Cable and streaming shows continue to make strides in the comedy categories, which have been the one bright area for the traditional broadcast networks when it comes to the Emmy competition. It’s not particularly impressive for the broadcasters, but at least they haven’t been wiped out. For the male comedy stars, returnees Anthony Anderson of ABC’s Black-ish and Will Forte from Fox’s The Last Man on Earth are hoping that being on one of the big four doesn’t hurt their hip factor when it comes to voters who seem to hold edgier shows and their stars in higher regard. Here’s how I see this race going.

Anthony Anderson
Black-ish
ABC

Bucking the trend against network shows, Anderson made this category on his first time out last season as the sole nominee from ABC’s Black-ish. This time he might have a leg up thanks to the increased presence of his show in other categories including Comedy Series. The fact that his series also has important things to say mixed in with the laughs won’t hurt his chances here, and clearly the show is trending upward in its second season.

Aziz Ansari
Master of None
Netflix

He’s the one to watch. A triple threat in the Emmys this year, Ansari lands his first nomination for Season 1 of his very personal Netflix show, which also brought him additional nods in the writing and directing categories, a rare trifecta for a star in this category and one that should not be underestimated. With earlier Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations, Ansari was able to break through where other new shows haven’t, and the deep pockets of Netflix should help him campaign-wise.

Will Forte
The Last Man on Earth
Fox

Willing to do just about anything in his role as Phil Miller—including wearing an outrageous hair style—Forte grabs his second consecutive nod for Lead Actor; but unlike in the show’s first season, he did not also receive recognition for his writing. Nevertheless, the Fox series seems to be gaining a dedicated—if not blockbuster—following, and Forte has been charming voters on the campaign trail which is always a good trait in a crowded field. The series found its groove in Season 2, which could help.

William H. Macy
Shameless
Showtime

Remaining the one bright light at the Emmys for Shameless, this is veteran actor Macy’s third consecutive nomination for the series since it switched from drama categories to comedy. Unfortunately voters only seem to like him, as the innovative show never seems to gain much more traction than this one category. It doesn’t hurt that Macy is widely admired by fellow actors and this is his 12th Emmy nod overall, with two previous wins (both for the TV movie Door to Door in 2003).

Thomas Middleditch
Silicon Valley
HBO

Now consistently one of Emmy’s favorites, Silicon Valley has garnered 11 nominations in its third season, but surprisingly Middleditch is the only actor from the great cast to make the grade. This is his first appearance in the Lead Actor category and first Emmy nod ever as Richard, the complicated center of HBO’s strong comedy stalwart. Could the fact he is the only cast member to be recognized help him in the end with actors branch members who have only Middleditch on their ballot?

Jeffrey Tambor
Transparent
Amazon

In Transparent’s first season, Tambor took this prize after the veteran star had gone zero-for-six for his previous series. But in Maura Pfefferman, the transgendered matriarch of a dysfunctional family, Tambor has found his meal ticket to the Emmys with the perfect match of role and actor. The series has received 10 nominations in its second season which means a lot of love for the Amazon staple, and Tambor has enormous goodwill in the industry.

PETE’S PICK: Jeffrey Tambor. Emmys like to repeat, so Tambor should win again.


Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

In a category where there are a lot of familiar names, the one standout could be Louie Anderson and his startling gender-bending turn as Christine Baskets in FX’s oddly compelling comedy Baskets. He is returning to public consciousness in the role and could be the breath of fresh air the category is seeking. Two-time winner Tony Hale is the reigning champ from Veep, but he faces competition this time from castmate Matt Walsh in a crowded field of seven contenders. Andre Braugher, a veteran Emmy winner, has a shot again with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but that show is losing momentum, it seems.

The over-the-top Tituss Burgess is back again for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but if he didn’t win last year, does he stand much a chance this time around against similar competition? Ty Burrell, a multiple winner here in the past, is the sole acting nominee in the supporting categories for long-in-the-tooth Modern Family. That leaves Keegan-Michael Key as various characters in the final season of Key and Peele, and he could have a good parting shot of a chance if voters watch their screeners.

PETE’S PICK: Louie Anderson. An irresistible choice.

Louie Anderson - Baskets.jpegThe post was originally published August 18, 2016.