“Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson has earned three straight Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Actor (2015-2017), and Tracee Ellis Ross has been up for Best Comedy Actress for the last two years (2016-2017). But neither has won yet. Could this spring’s story arc about a rift in their marriage be the key to their first victories this fall?
The ABC series about the Johnson family trying to reconcile their affluent lives with their racial identities has tackled thorny subjects like the N-word, postpartum depression, guns, police brutality and even Donald Trump. Now it’s exploring marital strife as Bow (Ross) and Dre (Anderson) find themselves arguing more and connecting less, and unable to find their way out of that negative feedback loop.
The resulting episodes have ventured into darker emotional territory, but even though watching the formerly happy couple fight is tough for fans of the Johnson family, it has given Anderson and Ross opportunities to flex their acting muscles in different ways than usual. And while fighting is bad for the family, it can be good for actors at the Emmys, especially when it shows voters their range as performers.
One of the most prominent examples from recent Emmy history was the rocky romance between Tony and Carmela Soprano (James Gandolfini and Edie Falco) on “The Sopranos.” They won three Emmys apiece for their performances, including in 2003 when they both prevailed after submitting the “Whitecaps” episode featuring a bitter fight between Tony and Carmela. Other couples on the rocks have won Emmys too, like Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”), Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce (“Mildred Pierce”) and Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard (“Big Little Lies”).
There is even precedent in comedy. In 2003 Debra Messing won Best Comedy Actress for an episode of “Will and Grace” in which her friendship with Will (Eric McCormack) nearly ended after an epic argument. That’s not a romantic relationship, but it fits a similar mold.
As of this writing Anderson ranks second in our Emmy predictions for Best Comedy Actor with 9/2 odds, right behind defending champ Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) with leading odds of 10/3. But Ken Tucker (Yahoo), one of the Expert journalists we’ve polled for their picks, thinks Anderson will upset Glover this year.
Meanwhile, Ross ranks third in our Best Comedy Actress predictions with 5/1 odds, behind front-runner Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) with 3/1 odds and Allison Janney (“Mom”) with 9/2 odds. But Ross also has support from one of our Experts, Ben Travers (IndieWire). And Best Comedy Actress could be anyone’s guess this year since the winner for the last six years, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”), won’t be eligible to compete in this Emmy cycle.
But it turns out Anderson and Ross will also be Emmy eligible in comedy guest acting categories for reprising their “Black-ish” roles in the Freeform spin-off “Grown-ish” that follows their daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) during her adventures in college. That gives members of the TV academy actors branch twice the opportunities to reward the couple. Perhaps two pairs of shiny Emmys will bring Bow and Dre back together.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.