While Jon Cryer has odds of just 25 to 1 in his first try for Comedy Actor, the "Two and a Half Men" star could be the one to beat. After all, this is his seventh straight nomination for his role as Alan Harper on the CBS laffer. And Kathy Bates just pulled off an upset when she won her first Emmy (after nine losses) for guesting on the show as the ghost of the late Charlie Harper.
Both Cryer and co-star Charlie Sheen were snubbed when they both submitted as lead for the first two years of the show. However, once Cryer dropped down to supporting he reaped six consecutive nominations. After losing three years running to Jeremy Piven ("Entourage"), he prevailed in 2009 when Piven was snubbed. Since then, Cryer was bested by two of the featured fellows on "Modern Family" -- Eric Stonestreet (2010) and Ty Burrell (2011).
His 2009 win was considered an upset but that is unfair. He is the only nominee from that year who went on to contend again in the category for the next two years as "Modern Family" dominated the field. Kevin Dillon ("Entourage"), Rainn Wilson ("The Office") and both Jack McBrayer and Tracy Morgan from "30 Rock" were never nominated again while Neil Patrick Harris was nominated only in 2010 for "How I Met Your Mother."
Harris had been touted for the win in 2009 but a strong case could have been made for the other nominees. Morgan and McBrayer were seen on each other's episodes and the show won its tihrd consecutive Comedy Series award that year. Wilson had created an iconic character while Dillon was the lone representative from another Emmy favorite. While Harris, Dillon, and Wilson were each on their third nomination, Cryer was on number four. He directed his submitted episode -- "Sir Lancelot's Litter Box" -- and such was the love for him that he prevailed, despite being the only nominee from a show that had been snubbed in the Comedy Series race.
Cryer is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Robert Guillaume who won the 1979 supporting Emmy for his work as the butler Benson DuBois on "Soap" before winning in 1985 as lead for the spin-off series "Benson." Ed Asner won supporting comedy actor three times for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1971, 1972, 1975) before taking home two lead drama actor Emmys in 1978 and 1980 for the spin-off "Lou Grant." And Allison Janney won two supporting drama actress Emmys in 2000 and 2001 for her role on "The West Wing" before upgrading to lead where she won two more in 2002 and 2004.
While some may argue that the quality of "Two and a Half Men" has dipped since Sheen's departure, support within the industry for Cryer is stronger than ever. This was the first year he reaped an individual SAG nod. He may be rewarded for taking the lead reins and increasing viewership over Sheen's last season.
In his episode "Frodo's Headshots," Cryer's character Alan Harper has a breakdown after the death of his brother Charlie. Upon his release from the psych ward, Alan goes through a series of stressful revelations: he learns that his son's girlfriend is pregnant, that he is being audited by the IRS and discovers that his own girlfriend has been cheating on him with Walden (Ashton Kutcher), who then kicks him out of the house, leaving him homeless. Alan attempts to take his own life by overdosing on carbon monoxide in his garage, but the engine of his car breaks down. He hitchhikes to his mother's place, who leaves him standing in the rain. Alan seeks shelter at an airport storage bin, where Walden has left all of his personal belongings. There, his ex-wife's new husband Herb confronts Alan about a DNA test that revealed his daughter is actually Alan's.
Louis C.K. is the frontrunner to win Comedy Actor with his second nomination for "Louie." Reigning two-time champ Jim Parsons is close behind as he contends for the fourth time for "The Big Bang Theory" while Larry David has odds of for his fifth bid for "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Further back are Alec Baldwin who has won two of his previous five nominations for "30 Rock" and rookie nominee Don Cheadle ("House of Lies").
How does Cryer's competition stack up against Emmy history?
Playing a fictionalized version of himself could not win Jerry Seinfeld an Emmy which does not bode well for C.K. and David who do the same in their shows.
In Louis C.K.'s submission tape for "Louie" (entitled "Duckling"), he goes on a USO tour of the Middle East, while taking care of a duckling that his daughter had snuck into his luggage. While this episode may be an hour long, the extra running time, and even the heartwarming story, do not give C.K. a lot of extra acting material that would garner him a win. Many of the scenes that do focus on C.K. either showcase his crude standup routine for the troops, sitting quietly on a helicopter, hitting on a teenage cheerleader, and tripping on the ground. He would have been better off submitting the episode "Subway/Pamela," where he expresses his unrequited love to his friend, and later has a bit of a breakdown when he realizes that he may have missed his chance with her.
In David's episode submission, "Palestinian Chicken," Larry's rude, in-your-face approach is brought into the light when his friends use him as a "social assassin," getting him to inform family members of annoying habits which they are afraid to confront themselves. Larry is also forced to choose between his fellow Jewish friends and an anti-Semitic Palestinian chicken restaurant, where he met a woman he is sleeping with.
Were Parsons to win again, he would join the ranks of Dick Van Dyke, Carroll O'Connor, and Michael J. Fox as a three-peater. However, last year his co-star Johnny Galecki was also nominated giving him extra screen time. And his submission this year ("The Werewolf Transformation") isn't as strong as his winning episodes. His character, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, refuses to let anybody except his barber give him a haircut, which becomes problematic when his barber goes into a coma. Sheldon begins to embrace the chaos, living out of step with his regular daily routines.
Baldwin won the second of his two Emmys in 2009, the same year Cryer took home his trophy for supporting actor. His submission, "Live from Studio 6H," plays much like an episode of "Saturday Night Live," being recorded and broadcast live, and giving Baldwin the opportunity to play several characters, including a Jackie Gleason-esque sitcom househusband, a spoof on Dean Martin, a Richard Nixon impression, and of course, his usual "30 Rock" character Jack Donaghy. However, Baldwin isn't the focus of the episode
While Cheadle has movie star cachet, his role on "House of Lies" is very unlikeable, a jerk with few, if any, redeeming qualities. Such personality traits resulted in many nominations, but no wins for Hugh Laurie ("House") and Steve Carell ("The Office"). His episode choice, "Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments," introduces viewers to a quick-talking, selfish, cheating, and quite unlikeable character who makes an enemy, and receives unwanted advice on how to raise his son.