The Television Academy of Arts & Sciences released this year's Emmy ballots on Monday. Now that the ballots are out, it's time for our annual two-pronged experiment, in which Dan tries to predict the likeliest nominees in each major category, while I pretend that I'm an actually TV Academy member and pick the six nominees that would make me the happiest.
We are, as always, playing by the Emmy rules, which means we can't argue for someone who didn't submit themselves (say, Donald Glover for “Community”), can't move someone from lead to supporting or vice versa, and can't declare that “True Detective” is a miniseries and therefore clear more room in the drama categories. I'm also obviously limited by what I watched and what I haven't. I think I saw maybe three episodes of “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” this season, for instance, and while I like the show a lot, the sample size wasn't enough.
Today's category is Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Dan's analysis is here, and mine is coming right up.
More than in most categories, my picks here are going to be pretty far removed from the eventual nominees list. At least three, and possibly four, of the “Modern Family” men will get nominated, and last year's winner Tony Hale will be nominated again (and he was someone I very strongly considered, especially after the bathroom scene in “Veep” episode 9), leaving 1 or 2 open slots at most.
Let's start off with a couple of guys with actual Emmy track records. Andre Braugher has been nominated for six Emmys, and has won twice (once for “Homicide,” once for his short-lived FX show “Thief”), and Emmy voters like him enough that he even got nominated two out of the three years he was eligible for the wonderful but little-watched “Men of a Certain Age.” So I wouldn't be stunned to see him get one of the tail-end slots, especially given how wonderful he is as the robotic, super-cool precinct commander on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Braugher has been funny in dramatic roles, but here he's being asked to do nothing but be funny, and he's as good at that as he is at getting innocent people to confess to murder. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has a lot of worthy male supporting performances (Terry Crews and Joe Lo Truglio are also great), but only one of them involved the phrase “Kwazy Cupcakes.”
Adam Driver, meanwhile, actually got nominated in this category a year ago, which was a pleasant surprise. Will he repeat, or will the Academy's feelings for “Girls” (which has received many nominations but only one win, for casting) wane? This is something of a category cheat by now, since Driver essentially became co-lead of the show with Lena Dunham, but since he's here – and since it's such a unique, strange, memorable performance, I don't have a problem rewarding the stretching of the rules here.
Speaking of category cheating, let's once again talk some “Shameless.” The show has no real business being on the comedy side, but because it is, we have to consider the people from it, and Noel Fisher was fantastic throughout this season as Mickey Milkovich grappled with marriage, fatherhood and the unexpected freedom of coming out of the closet. It's a funny performance at times, but mainly a really complex emotional one, involving a character who could have come across as a bad stereotype in lesser hands.
Each and every year, I stump for Nick Offerman from “Parks and Recreation” to be nominated, even though it becomes more and more of a lost cause as the series gets closer to its end. If he hasn't been nominated by now, he's not going to be, despite playing one of the funniest TV characters of this century. And Offerman did a lot of excellent things this season, as Ron Effing Swanson grappled with marriage, fatherhood (including the discovery that there is no quiet anymore, but only “Doc McStuffins”), and the horrifying realization that he liked other people and wanted to do nice things for them.
Max Greenfield was nominated here for the first season of “New Girl,” Jake Johnson should've been last year, and Jake Johnson has been submitting as lead actor of late (and we may talk about him when we get there), but the show's unlikely MVP of an otherwise disappointing third season was Lamorne Morris. At a certain point, the “New Girl” writers threw up their hands on the subject of Winston and decided to just give him a new quirk and/or personality each week, so long as they fell under the larger umbrella of Crazy Winston Is Crazy. No actor should have been able to do anything with such a character given that material, and yet Morris was consistently the best and funniest part of the show, even as Winston himself was anything but consistent. Admit it: you're singing his puzzle song right now.
Again, many of these picks are improbable, but the most impossible, wish-fullment-y of them all would be Parker Young from “Enlisted.” As the often shirtless, frequently crying, occasionally smart and always hilarious Randy Hill, Young was the Army series' most powerful comic weapon, as well as an excellent bridge between the show's silly side and its more emotional moments. Plus, he eventually managed to recount the entire plot of “Toy Story 3” without crying!
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com