Emmy Drama Lead Actress: What Will Happen?

Bevy of new contenders could shake up ranks

In the fourth post of our final countdown to the 2013 Emmy nominations, we look at the increasingly unpredictable lead drama actress competition.

Turnover is fair play: My argument throughout Emmy season has been that lead drama actress has as much possibility for change as any other category:

… Of last year’s lead drama actress nominees, Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”), Julianna Marguiles (“The Good Wife”) and defending champ Claire Danes (“Homeland”) are the safest bets to return. … Kathy Bates is ineligible following the cancelation of “Harry’s Law” a year ago, and it’s questionable whether Michelle Dockery of “Downton Abbey” can make it back with a season in which she was far less central to the show’s plot than in 2012. Your guess is as good as mine on Glenn Close (“Damages”) – the show is yesterday’s news, but then again, it’s Glenn Close. …

Swarm, swarm: Even if three spots open up, it’s not as if there won’t be strong competition for those spots. Kerry Washington (“Scandal”) has been percolating all season, while Connie Britton (“Nashville”) could be nominated for her third program in three years.  And honors are overdue for Emmy Rossum (“Shameless”), Katey Sagal (“Sons of Anarchy”) and — obligatory “Treme” mention — Khandi Alexander.

Four on the fore: A quartet of top candidates emerged just from shows that have premiered since January: Vera Farmiga (“Bates Motel”), Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”) and the most interesting acting story of the Emmy season, Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”). Maslany was almost completely unknown to Americans before March (and remains unknown to many), but now she’s a big Emmy wild card.

More on the four: It’s not impossible for these challengers to collectively deliver a shocking shakeup to the category. But if they’re reduced to battling for a final spot, it’s anybody’s guess who emerges. Some clearly had more exposure than others, but you can make a case that any of them could win enough votes. No one really knows, for example, what kind of impression a digitally distributed show like Wright’s “House of Cards” has made, or what kind of effect the prominent film backgrounds of Farmiga and Wright will have.

One man’s wish list: Alexander, Danes, Maslany, Moss, Rossum, Washington

One man’s best guesses: Danes, Margulies, Maslany, Moss, Washington, Wright

Emmy Drama: What Will Happen?
Emmy Comedy: What Will Happen?
Emmy Drama Lead Actor: What Will Happen?

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Hailee SteinfeldTribeca TV Festival 2019 Presents

    Hailee Steinfeld Announces New Single Tied to Apple TV Plus' 'Dickinson'

    Actress, singer and producer Hailee Steinfeld is set to release a new single entitled “Afterlife” on Sept. 19, a track she created for her upcoming Apple TV Plus series,”Dickinson.” “This is a song I’m incredibly proud of, and I feel like after embodying this character, I have a more fearless approach to my writing,” Steinfeld [...]

  • Rachel Bloom

    Rachel Bloom Announces Pregnancy After Emmy Win

    “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom made a special announcement after winning her Emmy for best original music and lyrics — she is pregnant. Bloom announced the news backstage on Saturday at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. She joked she had planned to reveal the news on Instagram but that doing it at the Emmys was even [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    TV Review: 'Evil'

    In its pilot installment, CBS’s new drama “Evil” delves into that which may lie beyond the rationally explicable. And the show itself represents something almost supernatural by 2019 standards, too: A well-made hour fueled by chemistry between its leads and a strong idea of itself. On the basis of its debut outing, which screened at [...]

  • Emmy Awards Placeholder

    Creative Arts Emmys: 'Free Solo,' 'Queer Eye' Among Big Winners on Night 1 (Full List)

    “Free Solo,” “Queer Eye,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Saturday Night Live” were among the big winners Saturday after the first night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. “Free Solo,” the National Geographic feature documentary that already claimed the Oscar earlier this year, lead the field on the [...]

  • Gary Cole, Christina Anthony, Tika Sumpter,

    'Mixed-ish' Team on Why 'All Stories About "Others" Are Necessary'

    The producers and cast of “Mixed-ish” are not out to tell a singular black and white story — but one that showcases and celebrates all shades in between. “It’s important for me across the board in all of my work to talk about ‘otherness’ and identity and real, grounded characters,” showrunner Karin Gist told Variety [...]

  • Shane Gillis

    Comedians Condemn Shane Gillis Over Slurs

    “Saturday Night Live” showrunner Lorne Michaels has yet to comment on the racist and homophobic remarks made by newly hired cast member Shane Gillis, but comedians and actors are expressing their condemnation on social media, some even asking that he be fired from the show.  Footage of Gillis’s podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content