This list of my favorite leading comedic actresses is the last of a series spotlighting performers of the 2006-07 TV season.
- America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty ” (ABC): To successfully navigate “Betty’s” tricky mixture of comedy and drama — not to mention the comical physical mishaps that punctuate Betty Suarez’s work days — is enough of an accomplishment. To make it look effortless, now that’s talent.
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (CBS): It’d be easy to make Christine seem like kind of a loser. Yet Louis-Dreyfus imbues this muddling Everywoman with such warm humanity that it’s impossible not to laugh with her, even as you’re laughing at her a little too.
- Tina Fey, “30 Rock” (NBC): Fey, one of TV’s most incisive comedy writers, doesn’t have the biggest range in the business, but, as fictional comedy writer Liz Lemon, she doesn’t have to. She’s wisely focused on Lemon’s twisted, complicated relationship with NBC executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). Lemon’s no fool, but Donaghy keeps her flummoxed, and so far the antics of those two have given an intriguing anchor to this addictive comedy.
- Anne Heche, “Men in Trees” (ABC): With that Hepburn-esque diction and those flawless cheekbones, Heche brings a welcome dose of spikiness to what could otherwise have been a rather feckless romantic comedy. Yet Marin Frist’s cool, brainy exterior hides a surprisingly tender heart, and that tension gives this pleasing escapism the texture that it needs.
- Jenna Fischer, “The Office” (NBC): Fischer has had lots to work with as Pam has grown up, ditched Roy and found her spine. It was hard to see Pam and Jim put off their (I hope inevitable) relationship, but this season gave the subtle and able Fischer a chance to shine, and that’s a good thing.
- Elizabeth Perkins, “Weeds” (Showtime): Though Mary-Louise Parker has many fans of her work in “Weeds,” I find it a bit enigmatic for my taste. I really tune in for the sensational cast surrounding Parker, and foremost among them is Perkins, who took what could have been a stereotypically shrill suburban matron (and possibly the worst mom on TV) and made her both fascinating and funny.
If you’re wondering where Lauren Graham of “Gilmore Girls” is, see my best dramatic actresses list on the Watcher Web site (other lists there: best leading actors in dramas and comedies).