WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: Five seasons into the Fox comedy, Braugher’s deadpan delivery has never been funnier, injecting an extra dose of hilarity into, say, Holt and Jake’s interrogation of a murderous dentist, or the captain’s failed attempt to keep his husband in a safe house. But as Braugher’s alter ego chased his dreams of becoming NYPD commissioner, the actor brought a tenderness and depth to Holt that we hadn’t yet seen — and we can only hope Emmy voters took note.
BRIAN TYREE HENRY, ATLANTA
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: As Paper Boi’s career caught fire in Season 2, Henry swaggered into the spotlight, showing us a softer side to the tough and gruff Al. He hilariously suffered in silence at the hands of his chatterbox barber in “Barbershop,” and then faced his inner demons during a harrowing night in the wilderness in “Woods.” It was a one-two punch of powerhouse performances that cemented Henry as one of TV’s most compelling performers.
DANIEL LEVY, SCHITT’S CREEK
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: He’s our Mariah Carey, that’s why. And in Season 4 of the Pop TV comedy that he created with dad Eugene, he made our hearts burst as he opened up to love David Rose, a self-proclaimed stranger to genuine human emotions. Any Emmy voter who checks out the style maven’s reaction to boyfriend Patrick’s serenade or, better yet, his own lip-synced olive branch will see at once that Levy’s simply the best.
MARC MARON, GLOW
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: Not for a second during Season 1 of Netflix’s sensational ladies’-wrestling dramedy did we see Maron acting. Rather, all we saw was Sam Sylvia, a B-movie director for whom the B stands for “bastard.” And, because Maron so utterly captured the cigarette-stained essence of his foul-tempered character, when he let show through his curmudgeonly shell a glimmer of humanity, it got our attention — as it should Emmy voters’.
HENRY WINKLER, BARRY
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: The former Arthur Fonzarelli might snag a spot here on legacy alone, but he went out and earned it anyway with his savagely funny work as hopelessly pretentious L.A. acting coach Gene Cousineau. Whether casually name-dropping Judd Hirsch or earnestly auditioning for “Man in Back of Line,” Gene was the archetypal Hollywood hopeful whose dreams never quite came true, and Winkler lent him a sturdy dignity amid all the D-list laughs.
ZACH WOODS, SILICON VALLEY
WHY HE DESERVES A NOD: He may be thin as a reed, but Woods had a huge presence in Season 5 of HBO’s tech-world satire. Yes, his timid number cruncher Jared was once again a reliable source of unsettlingly strange one-liners. (“Adversity is a great teacher. Just like cigarette burns.”) But Jared also had a romance (!) this season, albeit with a lifelike android named Fiona, and Woods made their all-too-short fling surprisingly poignant. Well, and kind of creepy, too.