There are a lot of new faces, returning stars, and movie stars-turned-TV leads who have made Emmy voting particularly tough this year.
That combined with new offerings from Amazon and Netflix, as well as a few network newcomers could make comedy giants Sophia Vergara and Julia Louis-Dreyfus nervous, or take two-time nominated Kerry Washington out of the run altogether. And while Bryan Cranston can’t be considered again, “Breaking Bad” prequel, “Better Call Saul,” may have a winner in Bob Odenkirk.
Whether or not they actually get nominated on July 16, these stars are factoring big among voters.
Here are this year’s potential Emmy game changers:
Nothing stops Ellie Kemper's constantly upbeat titular character on 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.' Passed over by NBC, the Robert Carlock-Tina Fey series found itself a binge worthy home on Netflix. And now, Kemper is the talk of the town.
Just when you though you knew who Saul Goodman was, 'Better Call Saul' introduces us to Bob Odenkirk's Jimmy McGill. He's not yet the shifty, fast-talking attorney of 'Breaking Bad,' but Odenkirk plays him so that it feels like Saul is just under Jimmy's skin.
No, Amy Schumer isn't new to her fans, but the comedienne and actress has suddenly become the next big thing. Despite having starred on Comedy Central's 'Inside Amy Schumer' for three seasons, more and more people are catching on to her offbeat, politically incorrect take on gender, sex, race and current events. Is it possible that 'Inside Amy Schumer' can take down 'Saturday Night Live' in the sketch show category? Many are saying she could.
With a show titled 'Black-ish,' Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross were under a microscope. Would they be able to pull off a humorous take on race without peeving people off? In the end, viewers realised that their characters were striving with the very universal challenges of movin' on up while still passing on the culture we were raised in. And as actors, they never let the pressure keep them from attacking a joke 110%.
Jeffrey Tambor has been nominated for an Emmy six times before (four times for 'The Larry Sanders Show' and two times for 'Arrested Development') and has never won. This time around, he has a Golden Globe under on his shelf and he's a frontrunner. He's a shoo-in for a nom.
With its take on how the internet changes our lives, 'The Comeback' may have been ahead of its time back in 2005. About nine years later, Lisa Kudrow brought the series back to HBO and found that audiences were signing on to its concept. Kudrow ups the ante with a reality show project for Valerie Cherish that goes over the top and should put her on-deck for an Emmy.
To carry a show alone -- for any amount of time -- is a harrowing act. 'SNL' alum Will Forte does that for Fox's 'The Last Man on Earth.' Forte plays a difficult balance between being an object of pity and a narcissistic pig. That makes it hard to love him, but he's even tougher to wish failure upon. He will be shaking up the comedy actors category.
No one is arguing that Constance Wu's character on 'Fresh Off the Boat' doesn't have all the elements we were expecting of the show's matriarch. She's both a dutiful Chinese wife and tiger mum, yes. But, Wu is constantly finding ways to loosen up, exert her influence, and show off her long list of hidden (and hilarious) talents.
Gael Garcia Bernal plays a sexy and impulsive conductor of a New York orchestra on Amazon comedy 'Mozart in the Jungle.' 'Transparent's' Jeffrey Tambor is certainly a frontrunner for Amazon's first Emmy statue, but there's a groundswell of support for Bernal that's making voting difficult.
It took a while to find the right actress to play 'Outlander's' Claire, but it was time well spent. Caitriona Balfe has thrilled fans of both the novel and the series. The former model gives Claire a toughness we rarely see and delivers quite the strong-willed heroine, who also torn between two lives. It's the right role for an Emmy.
Again, when you have entertainment legends among the crop of TV offerings, they're hard to ignore. 'Grace and Frankie' may not get the same chatter as Netflix's other original series, but these two women certainly delivered Emmy-worthy performances.
Clive Owen looks both to the future on this period series about a hospital that's pushing medical boundaries and to the past as he finds it hard to work alongside a black surgeon on Cinemax's 'The Knick.' At the same time, his character deals with demons of addiction. It all makes a strong argument for an Emmy nom for Owen.
Viola Davis is electric as the college law professor and attorney who takes a group of students under her wing only to take them down a murderous rabbit hole on ABC's 'How to Get Away With Murder.' Davis goes from styled to the hilt at trial to the most outrageous ugly crying scene and makes it look easy. She gives her all to the role and she should be honored for that at the Emmys.
Yes, he's a comedy legend. And, yes, his new parody show with Broadway star Josh Gad on FX makes great use of Crystal's many talents. It would be difficult to see him left out of the Emmys this year.
It had seemed that viewers were waiting for 'Empire' for a long while. Every week, its ratings continued to rise. All those millions of people were coming to see just what Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson's characters were dishing out on the hip-hop soap opera. Both actors are giving Emmy voters something to consider.
'Bloodline' casts Kyle Chandler in this mysterious family drama as a sheriff and his family's trusted patriarch. He struggles, though, when his estranged brother returns to town. He's definitely in the mix for another good chance at a nom. In 2011, Chandler won the statue for 'Friday Night Lights.' He beat out Jon Hamm that year. And Now, 'Mad Men' is done and there's some desire to reward Hamm for his work on the series as he has been nominated seven times without a win. Will voters go for a rematch or will they keep Chandler out to give Hamm a better chance at his long-awaited win?
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