This category has become the battle of sentimental versus content versus flash regarding the three main contenders in this category: Ty Burrell, Tony Hale, and Tituss Burgess. This doesn’t go to say the other nominees do not have the capacity to pull off an upset, because they can. Keegan-Michael Key’s nomination for Key & Peele was the surprise nomination in this category and that ought to be recognized. With the format of his show, Key will be able to show voters his versatility with comedy acting, which may help his chances. Andre Braugher is the one constant from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a show the Emmys has mostly ignored. Braugher has always been able to occupy both dramatic and comedic dimensions into his acting as the show’s police Captain and that could give him a boost with voters. Lastly, Adam Driver continues to stay above water with Girls after the show has clearly gone below the surface with voters. This could potentially lead to an upset in this category because the voters have clearly taken a liking to Driver in a show that is floundering, but also for another reason: Adam Driver has always been the standout on Girls. His submission episode, “Close-Up,” does give him a good chance with the depth of acting he portrays in the episode. Also, Adam Driver currently has name recognition that gives him an advantage over the other nominees with the latest news buzz about his being cast as the lead villain in the new Star Wars franchise. While that may have no relevancy to the Emmys, such information at least keeps Driver’s name at the forefront of voters’ minds.
This goes back to the three main contenders in this category. Ty Burrell is well liked amongst Emmy voters, having already won twice for Modern Family. His submission episode, “Crying Out Loud,” is a sentimental episode for his character, who is coming to terms that his middle daughter is about to leave for college and he wants to have something to remember his fatherhood with his children. It is a special episode for Burrell and voters may identify with the episode’s content enough to favor Burrell. Tony Hale has won once for his role on Veep and is more than worthy of earning his second Emmy for the show’s fourth season. His performance is so layered and filled with internalized emotional that it ought to be commended again. Hale’s episode, “East Wing,” captures his loyal bagman character being challenged by others as to his relevancy of being a staff member, which triggers his desperation and frustration to prove he is worth being by the President’s side. It was an episode perfectly made to showcase Tony Hale, who instills every human emotion possible into his performance in this episode.
Normally it isn’t the flashy performance that takes the frontrunner position, yet an exception must be made when discussing Tituss Burgess. From his first entrance onto Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to his last scene, Burgess was the best thing about the show with his extroverted, scene-stealing, utterly hilarious performance. Normally actors, especially unknown ones, take at least one season to get comfortable being their characters before establishing their mannerisms or quirks. For Burgess, he began his performance knowing exactly how he wanted to portray his character. What especially makes this extraordinary was how Burgess made his character the center of attention, yet held back just enough to avoid the character from being obnoxious. Burgess’s worthiness extends beyond his submission episode, and should largely be awarded for his willingness to not play the character carefully, but instead trusted his instincts with the character. However, if voters need a reason to award Burgess simply based upon his submission episode, “Kimmy Goes to School,” Burgess was strategic enough to submit the episode that includes his now-famous “Pinot Noir” music video. That 64 second clip ought to be enough to award Burgess with his first Emmy.
Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ty Burrell – Modern Family
Adam Driver – Girls
Tony Hale – Veep
Keegan-Michael Key – Keey & Peele
Will Win: Tituss Burgess
Could Win: Tony Hale
Should Win: Tituss Burgess
Could Upset: Adam Driver