Emmy Circuit 2016: Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Sewn Up for Jeffrey Tambor?

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Welcome back to Award Circuit’s Emmy coverage. May is our unofficial starting point for the Emmy race, which takes us through two and a half months of discussing potential nominees followed by another two months of talking potential winners. In Emmy prep, we begin our Emmy Circuit series, where we dive into the many acting and series races as we speed toward nomination morning.

Today, we’re taking a look at Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

When Jeffrey Tambor‘s name was called last year for his work in the Amazon series Transparent, it wasn’t exactly a surprise and certainly didn’t create an upset, but did help launch Amazon into a new level of respectability with its original programming. Tambor’s win was also a big step forward for LGBT acceptance. General wisdom says that Tambor will repeat with a second win this year, and a deserved win, since season 2 has pretty universally been praised as living up to or even better than the first.
And so, although the winner seems to be a foregone conclusion, there really is honor in being nominated, and there will be five other actors duly honored in this category. Could any of them pull off an upset? Anything is possible, particularly when you consider there is room for some new nominees this year. Let’s take a look at who could they be.

20-blackish.w750.h560.2xLooking at last year’s seven actors, 5 are eligible for nomination this year. This was an expansion of the category where there are usually 6. (Apparently the Emmy rules allow for up to 10 nominees in case of ties, though the category generally calls for 6.) The actors that may repeat from last year are Tambor, of course, William H. Macy for Shameless, Don Cheadle for House of Lies, Anthony Anderson for Black-ish, and Will Forte for Last Man on Earth. Of those, Tambor, Macy, Cheadle and Anderson seem likely to hear their names called again, while Forte will be hoping for a spot. Matt LeBlanc (Episodes) and Louis C.K. (Louie) are ineligible this year because their shows were both off.

So there is room for at least one and probably two new names to be added this year. It was a surprise last year when Jim Parsons was not nominated for his role in The Big Bang Theory, despite having been previously nominated six times and winning four. Some may think he will return to Emmy grace this year, but I think they are moving in a different direction. Someone like Gael Garcia Bernal from Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle may be one of those lucky chosen few. After his surprising Golden Globe win in January, a lot of viewers realized that maybe they should start watching this series.

Other possible contenders include Golden Globe nominee Aziz Ansari for the Netflix series Master of None, as well as Rob Lowe and Fred Savage for Fox’s The Grinder. If they go with The Grinder, I think either of them has a chance, but that fact could split votes and cause them both to sit out. Another actor who’s been getting some buzz is Zach Galifianakis for his work in the FX series Baskets, although I don’t believe that show has quite enough support to help him break into this category. And with the HBO series Silicon Valley rising in popularity, including being nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for the last two years, there could be room for Thomas Middleditch to work his way into the acting category in 2016.

My predictions:

  1. Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
  2. William H. Macy, Shameless
  3. Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
  4. Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  5. Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
  6. Aziz Ansari, Master of None

Be sure to take a look at the official Emmy predictions page for more!

And if you have any thoughts/predictions/wishes for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, be sure to share them in the comments, or join us in the forums!