Steve Carell: An Unjust History of Emmys Losses For the Man Behind Michael Scott

Steve Carell: An Unjust History of Emmys Losses For the Man Behind Michael Scott

Steve Carell has already done what few TV actors can: In less than four years since leaving the sitcom that made him a household name, the former “Daily Show” correspondent, “Anchorman” weatherman and “40 Year-Old-Virgin” has moved out of Michael Scott’s shadow. He’s a movie star now, a label aided by appearances in the above films during his tenure on NBC and solidified by an Oscar nomination this year for “Foxcatcher.”

Jon Hamm is essentially in the same boat. After eight years on “Mad Men,” Hamm has tried to shed the perception that he’s a one trick pony by snagging diverse roles in a number of excellent comedies. From recurring stints on “30 Rock” and “Children’s Hospital” to more recent turns in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” the St. Louis native has proven he can do far more than just drama. 

But the fact these actors have more to offer than playing serious and funny men in suits shouldn’t take away from what they did then. As satisfying as it is to see an actor break out in an industry that wants him to play one part forever, there remains a hole on the resume where there shouldn’t be one. It’s important — well, as important as bestowing an award can be — to recognize artistic greatness when it’s thrust in front of us, and especially if it’s put there for seven or eight years. So, on the eve of the first day of Emmys voting and the day after Carell’s 53rd birthday, let’s look back on each Emmy loss dealt — unfairly or not — to an actor who deserved at least one win.

The Year Was 2006…


Who Was Nominated?

Steve Carell – “The Office
Larry David – “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Kevin James – “The King of Queens”
Tony Shalhoub – “Monk”
Charlie Sheen – “Two and a Half Men”

Steve Carell’s Nominated Episode:
“The Injury” (Season 2)

The Winner’s Nominated Episode:
“Mr. Monk Bumps His Head”

So Who Won?
Tony Shalhoub – “Monk”

What? Him? Why? 
The TV Academy had a lengthy and inexplicable love affair with USA Network’s comedy, nominating Shalhoub for each of “Monk’s” eight seasons and handing him the trophy three times. This was his third win in four years, and it marked an end to Shalhoub’s reign of terror.

Who Should Have Won? 
Only two of the nominees weren’t being honored for playing themselves — and not in an awesome, meta way like Matt LeBlanc on “Episodes” — so at least Shalhoub had that going for him. Still, it’s hard to comprehend not awarding Carell the same year “The Office” won Outstanding Comedy Series (the only time it did so, despite six nods). NBC’s sitcom had an incredibly strong ensemble, but there was no secret who held the team together. At least the Academy was discerning enough to never give “Monk” a nomination for best series, so credit should be given to the voters in separating series from actor. But comparing the two performances in the nominated episodes is like looking at motel art next to a Van Gogh: Carell’s incredible precision, even in voice over to start the episode, stands out next to Shalhoub’s broad reactive flailing. This should have been Carell’s first trophy. 

The Year Was 2007…


Who Was Nominated?

Alec Baldwin – “30 Rock”
Steve Carell – “The Office”
Ricky Gervais – “Extras”
Tony Shalhoub – “Monk”
Charlie Sheen – “Two and a Half Men”

Steve Carell’s Nominated Episode:
“Business School”

The Winner’s Nominated Episode:
“Sir Ian McKellen”

So Who Won?
Ricky Gervais – “Extras”

What? Him? Why? 
This race came down to two key factors: The Academy loves Ricky Gervais, and the episode submitted for him played perfectly to the voters’ sensibilities. Gervais earned a nomination for writing the original, British “Office” in 2005 and went on an impressive run at the Emmys thereafter. He was nominated for his writing on “Extras” the very next year and won Outstanding Comedy Series for producing the American version of “The Office,” as well. In 2007, he was up for writing, directing and acting on “Extras,” so his victory was for more than just his performance.

Yet his performance — as an extra trying to become an actor — spoke directly to those voting for him, i.e., actors. Sending up a legend of the stage and screen along the way was certainly a bonus, as Sir Ian McKellen’s explanation of his “method” had to have older members howling (and there are a lot of older voters). There’s no trick to HBO’s success at the Emmys: these people know what they’re doing.

Who Should Have Won? 
Frankly, this is an incredibly tough call. We can go ahead and throw out Shalhoub and Sheen, but what’s left are three actors in top form. Knowing what we do now — that Alec Baldwin would go on to win two trophies and “The Office” would trump “Extras” in cultural impact — I’d lean toward giving Carell what would have been his second trophy. Voting as they did, without the benefit of hindsight, I’m fine with how this one played out.

The Year Was 2008…


Who Was Nominated?

Alec Baldwin – “30 Rock”
Steve Carell – “The Office”
Lee Pace – “Pushing Daisies”
Tony Shalhoub – “Monk”
Charlie Sheen – “Two and a Half Men”

Steve Carell’s Nominated Episode:
“Goodbye, Toby”

The Winner’s Nominated Episode:
“Rosemary’s Baby”

So Who Won?
Alec Baldwin – “30 Rock”

What? Him? Why? 
Calm down. This is Alec Baldwin circa 2008 we’re talking about, not Alec Baldwin circa 2015. He more than earned his Emmys on “30 Rock” by fully embracing a character many would have played either too big or too small. By finding the middle ground — and doing things people just aren’t supposed to be able to do — Baldwin created an icon equal to Carell’s.

