At this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, broadcasting tonight at 7 p.m. EDT on ABC, viewers are going to get a little something extra—a lagniappe in the category of Comedy Actress. Apparently, the blue-ribbon jurists at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences couldn’t get enough of this season’s funny ladies, so we’re getting seven nominees for the price of six.

Tonight you’ll see familiar faces like Tina Fey, Julia Louise-Dreyfus (who, with this year’s nomination for Veep, ties with Lucille Ball as Emmy’s most-nominated comic actress), Edie Falco, Amy Poehler, and last year’s winner, Melissa McCarthy. There are also two relative newcomers. Zooey Deschanel and Lena Dunham represent a winning trend of hip programming made by and for today’s younger female audience.

Deschanel plays Jess, the wacky heroine of New Girl, who is affectionately described as “adorkable.” And, while the actress is pretty enough for cosmetic ads (picture a sweeter version of Bjork), she was also brave enough to be photographed without any makeup for this year’s People Magazine’s Most Beautiful issue. (My teen daughter adores New Girl, and I am very happy to have her consider Ms. Deschanel a celebrity role model.)

Dunham is being recognized this year not only for her role as Hannah in the new series Girls, but also as the show’s writer and director. Girls has been described as a less glamorous Sex and the City. Hannah and her twentysomething friends deal with slightly more realistic issues—they worry about paying the rent, not paying for a new pair of Blahniks.

While New Girl and Girls, along with CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, have been celebrated as a new genre of girls gone funny, I’m looking forward to cheering on some of the—shall we say—more experienced female nominees.

There are some heavy hitters represented in the Drama Actress category: Glenn Close for Damages (she’s already won twice); Julianna Margolies for The Good Wife (already won once); Kathy Bates for Harry’s Law (could be a sentimental favorite, since the show was canceled, despite critical and fan outcry); Claire Danes for Homeland; and Elizabeth Moss for Mad Men. But no matter how much I still love Mad Men (and have admired Moss’s work from day one), I am hoping that the Emmy goes to Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey.

Like so many other women I know, I can’t get enough of the Crawleys. (“Stay Calm and Free Mr. Bates!”)

Downton Abbey, represented this year as a Drama Series rather than a Miniseries, may give Mad Men a run for its money.  The latter is four-for-four right now, although it has fared less well in acting categories. Jon Hamm, nominated yet again for his impeccable work as the enigmatic Don Draper, is on the verge of becoming the Susan Lucci of primetime.

Whether or not Mad Men can continue its Drama Series winning streak (and whether or not Hamm finally receives the recognition he deserves), I can’t help but root for Christina Hendricks in the Supporting Drama Actress category. This was her character Joan’s year. Transitioning from office sexpot to working mother, Joan made an outrageous (and debatably immoral) decision in one of the year’s most talked-about episodes, and finally got a seat at the executive table.

Glee is notably missing from most of the categories this year, with the exception of Dot-Marie Jones, nominated as a Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Jones gave a powerful performance this past season when the issues-centric show (which critics have complained has turned into a weekly 60-minute PSA) focused on domestic abuse. Her formidable character, “Coach Beiste,” was an unlikely, but immensely sympathetic, victim.

Although Glee may have run its course in terms of Emmy nominations, another show by the same creative team racked up a record number, tying Mad Men with 17. American Horror Story is a chilling, time-bending series that features tremendous performances by a number of talented women, three of whom have been nominated: Connie Britton, Frances Conroy, and Jessica Lange. Lange already picked up a Golden Globe for her role as demented (if not downright demonic) matriarch Constance. I predict she’ll walk away with the prize Sunday as well.

Although there are fewer women than men represented in the writing and directing categories, the Emmys are not a complete washout like the Oscars. Women do still seem to have slightly more opportunity on the small screen. Along with triple-threat Dunham, watch for Amy Poehler, nominated as writer for her comedy series Parks and Recreation.

This year’s Emmy Awards will celebrate the creative work of a number of women. And, as usual, their red-carpet gowns will be cheered—or mercilessly jeered—the next day. We hope that, as more new shows that center around women succeed, these professionals will be recognized for what they’ve done as well as what they wear.

 Join the Emmy conversation! You can do some real-time cheering or jeering. Women’s Voices for Changae will host its annual live blog, starting at 5 p.m. See you there?

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