Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Anthony Anderson as Andre Johnson, Black-ish (Lemons)
This is Anderson’s third consecutive nomination, and his show is competing in the top race for the second year in a row. His show’s popularity has only risen, and there’s only one new show this year in this genre that’s equally popular, and that’s “Atlanta.” Fortunately for Anderson, he’s got a knockout submission that could actually win him this thing, thanks to a powerful monologue about accepting other people’s different options in an episode all about the election. He’ll definitely get a good chunk of votes - it’s his strongest entry yet.

Aziz Ansari as Dev, Master of None (The Dinner Party)
I’m a huge fan of Ansari, who was nominated in this category last year, won for writing, and now contends again for writing this year. Ansari was superb in season two, but I would have chosen one of the opening Italy episodes or the closing romantic ones as a showcase rather than this perfectly decent one in which he’s typically great, balancing different women who don’t feel the same way about him. I’d be thrilled if he won, especially given the uncertain future of this show, but I don’t think he can pull it off. He’s much likelier to repeat for writing.

Zach Galifianakis as Chip and Dale Baskets, Baskets (Freaks)
Galifianakis was previously nominated for hosting SNL in 2011 and won back-to-back Emmys in 2014 and 2015 for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program. He joins costar Louie Anderson, who won last year and is back again this year, for his dual performance as twin brothers on FX’s gloomy dramedy. In the season premiere, Zach mainly just plays Chip, who goes from down on his luck to being celebrated for his clowning abilities, all the while realizing that this life on the road can’t last forever. It’s a fine submission, but his inclusion was enough of a surprise that a win would be a true shock.

Donald Glover as Earnest Marks, Atlanta (The Big Bang)
Golden Globe winner Glover is new to the Emmys but is actually nominated for three awards this year, recognized for directing and writing an episode of his show. Glover is likeable but doesn’t get to be all that funny since he’s more of a straight man in a darker kind of show. His submission is that of the pilot, which was an episode that saw him aspiring to greatness and got many viewers into this show. He’s up against some funnier players (and Tambor), but he did win a Golden Globe, so he could well muster up the momentum to win this too.

William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher, Shameless (You Sold Me the Laundromat, Remember?)
This is the fourth consecutive nomination for Macy, who contended previously for seven Emmys, winning one for “Door to Door.” It’s still crazy to me that people watch this show and don’t recognize the diversity of talent aside from Macy, but it’s hard to deny that he’s a strong part of the show. I suppose that pretending to be an old woman’s deceased husband so that he can get a bed to sleep in wasn’t the most depraved thing Frank has ever done, but I hardly think it’s worthwhile enough to win Macy this trophy, though a vote split between Glover, Ansari, and Tambor could easily make him a winner.

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman (Elizah)
Tambor is the two-time defending champ in this category, and has seven previous nominations for his supporting work on “Arrested Development” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” For the first time, his series isn’t nominated along with him, but Tambor continues to be terrific. The submission of the season premiere, in which Maura works at a hotline and takes a call from someone on the brink of suicide, is strong, and Tambor will surely repeat unless voters want something more comedic.

Who should win (based on entire season): Ansari or Tambor
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Tambor or Anderson
Who will win: This is a tough call. Most are saying that Glover will triumph following his Golden Globe win, but I don’t see the love translating quite as strongly even though the show earned a good deal of nominations. Tambor is the safe bet to make it three in a row, even though his show was dropped from the Best Comedy Series race. Or will Anderson prevail in a vote-split situation? Macy could just as easily be a spoiler. I’d love to see Ansari win, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Next up: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

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