Emmys 2011: Sizing Up the Supporting Comedy Actor Race, Including Our Dream Nominees
Aziz Ansari, Parks and Recreation
When Parks and Rec debuted, Yahoo! TV gave Tom’s portrayer top honors on its list of ┬"TV┬'s MVPs.┬" But unless Emmy is ready to recognize the show┬'s crackerjack ensemble and not just leading lady Amy Poehler, the sometime stand-up comic┬'s odds of breaking into the race don┬'t seem good.
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
ABC’s Wednesday night anchor boasts an embarrassment of riches in this category, with four, count ┬'em, four, worthy nominees. That is all well and good for the show, but not necessarily so for the actors, who almost inevitably will split the vote. Still, the hitcom┬'s endearing doofus is a safe bet for a second nod.
Chris Colfer, Glee
Nominated for Glee┬'s freshman season, the overnight gay icon should be a lock again for his efforts during sophomore year. Whether being bullied or falling in love, his Kurt was front and center week in and week out. His biggest obstacle? The category is Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, and his work was mostly dramatic.
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
The Two and a Half Men second banana already won the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy (in 2009), after amassing multiple nominations. He┬'s about as safe a bet as they come to get a nod this year, too. More interesting will be divining whether Charlie Sheen┬'s scandals hurt his onetime co-star┬'s chances of winning, or helped, by earning him well-deserved sympathy votes.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Last year, his on-screen other half, Eric Stonestreet, went home with the Emmy. So clearly, voters noticed the couple and liked what they were seeing. The challenge for Mitchell┬'s portrayer, however, remains getting noticed when his co-star has by far the showier role.
Neil Patrick Harris,How I Met Your Mother
The good news for Mother┬'s resident Casanova: Emmy loves him. Last year, he picked up not only his first statuette (for hosting the Tonys), but also a second (for his magnificently malevolent Glee guest gig). The bad news: Neither award was for his day job on How I Met Your Mother. So although another nomination seems likely, it would take a major upset for him to score a win in this category.
Simon Helberg, The Big Bang Theory
This season, Big Bang Theory gave Howard a full-time girlfriend ┬–- and all the hilarious growing pains that go along with a serious relationship. Whether that will translate into a nomination, though, will depend on whether Emmy voters are willing to finally give nods to actors other than Jim Parsons and sometime guest Christine Baranski.
Ed Helms, The Office
He shined this season in his biggest Office storyline yet ┬–- the Andy/Erin/Gabe triangle. And the Hangover flicks have made him a movie star, though that could work against him with voters (┬"Why am I giving him a TV award nod?┬") as much as for him (┬"Hey, I know that guy!┬").
Ken Jeong, Community
NBC’s Community went a little deeper with Se├▒or Chang this season and Jeong rose to the challenge, maintaining all of his character┬'s repellent weirdness while enhancing the traces of humanity within. That, plus his high profile as a sometime big-screen scene-stealer (Knocked Up, The Hangover), could give him a nomination edge over his lesser-known co-stars.
John Krasinski, The Office
While viewers vacillate between loving and hating Office workers like Michael and Dwight, they have always been unanimous about their affection for Jim. And why not? He and Pam are not only the heart of the show, they┬'re often its brains as well. So, if for nothing more than seven seasons of flawless reaction shots ┬— and he┬'s contributed a lot more than reaction shots -┬– the hitcom┬'s unsung hero deserves at least his first Emmy nomination.
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Like castmate Tracy Morgan, hayseed Kenneth┬'s creator hasn┬'t been given a nod since 2009. So, though the show remains in fine form, there┬'s a feeling that perhaps its ┬"moment┬" has come and gone. If that┬'s true, McBrayer┬'s shot at another nomination probably went with it.
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
A) The former Saturday Night Live joker hasn┬'t been nominated for the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy since 2009. B) That was his only nomination. And C), he sat out a chunk of this 30 Rock season to undergo a kidney transplant. As such, he┬'s facing an uphill battle getting back into this race. It’s not a battle that he can┬'t win, mind you, but, for sure, a battle.
Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation
Though it┬'s remarkable how he makes Ron Swanson the human equivalent of a dark chocolate M&M ┬— hard shell outside, semisweet inside -┬– he, like his co-stars, has to hope that NBC can shine a bright enough light on the show that Emmy voters can see all it has going for it. If not, he will have to settle for just having a most amazing mustache.
Mike O’Malley, Glee
There┬'s something about the way that this familiar face plays his Average Joe character that is, well, anything but average. Unfortunately for him, if the Fox hit is recognized for the story in which gay teen Kurt is bullied at school, it┬'s far likelier to be Kurt himself, Chris Colfer, who gets the nod than his on-screen dad.
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Not to put too fine a point on it, but it┬'s a crime that the show┬'s anchor, the patriarch of the Pritchett/Dunphy brood, wasn┬'t nominated for an Emmy last year. There was talk that this time around O┬'Neill would submit himself for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series instead of Supporting, but it didn┬'t happen. So it┬'s up to voters to observe that, among a stellar ensemble, he┬'s a standout.
Oliver Platt, The Big C
While Showtime’s Big C is sure to be recognized at the Emmys — especially in the wake of Laura Linney┬'s Golden Globes win — a nod for her on-screen hubby isn┬'t such a sure thing. Good as he is, he didn┬'t get a Globes nomination, and any time there┬'s Emmy buzz, it┬'s generally about Linney. Maybe after Season 2…?
Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation
Epitomizing the lovable idiot archetype for Parks and Rec, this Everwood alum can actually make you forget he┬'s only playing dumb. That, in and of itself, may have to be his reward though, unless NBC can convince Emmy to spread the love beyond series star Poehler.
Danny Pudi, Community
Community handed this relative newcomer a character that could have just been weird. But in his hands, cinephile Abed is, yes, weird, but also endearing, hilarious and, most surprisingly, kinda heartbreaking. The show┬'s ┬"outsider┬" vibe, coupled with Pudi┬'s newbie status, make him a long shot for a nomination. But his work should make him a shoo-in.
Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother
If CBS is able to get How I Met Your Mother the Emmy attention it┬'s past due ┬–- and only if -┬– then the show┬'s lovable sidekick might manage to eke out a nod. He┬'s certainly deserving: This season┬'s storyline about the death of Marshall┬'s father gave Segel his meatiest material yet.
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Since Modern Family┬'s Cam won the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy last year, his name is all but automatically added to the list of nominees this year. The more interesting question will be, can he pull off a repeat victory, or will voters direct the love to one of his on-screen relatives?
Rainn Wilson, The Office
For seven years now, Dwight was passed over for the regional manager position, and Wilson passed over for an Emmy win. He was nominated in 2007, ┬'08 and ┬'09, but failed to make the cut last year. Unless the departure of Steve Carell gives voters a sense of ┬"now or never┬" about the show and its cast, a fourth nod would seem to be a long shot.