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This story first appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY
30 Rock (NBC)
PRO: Voters nominated Baldwin for all seven seasons he played Jack Donaghy and have given him gold twice. He won a SAG Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe during the Emmy-winning series’ final season, and voters might feel sentimental about saying goodbye to Tina Fey and company.
CON: His awards shelf runneth over, and voters might be turned off by his inability to conquer his foot-in-mouth syndrome.
Arrested Development (Netflix)
PRO: Seven years after Fox canceled Arrested, Bateman again embodies Michael Bluth with hilarious ease. The movie star previously was nominated for season two, and this year he’s the sitcom’s sole acting nominee.
CON: Arrested received no other major noms, which suggests voters might have room for only one Netflix series (House of Cards?) on their Emmy ballots.
House of Lies (Showtime)
PRO: The Oscar nominee (voters love those) has been nominated twice for playing wily consultant/fixer Marty Kaan. He nabbed this category’s Globe in January and also was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award.
CON: Cheadle’s series walks a thin line between drama and comedy (see Edie Falco below), and some have knocked House as mostly offering style over substance — particularly in season two.
PRO: He’s now an 11-time nominee and two-time winner for his (black) semiautobiographical comedy. For season three, in which Louie pines for love and angles for his dream job, he already has bagged a Critics’ Choice Award and a Globe nom. His funny turn in Woody Allen‘s film Blue Jasmine can’t hurt.
CON: Like Larry David (to whom he’s frequently compared), C.K. is an acquired taste. And David never has won for acting.
PRO: The likable veteran has received five Emmy noms — three for Friends and two for Showtime’s wryly funny U.S./U.K. collaboration, on which he plays a fictionalized version of himself starring in a new sitcom.
CON: If voters think “Matt LeBlanc” — a selfish, shallow and sex-obsessed guy — is anything like the real Matt LeBlanc, it probably won’t be to his advantage. Also, the series hasn’t aired in 2013.
Jim Parsons (Most likely to win!)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
PRO: He’s a five-time nominee and two-time winner for his socially clueless physicist Sheldon Cooper. This year, Parsons also has earned noms for a Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award, and Big Bang won the top prize at the critics’ fete in June.
CON: After two recent Emmy wins, voters might be ready to award such edgier contenders as Globe winner Cheadle or a never-lauded Friend, LeBlanc.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
PRO: Her mesmerizing turn as Amy Jellicoe, a spiritually awakened corporate drone, bagged her a Globe for season one, and now she has an Emmy nomination — her fifth, each for a different project during the past 21 years, including in 2008 for HBO’s Recount.
CON: Snubbed by voters last year and canceled by HBO this year, her series always was an underdog. Dern’s best chance for a win could rest solely on voter sentimentality.
PRO: Her manic hipster Hannah Horvath has garnered the show creator back-to-back acting, directing and producing noms. Season two, in which her character’s self-destructive tendencies hit new heights, has netted Dunham a Globe win and a Critics’ Choice nomination.
CON: Dunham’s shtick got a little dark for some in season two. Voters might see her as more deserving of behind-the-camera kudos.
Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
PRO: The revered veteran’s role as drug-addicted nurse Jackie Peyton has earned her four straight noms and one win. She’s one of only a few drama actress winners (The Sopranos) to reinvent herself so compellingly in a half-hour series.
CON: Some argue the series — not remotely “ha ha” funny — has been miscategorized as a comedy. And Falco, while stellar, is an odd contender in a race filled with much funnier performances.
30 Rock (NBC)
PRO: The academy clearly loves Fey: She was nominated for acting all seven seasons for the series she created (and won for season two). 30 Rock had a strong finish, and voters might want to bestow her a parting gift.
CON: Fey has earned 28 Emmy nominations and seven wins during her career. Between those stats and her buzzy Globes co-hosting stint (for which she’s also nominated), voters might want to spread the love.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Most likely to win!)
PRO: She’s the most nominated actress in Emmy history, with a total of 14 noms for Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine and Veep. Louis-Dreyfus has won once for each, including last year for Veep‘s first season. For an even funnier season two, she has won a Critics’ Choice Award.
CON: Dern and Dunham also are nominated for HBO comedies, which could mean split loyalty among the network’s three excellent series.
Parks and Recreation (NBC)
PRO: She has scored four consecutive noms for her lovable civic nerd Leslie Knope. This year, she has been nominated for a Globe, a SAG Award and a Critics’ Choice Award and killed it co-hosting the Globes with Fey.
CON: Parks, snubbed for comedy series this year, is more of an ensemble piece than some other shows in this category. And few leads score first-time gold this far into their series’ run.
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