Emmy voters adore rewarding irresistibly camp scene-stealers in the comedy categories. This year, the indomitable Tituss Burgess does just that on Netflix’s quirky, zany and loveable “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” With any luck, he should shake up the Comedy Supporting Actor category.
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” follows 29-year old Kimmy as she adjusts to life in the Big Apple after being plucked out of a rural doomsday cult underground bunker after 15 years in captivity. Creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (“30 Rock”) have turned what sounds (at first blush) like an awfully dark premise for a sitcom into a truly hilarious and enchanting mix of subversive, off-the-wall and politically incorrect.
Ellie Kemper (“The Office”) plays Kimmy as an innocent and unwavering optimist. Her IMAX-sized toothy smile is plastered across her face no matter what is being thrown at her, and the cast also includes veteran comedienne Carole Kane as the crotchety landlady with a softer side and “30 Rock” alum Jane Krakowski as Kimmy’s filthy rich socialite employer.
But all eyes need to be on Burgess, who plays Titus Andromedon, a flamboyant, struggling actor and fame-obsessed diva with a heart of 18-carat gold. Andromedon is the drama-queen foil to perma-happy Kimmy, who bemoans wasting his abundant talents by handing out flyers in Times Square in an Iron Man costume. Every time he graces our screens, he lifts an already delightful show to another level.
Howver, he is currently ranked in only twelfth place according to our combined odds. That standing is likely due to a lack of name recognition. After all, he has to compete against heavy-hitters from Emmy darlings like “Modern Family” and “Veep.” They alone could fill all of the slots in this very competive category
The flamboyant scene-stealer is a guaranteed way to get Emmy’s attention these days. Sean Hayes won with his first bid back in 1999 for playing the irrepressibly fabulous Jack McFarland on “Will & Grace.” And he contended in each of the following six years. Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”) won two Emmys for his loveably larger-than-life Cam on “Modern Family” (2009 and 2011, also nominated in 2010) while Chris Colfer was also nominated a couple of times (in 2009 and 2010) for “Glee.”
Burgess is funny. Really funny. And funny gets you extra points when it comes to the comedy supporting categories. Compare this to the the lead categories, which tend to attract more serious thespians in dark dramedies.
The “hug” factor helps Burgess, whose character is a misfit “to root for” according to Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe. As he proclaimed in his rave review, “Burgess, memorable as Angie Jordan’s sidekick D’Fawn on “30 Rock,” is wonderful as Kimmy’s roommate, Titus. He’s a big queeny guy with a big heart, and he and Kemper have great chemistry.”
He’s never been nominated before and lacks the name-recognition of some of the A-list stars and past nominees in the category.
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is a freshman comedy competing in a crowded field. Can the might of Netflix and the name recognition of Tina Fey push Burgess over the line?
Last year the Top 24 Users did the best at predicting the Emmy nominations (78.55%) competing against Gold Derby’s Editors (77.68%), All Users (74.78%) and our Experts (74.64%). Which group will come out victorious this year? (See all prediction accuracy rates here.)
Three of the Top 24 — mjroberts9, Dillon Rosenblatt and mswan — include Burgess in their predictions for this year’s Comedy Supporting Actor line-up. I am the only Editor who is predicting him to reap a bid.
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