2011 Dream Emmy Ballot: Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

It’s that time again, folks. The Emmy nominations will be announced on July 14, which means I have almost an entire month to flood this space with hopes, dreams and predictions about what could happen come nomination time. To kick things off, I’ll be bringing back the Dream Emmy Ballot. It’s something I did last year and even with my much smaller readership back then, folks seemed to enjoy it. You can find the archives of previous Dream Emmy Ballot posts here.

In any event, just a qualifier or two: This is obviously my Dream Emmy Ballot. Meaning, these initial picks are going to be who I would love to see be nominated for the awards. I know that many of these people don’t actually have a chance in garnering a nomination, just as I know that I will miss some of your personal favorites because I don’t watch that series. I watched more television than ever this season, so I imagine my personal picks will more closely align with more “official” selections, but nevertheless, this is all based on my personal taste and wishes. I’ll do more concrete, objective analysis as we get closer to the actual nomination announcement. Secondly, these picks are all based on the official nomination ballot, just so you know.

Today, we continue making our way through the guest performer categories with Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. This category feels less “stacked” as it were, but perhaps that is only because I don’t watch so many of Showtime’s so-called “comedies,” all of which have notable guest stars that will probably get nominated.

Gwyenth Paltrow, Glee

I know, I know. I never thought Mrs. Goop’s guest turn on Glee would turn out well. But at least in the first instance (which she submitted as her episode), Paltrow totally fit into the zany world of McKinley High. Holly Holiday is a broad, comedic character that allowed Paltrow to remind viewers like me that she can actually have fun when she’s not marketing obnoxious lifestyle web sites. “The Substitute” is a great showcase not only for Paltrow’s comedic timing — which is better than I had remembered — but also her musical ability, which is obviously important for any Glee candidate not named Jane Lynch. Much like Neil Patrick Harris’ turn last season, Paltrow will surely be a shoe-in to be not only nominated, but named the victor come this fall. And I wouldn’t be totally upset with that decision.

Mo Collins, Parks and Recreation

Obviously, one of Parks and Recreation‘s best weapons is its deep bench of local Pawneeans, top-lined by Mo Collins’ Joan Callamezzo. I was never a big fan of Collins on MadTV, but she’s perfect as the villainous Joan. The character embodies Pawnee’s simmering insanity, as she’s always willing to take tiny stories and turn them into MASSIVE EVENTS. Never is this more present in “Harvest Festival,” the episode Collins submitted for nomination. What starts out as a small problem for Leslie and company quickly turns into a panicked, town-wide disaster about the possibility of a curse.

Cloris Leachman, Raising Hope

I’m not the biggest fan of the Maw-Maw character, but I am fairly certain that my issues have more to do with how the series uses her than Cloris Leachman’s performance itself. I think she’s used too often, but when I find a Maw-Maw bit funny, I find it extremely funny, which feels like a solid indicator of how Leachman is in the role. I especially like Leachman and the character when she is lucid, which makes the actress’ submission of the finale episode, “Don’t Not Vote For This Episode,” as tremendous choice for nomination. The character can work when not eating weird things or when she’s running around with half of her clothes off and the finale represents that well.

Amy Landecker, Louie

Louie‘s “Bully” is one of my favorite comedy episodes of recent memory and while Louis C.K. is the effort’s driving force, Amy Landecker’s supporting performance is not be forgotten. I’m not sure the first half of the episode would have worked without Landecker’s particularly awkward, confused and brutally honest reaction to Louie being harassed by the annoying teens in the doughnut shop. Her performance is not overly showy, but serves as a nice bit of supporting work that brings an interesting, raw performance out of C.K. as well.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 30 Rock

From my perspective, the 30 Rock live episode went nearly as good as it could have and at least some of the credit for that success should be given to Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It was her hilarious role as “Liz Lemon” that allowed the series to keep its trademark cutaway gags and jokes in the fabric of the live episode, which I think went a long way in making the episode a winner. The episode used Dreyfus well and certainly played up the gimmick of her playing Liz, but didn’t over-use it in ways that it probably could have. Just a generally smart bit of casting, writing and acting that deserves some recognition.

Chloe Grace Moretz, 30 Rock

This is one of those random 30 Rock guest star spots that actually stuck with me more than a few minutes after the episode ended. I loved Moretz in Kick-Ass and Let Me In, and she brings that same kind of poise and gravitas to her part as Jack’s latest foil to the CEO throne. Having Jack face-off with a teenage girl could have been an obvious disaster, but Moretz is somehow funny and menacing at the same time, all the while without dipping too far into traditional Mean Girls kind of stereotypes. She had wonderful chemistry with Alec Baldwin and I really, really hope she returns in future episodes, which is perhaps the best thing I can say about any guest star.

Notable performers just left off the list: Sherri Shepherd, 30 Rock; Pamela Adlon, Louie

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