The recent Emmy voting changes led to many surprises last year, but they also proved that there are some performances voters will reward year after year no matter the circumstances. Even though both Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jeffrey Tambor feel like old news, they are able to excite voters and win consecutive comedy awards with few complaints simply because they are that good.
It’s easy to see why Emmy voters are so quick to award the two Emmy favorites year after year. Both actors earned their first nominations in the early 90’s and continued to rake in nominations for three different shows throughout their careers. Now that they both have career-defining roles, voters of course are going to continuously check them off without thinking twice.
Now that voters have all had the chance to vote for them multiple times, is there a chance that some of them won’t feel the need to check both of them off? Or are voters going to make the same decisions like they did in the nominations phase?
With 5 consecutive wins and 9 overall awards (including 2 for producing), no actor dominated the Emmys quite like Julia Louis-Dreyfus. With her performance on Veep, she has rightfully been deemed the television successor to Lucille Ball and is now one Emmy away from tying Cloris Leachman’s record for most acting wins. On top of all this, Veep continues to rake in more nominations year after year which is almost unheard of for a comedy in its sixth season. When critics, audiences, and her peers look at Selena Meyer as the single best performance on TV in the 21st century, it makes it difficult to make a case for anyone else.
As popular as Julia Louis-Dreyfus is, she has never had to compete against such a heavy list of performers just as revered as she is. After winning the supporting award twice, 7-time Emmy winner Allison Janney upgraded herself to the lead race for her work on Mom. This year, both Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are nominated for Grace & Frankie. Together, the four women boast 18 Emmys and 66 nominations showing that this is a category filled with some of the most beloved icons in the industry. Because these actresses have spent years raking in countless Emmys, will voters have a hard time choosing between them?
As unlikely as it may seem, a competitive race between four distinguished nominees might make room for an unlikely contender to sneak through. From Girlfriends to black-ish, Tracee Ellis Ross entertained audiences with little recognition. After winning the Golden Globe earlier this year, voters in the television industry might finally pay attention. Pamela Adlon is a previous winner for her voice-over work on King of the Hill and has 182 acting credits to her name as well as being closely associated with Emmy favorite Louis CK. Now that she has a starring role, there might be plenty of voters who want to reward her long career.
Even with the opportunity for someone to sneak through, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is popular enough to overcome it. Along with black-ish, her show is the only one to also be nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, and the acting branch already proved that they can’t get enough of Veep.
Starting in the early 90’s, Jeffrey Tambor has been repeatedly nominated at the Emmys for his work on The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development before finally winning his first major award for Transparent two years ago. The combination of his overdue status as a performer and the cultural relevance of Transparent pushed his work as Maura Pfefferman into one of the most well-received performances of the past ten years.
Voters could easily reward Tambor with a third consecutive Emmy,6 but there are a couple of signs that they are ready to move on and award someone new. First, he lost the SAG award earlier this year to William H. Macy, an upset no one saw coming. Then, Transparent was left out of the Outstanding Comedy Series race hinting that voters aren’t as excited about the show as they used to be.
If voters are ready to move on to the next hottest show, no other nominee has more buzz than Donald Glover. Since Atlanta debuted last fall, Glover has been fully embraced as a visionary in front of and behind the camera winning major awards from the critics, foreign press, and guild awards. Glover has excited the entire television industry, and as Childish Gambino, even released one of the most popular songs of the year. In a year where voters are changing what it means to be an awards contender, no other contender represents the new wave of television quite like Glover.
In the comedy races, the performances with the broadest comedic appeal tend to win. This gives a comedian like Zach Galifinakis a huge advantage. Literally playing a clown, he gives a funnier performance compared to most of his competition who all come from dramedies. On top of that, he portrays two characters which has impressed voters before.
The other nominees don’t seem to have the momentum to win. Anthony Anderson is a comedic talent that has been working in the industry for 20 years, but black-ish doesn’t seem to be as popular with voters as it should. Master of None has its fans, but voters tend to ignore actors playing a fictionalized version of themselves. William H. Macy may have won the SAG award, but that didn’t help him in the past.
In the end the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series race might be the one category where actors will opt to reward something new.
Readers, do you think Emmy voters will simply award last year’s winners or will someone new sneak through and win?