This category has seen three back-to-back winners in a row – Alex Borstein, Kate McKinnon and Allison Janney. In previous years, the same actress winning three consecutive prizes wasn’t uncommon, with Doris Roberts, Laurie Metcalf, Rhea Perlman and Valerie Harper all cemented in Emmy history. With a crowded category full of talent this year, it seems likely that Borstein will continue her winning streak. Here are the nominees and their episodes submitted for judging:
Alex Borstein as Susie Myerson, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Episode: “Marvelous Radio”
Borstein has won this award the past two years, and once again she’s joined by costar Marin Hinkle, but not Jane Lynch, who took home the Emmy for guest acting last year. One of Borstein’s key scenes in her submitted episode is opposite Lynch, giving her client the kind of reality check she rarely does, and of course, the hour is also full of fast-talking quips that have come to define Borstein’s work. With the prevalence of three-peats in this category, Borstein has a solid shot at becoming the latest actress to achieve it.
D’Arcy Carden as Janet, The Good Place (NBC)
Episode: “You’ve Changed, Man”
Carden was cruelly snubbed last year even when an episode that featured her playing every character on the show was only nominated for its writing. She’s finally in the running for the final season of The Good Place, playing Janet, the non-human whose knowledge is boundless and who always seeks to be as helpful as possible. She’s a fan favorite and that is likely to attract votes. While it’s unlikely she’ll be strong enough to edge out the competition, there’s always a chance she’ll be honored as an overdue tribute to her departed show.
Betty Gilpin as Debbie Eagan, GLOW (Netflix)
Episode: “A Very GLOW Christmas”
This is Gilpin’s third consecutive nomination as the sole acting nominee from Glow. Her staying power has been impressive considering Glow was dropped from the best comedy series lineup after season one and rarely attracts any significant attention in other categories. While her performance is always a standout, her submission, the season three finale, highlights the fact that Debbie is aware that those around her underestimate her intelligence and creativity. With Glow ending next season, the odds are higher for her pulling off a farewell win than now with limited buzz surrounding the show.
Marin Hinkle as Rose Weissman, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Episode: “A Jewish Girls Walks into the Apollo”
This is Hinkle’s second nomination after joining costar Alex Borstein last year for a truly standout turn in the season two premiere. She’s back again, despite a more limited focus in season three. While there are a variety of scenes earlier in the season where she shines, the episode in contention is instead the season finale, where she realizes that her ability to talk and play matchmaker might be more than just a casual hobby. If she couldn’t beat out Borstein last year, it’s likely she’ll remain a nominee this year.
Kate McKinnon as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Episode: “Host: Daniel Craig”
This is the seventh consecutive nomination for McKinnon, who won twice in 2016 and 2017, respectively. With McKinnon playing a variety of characters on SNL, she most famously stood out this season with her hilarious and dead-on portrayal of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In the episode submitted, McKinnon gets the opportunity to share the screen with Warren during the cold open. While the more prominent cast member of the variety sketch series, she definitely outshines her nominated co-star Cecily Strong, but will her comedic chops be enough to get her the win?
Annie Murphy as Alexis Rose, Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Episode: “The Presidential Suite”
Murphy earns her first Emmy nomination this year for her portrayal of Alexis, a bubbly young entrepreneur who is often underestimated by her family and viewers alike. While at the start of the series Alexis was portrayed as the ultimate diva, her story arc showed that she is a three-dimensional character that goes beyond what’s simply on the surface. She gets some atypically serious material in her submitted episode that she handles well, and though her three costars all have better odds of winning in their respective categories, she could make it a full sweep with a win.
Yvonne Orji as Molly Carter, Insecure (HBO)
Episode: “Lowkey Lost”
How great is it to see Orji finally get nominated? After four seasons, her fabulous work as the opinionated Molly takes center stage as her relationship with Issa becomes complicated and unpleasant. While the odds of her winning are slim, she may have garnered more votes had the episode where she calls out a moment of racism while on vacation been submitted. She’s not one to necessarily count out, but a win would be surprising.
Cecily Strong as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Episode: “Host: Eddie Murphy”
Strong earns her first Emmy nomination after being a cast member on SNL since 2012. She does have some fun bits in her submitted episode, including vomiting wine on camera, but it would be difficult to imagine her defeating costar McKinnon. Her placement here shows that voters like her and have noticed her, but if she takes on more prominent roles in future seasons, she might have stronger chance of winning.
Who should win? While a win for Orji would bring joy to fans of Insecure, Borstein’s Emmy submission is the strongest of the bunch.
Who will win? It could be Murphy or even Orji, which would be great, but Borstein will likely walk away a three-time winner.