Alec Baldwin, An Unprecedented Supporting Actor Contender

Where does Alec Baldwin stand in the 2017 Emmy race? Can he Trump-up a win?

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live announced that Alec Baldwin would host the upcoming 14th episode of the season after popping up throughout the season to impersonate Donald Trump. This will mark his 11th appearance of the season, and his 17th time hosting overall. Assuming this is another 21-episode season, the move completely changes the Emmy conversation considering the “less than 50% rule” the Television Academy implemented two years ago. Any performer appearing in 50% or more of a season isn’t eligible in the guest races. Alec Baldwin will now compete in the supporting actor race, an unprecedented move for someone who isn’t even member of the SNL cast.

Even while appearing in a single sketch per episode, his presence in popular culture has been stronger than all seven of last year’s nominees combined. Whether through a simple sniff or his pronunciation of “China,” Baldwin became the viral hit of SNL. That coupled with the real-life Twitter jabs between Baldwin and Trump turned the performance into a major talking point on every news program from Fox to MSNBC. Also, Baldwin’s status as an awards industry staple (16 Emmy nominations with 2 wins) probably makes him both a strong threat for a nomination and a strong contender to win.

If nominated, he would become the sixth Saturday Night Live performer in a supporting category, but he would make Emmy history as the first SNL guest to compete in a bigger race. After eight years of continuous losses, SNL finally won its first supporting award. Opening up the Academy’s voting procedures ushered in Kate McKinnon’s win. That type of popular vote might propel Alec Baldwin into frontrunner status. That’s especially possible if enough voters want to use their ballot as a small form of protest and send a message to the 45th President.

Alec Baldwin
(Photo: NBC)

A Brief History of SNL Politics at the Emmys

Emmy voters have always been partial to SNL political impersonators. The Academy rewarded Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin and rewarded Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton by breaking the cast member Emmy curse. At least ten nominated performers have been recognized parallel to some iconic portrayals over the years, and although it’s debatable whether to credit their nominations solely to their presidential caricatures, one can’t deny the lasting impact they have had. From Chevy Chase’s constantly stumbling Ford to Tina’s signature “I can see Russia from my house,” these Emmy-nominated performances dictated how audiences viewed these figures.

1976 – Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford*

1978 – Dan Ackroyd as Jimmy Carter

1984 – Joe Discopo as Ronald Reagan

1989-1993 – Dana Carvey as George H. W. Bush*

1994 – Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton

2001 – Will Ferrell as George W. Bush

2009 – Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton

2009 – Tina Fey as Sarah Palin*

2016 – Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton*

2016 – Larry David as Bernie Sanders

* Indicates Emmy Winner


Which of these Emmy nominated performances is your favorite? Is Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump strong enough to last throughout the Emmy season? Sound off in the comments below!

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