The 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be here before you know it. Leading up to July 13, when the nominations will be announced, we’ll be giving you our list of top contenders. Let’s kick it off with actors competing for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category. Keep reading for a roundup of names we think should make this year’s list of nominees.
Jane Levy for Season 2 of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Levy failed to be recognized at last year’s Emmys for her work as the title character in NBC’s musical dramedy, and we think this year could offer some well-deserved redemption for the series’ star. Levy is, in the words of IndieWire, “arguably doing the most work of any actor in contention [for her category] via Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” We couldn’t agree more. The big dance and musical elements of the show are grounded by her ability to navigate both the comedy and drama of Zoey’s extraordinary life, making for a powerful series that’s entertaining to watch. Levy pulls off a brilliant balancing act with it, which places her at the top of our contenders list.
Maya Erskine for Season 2 of PEN15
Erskine created the series with Anna Konkle, and both actors star in the Hulu comedy series as middle-schoolers navigating all the awkwardness that comes with that stage of life. The original concept has them acting opposite actual teenagers in the series, and while we’d like to applaud them both for impressively pulling off such a feat, Erskine is our choice for this list. The quality of her performance may be best summed up by TVLine’s astute assertion that “Erskine’s uncanny ability to channel a 13-year-old’s giddy victories and crushing defeats deserves a standing ovation.”
Renée Elise Goldsberry for Season 1 of Girls5eva
Hamilton fans may know Goldsberry best as Angelica Schuyler, but her performance as Wickie Roy in the Peacock series gives TV viewers a new window into the talent of an actor whose work spans across film, the stage, and series. With Girls5eva, the thespian brings her powerful vocals to the comedy about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the ’90s whose members reunite to give their dreams another shot. Other cast members of note include names like Sara Bareilles and Busy Philipps, but we think Goldsberry’s Wickie steals the show. The Los Angeles Times calls her “amazing” and “the breakout star of Girls5eva.”
Kaley Cuoco for Season 1 of The Flight Attendant
Cuoco has received a lot of award buzz surrounding her performance as Cassie Bowden on the HBO Max series adapted from Chris Bohjalian’s 2018 novel of the same name. Even with her extensive run as Penny on The Big Bang Theory, Cuoco’s never received a nod from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. But we think this is her year. The actor also executive produces the new series, which falls under the category of dark comedic thriller. Cuoco must navigate a lot of varied genre tones in order to lead such a show, and she does so with impressive precision. Vulture calls her performance “a pitch-perfect combination of high-energy franticness and real emotional insight.”
Time will tell if Levy, Erskine, Goldsberry and Cuoco land an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nomination this year. But regardless of whether they receive a nod, we think their standout work deserves recognition. So here’s to four leading women of comedy and their masterful performances in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, PEN15, Girls5eva and The Flight Attendant.