‘Parks and Recreation’ faces ‘Modern Family’ wall in supporting actor

As the fourth season of “Parks and Recreation” charges to a close, Nick Offerman is overdue, to say the least, for his first Emmy nomination. The Television Critics Assn. certainly would argue as much, after giving Offerman the TCA Award for individual achievement in comedy last year.

But Offerman (whom I wrote about a year ago today, coincidentally, for Variety On the Air) is hardly the only Emmy supporting actor candidate from “Parks.” Adam Scott, Aziz Ansari, Chris Pratt and Rob Lowe have all done memorable work this TV season.

Adam ScottScott, who only joined the cast late in season two, has gotten as much screen time as any “Parks” supporting performer this year, thanks to his dual role as the boyfriend and campaign manager for Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). Ansari and Pratt have had their usual full supply of perfect comic moments, while Lowe continues to make charmingly amusing a character that might have been one-note. Jim O’Heir, frankly, does a terrific job in the role of Jerry as well.

For any of these guys to draw a nomination, however, they’re going to have to break through the fearsome “Modern Family” foursome that accounted for all but two of the six nominations in 2011: winner Ty Burrell and runners-up Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill and Eric Stonestreet (who won in 2010). One spot among last year’s nominees opened up with the move of Jon Cryer (“Two and a Half Men”) to lead comedy actor this year, but it’s still going to be a jam-packed group.

You get the sense that “Parks” peeps will feel lucky, or at least relieved, if the show can just get one comedy supporting actor nomination. If so, you figure that will be Offerman, thanks to the long-running drumbeat of support on his behalf. But as a fan of both laffers, I find it hard to see how “Parks” is any less deserving of four comedy supporting actor nominations than “Modern Family” is — putting aside the contenders from all the other shows.  Emmy math sure can get twisted.

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