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2018 Emmys: The Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Race

(From top left) Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), Donald Glover (Atlanta), Bill Hader (Barry), Anthony Anderson (black-ish) and William H. Macy (Shameless) are all looking good for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series nominations.

While the race for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series seems like a slam dunk for Donald Glover (Atlanta), there are some contenders looking for their first nomination here as well as one previous winner who won’t be in the running at all.

The Returning Champ

Donald Glover (Atlanta) is having quite a year. In just a space of a few months, Atlanta‘s second season (the ‘Robbin’ season) was a huge critical hit, he was Saturday Night Live’s host and musical star (where he’s also likely to be nominated) and he scored his first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 with “This Is America” (as his musical alter ego Childish Gambino), an explosive examination of the history of race in the United States. He has some strong episodes to he can submit (his “Teddy Perkins episode has generated the most attention) and is absolutely the frontrunner.

The Heavy Hitters

Ever since Showtime moved Shameless over to Comedy in 2014, William H. Macy has been nominated here every year. In that same time span he’s won the Screen Actors Guild award for Male Actor in a Comedy Series three times. Macy has long been a huge Emmy favorite with a pair of wins for 2002’s Door to Door as Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie and as the film’s writer. He’s been nominated 13 times overall, for eight different programs. He’s a lock here.  Anthony Anderson (black-ish) will be back and earn his fourth nomination in a row in this category. Lock him in. Zach Galifianakis (Baskets) got his first nomination last year, largely off the strength of his co-star Louie Anderson winning supporting actor the year before. He’s a very good bet here. Matt LeBlanc (Episodes) should be able to return despite his show’s huge 18-month absence. He was nominated four times, every year the show’s been eligible, on top of his three nominations for Friends (also in Lead) back in the 2000s. The 5th season of Episodes was its final season so this is Le Blanc’s last chance to be nominated here again for it.

Previous Winners

Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) won the Emmy in this category two years in a row, for the show’s first and second seasons, and was nominated last year (he lost to Glover). Since then he’s been accused of sexual misconduct on the show and as a result was subsequently fired from it and won’t be appearing in the upcoming 5th season. He won’t be campaigned for the show by Amazon and stands very little to no chance of getting in. Amazingly, he will be campaigned in supporting for Arrested Development by Netflix despite these allegations and accusations of abuse by co-star Jessica Walter on the set of AD that were detailed in an interview with the cast last week for The New York Times.

Eric McCormack should be able to ride the wave of good faith and nostalgia for the return of Will & Grace. He won here once (in 2001) for the show’s first iteration but he also missed out on a nomination twice, in 2002 and 2004.

2018 Emmys: The Lead Actress in a Drama Series Race

Haders Beware

The biggest competition to Glover, I think, is going to be Bill Hader for the freshman season of his hitman-turned-actor comedy Barry on HBO. He’s devastatingly funny and has a handful of winnable submissions. He’s an Emmy winner (for Animated Program as a producer on South Park) and a 10-time nominee, including three for Saturday Night Live in supporting actor but this is his ticket to the top spot.

But What About…

John Goodman (Roseanne) is a big question mark here. He and his show were easily on a fast track to major nominations until its titular star, Roseanne Barr, tweeted out racist rants (which she later attributed to Ambien), causing ABC to cancel the show and suspend its Emmy campaign. While talks are possibly happening to continue the show without Barr the damage is done. Despite Goodman being a 7-time nominee for this role I don’t think even good faith in him can pull him out of the death spiral Barr created.

Here’s how I see the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series race right now.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
1. Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX)
2. Bill Hader, Barry (HBO)
3. William H. Macy, Shameless (Showtime)
4. Eric McCormack, Will & Grace (NBC)
5. Anthony Anderson, Black-ish (ABC)
6. Matt LeBlanc, Episodes (Showtime)
Ted Danson, The Good Place (NBC)
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Zach Galifianakis, Baskets (FX)
John Goodman, Roseanne (ABC)
Tracy Morgan, The O.G. (TBS)


About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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