Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty "Pilot"
Pro: Ferrera comes into the race with wins from both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. Of the five, her show is the one with the most buzz (and most Emmy nominations). She also has 30 minutes of screentime (out of 44 minutes), where she not only shows her charming side, but also her vulnerable side (when her boyfriend breaks up with her and later at the fashion shoot). This is a very smart submission for Ferrera.
Con: The problem with dramedies is that, unless you're Lauren Graham (Lorelai Gilmore, we hardly knew you), it will be hard to find a scene where the character is actually laugh out loud funny as opposed to simply being charming and witty. Ferrera's performance isn't really a knee-slapper, which could hinder her in a lineup that usually tends to award more outright funny performances.
Tina Fey, 30 Rock "Up All Night"
Pro: Fey will be seen by voters as the lineup's busy bee. Not only does she act on the show, but she also produces and writes (for which she also received nominations this year). Fey is one of the more funnier ladies, particularly with lines as "this would have worked on Ugly Betty," as we see her try to crawl out of Jack's office.
Con: Fey has the least amount of screentime of the five (9 minutes). It doesn't help that Fey's outperformed by Alec Baldwin in his storyline and the storyline revolving over the game of "Marry, Boff, Kill" will be distracting as well.
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives "Bang"
Pro: Oscar nominee Huffman has previously won for her performance (in season one). Huffman gives a fine performance balancing both comedy ("I didn't want the first four kids, but they're growing on me") and drama ("Maybe you deserved to get cheated on!"). The submission itself was one of the more memorable episodes of the season, which could also help her.
Con: With only 13 minutes of screentime, the performance isn't as commanding as say, Ferrera's. The episode not only features strong performances from Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher, but Huffman gets overshadowed by guest star Laurie Metcalf's bold performance. It's a very ensemble submission, which would have been fine, if Huffman's co-stars were also nominated to give her a boost too.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine "Playdate with Destiny"
Pro: Shot for shot, Louis-Dreyfus delivers the flat-out funniest performance of the five nominees. Whether it's Christine being nervous around Mr. Harris (which leads to "volume modulation control" and a "black attack") or Christine failing to learn to put the cup of soup down because it's too hot, Louis-Dreyfus gives her all in this submission. She's got a little bit of everything. Louis-Dreyfus also comes into the race with 20 minutes of screentime (out of 22 minutes) and being the category's current winner.
Con: The show is not on CBS' fall schedule (unless something bombs), which could mean that support from the network might not be there. Louis-Dreyfus managed to squeak in a win here last year because her show was the only one still on the air, which isn't the case this year.
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds "Mrs. Botwin's Neighborhood"
Pro: Parker spends the majority of her submission trying to figure out what to do about her competition next door and how to be a good mom to her son. This leads to many sympathetic scenes (particularly the one where she protects her son) as well as a hilarious (and campy) scene where she fights with Celia. Plus she also received a nomination this year for her work in the television movie, The Robber Bride.
Con: With 12 minutes of screentime, it's hard for Parker to leave a lasting impression on voters. Her work is probably the most dramatic of the five, which might hurt her. Also, the submission spends too much time on her co-stars.
Tina Fey is probably completely out of this race (although expect her to win for Comedy Writing). Felicity Huffman and Mary-Louise Parker are probably too dramatic to land a win here, but it's not entirely out of the question. That leaves America Ferrera and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and they both have lots of things going for them and against them. Ferrera would not only be the first Hispanic winner in this category, but also the youngest (at age 23 she would best Mary Tyler Moore's record when she was 28). Louis-Dreyfus would be the first repeat winner since Patricia Heaton and in a lineup of heavy dramedies, her show is the only one that is still filmed in the traditional multi-camera setting. This will be very close.
1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
2. America Ferrera
3. Felicity Huffman
4. Mary-Louise Parker
5. Tina Fey