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Emmy Predictions 2018: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Donald Glover looks to defend his title, but a few buzzy competitors could surprise. [Updated: August 13]

Barry Season 1 Bill Hader HBO

Bill Hader in “Barry”

John P. Johnson/HBO

Last Year’s Winner: Donald Glover in “Atlanta”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: William H. Macy has been nominated each of the past four years — every year since “Shameless” switched categories, from drama to comedy.
Fun Fact: Alan Alda, Kelsey Grammer, and Ted Danson have the most nominations in this category, but only Grammer has been nominated for more than one show: All of Alda’s nominations came for “M.A.S.H.,” Danson’s for “Cheers,” and 10 of Grammer’s 11 nods were for “Frasier,” while his other nod was for playing Frasier Crane… but on “Wings.”

Donald Glover, a nominee for directing, writing, and twice in acting — he’s up for hosting “SNL,” too — is the defending champion in this category, and his show has even more nominations this year. Typically, that’s a good indicator for folks in Glover’s shoes, and it looks to be again this year.

That being said, Bill Hader made quite an impact on the TV Academy (and audiences in general). “Barry” is a bit of a dark horse in the Best Comedy Series category, so perhaps Emmy voters will reward the HBO comedy here and continue to spread the wealth, as they have in recent years. Of course, Ted Danson is on a similar plane, even if “The Good Place” didn’t land as many nominations. Ted “National Treasure” Danson is a screen legend who hasn’t won since 1993, and his comic reinvention on NBC’s comedy has earned multiple critical appreciations. People love him, and they love him on that show.

Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”) and William H. Macy (“Shameless”) have become perennial nominees, while neither has gained a significant increase in buzz for their work of late. Nominations look like the end of the road, barring a surprise. Larry David and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is a bit of a wild card. Most people tend to see “Curb” as purely his show, so if they want to reward it, acting could be the spot. (The series wasn’t nominated for writing.)

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (listed in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2018 race, and read predictions for the rest of the categories, as well.

The Nominees:

  1. Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
  2. Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
  3. Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
  4. Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
  5. Bill Hader, “Barry”
  6. William H. Macy, “Shameless”

Will Win: Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
Could Win:
Bill Hader, “Barry”
Should Win:
Bill Hader, “Barry”

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