There are a lot of familiar faces in this category, including the two men who took home statues over the past three years.  A few new faces may make these veterans nervous, but to me the most interesting thing about this category is the actors who are noticeably missing like specifically Joel McHale of Community, Matthew Morrison of Glee or, well, anyone from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  It seems like we’re seeing the same men nominated every year.  Will someone new shake things up?

Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock
With two Emmy wins for his role as Jack Donaghy, Baldwin has been nominated every year 30 Rock has been on the air.  However, as I said with Tina Fey, America’s love affair with 30 Rock seems to be dwindling.  Still, Donaghy’s character conquered new territory this year with the birth of his daughter followed by the international kidnapping of his wife, Avery (Elizabeth Banks).  Will the drama be enough for him to take home a statue?  Maybe not, but I maintain that if Alec Baldwin were to run for President as Jack Donaghy, he would win, without a doubt.

Louis C.K. as Louie in Louie
Louis C.K. writes, directs, edits and stars in this FX comedy series and is also nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series this year.  Being the only basic cable actor to be nominated, C.K. is up against more well-known and well-backed actors in this category.  It goes to show how talented he is to snag a nomination over many other deserving actors who have network weight behind them.  Louis C.K. really embodies the “it’s an honor just to be nominated” platform.  While Louis C.K. is loved by the critics and a well-seasoned stand-up comic with a lot of talent, I give him a better chance at the writing Emmy since the competition is just too high for actors this year.

Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory
Despite his years on Roseanne and four successful seasons on The Big Bang Theory, this is Galecki’s first Emmy nomination.  On Big Bang, his character, Leonard Hofstadter, is often the straight man to his wacky best friend Sheldon (Jim Parsons).  It is rare that a straight man is nominated, much less wins the statue.  For example, Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother has never been nominated for his straight man role of Ted Mosby and despite being nominated four times Jerry Seinfeld never took home the gold while his supporting cast took home twenty-two nominations and four wins.  It seems unlikely for Galecki to beat the odds on this one.

Steve Carell as Michael Scott in The Office
America’s favorite boss who just wants to be liked left his office family this year to follow the love of his life to Colorado.  Michael Scott has given us laughs, tears, and more cringes than we can count over the years, this season notwithstanding.  Just like his employees, we love him, but he drives us crazy.  This role not only made the show a success, it made Steve Carell a star.  In just this season alone, Michael proposes, goes to Mexico and even spanks a teenage boy.  Though The Office may be heading downhill, Michael Scott never falters and his absence will cause a large emptiness at Dunder-Mifflin.

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory
Last year’s winner, beat out television giants Larry David, Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, Tony Shalhoub and Matthew Morrison.  Honestly, if I’d bet on the 2010 Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, I’d be buying Tommy Burgers for everyone I know. I was positive he wouldn’t win, especially with Monk in its last season.  This year, The Big Bang Theory became the highest rated comedy on television.  Parson’s portrayal of Cooper has been cited by many critics as the reason for the show’s success.  Can he beat the odds two years in a row?

Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc in Episodes
Despite three nominations during his time on Friends, LeBlanc has not been nominated for an Emmy in seven years.  In Episodes, Matt LeBlanc plays a caricature of himself, Matt LeBlanc, a famous American actor who is cast in a remake of a British TV series.  The series received mixed reviews and aired only seven episodes in its first season.  It has since been renewed for nine more episodes, but have we really seen enough to give LeBlanc an Emmy?

As much fun as it is for a first time nominee win this award and surprise us all, I think it goes without saying that Steve Carell will take this category.  And he deserves it without question.  He just finished a seven season run on one of America’s most popular comedy series.  And he went out the right way, unlike a certain sex and drug addicted CBS sitcom star who remains absent from this list.  He’s been nominated every year and it would be absolutely ridiculous to let him go out without a win under his belt.

Road to the Emmys Series

August 24: Miniseries/TV Movie Acting Roundup – Dantzler Smith

August 25: Outstanding Miniseries or TV Movie – Dantzler Smith

August 26: Outstanding Reality Competition Host – Erica Scandariato

August 29: Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series – Phil Wallace

August 30: Outstanding Reality Program – Erica Scandariato

August 31: Outstanding Reality Competition Program – Savanna New

September 1: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy – Dave Morris

September 2: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy – Kendra Beltran

September 6: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama – Angela Stern

September 7: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama – Adam Spunberg

September 8: Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series – Megan Lane

September 9: Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series – Megan Lane

September 12: Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series – Kit Bowen

September 13: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series – Andrew Payne

September 14: Outstanding Comedy Series – Amy Lindorff

September 15: Outstanding Drama Series – Andrew Payne

September 18: 63rd Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards