Welcome to the 2019 Emmy Circuit series, where we analyze and predict all your favorite TV series and their chances with the Television Academy (at least at this time of publishing). The series examines the shows and performances about their awards potential, most notably the Emmy Awards. Emmy nomination voting opens June 10 and closes on June 24. The official Emmy nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 16 while the ceremony airs on FOX Sunday, Sept. 22. All Emmy pieces run with the following schedule: Mondays (Dramas), Tuesdays (Network Spotlight), Wednesdays (Comedies), Thursdays (Network Spotlight), Fridays (Limited Series, Variety Series, Below-the Lines).
How does a nominee take down a powerful incumbent? Fresh blood usually stands the best chance. CBS dominated the Lead Actor in a Comedy category for a five-year span, mostly thanks to “The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons. After his fourth win, Parsons was dropped from the Emmy lineup and newcomer Jeffrey Tambor won the first of two consecutive awards for “Transparent.” Since then, both Donald Glover and Bill Hader have won Emmys for the first seasons of “Atlanta” and “Barry,” respectively. Hader looks to win a second time for “Barry,” season two. Is there a new challenger that can take him down?
Michael Douglas, star of Netflix’s new comedy “The Kominski Method,” looks to be Hader’s biggest adversary. The Oscar winner won the Golden Globe for his work on the show and was nominated for a SAG award. Douglas plays acting coach Sandy Kominski who struggles with maintaining a career while his body succumbs to old age. Playing a comedic acting coach led Henry Winkler to an acting win for “Barry” last year. “The Kominski Method” creator Chuck Lorre was also behind both “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” which owned this category from 2010 to 2014.
In terms of nominees, four of last year’s six nominees are eligible to return this year. Both Donald Glover and Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) did not have new episodes of their shows air this year. That means two slots are up for grabs for newcomers and past nominees.
As we covered in our profile of CBS, look out for “The Big Bang Theory” in its final season. Lead actor Jim Parsons hasn’t been nominated for Lead Actor in a Comedy since he won his fourth Emmy in 2014. However, the show returned to the Comedy Directing category last year for the wedding episode of Sheldon (Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik). If they can resurrect the show in that category, Parsons could wind up back in one of those two open slots. Voters who really love the show may also vote for fellow star Johnny Galecki. However, Galecki has only been nominated once in 2011.
Amazon Prime’s “Catastrophe” is another past nominee that is finishing its four season run this year. They have nominated the show in the Writing and Guest Actress categories in the past. Bearing this in mind, this is the last shot for the Emmys to nominate Rob Delaney in the Lead Actor category. But Delaney was already nominated for writing, alongside his co-star and co-writer Sharon Horgan. Voters may not feel the need to reward Delaney in acting when they could reward him in writing instead.
Few shows have had as many exits as “Arrested Development.” The Emmy winning favorite was cancelled by FOX after three seasons in 2006. Netflix revived the show in 2013 to mixed reviews. It took until 2018 for the first half of season five of the show to air. The show finally dropped the second half of season five in March, with no announced plans for a sixth season. Though Jason Bateman was nominated for season four (the only cast member nominated for a Netflix season), he stands a better shot at getting nominated for “Ozark” on the drama side.
Two network stars received nominations last year in this category. Anthony Anderson has been nominated for all four previous seasons of “Black-ish,” which has also been up for Comedy Series the past three years. It seems likely he will return for the show’s fifth season. However, the show’s ratings have dropped this past season, which could signal fatigue for the series.
Meanwhile, last year was the first year Ted Danson was able to sneak in for his work on “The Good Place,” NBC’s critical darling. While the show has also seen a drop in viewers this past year, it still commands a loyal and active following. With passion surrounding the show and his performance, Danson seems likely to return for the show’s third season.
Reboot culture is alive and well on network TV. “Will & Grace” star Eric McCormack won one Emmy from four nominations during the show’s original run from 1998 to 2006. Though the reboot has done well in the ratings, only Supporting Actress star Megan Mullally received an Emmy nomination for the reboot last year. Fellow ratings hit “Roseanne” was only able to get its supporting star Laurie Metcalf into the race last year. However, that show was cancelled over offensive tweets from the star/creator Roseanne Barr. Metcalf and lead actor contender John Goodman now star in a Roseanne-less spinoff, “The Conners.” Unfortunately, there’s little chance Goodman will have better luck this time around, even without Roseanne.
