If we left it up to the networks and their campaign departments, almost no one worthy of an Emmy nomination would make the cut (stop nominating Jim Parsons!). So we here at Indiewire are hoping to start some grassroots campaigns of our own, pushing the best of the unlikely nominees to the forefront and hoping to receive some support from you, our wonderful readers. Below you’ll find our picks for the lead comedy actors we’d like to see honored by the Television Academy, as well as video evidence of their talents. Next week, we’ll pick drama leads, then comedy and drama series leading up to the nominations announcements on July 10th. Online ballots are available now, so let the Emmy push commence!
6) Anna Faris — “Mom”
Peter Knegt: I’m starting off with by far the one most likely to actually get a nomination: Anna Faris in “Mom.” It’s definitely no sure thing (at least compared to her co-star Allison Janney), as the best comedy actress category continues to be a gloriously stacked one. But I really hope they find room for Faris in there. Alongside Janney, she rose above often sub-par material to make “Mom” one of the most entertaining new comedy series of the year, and — gasp — one that made me a weekly viewer of CBS for the first time since ever (okay, since my childhood obsession with “Murphy Brown,” but shh…) What’s more is that Faris has been horribly underrated her entire career (I personally think her work in Gregg Araki’s “Smiley Face” is absolute genius), and it would be nice to see her finally get some sort of recognition.
6) David Duchovny – “Californication”
Ben Travers: You’re right. Faris is someone who doesn’t get enough respect, and I’m going to move onto someone who might get too much (strictly from an awards standpoint). Honestly, Duchovny has probably received enough love from the Golden Globes honoring his turn as the love-addicted Lothario of Showtime’s trademark program (sex! humor! more sex! nudity! – Showtime): He won after Season 1 and has scored a nod three more times since. But the Emmys, meanwhile, have never paid homage to Hank Moody — those “mothafuckaaas” — and it would be nice to send him off into the sunset with a nod. Perhaps then people would remember that at one point “Californication” was among the best dramadies on television. And by one point, I mean for one year. Its first.
5) Josh Thomas – “Please Like Me”
PK: I have to admit I’ve never actually watched “Californication,” but you just reminded me that I want to. That said, given how that category is relatively slim compared to the female category, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Duchovny gets a swan song nomination this year (though again: I say that rather ignorantly). Or, at least I’d be a lot less surprised than if my first male pick — Josh Thomas for “Please Like Me” — makes the cut. The Australian series, picked up for the US by Pivot, that few have heard of is Thomas’ baby: He created it, writes every episode and stars in the lead role. Like a gay Australian Lena Dunham, to be reductive. And frankly I’d take “Please Like Me” (slightly) over “Girls,” and would love to see Thomas manage some recognition with the Emmys. Even though that will never happen.
5) Cobie Smulders – “How I Met Your Mother”
BT: Without seeing “Please Like Me,” I, too, would prefer it gets Emmy’s love instead of “Girls” (though you’re right about it being the most extreme of long shots). Moving on to another show I’ve caught flack for disparaging, my opinion of the final season of “How I Met Your Mother” is well-documented. But I’m especially disgruntled with the treatment of Cobie Smulders’ character Robin — she’s more than capable of handling her marriage and her dream job simultaneously, and it felt condescending to her character to say otherwise. That being said, Smulders handled the convoluted final season even with the dignity and grace stripped from her character. Her portrayal of Robin was as top notch as possible, and she even managed to sell some of the more remarkably corny moments (Robin and Ted on the beach, while rough, was better off because of Cobie). Plus, she’s never been nominated. How is that possible?
PK: I’m cheating a bit here, but I couldn’t decided between the broads of “Broad City” so I’m vouching for them both. Because really, that show is such an incredible two hander — both in performance and behind the scenes — that picking Ilana Glazer over Abbi Jacobson or vice versa would feel very wrong (though here’s hoping Emmy voters at least pick one of them). Their glorious blend of physical and stoner comedy makes for one of the best things on television right now as far as I’m concerned, and there are not too many Emmy nominations which would theoretically (and seriously, they are long shots) make me happier.
4/3) Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele – “Key & Peele”
BT: I see your Comedy Central duo and raise you a duo of my own — “Key & Peele” is about to enter its fourth season and the only Emmy nod it’s received is for makeup. Makeup. One more time, just for effect: makeup is the only element of this hysterical sketch show that the Television Academy sees worthy of honoring. I’ve got nothing against artists Scott Wheeler and Suzanne Diaz getting some deserved attention, but let’s honor the driving force behind the show itself, please. Sadly, both men are more likely to be recognized for their solid guest appearances on FX’s expected Emmy attraction “Fargo” (though that, too, seems unlikely). Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele have been pumping out incisive, focused and altogether awesome episodes for years. Let’s throw at least one of them a bone.
2) Jonathan Groff – “Looking”
PK: I suspect very few bones will sent the way of HBO’s “Looking,” in part because it hardly feels comedic compared to most of the other shows we’ve been talking about here. Certainly another example of why the comedy/drama split doesn’t seem to quite fit narrative television these days (though I’m also hard pressed to find an alternative solution — don’t even get me started on the term “dramedy”), “Looking” was also one of my favorite new series of the past season. And that had a lot to do with its lead actor Jonathan Groff. In just eight episodes, Groff takes protagonist Patrick and, with the help of some very tight writing, develops him into one of television’s most complex characters, an extraordinarily imperfect antihero we aren’t sure we should be rooting for. Not exactly the stuff of comedy gold, but still more than worthy of an Emmy nomination.
2) Ricky Gervais – “Derek”
BT: I’ll be the first to admit Season 2 of the Ricky Gervais’ British comedy, about a nursing home and those who tend to it, was a lesser effort than the first. But for everything else that went wrong, the one constant remained Gervais, whose created a character more endearing (obviously) than Michael Scott — but just as meaningful, if not more so. Derek is the sweet heart of a world gone cold, and Gervais embodies him in a way unfamiliar to fans of the vicious comic. He’s the perfect man to play Derek, and he plays him perfectly.
1) Amy Schumer – “Inside Amy Schumer”
PK: Amy Schumer plays a whole lot of characters perfectly in “Inside Amy Schumer,” and she is my #1 vote here, even though I could probably offer this list in entirely different order depending on the time of day. But sketch comedy has a hard time in Emmy acting categories, especially if you’re not “Saturday Night Live.” And no offence to the glorious Kate McKinnon, but there’s no one on “Saturday Night Live” deserving of an Emmy nomination over Amy Schumer, who — much like the women from “Broad City” are doing with narrative comedy — is reinventing sketch comedy in her Comedy Central series. And like the women of “Broad City,” hell will have frozen over if a good chunk of typically archaic Emmy voters come to recognize that…
BT: Yes, my quest continues for the best sitcom on television to get the recognition it deserves. Two weeks back, I pushed for voters to put Nick Offerman on their ballots, but there’s no one I’d rather see get an Emmy nomination — and no one less likely to receive one — than Rob Lowe. While he stands a good shot at a nod for his role in the TV movie “Killing Kennedy,” the deck is stacked against him for “Parks.” First, he’s on the ballot for leading man, not supporting, which he clearly is to anyone familiar with the program. And his case won’t be helped by his departure midway through the season, cutting his screen time down even further. This is all the more reason, though, to champion the man who brought the most enthusiasm, heart and humor to network TV this year, and many years prior. He’s the best comedic actor of the year, and I will literally cry when the Academy rejects talent in favor of ratings for one more year.