2011 Primetime Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series

The 2011 Primetime Emmys are so close! September 18th to be exact. Up until the ceremony airs on FOX, I’ll be working through most of the major categories and discussing who could win, who should win and of course, who will win. I’ll likely be tackling two categories in each post, just so you know.

Happy Tuesday folks! Today, I’m talking about the other two comedy performance categories in lead actor and lead actress. Unlike yesterday’s somewhat boring categories, I think these two races offer some intriguing possibilities and discussion. Of course, this is the Emmys and the most obvious thing will probably happen anyway, but let’s just keep pretending Alec Baldwin won’t win every award again.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series


  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
  • Steve Carell, The Office
  • Louis C.K., Louie
  • Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
  • Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

What won’t happen: In the most theoretical of all worlds, all six of these nominees would have a legitimate shot at winning. Baldwin is an institution here, Carell is in his last chance, C.K.’s stature seemed to be growing by the week over the last six months, LeBlanc is lucky Emmy voters love Showtime and The Big Bang Theory is now a series we can’t count out to win multiple awards, somehow. However, this isn’t a theoretical world and that means this is a four-man race at best. I have absolutely no idea why Johnny Galecki was nominated here because his performance is not that funny or that interesting on Big Bang. Even if I loved him, it will be hard for him to make any voice considering last year’s winner is on the same series as him. He’s out. And it pains me to say this, but I don’t think Louis C.K. has much of a shot either. I would love for him to win this category, but I think Louie’s best chance is in writing. It feels like this race is too top-heavy and despite the series’ overall excellence, I’m not sure C.K. can break through. “Bully” was awesome, though.

What could happen: Between the two former winners Baldwin and Parsons, Carell’s send-off and the standing fear that any Showtime actor could win at any time, any of the four remaining actors could win this award. Episodes wasn’t a great series in its first season, but Matt LeBlanc was almost always entertaining and charming in his role as “himself.” There’s a chance that his work is good enough and Showtime pushed the voters hard enough that he wins. It’s not a big chance, but it is there. Parsons and Baldwin could easily take home yet another trophy pretty easily as well. I am baffled by Baldwin’s episode choice, but perhaps he is so confident in his ability to charm Emmy voters that it doesn’t even really matter. Parsons got his win last year and has therefore opened the door for more wins. I haven’t seen the episode he chose but I know it’s an episode of The Big Bang Theory, which is all I need to know.

What should happen: Come on people, give Steve Carell is due. It’s staggering that he hasn’t yet won in this category for a role that pretty much everyone in the world loves. The final season of The Office allowed Carell to show off all his best assets and “Goodbye, Michael” was pretty much a perfect send-off. As I’ve said before, I don’t vouch for career achievement-type of wins, but this is the way it should be. Carell deserves it, not just for his whole body of work, but this episode as well. It’s a great performance.

What will happen: I’d like to think the voters are smart enough to recognize Carell’s predicament, but the fact that most outlets and people I’ve talked to are predicting him to win scares the hell out of me. I would not be surprised by a second win for Parsons or another Baldwin win, not one bit. I’m still picking Carell though. It has to happen.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series


  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock
  • Laura Linney, The Big C
  • Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly
  • Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

What won’t happen: Honestly, I’m not really sure. This category is full with buzzy and/or great performances coming from actresses in beneficial positions. Six months ago, I would have bet all my money on Laura Linney winning this category, but it’s possible that she has some legitimate competition this year. I could be creating a straw man argument about the race here, but at least four of the other nominees could win this award. Edie Falco and Tina Fey are Emmy darlings and have already won this award before. Amy Poehler seems destined to break through for what is most certainly the best performance in the category. Leslie Knope is one of the best characters on television and the voters are cuddling up to Parks and Recreation much more this year. And Melissa McCarthy has the hype of her Bridesmaids performance to support what is already relatively funny work on Mike and Molly. With that in mind, I think Martha Plimpton is the only nominee who has absolutely no shot to win. She is wonderful on Raising Hope and “Say Cheese” was a solid episode to choose, but there’s way too much going on above her and not enough awareness of what Raising Hope is all about for Plimpton to break through.

What could happen: Between the other five, “anything” can happen. McCarthy probably doesn’t have enough to win, but voters clearly have no problem awarding CBS multi-camera performers, so there’s a chance. Like I said, it sure feels like people are getting behind Amy Poehler more than they were last year, but whether or not that results in any actual voting chances is yet to be seen. And two former winners always have the chance to win again, although I would put more money on Edie Falco than Tina Fey. I don’t want to say the voters are “over” 30 Rock, but the voters are kind of over 30 Rock.

What should happen: Amy Poehler, duh. “Flu Season” isn’t the most overtly well-rounded Leslie Knope episode but it’s just flat-out funny. This might help and it should.

What will happen: Unfortunately, this was probably all a straw man discussion. The competition has only appeared to get tougher for Laura Linney. And even if some of the things I said here are true, she’s still Laura Linney and that almost guarantees that she wins. I like the performance just fine and I’m already resigned to the result so let’s just move on. Way to go, Laura.


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