One of the things that we really praised earlier this week when talking about the Golden Globes and the comedy field in particular is how robust it’s been for first-year shows. While there are some long-running ones out there that do very much still have a lot going for them, at the same time the newbies came in hard this time around and really brought a whole new level of innovation — not to mention plenty of humor.
With this in mind, it only make sense that our five personal picks below for the Actor in a Comedy Series category are ones coming from new shows. The entire list is full of people who made us laugh, but at the same time brought other dimensions to their work, showed us different sides, and made us care in ways that we did not expect. Comedy is widespread, and these men provide perfect examples of that.
Before we talk more about these performances, note that the actual Golden Globe nominations will be announced on December 12, these are the picks from the CarterMatt staff. You can also tell us which one of the people from the field below is your favorite in the poll we have attached to this article! We’ll close the poll off on November 30 at noon, and announce the reader’s choice the subsequent day at the same time along with the winners from the other categories. This is just for fun, but hopefully it continues to facilitate some TV and awards discussion. To date, we’ve already had tens of thousands of votes cast on some of the other “Golden Globe” categories.
The Globes themselves air on NBC Sunday, January 8.
Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish” (ABC) – There’s something about a great family comedy that makes you feel at home. It’s welcoming, it’s funny when it needs to be, but it also knows how to take itself seriously. Anderson is at the heart of everything with this show, and we do think that it is the role that he deserved through so many years of bouncing around between other projects. He can do big, bawdy moments, but he also knows how to handle matters with sensitivity and be that caring father figure so many kids watching will look up to for years.
Will Arnett, “Flaked” (Netflix) – Really, there are almost two separate performances Arnett deserves recognition for, given that his work on “BoJack Horseman” is arguably the most meaningful stuff we’ve seen in that medium in years. Here, he shined as a man named Chip who was intensely complicated, a martyr when he didn’t need to be, and a liar to the point where he was willing to destroy his whole life. There’s an element of a good person somewhere in here, but it’s wrapped within a blanket of bizarre decisions and self-loathing that he often hides under a facade. It’s not a show that paints in black and white, and the same goes for this performance.
Donald Glover, “Atlanta” (FX) – We knew that Glover was talented the moment we first started to watch him on “Community,” and we knew that even more so when we started to see all of the other content that he was putting out there in between his music and comedic efforts. This show’s really the culmination of all of that variance, as it’s a powerful, funny, and an incredibly-relevant snapshot of a geographical and cultural experience. His performance is magnetic, and it also shows the full extent of his range.
Dwayne Johnson, “Ballers” (HBO) – There is a part of “Ballers” that is very big, in-your-face, and loud — but it has to be when you’re doing a show about the NFL and some of the people who work around it. The reason Johnson’s on this list, however, is because of his smaller, more-intimate moments that you didn’t see much of until the end of season 2. There was more and more vulnerability within Spencer Strasmore as his life crumbled, culminating in a series of heartbreaking scenes in between a conversation with Eddie George and him having to admit every single one of his failures. It was powerful, and that meant something from a guy you know for having a very different sort of power.
Danny McBride, “Vice Principals” (HBO) – There are times we’re convinced that McBride is a genius. He’s a fantastic writer, but at the same time his performance as Neal Gamby was out-of-this-world great and on an equal level to his scripts. Over the course of the entire first season he made us care about someone who, by all accounts, was pretty horrible. He was power-hungry, insanely jealous, brash, and often cold to the plight of others. Yet, over time you start to understand why there were walls up in the first place, and that there was a softer soul underneath — it’s just one that he doesn’t know how to clearly maintain.
Honorable Mentions – Ted Danson, “The Good Place” (NBC), Thomas Middleditch, “Silicon Valley” (HBO), Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent” (Amazon), Randall Park, “Fresh Off the Boat” (ABC), Zach Galifianakis, “Baskets” (FX)
Now, let’s turn this over to you! Leave us a comment in the box below with your pick and be sure to vote in our poll. As a reminder, you can check out our picks for all of the other Golden Globe categories — to go along with polls for all of them — over at the link here. (Photo: Golden Globes.)