×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert Mocks Former CBS Chief Leslie Moonves on 'Late Show'

    Leslie Moonves was known to take an active dislike of David Letterman making fun of him during that host’s tenure on CBS’ “The Late Show.” He probably isn’t enjoying being mentioned by Stephen Colbert either. Colbert used his monologue on Tuesday’s broadcast to poke fun at the former CBS Corp. CEO, who yesterday learned that [...]

  • Ruth Wilson and Idris Elba'Luther Series

    'Luther' Creator Neil Cross Working on Show's Movie Version, Idris Elba Says

    A movie version of crime series “Luther” is moving forward, with writer-creator Neil Cross working on the script, the show’s star Idris Elba confirmed at the launch of Season 5 in London. “We are really advancing on getting a movie version [of the show] up on the screen,” Elba said. “Neil is beavering away on [...]

  • THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" --

    TV News Roundup: NBC Announces Midseason Premiere Dates

    In today’s roundup, NBC reveals midseason premiere dates for six shows, including “The Voice.” DATES  Related Film Review: 'CinemAbility' D.A. Declines to File Charges Against Kevin Spacey, Anthony Anderson, Steven Seagal NBC has announced midseason premiere dates for four returning and two new series. “The Voice” will air Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, Feb. 26 [...]

  • David Rhodes CBS News

    CBS News Faces New Challenges in Weeks Ahead

    At CBS News, President David Rhodes has a series of important decisions to make that could affect the trajectories of some of TV’s best-known news programs. As its parent company seeks to move forward from recent seismic events – the ouster of its former CEO, Leslie Moonves; a corporate probe into its workplace culture; and [...]

  • European Union Placeholder

    Europe, Hollywood Hail Landmark E.U. Territorial Licensing Agreement

    Industry organizations and major companies in Europe and Hollywood welcomed Tuesday a high-level European Union agreement that in large part preserves producers’ ability to sell movies and TV shows on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis. Territorial licensing is a financial backbone of the film and TV business in Europe. Recognition of such licensing came last Thursday in [...]

  • Queer as Folk UK Version

    'Queer as Folk' Reboot in Development at Bravo (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a competitive situation, Bravo is developing a new version of “Queer as Folk,” Variety has learned exclusively. Russell T. Davies, the creator of the original UK series, is onboard the new project as an executive producer. Stephen Dunn is attached to write, direct, and executive produce. Nicola Shindler of Red Productions, who executive produced the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content