Make Your Case: Best Actress in a Comedy Series

For the next week, (Pop) Culturally Informed will be running a brand new series called Make Your Case, where Ben and Nina will take on one major category in turn for next week’s Emmys, pick who they think should win, and make their case. Note: We aren’t going to say who WILL win, but who should. Sometimes these will be one and the same- but we like to choose the road less traveled. Enjoy!

Okay, I know I’ve said this about almost every category, but I actually love every nominee in this category. Every single one. I love Lena Dunham (Girls) for being unafraid and honest and hilarious on Instagram. I love Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) because she never fails to make me laugh embarrassingly loudly and I would watch an entire movie of her throwing watermelons at people. I love Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) even though I don’t watch her show, because she’s just kind of a total badass. I love Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) for finding the timing and jokes and humanity in an otherwise irritating character. I really truly deeply love Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) because she’s just fucking incredible in every way. But the lady I love most of all in this category is Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation), because not only is she the actual goddamn greatest, but it’s ABOUT TIME.

Let’s look at these nominees a little more closely for one second. Both Falco and McCarthy have pulled off upsets before, but Falco’s show was newer at the time, and McCarthy was riding a post-Bridesmaids high because Mike & Molly is actually the worst but they needed to reward her for her all around excellence. Taylor Schilling is a baby in this category, and though she’s the ostensible protagonist of OITNB, Piper just isn’t the funniest or most interesting character. Lena Dunham is getting to be a standby presence here, but because patriarchy, she isn’t going to win because she’s “naked too much” and men are horrible – and men are also the majority of the voters. Julia Louis-Dreyfus will probably win, as she usually does, and it’s not like she won’t deserve it if she does – she’s a comedic genius, and word on the street is that her submitted episode was “The Crate,” where she simultaneously stems her assistant’s nosebleed and cries over becoming President. JLD is the favorite every year, and I won’t be horribly upset if she takes home another Emmy to add to her growing collection. That being said, my heart is always with Amy Poehler.

Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope has long been one of my favorite television characters, even when she’s totally annoying and you want to slap her just a little bit. Her enthusiasm for public government work, over six seasons of this show, has been through the roof – up until season 6 arrived with a struggle she had never faced before. After finally winning a City Council seat and living her dream of becoming a public official, Leslie Knope was humiliatingly recalled, and there was no doubt why – most of Pawnee just straight up hates her. Sure, this is because most of Pawnee is stupid, but season 6 gave our joyful protagonist her first huge hurdle, giving Leslie more depth and newfound ambition.

But even so, Leslie is so much more than a happy, chirpy department director. She’s a loving wife who finds out she’s having triplets with her perfectly neurotic soulmate, Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott, ladies. Ammiright?!). She’s an award-winning public servant who finds herself in London and San Francisco to speak about the town she loves. She’s a candidate for the position of Regional Director of the National Parks Service, Midwest Region (a job she eventually accepts, after some shrewd bargaining). She’s a devoted friend to so many – a reluctant April, a taciturn Ron, and even a far-away Ann, with whom she schedules four-hour catch-up calls. Poehler showed us all of that this season and more; her Leslie Knope has real depth, and in the hands of a lesser actress, she would just be Michael Scott if he had boobs and didn’t suck at his job.

Not only does Poehler really, truly deserve this award, but it is long overdue (and at least one of her opponents agrees – when Poehler won the Golden Globe just this year for this same category, Julia Louis-Dreyfus leapt to her feet and cheered for her fellow nominee). As amazing as JLD is, we need to reward another actress playing a beleaguered and sometimes inefficient public official, who has turned a small-town enthusiast on paper into someone you’d love to share a plate of JJ’s waffles with. It’s Poehler’s time. Let’s recognize her for bringing one of the best characters currently running around the TV landscape (making binders and throwing surprise parties, in between running) to life, and never missing a single beat – because did I mention how constantly, gut-bustingly funny Amy Poehler is, literally at all times?! (I don’t think I really need to.)’

But let’s quickly look on the bright side, like Leslie Knope would want us to. If Amy loses again, that just means she and Jon Hamm can be amazing again and host another Losers Lounge. (Next year is the last shot for both of them – or the last party, depending on how you look at it!)

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