Who Should Have Won? 
You could see Carell’s (/NBC’s) strategy shifting ever so slightly. Just as “Business School” focused more on Michael Scott’s hidden heart than his dim wits — that scene with Pam at her art show is simply priceless — “Goodbye, Toby” illustrated an additional level of the actor’s arsenal: romance. Previously, we’d seen Michael spectacularly botch relationships with Jan and a few other brief love interests, but it wasn’t until Holly (Amy Ryan) showed up that we saw a giddy, smitten portrayal of Mr. Scott. Combine that with his barely-contained exuberance over Toby’s departure (that song…), and you’ve got an unbeatable display of acting prowess. It’s too bad Baldwin had to come along and top it. 

The Year Was 2009…


Who Was Nominated?

Alec Baldwin – “30 Rock”
Steve Carell – “The Office”
Jemaine Clement – “Flight of the Conchords”
Jim Parsons – “The Big Bang Theory”
Tony Shalhoub – “Monk”
Charlie Sheen – “Two and a Half Men”

Steve Carell’s Nominated Episode:
“Broke”

The Winner’s Nominated Episode:
“Generalissimo”

So Who Won?
Alec Baldwin – “30 Rock”

What? Him? Why? 
I know, I know. Another win for Baldwin while Carell gets blanked for the fourth time in a row? It hardly seems fair. “30 Rock” was at a fever pitch after Season 3, winning its third straight Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series all while clinging to life on a network that could barely support the under-viewed sitcom. Meanwhile, despite holding up in the ratings, “The Office” was on the decline. Voters may have sensed as much and gone with the hot hand over the unrewarded cold one.

Who Should Have Won? 
The only new nominee who could be considered worthy of competing with Baldwin and Carell is Jemaine Clement. While “Flight of the Conchords” is a beloved comedy all its own, Clement simply wasn’t performing under the same conditions as his veteran competitors. Both Baldwin and Carell developed characters who had to be authentic and grounded enough to be taken seriously, all while engaging in some increasingly wild scenarios. Just look at Baldwin’s transformation in “Generalissimo” to see exactly why he earned this trophy. Carell’s performance — while still great — wasn’t as fresh, demanding or from as good of an overall episode as Baldwin’s. 

The Year Was 2010…


Who Was Nominated?

Alec Baldwin – “30 Rock”
Steve Carell – “The Office”
Larry David – “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Matthew Morrison – “Glee”
Jim Parsons – “The Big Bang Theory”
Tony Shalhoub – “Monk”

Steve Carell’s Nominated Episode:
“The Cover-Up”

The Winner’s Nominated Episode:
“The Pants Alternative”

So Who Won?
Jim Parsons – “The Big Bang Theory”

What? Him? Why? 
I wish I had an answer outside of this: The Television Academy loves Jim Parsons. This began an unholy streak in which the “Big Bang Theory” star would win four of five Emmys, being beaten only by Jon Cryer in what was likely an “I’m so sorry you had to deal with Charlie Sheen” kinda thing. Parsons was an unstoppable force until this year’s nominations, for which he was improbably shut out. If only Carell was still in the running.

Who Should Have Won? 
While it’s clearly not Parsons, whose submitted episode showcased little more than an inability to combine realistic drunken behavior with over-the-cop comedy, Carell and Baldwin were again in a tight race for the rightful crown. Even though Baldwin’s episode lacked any scenes as impressive as the two years prior — and maybe the excellent burn on the city of Los Angeles (“L.A. rules! Michael Bay. Freeway. Legoland.”) angered West Coast voters — Carell’s was somehow worse. Anyone who hadn’t been staying current with “The Office” probably wondered, “What happened?” as they watched Michael deal with a cheating girlfriend who wasn’t Holly Flax (not that she would ever cheat on Michael). Yet Carell was just as dedicated to the role, even if the story made his commitment less effective. Considering voters should have realized his award was long overdue, Carell probably deserved this trophy in a down year.

The Year Was 2011…


Who Was Nominated?

Alec Baldwin – “30 Rock”
Steve Carell – “The Office”
Louis C.K. – “Louie”
Johnny Galecki – “The Big Bang Theory”
Matt LeBlanc – “Episodes”
Jim Parsons – “The Big Bang Theory”

Steve Carell’s Nominated Episode:
“Goodbye Michael”

The Winner’s Nominated Episode:
“The Agreement Dissection”

So Who Won?
Jim Freaking Parsons – “The Big Bang Theory”

What? Him? Why? 
I mean, I just…I have no words. Parsons began his acceptance speech by saying, “This is so odd for so many reasons.” And it still is to this day. 

Who Should Have Won? 
Even with the additions of Louis C.K. and Matt LeBlanc — making this year’s group the best of the six years Carell was nominated — it was obvious to everyone at the time, and to this day, that 2011 was Carell’s year. He’d spent seven seasons creating a character of astounding depth and resourceful humor. Just as importantly, he left on a note both sentimentally uplifting and all-too-fitting for Michael Scott. After watching the above scene between Carell and John Krasinksi, only unanswerable questions come to mind: Have you no hearts, Emmy voters? Are you lacking eyes and ears that connect to not only your soul, but your conscience, as well? Did you even watch the submitted episodes? Was this some sort of elaborate practical joke? Have you no shame?! 

The year is 2015… and Steve Carell still has not won an Emmy. Let this be a lesson to anyone even thinking about letting a similar mistake happen again.

READ MORE: 2015 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

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Comments

Cathy

Totally agree on this. Love Steve Carell and The Office. But this is what the Emmys tend to always do – reward the same actor year after year. I know there’s a long list but the other actor this also happened to, during the same years, and which was also just as much a travesty was Hugh Laurie never winning for House. Good luck to Jon Hamm because Emmy doesn’t really give a flip if it’s your last season or not as Carell and Laurie can attest.

Bob

"it marked an end to Shaloub’s reign of terror." ROFL

No

That Steve Carell had never won an Emmy ought to underscore that sometimes actors themselves are blind to the greatests practitioners of their own craft.

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