Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy
Before I begin, my only problem with the nominees is quantity, not quality. The five men is that category by far gave some of the funniest performances this year. The question remains, why only five? We got up six last year, and there should have been room for Steve Martin and Donald Glover, the latter of whom had his final season of Atlanta with almost no recognition from the Emmys. Oh well. Still these are five great performances.
Bill Hader, Barry. Odds: 9–2. For Playing: Barry Berkman, a hit man facing prison for his crimes. Pro: No one who has seen Hader’s work in the final season can deny that it is one of the powerhouse performances of all of 2023. Even more lost than he ever was before, he finds himself determined to make a life for himself with Sally, whether she wants to or not. In the final half, we see that he has and he is somehow even more lost and damaged then before. Then he returns to LA to bring about vengeance and ends up paying for his crimes — though it came as a shock how. Hader has created one of the greatest characters in the history of the last decade and it will never be forgotten. Con: Hader has received more than his fair share of recognition from the Emmys for his work here, having won two consecutive Best Actor Emmys. Much as I’d like to him get another, I think even he’d be fine not winning this time.
Jason Segel, Shrinking. Odds: 9–2. For Playing: Paul, a psychiatrist dealing with the death of his wife in the worst way possible. Pro: Astonishingly for a man who has spent the better part of a quarter of a century in TV, this is Segel’s first Emmy nomination. And it’s for playing a character that is suffering from some of the same demons that quite a few nominees in this category are, and he’s not dealing with it well. The difference is Paul is so much funnier doing so and watching him screw up over and over is endlessly entertaining. It helps that this show fits far better in the comedy category than some of the other nominees and while there is darkness, there’s also light. Segel will be a feature in this category for years to come. Con: Any other year Segel would be the odds on favorite to win, but…well, see below.
Martin Short, Only Murders in the Building. Odds: 9–2. For Playing: Christopher, a theatre producer/podcasts trying to figure out why he and his associates have been framed for murder and by who. Pro: Once you get past the fact that Short is here and his partner in crime (literally in this case) Steve Martin isn’t, you can understand why Short is here. Just as in so many other series Christopher is far more of a buffoon then his colleagues and his constantly being held back when it comes to dealing with the problems. He’s also dealing with being famous again — there’s no such thing as bad publicity — and trying to deal with the possibility his son made not be his. If there was such a thing as a sentimental favorite in this category, Short would be it. Con: He deserved to win last year as much as Martin did, but I don’t think the odds are in his favor. Next year, Martin, next year.
Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso. Odds: 19–5. For Playing: Ted Lasso, coming to terms with why he came to England in the first place. For: The Emmys sometimes likes to reward talent in their final season on the air; they did it with Schitt’s Creek in 2020 and Fleabag the year before. And for all the flaws in the final season, Sudeikis never stopped reminding us why we loved Ted in the first place. In an era where we’ve been dealing so much with the antiheroes in drama and comedy, Sudeikis reminded us that there was joy to be found in watching the humor of someone who was genuinely good hearted and nice. The world had to say goodbye to Ted, this season; one last Emmy might be a good parting gift. Con: I think Sudeikis was surprised he took the Emmy last year from his fellow SNL alum Bill Hader, and in that case it was under far more favorable circumstances than this year, when the final season not only underwhelmed but made many question whether the show was any good in the first place. Besides Sudeikis, like Hader, has received more than his fair share of recognition for his work here.
Jeremy Allen White, The Bear. Odds: 16–5. For Playing: ‘Carmy’, a troubled sous chef who has returned to Chicago to save his troubled brothers sandwich shop — whether it can be or not. Pro: White has already won the Golden Globe, the Critics Choice and the SAG-AFTRA award for Best Actor this past year. Each time, he expressed how astonishing it was to win over such legends. He modestly neglected he’s been acting for nearly fifteen years himself and that in one season his work as Carmy is nearly as iconic a character as Barry or Ted. Carmy is broken like so many other characters, but his trauma comes from the actions of his brother rather than something he did. He spent all of Season One pushing everybody beyond their limits and giving no praise for what he did, denying his feelings for what had happened, and refusing to accept the reality of his situation. Then, in the season finale in a brilliant five minute monologue, he confided that his relationship with his brother was never what he thought it was and began to take responsibility for what he couldn’t fix and what he could. It remains to be seen if he can move past this (I have yet to see the second season) but no one can deny that White is a force to be reckoned with. Con: The Emmys may thing White will have another chance unlike Sudeikis and Hader and choose to honor them instead.
My prediction: It’s pretty clear that the Emmys will say ‘Yes Chef’ and welcome White into their ranks.
Tomorrow in this series, I deal with Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy.