Emmys 2013: Who Should Be Nominated in the Comedy Categories? And Who Actually Will Be?

As we talked about last week, the voting window is now open for the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards. The ballots are due next Friday, June 28, but between now and then, we'll be breaking down the prominent races in the comedy, drama, and miniseries/TV movie categories with a survey of who's in the running to be nominated (based on the publicly released submission ballots), who we think should be nominated, and who we think will actually be nominated when this year's competitors are announced on July 18.

Let's start with the comedy categories, where there's quite a bit of intrigue. Will Modern Family continue to dominate? Will Girls or Louie piggyback on last year's successes and grab even more wins? And will Arrested Development make a triumphant return to its former Emmy glory?

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The recent trend: All Modern Family, all the time. Eric Stonestreet won in 2012, Ty Burrell won in 2011, and then Stonestreet won again in 2012...  and in each of those three years, the show accounted for at least half the nominations in the category. 

The probable repeats: The bloom is a bit off the Modern Family rose among viewers and critics, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything with regard to the typically rigid Emmy voters. I have absolutely no doubt that Stonestreet and Burrell will remain in this race. I've seen some folks suggest that maybe Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ed O'Neill will fall by the wayside, but I'm skeptical of that. Last year's non-ModFam nominees, Max Greenfield for New Girl and Bill Hader for SNL, could absolutely keep their spots—especially Hader, since he's coming off a final season of work, and those situations always seem to demand a little extra consideration. Despite the litany of wonderful alternatives, it's totally possible that this category stays exactly the same.  

The most deserving candidates: Yow. This is me trying to parse it down, in no particular order: Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Adam Driver (Girls), Luke Wilson (Enlightened), Mike White (Enlightened), Tony Hale (Veep), Atticus Shaffer (The Middle), Adam Pally (Happy Endings), Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings), Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation), John Krasinski (The Office), Danny Pudi (Community), Jim Rash (Community), Chris Messina (The Mindy Project), Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Nolan Gould (Modern Family) and Jason Gann (Wilfred).

The possible breakthroughs: The biggies here are mostly show-dependent, as most of these things are. Jeffrey Tambor has been nominated quite a bit for his work over the years, including twice for Arrested Development. The structure of the new Netflix season could help him as well as Will Arnett, who's been nominated in the guest category for his 30 Rock appearances and who arguably has the best individual episode of Arrested Development's fourth season. It's also possible that final season love boosts the 30 Rock (Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer) and Office men (John Kraskinski, Rainn Wilson, or god forbid, Ed Helms) into the race. Maybe the Academy gives Fred Armisen some love for his last round on SNL as well, maybe the residual love for Brad Garrett earns him a random nom or maybe the Modern Family love extends to the deserving Nolan Gould. But the most likely candidate to jump in is The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg. 

The likely final picks: Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Ed O'Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Bill Hader, and Simon Helberg. There's no good reason for voters to go out on much of a limb.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

The recent trend: More Modern Family domination. Julie Bowen has won for the last two years and both times a number of people considered her co-star and fellow nominee Sofía Vergara to be just as likely to win. Kristen Wiig has also been a constant in this category.

The probable repeats: I see no reason why Bowen and Vergara won't stick around for another duel. Two of their fellow nominees from last year—Wiig (no longer on SNL) and Kathryn Joosten (deceased)—won't be in-play this time, but the other two, Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) and Merritt Weaver (Nurse Jackie), are very much still in the conversation. I think Bialik is more likely to return than Weaver, if only based on the different profiles of their respective shows.

The most deserving candidates: Lake Bell (Children's Hospital), Casey Wilson (Happy Endings), Retta (Parks and Recreation), Eden Sher (The Middle), Gillian Jacobs (Community), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer), Diane Ladd (Enlightened), Jenna Fischer (The Office), Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings), Carly Chaikin (Suburgatory), Elisha Cuthbert (Happy Endings), Anna Chlumsky (Veep), Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), Busy Phillips (Cougar Town), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) and Allison Williams (Girls).  

The possible breakthroughs: There are a number of past nominees (Jane Lynch, Conchata Ferrell, Jane Krakowski, Jenna Fischer, Jessica Walter, Betty White) who could easily jump back into the race. Fischer probably has the best body of work to submit of this group, but I'm not sure voters will come back to The Office. Krakowski has the best shot to return. I'd also watch out for Ellen Barkin for The New Normal (she's a big enough name), Anna Chlumsky for Veep (love for that show could go real big this year), Allison Williams for Girls (ditto Veep) and Kate McKinnon (someone from SNL has been nominated here for five years in a row).  

The likely final picks: Julie Bowen, Sofía Vergara, Mayim Bialik, Jane Krakowski, Jessica Walter, and Allison Williams. Ellen Barkin and Anna Chlumsky are left just outside.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

The recent trend: Keeping it in the CBS family. Jim Parsons won back-to-back awards in 2010 and 2011, only to lose to the new-to-the-category Jon Cryer last year. Parsons, Alec Baldwin and Louis C.K. are the only three men to be nominated in each of the last two years; there's been a lot of instability otherwise. 

The probable repeats: Only one of last year's nominees lacks eligibility this year (Larry David), so it's possible that could end up with five returnees. However, it's a little more likely that only four of last year's competitors will be back (Cryer, Parsons, Baldwin, and C.K.), and that Don Cheadle will lose his spot to someone else. I'm hedging a bit because I can't really stand House of Lies, but Showtime knows how to get its stars nominated. 

The most deserving candidates: Peter Capaldi (In the Thick of It), Garrett Dillahunt (Raising Hope), Neil Flynn (The Middle), Jake Johnson (New Girl), Joel McHale (Community), Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Elijah Wood (Wilfred). 

The possible breakthroughs: Matt LeBlanc is back in the pool for Episodes (the show wasn't eligible in 2011) and he might be the biggest threat to re-join the race. Johnny Galecki could return after garnering a nomination here two years ago, and former nominees like Jason Bateman, Tim Allen, and Matthew Perry are also in the running (Bateman probably most of all). Of course there's going to be a lot of buzz for Jake Johnson. He's certainly deserving, and the voters showed New Girl some love last year. 

The likely final picks: Alec Baldwin, Jon Cryer, Jim Parsons, Louis C.K., Matt LeBlanc, and Jason Bateman. LeBlanc, Bateman and Don Cheadle are probably fighting over two spots, and I'm assuming that only one Showtime guy will make it in. 

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

The recent trend: There hasn't been much consistency in this category with regard to the winners (no one has won the award in back-to-back years since Patricia Heaton in 1999 and 2000), but a lot of the faces are the same. Tina Fey has been hanging out here since 2006, and so has Julia Louis-Dreyfus, outside of the year between the end of The Adventures of Old Christine and the beginning of Veep. Amy Poehler and Edie Falco have been nominated for three straight years now, and Melissa McCarthy is right behind them with two. The category was so packed last year that it stretched to seven nominees, including newbies Zooey Deschanel and Lena Dunham. 

The probable repeats: All of them? Maybe we there won't be another extended field of seven, but I'll be shocked if at least five of last year's nominees don't return. Fey, Louis-Dreyfus, Falco, and Poehler are as pretty close to locks, and I'd guess that Dunham and McCarthy are as well. Zooey D. is the only one I'm a bit weary of, if only becausNew Girl became more of an ensemble show in Season 2.

The most deserving candidates: Courteney Cox (Cougar Town), Laura Dern (Enlightened), Sutton Foster (Bunheads), Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope), Krysten Ritter (Don't Trust the B***** in Apt. 23), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Jane Levy (Suburgatory), and Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate). 

The possible breakthroughs: I'd love to tell you that Emmy voters are going to recognize Enlightened and Laura Dern, but they didn't last year even with the field of seven. Martha Plimpton was a surprise nominee two years ago, so there's a world where the voters remember her awesome work. And hey, maybe the industry's love for Mindy Kaling continues to snowball and she slides into the competitive race.

The likely final picks: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Edie Falco, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler and Zooey Deschanel. Deschanel and Melissa McCarthy could be interchangable, but I'm hoping the New Girl love continues.

Outstanding Comedy Series

The recent trend: I don't know if you've heard of this little show called Modern Family; it's won in this category for three years in a row. Before that, 30 Rock dominated with a three-peat of its own, and even though Tina Fey's show hasn't won since 2009, it has six straight nominations. Outside of those two juggernauts and two straight noms for The Big Bang Theory, this category is in flux. The Office's streak ended last year, as did the buzz for Glee, and Girls and Veep moved in while Parks and Rec fell out after its deserved nomination in 2011.  

The probable repeats: Modern Family30 Rock, and The Big Bang Theory are 100-percent locks. Girls is very close, as is Veep. I'm predicting a big year for Veep in general, so I think it'll be here. Last year's final nominee, Curb Your Enthusiasm, isn't eligible this time, so there's at least one open spot.

The most deserving candidates: Archer, EnlightenedNew GirlLouieParks and RecreationHappy EndingsThe MiddleThe Office, and Arrested Development

The possible breakthroughs: Realistically, there's only one spot open. The shows that are likely to grab that spot, in order, are LouieArrested DevelopmentParks and Recreation, and maybe The Office if the voters only saw the episodes that didn't involve Andy. I'm unsure of what will happen with Arrested Development, but the combination of buzz and Emmy history might be enough. But this feels like Louie's spot to lose. C.K.'s been nominated on his own the last two years, and he won for writing last year.  

The likely final picks: Modern Family30 RockThe Big Bang TheoryVeepGirls, and Louie