As previously discussed, the role of Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory” has been an Emmy magnet for Jim Parsons. However, he’s no longer the only Sheldon on TV. Iain Armitage plays a child version of the eccentric genius on CBS’ spinoff “Young Sheldon.” Voters may be more likely to nominate for Parsons during his show’s final season. But if love for the character is so strong, there is the possibility Armitage could join him. Armitage will be reprising his role as Ziggy in the high profile second season of “Big Little Lies” during the voting period.
Andy Samberg (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”) and Ben Feldman (“Superstore”) are other network favorites hoping to enter the Emmy conversation.
We’ve talked previously about Michael Douglas’ chances for “The Kominski Method.” Netflix will push him hard in this category and he has shown up in all the right precursors. Make sure to mark him in your predictions for a nomination at least. Can Netflix propel any other actors into the lineup? Ricky Gervais is no stranger to Emmy shockers. His “Extras” win is one of the bigger Emmy surprises in recent memory. He stars in Netflix’s new show “After Life,” and while buzz is low on the series, Gervais fans could mobilize to vote him into the category. Likewise, Idris Elba has plenty of fans among Emmy voters. Elba has been nominated for five Emmys between “Luther” and “The Big C.” He could receive a sixth nomination for his work on the new Netflix show, “Turn Up Charlie.”
Speaking of streaming networks, Amazon Prime is promoting Fred Armisen in this category for the afterlife set show “Forever.” The show received mixed reviews and is going up against the similarly themed NBC sitcom “The Good Place,” which was nominated here last year. Armisen, thought, has pulled off surprise nominations for “Portlandia” in the past.
Showtime has been behind thirteen Lead Actor (Comedy) nominees in the past eight years. From 2014 to 2015, Showtime took up three slots in the category. On top of past nominee William H. Macy (“Shameless”), Showtime sports three new shows this year. How many can get in? Emmy favorite Don Cheadle headlines the Wall Street comedy “Black Monday” and stands the best chance at a nomination, as he was previously nominated for four of the five seasons of “House of Lies.” Movie star Jim Carrey makes the move to TV with “Kidding,” earning him a Golden Globe nomination this past year. Emmy loves when movie stars go to TV, which helps Carrey. Lastly, Sacha Baron Cohen creates and stars in “Who is America,” a political satire sketch show. He could follow in the footsteps of Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer, who previously were nominated in the lead acting category for sketch shows.
Of the traditional cable networks, Comedy Central had the biggest hit of the bunch with their new show “The Other Two.” If voters saw the show and loved it, star Drew Tarver could enter the Emmy conversation. However, much of the Emmy conversation seems to be concentrated on Molly Shannon in Supporting Actress. Wyatt Russell also contends in this category for “Lodge 49” on AMC.
Both David Tennant in “Camping” (HBO) and Ramy Youssef in “Ramy” (Hulu) are also in the hunt for Emmys this year for their new shows.
The Emmys never get tired of giving HBO Emmys, especially in acting categories. In the Lead Actress in a Comedy category, Julia Louis Dreyfus has won a record six Emmys for every single season of the show. Bill Hader’s work on “Barry” is at the same quality level as Dreyfus. Season Two of “Barry” has strayed further away from comedy. However, Hader is even more riveting to watch as the show further explores the traumas from his character’s time at war. The Emmys could very easily reward him again for his work this year. But it’s more difficult to win with a more dramatic submission. If voters are looking to laugh, they may go with a different nominee.
The fourth returning nominee from last year is also the trickiest to talk about. William H. Macy has been nominated for the past five seasons of Showtime’s hit series “Shameless.” Originally the show competed as a drama, but Macy was not nominated until it moved to the comedy categories. On paper, it seems like Macy is a no brainer to return. However, could the college admissions scandal surrounding his wife, Felicity Huffman, keep him from returning this year? Also, with “Shameless” currently in its ninth season, will voters turn their attention to one of Showtime’s three new shows?
Viewers continue to catch up with Pop’s sleeper hit “Schitt’s Creek” on Netflix. The show, which just finished its fifth season, has yet to be nominated at the Emmys. Nevertheless, the series has picked up more attention with each passing year, which puts star Eugene Levy in the Lead Actor mix. Other cable lead actors being pushed for Emmys include Tracy Morgan for “The Last OG” (TBS), Hank Azaria for “Brockmire” (IFC), and both Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman for “Corporate” (Comedy Central)
CURRENT OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR (COMEDY) PREDICTIONS
- Bill Hader – “Barry” (HBO)
- Michael Douglas – “The Kominski Method” (Netflix)
- Ted Danson – “The Good Place” (NBC)
- Anthony Anderson – “Black-ish” (ABC)
- Don Cheadle – “Black Monday” (Showtime)
- Jim Carrey – “Kidding” (Showtime)