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Roundup of Emmy Contenders: Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

For this installment of Roundup of Emmy Contenders, we’re featuring our top picks for the leading men of TV comedy. There’s still a while to go until July 13 when the nominations for the 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced. In the meantime, we’re giving you our take on whose work should be recognized. Keep reading for a roundup of the names we think should make this year’s list of nominees for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. 


Jason Sudeikis for Ted Lasso

The fact that Sudeikis’ Ted Lasso co-creator Brendan Hunt claims that the idea for the title character was birthed during a mushroom trip in Amsterdam is interesting enough. The rest of the Apple TV+ series’ journey from an NBC Sports ad to an uplifting show that brightened dreary pandemic days is almost as inspiring as its central character. Sudeikis shines as the titular American football coach who winds up managing a British soccer team even though he has no experience with the sport. Entertainment Weekly called him “pitch-perfect” in its review of the series’ inaugural season. We not only appreciate the included soccer field pun but are also in total agreement with the sentiment. 


Anthony Anderson for black-ish

“A fun yet bold look at one man’s determination to establish a sense of cultural identity for his family,” reads ABC’s one-sentence summary of its long-running series. Anderson plays that central figure, Andre “Dre” Johnson, and his portrayal of the character has been recognized with a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for the last six years. But the actor remains humble throughout his continued success with the Kenya Barris-created series. “I’m only as good as my cast allows me to be, so a nomination for me is a nomination for us,” Anderson told Gold Derby after his sixth consecutive nomination last year. Barris recently broke the news via Instagram that the series is renewed for its eighth and final season, and we’d like to see Anderson’s uninterrupted nomination streak keep going right up until the end. This year may warrant a win for the actor, considering the feat of playing a character navigating timely issues that the season covered, such as the pandemic and social justice, all within the context of a sitcom.


Michael Douglas for The Kominsky Method

Douglas doesn’t have quite the longstanding record as Anderson when it comes to his number of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series nominations for the same show. He’s received nods for the previous two seasons of the Netflix show, but this third season of The Kominsky Method is the last one for the series. We’d like to see Douglas wrap it on a high note, with at least another nomination for his work as the aging actor and acting coach Sandy Kominksy. As a real-life veteran of the silver screen, Douglas shines in a series that plays on the entertainment industry’s prejudices surrounding age. CNN calls his last turn as the character “another strong showcase for Douglas” amidst a season that “deals with friendship, grief and loss in ways that are alternately funny and touching.”


Kenan Thompson for Kenan

The new NBC series stars Thompson in the title role, the first time since Nickelodeon’s Kenan & Kel that he’ll once again be leading a series bearing his moniker. After garnering acclaim with that children’s series as well as the kids’ sketch comedy show All That, Thompson became a stalwart of Lorne Michaels’ Saturday Night Live. And now, Kenan marks another collaboration between the two, with Michaels executive producing the single-camera comedy and proclaiming great faith in its star. “Kenan may be a genius,” he asserts. Thompson’s role in the series certainly requires a high level of skill to pull off. He plays a widowed father raising two young daughters while balancing his work as an Atlanta morning show host and the advice of his father-in-law (Don Johnson). Thompson expertly tempers the show’s moments of big laughs with its more tender scenes as the character deals with the aftermath of loss. 


Our picks for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series reflect the actors’ ability to intertwine difficult circumstances with levity, whether it be Sudeikis brightening up the dark days of 2020 with his character’s indomitable spirit or Anderson playing out hard and timely topics with black-ish. Considering this impressive feat they’ve pulled off, regardless of who receives a nomination come July 13, they’re already all winners in our book. 


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