Emmy episode analysis: Anthony Anderson (‘Black-ish’) takes Donald Trump’s ‘Lemons’ and makes lemonade

Anthony Anderson received his third consecutive Emmy nomination this year as Best Comedy Actor for ABC’s “Black-ish” (he also contends for Best Comedy Series as one of the show’s producers). He plays Dre, an African-American father struggling to raise his family with a sense of cultural identity in a predominantly white suburb of Los Angeles. Anderson has submitted the third season episode “Lemons” to Emmy voters for consideration.

As the country reels from the election of President Donald Trump, tensions are high at Dre’s office, where little work has been done on a major advertising project. Dre lashes out at his co-workers, who criticize him for not being upset enough about the outcome, culminating in a speech about how the country has continuously disappointed African-Americans. Later, with tempers cooled, they discuss ways to heal.

Can Anderson win for this episode? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

PROS:

Timeliness. “Lemons” deftly taps into the angst, anger, and absurdity of the Trump victory. Anderson’s monologue about how the country has let down African-Americans will feel especially prescient following the recent Neo-Nazi and KKK rallies in Charlottesville, VA. Anti-Trump sentiment might be permeating throughout the TV academy, which could rally their votes around any contender that criticizes the president.

Should Anderson win, he’d be the first person of color to triumph in this category since Robert Guillaume for “Benson” in 1985. (The same goes for both Donald Glover in “Atlanta” and Aziz Ansari in “Master of None.”) Given the push for more representation of diversity in television, that statistic could work in Anderson’s favor.

“Black-ish” has been slowly yet steadily gaining ground with Emmy voters, also picking up nominations for Best Comedy Series, Best Comedy Actress (Tracee Ellis Ross), and Best Comedy Guest Actress (Wanda Sykes). Perhaps it’s due for a win?

WATCH Anthony Anderson chats about season 3 of ‘Black-ish’

CONS:

Acclaimed as it was, “Lemons” failed to receive a writing nomination for creator Kenya Barris. Will that hurt Anderson’s chances?

While the episode is certainly impactful, it’s not exactly funny, and voters tend to take the “comedy” portion of this category very seriously (just ask four-time winner Jim Parsons).

If there’s one thing we know about Emmy voters, it’s that they love repeats, and back-to-back winner Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”) is back and ready for thirds.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on September 17. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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