Emmys 2012: The Lead Comedy Actor Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees
Will Arnett, Up All Night
Pro: Whether it's a spit-up joke or a touching moment with his harried wife, Arnett handles his stay-at-home-dad character with a practiced hand and a light touch — no easy feat.
Con: Like Arnett's on-screen toddler, Amy, Up All Night stumbled a bit before it found its footing; those shaky episodes may mess with Arnett's chances.
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Pro: Baldwin's got just the right mix of heart and hubris as Jack Donaghy, who seemed reinvigorated this season even as his marriage to Avery fizzled. Bonus points for the vigorous workout he put in during the live show.
Con: He's been nominated for every 30 Rock season, winning twice, but the public way he handled his frustration at NBC this spring may turn some of Baldwin's boosters against him.
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Pro: Cheadle's gleeful portrayal of a damage-control master who'll do anything to close a deal — but can't do much to stop his family from imploding — is the best part of the Showtime series.
Con: Like we said, Cheadle is the highlight of Lies… but the rest could use some help. The show's haphazard nature may obscure Cheadle's good work.
Louis C.K., Louie
Pro: C.K. is heading up a show unlike any other comedy on television right now, and his nomination last year shows that Emmy voters are paying attention.
Con: That said, comedy is subjective; if this year's nominating committee doesn't dig his self-deprecating and scatological riffs, it probably won't want to nominate him, either.
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Pro: The Alan-Walden dynamic, as well as Jake's graduation, freshened up the decade-old show in a way that put the spotlight on 2009 winner Cryer. He didn't disappoint.
Con: If Emmy wants to shake things up, leaving perennial nominee Cryer off the nominee list would be a good way to start.
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Pro: The equal-opportunity social assassin ticked off people on both coasts as David turned in his curmudgeonly best work in several seasons.
Con: If Michael J. Fox is on the nominating committee… dude, David doesn't stand a chance.
Garrett Dillahunt, Raising Hope
Pro: Sweet-talking the coffee shop clerk? Trying to impress Burt's long-lost parents? Caring for a seeing-eye pig that turns into dinner? Dillahunt rocked it all.
Con: Sweetly dumb characters like Burt are tough to play convincingly and even tougher to get credit for.
Neil Flynn, The Middle
Pro: As papa Mike, Flynn's flawless timing is a thing of beauty. The guy's just always funny.
Con: He makes it look easy, which might make the nominating committee look past him.
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Pro: Galecki's sweet and silly portrayal of Leonard's romantic consternation this season was a perfectly balanced equation.
Con: Co-star Jim Parsons' neurotic Sheldon gets the better lines — and took home last year's prize. If Bang gets one slot, it'll go to Parsons.
Billy Gardell, Mike & Molly
Pro: Gardell's salt-of-the-earth portrayal of Mike, especially as the titular couple marched toward the altar, makes the CBS sitcom better than the sum of its fat jokes.
Con: But there still are a lot of fat jokes. A lot of fat jokes.
Ed Helms, The Office
Pro: Everyone thought there was no way The Office could survive post-Carrell. Helms tried his best to prove them wrong.
Con: Though Helms adroitly handled Andy's rocky reign as regional manager, an uneven season overall may hurt his chances for a nod.
Zachary Levi, Chuck
Pro: Just as the series was ending, we got to see an older, wiser Chuck woo a brainwashed Sarah all over again. And Levi was as good as, if not better than, he was the first time around.
Con:Chuck hasn't received any acting recognition from Emmy throughout its five-season run, and it's very possible (and quite a bummer) that the streak will continue.
Danny McBride, Eastbound & Down
Pro: This season, Kenny gave fatherhood a shot, walked away from his lifelong dream, and faked his own death. And McBride made it funny. Yeah, we're not quite sure how, either.
Con: McBride's crass character, who's not rolling in redeeming qualities, may be just raunchy enough to keep him out of the competition.
Joel McHale, Community
Pro: The outstandingly creative show is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and McHale is a huge part of that. (And no, that's not just extreme narcissism talking.)
Con: The controversy surrounding creator/showrunner Dan Harmon's recent ouster, as well as his public dustup with star Chevy Chase, may distract Emmy voters from McHale's spot-on performance this season.
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Pro: Last year's winner hilariously forged the final frontier this season when Sheldon made contact with idol Spock.
Con: There's no reason not to re-nominate him, unless… BAZINGA?!?
Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation
Pro: Scott made Ben's highs (becoming Knope 2012's campaign manager) into gut-busters and his lows (sobbing after splurging on a Batman costume) even funnier.
Con: Despite the show's several seasons of strong ensemble work, Amy Poehler (Leslie) has been the only Pawnee player so far to grab Emmy's attention.
Jeremy Sisto, Suburgatory
Pro: Sisto brings humor and spontaneity to the impetuous George, who probably had the biggest freakout over a box of condoms ever captured on film.
Con: Suburgatory has been a quiet success story for ABC, the key word being “Quiet.” Sisto could be easily overlooked.