They're here! After a long wait, the 2015 Emmy nominations have finally been announced. As per usual, there were a handful of snubs and surprises, but the the Outstanding Lead Actor and Lead Actress in a Comedy Series categories are filled to the brim with deserving talent. Both categories will be a close call, but which one has a tighter race ahead? This year, it looks like the women may just have the tougher Emmys race, believe it or not. This is progress, people.
First, the nominees. Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Tambor, Louis C.K., William H. Macy, Anthony Anderson, Matt LeBlanc, and Will Forte are the seven distinguished gentleman who make up the Lead Actor category (for House of Lies, Transparent, Louie, Shameless, Black-ish, Episodes, and The Last Man on Earth, respectively). While Lily Tomlin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Schumer, Edie Falco, Lisa Kudrow, and Amy Poehler are the lovely and brilliant women who make up the Lead Actress category (for Frank and Gracie, Veep, Inside Amy Schumer, Nurse Jackie, The Comeback, and Parks and Rec, respectively).
In the past, the men's category has typically been considered the tighter race; in reality, however, both categories have doled out the award to the same person for three of the past five years (Jim Parsons for Lead Actor, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Lead Actress). Truthfully, both categories are chock full of contenders this year. With regards to the men, Will Forte's dopey apocalypse survivor was pretty beloved by audiences and critics, even if the show itself fell out of favor by the end of the season. Don Cheadle and William H. Macy are always pitch perfect in anything they do, and Jeffrey Tambor's revelatory portrayal of Maura Pfefferman was one of the best television performances in recent memory.
Likewise, every woman in the Lead Actress category has one hell of a tough one to win. First, you have the surprising but well-deserved nod to Schumer, whose slowly but surely becoming America's Foul-Mouthed Sweetheart. Then, there are Poehler and Falco, both of whom are nominated for shows that came to an end this year (which only increases their chances of actually winning since Emmy voters realize it's the last opportunity they have). Lisa Kudrow and Lily Tomlin are both blasts from the past, in their own right, who delivered epically well-crafted performances (particularly Kudrow as Valerie Cherish). Then — obviously — there's Queen Emmy herself, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was somehow better than ever this season as Selina Meyer on Veep; her chances of winning are only slightly reduced by the fact that she's already won the past three years.
Let's be real though: as far as the Lead Actor category goes, do any of those actors stand a chance against Tambor? Anderson is hilarious, Macy is brilliant, and Louis C.K. is a prodigy, but none of their shows struck a cultural nerve quite like Transparent. Tambor totally and completely stepped outside of himself to create Maura Pfefferman, in a way that has completely changed his image as an actor. By a long shot, Maura is the most complicated character in the list of nominees, and he nailed it. Don't get me wrong: LeBlanc is lovable, but he's playing himself.
The women's category is where the drama's at.
On the other hand, there's so many politics at play in the Lead Actress category that this could easily be the year that ends Louis-Dreyfus's winning streak. Schumer is the least accomplished performer on the list, but she's so adored right now that a win for her wouldn't be that surprising. Then again, the Television Academy voters could also be realizing that they've inadvertently made Poehler the Susan Lucci of the Primetime Comedy Emmys (she's never won for playing Leslie Knope, despite five previous nominations and being totally amazing in the role), and this is their last chance to vote Knope! But you can't count out Kudrow, either: her work The Comeback was beyond brilliance, and anyone who sobbed at the finale is probably rooting like hell for her.
Obviously, it's all conjecture until we find out the winners on September 20. If you're looking to make a wager, however, I'd place money huge on Jeffrey Tambor... and maybe roll the dice for Lead Actress.