Where have all the good leads gone? I will say that this is the best this category has been in a few years, this category along with Lead Actress (in a Comedy series) have started to improve over the last few years, but this category has always been the weakest. A few years ago if you took away Steve Carell, Alec Baldwin and one or two other men like Jim Parsons or Jason Bateman you were hard pressed to find quality contenders for this category. Throw in Louis C.K., Adam Scott, Jake Johnson, and Bateman back into the roster, and you have one swell round-up.
I think the difference within this category is there are fewer commanding lead performances like Baldwin or Carell. While Adam Scott's Ben is potentially the on screen love of my life Leslie Knope steals his thunder (although they share the screen well). My thesis to this is that many of the men in this category have remained the same over the years, with an odd new comer coming into the mix. With no more Baldwin, who will be the dominating force here, and who will win at SAG? Jake Johnson is a breath of fresh air, and I hope New Girl continues to use him wisely.
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock
In the last season of this show Jack grew as a person, while dealing with his divorce, being a father, and losing his mother. I loved watching Jack finding out he was the old man in a woman's dating rotation, his reaction was priceless, and provided some of the best laughs. My favorite moment was when Jack and Liz went to help clear up his mother's belongings at her house, and they found out she was in relationship with a woman. Jack and Liz pondering these thoughts in the same bedroom was a great work up to the odd chemistry between these characters. Baldwin may find nothing as great Jack, and he went out playing him brilliantly.
Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth in Arrested Development
Michael finally had flaws! Throughout the entire first three seasons, Michael had flaws, and had his misadventures, but this past season did he fall hard. After investing in building up his properties, which eventually turned into a ghost town crashing with his son at college was the bottom of the barrel. Michael did not get that his relationship with George Michael had changed, and that he was wearing thin on his son, this was both well acted and hilarious. Michael wasn't merely the son holding his family together he was dealing with his own problems, along with trying to make a movie about his family, which was one big failure. Bateman is great.
Adam Scott and Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation
As I stated above Ben Wyatt would be my dream husband, too bad he's fake and now taken by Leslie Knope, even in a fake world. I like him and I love him. Ben took to Washington DC to help work on political campaigns living out his dream. The real dream was enacted through his proposal and wedding to Leslie. Wyatt is a dork supreme, but one of the most romantic. Wyatt was a pro as Ben especially when he went back to "ice town" to find out that his town was punking him. This emotional journey for Ben was one of the most poignant, and hilarious showing just how great this actor has grown over the years.
Jake Johnson as Nick Miller in New Girl
What can I say that has not been said by others about the growth of Nick on this show, well Johnson has done a great job with this character. From Nick dealing with his father who uses him, and then ultimately dies to dealing with his relationship with Jess. Johnson knows how to walk the fine line of that cranky old man like Oscar from the Odd Couple mixed with dashes of the gentile nature of the modern leading man. Johnson is hilarious in this show, as this loner who finally finds someone and something he cares about enough to push him to change, Jess.
Louis C.K. as Himself in Louie
Watching Louis C.K. date and potentially take over the Tonight Show this season were two of the best story arcs in television this season. I loved watching him grapple with an honest crank like himself in Melissa Leo, then finding a woman in Parker Posey with whom he genuinely liked and connected with. These moments showed a growth in his acting, and made you connect with him more than ever. Then there was the story where he was talking about possibly taking over for the Jay Leno. Watching Louie battle the glee and the nerves associated with the job offer was not only great television, but provided some great laughter as well.
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory
Boy has Sheldon grown, sort of. In the first episode of the season his girlfriend Amy gives Sheldon an ultimatum that he must open up his heart to her, or she will break up with him. Sheldon ends up reciting a beautifully emotional speech, which is from Spider-Man, but also proves the genius with this character, and Parson performance. Sheldon has grown as much as he can because of his connection with Amy, and while he has grown he is still the same Sheldon, awkwardly flirting and getting a sexual harassment lawsuit thrown at him, and playing Words with Friends with Steven Hawking. Parsons is great in this role, and continues to wow!