Emmy Talk With JWalk: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Predictions

The Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category at the Emmys haven’t been the most exciting over the past few years, and I don’t see this year being any different. We’re guaranteed a new winner this year since Bill Hader (Barry) is out of the race this year due to HBO not airing any new episodes. Last years nominees included Anthony Anderson (black-ish), Ted Danson (The Good Place), Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek) and Don Cheadle (Black Monday), and all these men stand a great chance of earning nominations again this year, but will they?

Even though this category isn’t that exciting, it may be tough to predict. It would be too easy to predict all of them getting a nomination again because there’s some new blood trying to shake up the race, I’ll get to that momentarily. So out of Anderson, Cheadle, Danson, Douglas and Levy, who’s out? I’m going to guess Anthony Anderson and Michael Douglas. Anderson is a tough choice to predict a snub as he’s been nominated for each season of black-ish, before the show itself earned a Best Comedy nomination, and before Tracee Ellis Ross earned a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. It’s also been six years and Anderson hasn’t won and the show never really turned into an Emmy winner, just a perennial nominee – never winning a single award after 15 nominations – buh-bye Anderson. As for Douglas, the Emmys could name check him because he’s Micheal Douglas, but since I’m actually someone who watched season two of The Kominsky Method, his arc wasn’t as enjoyable as the first season.

I do see Cheadle returning for Black Monday, Danson returning for The Good Place, and Eugene Levy for Schitt’s Creek. Three slots left, who fills them? My best guesses will be Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Ramy Youssef (Ramy) and a spoiler – Dave Burd for FX’s Dave. 

Larry David is a no-brainer here as Curb Your Enthusiasm is an Emmys mainstay throughout its entire run and this would be David’s sixth nomination in this category for Curb (spanning all the way back to 2003!). It’ll be a fools bet not to predict him here, and I’m no fool. Danson, who will also have extra visibility due to his role in Curb, should also return for The Good Place. Don Cheadle is another one of those perennial Emmy nominees who tends to earn a nomination, even though the shows he stars in rarely gets Emmy love. He earned four consecutive nominations for Showtime’s House of Lies (2012-2015), and as much as I wish Black Monday would breakthrough with nominations beyond Cheadle, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

My two big swings in this category is Ramy Youssef and Dave Burd. Even though Ramy premiered over a year ago and failed to gain any Emmys traction for its first season, the show garnered critical-acclaim in the meantime and its recently released season two has built upon the buzz from season one. Since Youssef also won a Golden Globe for his role in season one, it would be quite surprising if he were to be overlooked by the Emmys, let’s hope not!

I would’ve never fathomed Dave and its star Dave Burd would be in the Emmy conversation when the show first premiered in the spring. It took me a while to get through Dave in its entirety, after initially watching and taking a pass. I continued my watch at the advisement of many people and I was not disappointed. Even though I like the show more than the Dave/Lil Dicky persona, Dave has been a runaway hit for FX, ranking as their top rated comedy in the history of the network, outpacing Emmy-winner Atlanta. Will FX try and capitalize on the popularity of Dave and try to turn that into Emmy gold? Time will tell.

Martin Freeman is my wild card, but I can’t quite explain why I feel his performance in Breeders is Emmy worthy. Freeman’s performance is subtle in a way similar to Hader’s in Barry, but Freeman and Breeders offer legitimate laugh-out-loud scenarios with smart humor and sharp wit, which is why I’m predicting Freeman’s nomination will be one of the shocks of Emmy nomination morning.

A few other actors to watch out for – Steve Carell in Space Force and Domhall Gleason in Run. Just a few months ago, people would’ve predicted an automatic nomination for Carell, but after seeing Space Force in its entirety, I’ve yet to find people who actually enjoyed the show or Carell’s performance. That’s not to say he won’t earn an Emmy nomination, but he doesn’t deserve to be nominated for a show that was lifeless and void of any true comedy. Many people will claim he’s overdue for an Emmy because he never won for The Office, and I wholeheartedly agree he’s overdue. But it would be even worse for Carell to be nominated, and have a chance to actually win an Emmy for a show that doesn’t warrant a win, than never winning an Emmy at all. There’s a similar story for Gleason – Run was assumed to be an automatic hit for HBO, especially with its ties to last years big Emmy winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge (she’s the Executive Producer and guest star), but after it’s seven episode season did a run on everyone’s patience and delivered an extremely lackluster and disappointing finale, I wonder how that’s going to effect its Emmy chances all around.

Another wild card in this race, even though somewhat unlikely – Kenya Barris for #blackAF. 

Here are my frontrunners for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Eugene Levy – Schitt’s Creek
  • Ted Danson – The Good Place
  • Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Don Cheadle – Black Monday
  • Ramy Youssef – Ramy
  • Dave Burd – Dave

Here are my threats for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Steve Carell – Space Force
  • Domhall Gleason – Run
  • Martin Freeman – Breeders
  • Anthony Anderson – black-ish
  • Michael Douglas – The Kominsky Method
  • Kenya Barris – #blackAF

Follow me on Twitter @TVTalkWithJWalk

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