My Pick’s For This Year’s Emmys
The Comedies Part 2: Outstanding Lead Actor in A Comedy
A new winner will have to be crowned as none of the winners from the previous decade are eligible, most relevantly Donald Glover and Bill Hader. This category will feature some of the greatest legends in comedy history, along with some truly astonishing newcomers. Who will win for what may be the last time out for many of them?
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
He’s not a legend in the way that so many of the other actors in this category are. But Anderson has carved out a niche for himself in the Golden Age that few other actors have ever come close to doing. And we need Dre Johnson more than we ever did during the Obama years. There’s always been a good balance between the political and the family dynamics between the worlds Johnson inhabits, and even as the black-ish world expands, Anderson has indelibly carved out a voice for himself that still makes it the best. Five in a row is fine with me.
Jim Carrey, Kidding
He’s one of the greatest comic actors in history. But what Kidding has revealed is the humanity behind the actor. Playing a children’s host who has spent his entire career channeling his pain into joy for others, in Season 2 the bill came due, as he lost his puppets, his Mr. Pickles family, his wife and his son — and then managed to find a way to build, however small, it back up again. Carrey’s work was inexplicably shortchanged by his fellow Showtime actor Don Cheadle for Black Monday, a series that couldn’t be more the opposite of this. Perhaps in the midst of another financial crash, it might make sense to choose Cheadle. But in the midst of so much personal chaos and anger, wouldn’t it be better to choose joy and goodness instead?
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
In a world where minor offenses have become cultural explosions, you’d think that the last thing we need right now is another season of an old white behaving badly in front of the world. But Larry David has always been a special case. Even when he reappeared after eight years of being gone, it was like a piece of our nebbishness had never left. And come on, has a MAGA hat ever been utilized for better comic effect? (Well, Dave Chapelle came close, but still…) Considering his rise to fame with work on SNL as Bernie Sanders has almost guaranteed him another nomination, I actually have no problem with him being nominated again.
Ted Danson, The Good Place
He has gotten the most credit of the exceptional cast of this extraordinary show. But in the final season, Danson took Michael to new heights. Running away from his responsibilities at the beginning, he came roaring back to plant a seed of hope in the most unlikely places, find a way to build a new afterlife for humanity, convince his former friends of the flaws in the system — and in the final moments of the episode realize what he may wanted for all eternity — to become a human himself. Danson’s rebirth in drama has been one of the nicer perks of the new Golden Age. I think it would be fitting if he ended his stint on one of his greatest accomplishments with one more Emmy.
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
We seem to have forgotten after decades of watching him in raunchy overdone thrillers, what a brilliant comic actor Michael Douglas has always been. So in a way, it’s fitting that Douglas’ most recent great role is playing a basically failed actor who can’t even compete with Allison Janney at his own acting studio. In Sandy’s friendship with Norman, and his unlikely bromance with his daughter’s new boyfriend, and then learning that he has been diagnosed with cancer, and trying his hardest to go on, Douglas once again demonstrates the genius at finding humor in the banalities of aging. Of all the potential nominees here, he deserves to repeat more than any of them.
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
Has there ever been a greater comic actor than Eugene Levy? From the dad who basically is the only link between so many American Pie films to the incredible world he’s built in the films of Christopher Guest, Levy is one of those comics whose art extends generations. And in a series that has become one of the most beloved; it’s refreshing to see that he has passed down that same comic brilliance to his son. I really want Ted Danson to win this year. But I’ll admit part of me wants to see Levy up there too. I’ve seen him at so many award shows that he’s never taken seriously. I’d love to see how he handled things if he actually won.
Ramy Youseff, Ramy
Its fine that I was late to the party for Ramy — everybody was. But it’s now clear that Youseff’s work as a thirtyish Muslim growing up in New Jersey, trying to find a balance between his faith and being single, trying to tolerate the problems and, yes, prejudices of his family, puts a finer portrait on the burden of being a Muslim-American than any show in history. The fact that Youseff is also blindingly, hysterically funny in almost every scene he’s in, is just an adding bonus. Youseff has a good possibility of getting nominated in every major category, so let me just say he deserves to be there for his acting as well.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Hugh Laurie, Avenue 5
I’ve had a love hate relationship with much of Laurie’s work for American television. House was fun for awhile, but eventually got to dark. His work as Tom James, the perspective VP was one of the best things about the second half of Veep. But in Avenue 5, a series that was way too hit or miss to be considered a great show, his work was by far one of the great achievements. A hero captain who was neither hero nor a captain, an American genius who wasn’t even American, Laurie finally managed to utilize every bit of the brilliance he put together with Stephen Fry and Rowan Atkinson in the 1980s and 1990s as both straight man and utter screwball. One would be hard-pressed to say Laurie was wanting for recognition from the Emmys for all these years, but there’s an argument that he’s a better space captain than Steve Carell or a better Brit than Dominhal Gleason. He deserves something for being lost in space.