Among the most familiar faces at the Emmys in the 1990s was Paul Reiser who, as creator and star of Mad About You, amassed a total of 10 nominations from 1994 to 1999. Yet, despite co-star Helen Hunt scoring four consecutive Comedy Lead Actress wins during the show’s run, Reiser never emerged victorious, always falling short to either Kelsey Grammar (Frasier) or John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun) in Comedy Lead Actor, while Frasier steamrolled over Mad About You each time in Comedy Series.
This year, Reiser is back at the Emmys for the first time in more than two decades as he contends in Comedy Supporting Actor for his turn as Martin Schneider, prospective son-in-law to Michael Douglas’s Sandy Kominsky on The Kominsky Method. Should Reiser again fall short, he will extend what is already one of the longest cold streaks among actors in Emmy history.
Reiser’s current 0-for-10 record has him tied with Hugh Laurie, who scored seven nominations as star and producer of House, with subsequent bids for The Night Manager and Veep, all without wins. It should be noted that black-ish star and producer Anthony Anderson, should he again fall short in Comedy Lead Actor this year, will find himself at a 0-for-10 streak.
Should Reiser lose, he will match Steve Carell’s 0-for-11 record that came from 10 failed acting and producing bids for The Office, plus a nomination and loss last year for The Morning Show. And he may not be the only one to achieve this feat – should Drama Guest Actor nominee Don Cheadle fall short for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, he too will move up to 0-for-11 status. Cheadle’s prior bids for The A Lesson Before Dying, The Rat Pack, Things Behind the Sun, ER, House of Lies and Black Monday were all unsuccessful in delivering wins.
In the event of an 11th consecutive loss, Reiser can at least take some solace in knowing he’s not quite the all-time biggest Emmy loser. That status remains with the legendary Angela Lansbury, who sports a 0-for-18 record following 12 consecutive Drama Lead Actress losses for Murder, She Wrote and additional failed bids for Little Gloria…Happy at Last, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The 41st Annual Tony Awards, The 43rd Annual Tony Awards, The Blackwater Lightship and her most recent appearance for guest stints on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
Reiser would also trail 0-for-12 record holders Sandra Oh, who came up short on her bids for Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve and hosting the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards and Saturday Night Live, and Kevin Spacey, who racked up 10 nominations and losses as star and producer of House of Cards and another pair of nominations as star of Recount and producer of Bernard and Doris.
Can Reiser avoid extending his cold streak and finally score that elusive win? Let’s dive into the Comedy Supporting Actor field.
At eight nominees, this is a crowded field, yet only four programs are recognized – The Kominsky Method, Hacks (with nominee Carl Clemons-Hopkins), Saturday Night Live (with Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang) and Ted Lasso (with Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed and Jeremy Swift).
With 20 overall nominations, Ted Lasso looks poised for a spectacular Emmy night, entering at least the Comedy Series and Comedy Lead Actor categories as an overwhelming favorite. Yet, with four nominees in this field, it may prove challenging for Ted Lasso fans to rally behind a single nominee. If one has the edge, it’s perhaps Goldstein as the irresistibly angry veteran footballer Roy Kent.
With Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis a sure bet up in Comedy Lead Actor, if voters want to award Thompson (who is also a Lead nominee for his self-titled series), it will surely be here. Between both programs, Thompson has had a spectacular year on the small screen and, while he does have an Emmy under his belt for Original Music and Lyrics, he’s yet to score a prize for acting. There is one daunting statistic facing Thompson and Yang, the latter of who made history as the first featured Saturday Night Live player to be nominated for an acting Emmy – male SNL cast members (excluding Alec Baldwin’s recurring turn as Donald Trump) don’t have a greatest track record with the Emmys.
Over the course of SNL history, regulars Thompson, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Billy Crystal, Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell and Bill Hader all scored Emmy nominations for their performances. Only two of these performers – Chase and Carvey – emerged triumphant on their bids.
If there’s a dark horse among the nominees, it might be Clemons-Hopkins, whose series also scored a healthy haul of nominations (15) and who needn’t be worry about the potential vote-splitting issue facing the Ted Lasso gentlemen.
Finally, there’s Reiser. On one hand, The Kominsky Method’s first two seasons failed to generate any wins on six overall bids and its nominations haul this year (six) sorely pales in comparison to the other programs present here. It just doesn’t have the sky-high buzz or industry support of Hacks or Ted Lasso. On the flip side, it can’t be ignored that those six nominations mark double the recognition the series scored in 2020, indicating at least a fair amount of support among Emmy voters for the show.
If the category has an overdue sentimental favorite, it is indeed Reiser – and, on occasion, overdue sentimental favorites do triumph here, like Henry Winkler (Barry), Jonathan Winters (Davis Rules) and Pat Harrington, Jr. (One Day at a Time). On just as many, if not more, instances, however, such sentiment alone has not been enough to deliver a win, like for the Emmy-less John Mahoney (Frasier), Ed O’Neill (Modern Family) and yes, Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method).
All things considered, Reiser likely enters this race an underdog, poised to indeed extend his losing streak. That said, the category lacks an overwhelming favorite, The Kominsky Method has maintained a reliable, if modest base of support, and longtime Emmy voters may remember how, year after year in the 1990s, Reiser was stuck hopelessly on the sidelines as Lithgow, Grammar and Frasier steamrolled his categories. He’s a long shot but cannot be counted out.
Paul Reiser has submitted the episode “You Only Give Me Your Funny Paper” of The Kominsky Method for Emmy consideration.
Photo courtesy of Netflix