If I had an Emmy ballot: Outstanding Supporting Actor in Comedy

Senior Television Writer
06.15.10 35 Comments


Emmy Week continues here at HitFix, and after this morning’s look at the comedy supporting actress contenders, it’s time to examine potential nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

As always, Fienberg and I are approaching this from two angles. Dan has his take on people he thinks may be nominated (along with some wishful thinking), whereas I figure out who I would choose if I had a hypothetical Emmy ballot.

Dan’s supporting actor gallery is up, and if you click through, you can read about my struggles with another loaded category…

It’s an unfortunate truth that there are better roles out there for men than there are for women, so as with the drama side, I had a much tougher time narrowing down my picks for the actors than I did for the actresses. (And it would have been even tougher if some of my sentimental favorites like Josh Gomez and Brian Van Holt had bothered submitting themselves.)

I thought once again of employing the “one actor per show” approach I took with drama supporting actor, but again there were a couple of instances where I just couldn’t find a way to split that baby. So I wound up with two pairs of co-stars, and nearly did three, and wound up with a ballot without any returning nominees (I love Neil Patrick Harris, but he’s been better-served in other seasons) and only one actor with any kind of Emmy track record, period.

The reason you don’t see three pairs is that I couldn’t find it in my heart to ignore the work Ted Danson did on “Bored to Death.” I’m not a huge fan of that show (you can read my first season reviews on the old blog), but Danson was phenomenal, creating an idiosyncratic, memorable, hilarious character that bore absolutely no resemblance (other than the physical) to Sam Malone, Becker or any other roles he’s known for. And given his Emmy history, he’s probably the most likely of the six men on my ballot to get an actual nomination.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t bring myself to split up the “Community” duo of Donald Glover and Danny Pudi. If push came to shove, I might have to lean in Glover’s direction, if only because Abed seemed more fully-formed from the start, whereas Troy seemed to evolve as the writers saw what Glover was doing – but both made me laugh until I ached, both separately (Abed as Henry Hill, Troy complaining of the lack of butt stuff) or together (the Abed/Troy episode tags that became required weekly viewing).

Chris Pratt from “Parks and Recreation” was my toughest cut in favor of Danson. Ultimately, I decided that as great as he was at making Andy’s naivete seem both believable and charming (and at really making me want to buy a Mouse Rat album), there’s no way anyone on the “Parks and Rec” cast (including the also-deserving Aziz Ansari) could possibly overcome my love of Nick Offerman as Ron Effing Swanson, the TV discovery of the year. Whether flipping a hamburger at his face, going to town on a breakfast buffet or doing a classic pratfall in the grass, Offerman showed himself to be an enthusiastic, committed, marvelously deadpan presence and the anchor of the year’s best, most improved comedy series.

“Modern Family” will almost certainly have a presence in this category, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it get multiple nominations. If it does, however, I expect those two to be Ed O’Neill (the most recognizable castmember) and Ty Burrell (who makes the biggest impression in the pilot, which is the episode voters are most likely to have seen). Both actors did splendid work (though the writing Burrell got for his character tended to wax and wane), but my clear favorites from that ensemble were Eric Stonestreet and Rico Rodriguez. Both actors wholly gave themselves over to the roles of, respectively, proud diva Cam and old-before-his-time Manny. Even episodes of “Modern Family” that didn’t quite work were worth tuning in for the four or five huge laughs those two would combine to provide each week. (And here’s hoping they get to work together more next season.)

Tough omissions: Aziz Ansari and Chris Pratt from “Parks and Recreation,” Chris Colfer from “Glee,” Charlie Day from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Peter Facinelli from “Nurse Jackie,” Luis Guzman from “How To Make It in America,” Ryan Hansen and Ken Marino and Martin Starr from “Party Down,” Neil Patrick Harris from “How I Met Your Mother,” Josh Hopkins from “Cougar Town,” Tracy Morgan from “30 Rock,” Atticus Shaffer from “The Middle.”

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com

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