Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki are Emmy's new "Odd Couple," so to speak. In terms of Emmy history, the "Big Bang Theory" actors are only the third set of costars nominated for lead comedy actor, following Jack Klugman and Tony Randall ("The Odd Couple," 1971-1975) and Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry ("Friends," 2002).
Parsons and Galecki star together on the CBS comedy hit series "The Big Bang Theory," but only Parsons has been recognized by the TV academy in the past. He was nominated for lead comedy actor in 2009 and won in 2010. Galecki received his first bid this summer, and together they face off against two-time winner Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), six-time nominee Steve Carell ("The Office"), three-time nominee LeBlanc ("Episodes") and first-time acting nominee Louis C.K. ("Louie").
Why in the 63 years of the Emmy Awards has this been such a rare event? In looking back over the major contenders, you'll notice that most of them focus on one male star rather than two or more (unlike female-based shows such as "Desperate Housewives," "The Golden Girls" or "Kate and Allie"). With shows such as "All in the Family" (Carroll O'Connor), "Cheers" (Ted Danson), "Everybody Loves Raymond" (Ray Romano), "Frasier" (Kelsey Grammer), "MASH" (Alan Alda), "Monk" (Tony Shalhoub) and so many others throughout TV history, there were easily recognized singular male stars, and all the other men were supporting players.
Another CBS hit comedy, "Two and a Half Men," tried to place Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer as leads the first two seasons (2004, 2005), but neither man could get nominated. Then in 2006, producers kept Sheen as lead but moved Cryer to supporting, resulting in a four-year run of nods for Sheen, and six nods and counting for Cryer (plus a win in 2009). "Friends" allowed all six of its stars to submit in supporting the first few years and finally moved them all into lead in 2002 (resulting in the bids by LeBlanc and Perry). Currently, the "Modern Family" adult actors could certainly get nominated in either category, but they have all teamed up to go into the supporting slots (and all six were nominated this season).
Could this double "Big Bang" combo actually pay off in a win next month? It is basically a 50-50 proposition based on the previous results. Klugman won twice (1971, 1973) and Randall once for the final season (1975). Of the other three attempts, Klugman and Randall lost to O'Connor in 1972 and Alda in 1974; LeBlanc and Perry lost to Romano in 2002.
-- Tom O'Neil
Photo (left): "The Odd Couple." Credit: ABC
Photo (right): "The Big Bang Theory." Credit: CBS