×

Emmy Lead Actor Race Analysis: Jeffrey Tambor vs. Anthony Anderson

Last year there was no question. Jeffrey Tambor was destined to win his first Emmy (in a remarkable TV career that includes “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Arrested Development”) for his transformative performance as Maura Pfefferman on Amazon’s freshman sensation “Transparent.” This year, there’s a decent chance he’ll repeat. But the outstanding lead actor in a comedy series race doesn’t feel nearly as cut and dried. Five formidable competitors stand in his way, each with his own strong case for a win. Just don’t be surprised if it boils down to a battle royale between the Pfefferman family matriarch and Anthony Anderson’s Johnson family patriarch.

THE ODDS
Given Emmy’s fondness for repeat winners, and the continued excellence of his performance, Tambor remains the safe bet by a mile. But there’s always the chance that someone sneaks in for an upset, and the field is full of rich possibilities. If voters decide they want to vote for the performance that made them laugh the hardest, Tambor would still have a shot, but his odds would be considerably reduced. And among all the competition, it could be “Black-ish” leading man Anthony Anderson who reps the best shot.

THE CASE FOR TAMBOR
Sure, he won last year, but the Emmys have never been shy about honoring the same performance more than once (see: Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Tambor gave voters plenty of reasons to go back for more as the second season pushed his character to new highs and lows in her search for self. The show is at the forefront of a social revolution in trans acceptance, but Tambor’s quiet, dignified, performance never feels like grandstanding. He simply disappears into the skin of a seventysomething woman coming into her own.

THE CASE FOR ANDERSON
Last year, Anderson was the only nominee for ABC family comedy “Black-ish.” This year, he’s joined by co-star Tracee Ellis Ross and the show itself landed in outstanding comedy. Those are good signs the TV Academy likes what they see, and the series’ mix of traditional family comedy with very contemporary explorations of race, class, and social issues hits the sweet spot between old- and new-fashioned voters. Added incentive: Only one black actor has ever won this category, Robert Guillaume for “Benson” in 1985.

THE COMPETITION
Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)
A quadruple threat this year (he’s also nominated for writing and directing the episode “Parents” and producing the show), Ansari graduated from “Parks and Recreation” supporting player to self-assured leading man. He could factor into the race for seasons to come.

Will Forte (“The Last Man on Earth”)
Headlining one of TV’s most-underrated comedies — the post-apocalyptic farce gelled into a marvelous ensemble showcase in season two — Forte pushed himself to extremes few actors would dare. (Just Google “Will Forte hair” for proof.)

William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
With three consecutive nominations, he’s suddenly the category veteran. And the two-time Emmy winner and Oscar nominee remains one of the most respected actors in the business.

Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”)
A first-time nominee this year, the hilariously twitchy comedian anchors HBO’s brilliant tech world satire — which miraculously only gets sharper, smarter, and more uproarious with each season.

More TV

  • Hunters Amazon

    'Hunters' Slammed by Auschwitz Memorial for 'Dangerous' Historical Inaccuracy

    Amazon Prime’s new series “Hunters” has come under fire from the Auschwitz Memorial for being historically inaccurate. The memorial’s Twitter account called a violent scene featuring a human chess game “dangerous foolishness” and a “caricature.” In the scene, which is depicted in the opening credits of all 10 episodes and plays out in the first [...]

  • B. Smith

    B. Smith, TV Host, Author and Restaurateur, Dies at 70

    B. Smith, a former TV host, restaurateur and author, died of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease on Saturday night in her home in Long Island, New York. Her husband announced the news in a Facebook post on Sunday morning. She was 70. “Thank you to Dr. Sam Gandy, East End Hospice and additional caregivers who helped us [...]

  • Our Cartoon president

    'Our Cartoon President' Boss R.J. Fried: 'The World Feels More Cartoonish Than Ever'

    As the Democratic presidential race heats up with each passing moment, the writers’ room at Showtime’s “Our Cartoon President” is constantly on its toes to keep up with the news cycle. “Bernie had his heart attack, and Mike [Leech, writer/producer] says, ‘At “The Simpsons” they never walk into work and say “Mr. Burns had a [...]

  • Claire Denis attends the 32nd European

    Claire Denis and Phedon Papamichael Join Doha Film Institute's Qumra Lineup

    The Doha Film Institute has added French auteur Claire Denis and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (“Nebraska”) to the lineup of star talent who will act as mentors for the Qumra Masters program during its upcoming Qumra event dedicated to fostering fresh Arab film fare that is opening up to TV projects. They join previously announced [...]

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna Pleads for Equality at NAACP Image Awards: 'Tell Your Friends to Pull Up'

    Rihanna was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award. The honor is bestowed on an entertainer whose commitment to philanthropy is unparalleled. Rihanna, whose chosen charities include the Clara Lionel Foundation, Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, was in attendance for the NAACP Image Awards show, [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Projected to Win Nevada Democratic Caucus

    Bernie Sanders is now projected to win the Nevada caucus. Per the Associated Press, Sanders has captured 54% of the delegates with 4% of precincts reporting on Saturday afternoon. Joe Biden is currently in a distant second with 17.8%, while Elizabeth Warren rose to third with 10%. Pete Buttigieg is in fourth place with 8.7%, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content