminish the Emmy prospects for “Unprisoned” star Kerry Washington and “Loot” star Maya Rudolph, two actresses that are popular with the TV Academy.

Current Contenders (In Alphabetical Order):
Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me” (Netflix)
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon Prime Video)
Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary” (ABC)
Linda Cardellini, “Dead to Me” (Netflix)
Bridget Everett, “Somebody Somewhere” (HBO)
Elle Fanning, “The Great” (Hulu)
Ana Gasteyer, “American Auto” (NBC)
Selena Gomez, “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)
Devery Jacobs, “Reservation Dogs” (FX)
Natasha Lyonne, “Poker Face” (Peacock)
Rose McIver, “Ghosts” (CBS)
Jenna Ortega, “Wednesday” (Netflix)
Maya Rudolph, “Loot” (Apple TV+)
Kerry Washington, “Unprisoned” (Hulu)
Ali Wong, “Beef” (Netflix)

More Comedy Category Predictions:
Outstanding Comedy Series
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: Jean Smart, “Hacks”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: With Smart out, there are not any major prospects for any kind of hot streaks. Even the network “Hacks” is on, HBO Max, has little to no prospects in the category this year.
Notable Ineligible Series: Jean Smart, “Hacks” (Season 3 was not eligible); Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish” (ended)

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