Last Year’s Winner: Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Tambor has won two years in a row, but prior to his victories for Amazon, actors on broadcast TV shows had won seven years in a row — alternating between Jim Parsons, Jon Cryer, and Alec Baldwin.
Fun Fact: John Goodman, Matt LeBlanc, and Hal Linden have seven nominations in the category without any wins. They’re tied for the most all-time.
Typically, there’s not a huge amount of turnover at the Emmys. Barring outside circumstances, like a show ending or taking a major nosedive in quality, nominees stick around year-to-year. This has been especially true in the Best Actor in a Comedy category. In 2016, newcomers Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”) and Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) replaced outgoing acts Matt LeBlanc and Louis C.K. Of the 2015 nominees, only Don Cheadle was still eligible and bumped. In 2015, Jim Parsons was the only eligible actor who didn’t earn a nod. William H. Macy was the only new addition in 2014, and the list goes on and on.
So will 2017 see similar results? This early, it’s hard to say for certain… but yeah, probably. Aziz Ansari is sneaking into contention just under the wire, with “Master of None” Season 2 set to debut May 21. Netflix will also be pushing Neil Patrick Harris for “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” which was ruled eligible to compete as a comedy by the TV Academy. But Donald Glover feels like the new competitor with the most buzzy, and he’ll likely find his way into the race no matter what. “Atlanta” is the hottest new comedy, and he’s the face of the show.
Past nominees Anthony Anderson (“black-ish”), Will Forte (“The Last Man on Earth”), Macy (“Shameless”), Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”), and last year’s winner, Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”), all have precedence in their favor. Of the new options, Pete Holmes (“Crashing”) might get a push from HBO, and the beloved Hank Azaria — six wins and 12 nominations — will try to stay in the Academy’s good graces with IFC’s “Brockmire.” Martin Short is similarly well-liked by Emmy voters, so perhaps his summer variety special “Maya & Marty” will get some love; assuming NBC doesn’t throw all their support behind Ted Danson in “The Good Place,” who will be campaigning in the lead actor category.
And then there’s the deserving actors who’ve been passed over before. Jerrod Carmichael (“The Carmichael Show”), Rob Delaney (“Catastrophe”), Randall Park (“Fresh Off the Boat”), and Zack Galifianakis (“Baskets”) are all hoping time is working in their favor. Maybe voters just needed a bit more sampling to write their name on the ballot, along with Andy Daly (in his final season of “Review”), Tommy Dewey in “Casual,” and the terrific Chris Geere in “You’re the Worst.”
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.
- Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
- Aziz Ansari, “Master of None”
- Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
- Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
- William H. Macy, “Shameless”
- Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”
Spoilers: Will Forte, “The Last Man on Earth”; Neil Patrick Harris, “A Series of Unfortunate Events”; Thomas Middleditch, “Silicon Valley”
In a Perfect World: Tommy Dewey, “Casual”; Chris Geere, “You’re the Worst”; Glenn Howerton, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”