Emmy Supporting Players Riding Coattails?
One of the biggest observations from last year’s crop of Emmy winners was the fact that every supporting actor winner seemed to be riding the coattails of a Series win: Tony Hale in Veep, Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones, and Bill Murray in Olive Kitteridge. None of them had the best tapes of the category, but after voting was opened up to the entire branch tapes didn’t seem to matter so much. Voters instead seemed to gravitate towards likable actors on their favorite programs without paying attention to their material throughout the year.
Game of Thrones and Veep are right on track to win the top awards of the night for the second year in a row, but both Dinklage and Hale have some surprising competition – their own costars. Actors used to benefit from competing against their costars because of the ranked voting system, which is how the Modern Family cast kept on winning. Now that the winner is determined by a simple popular vote it may be harder for people like Tony Hale and Matt Walsh or Peter Dinklage and Kit Harington to compete against each other.
If voters continue down this path will the Television Academy tweak the rules once again to level the playing field? They haven’t been afraid to in the past and that’s one of the things that makes the television academy much more interesting than the AMPAS. And if they don’t tweak the rules? Then we may never see another win like Merritt Wever ever again.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Only three men have won this supporting race over the past six years. They all came from the major contenders in the comedy race, and if Veep’s popularity growing even stronger is any indicator Tony Hale will have an easy time winning his third Emmy in four years. Last year, Tony Hale didn’t really have the material to win but beat out Tituss Burgess in a breakout role strictly on goodwill. Just like last year, voters are going to see his name on the ballot and check him off without thinking twice unless they instead gravitate towards his costar Matt Walsh. His nomination was one of the biggest surprises of the year, and fans of Veep might want to spread the wealth although it’s more likely that they’ll split the vote than Walsh upsetting.
Keegan-Michael Key is incredibly likable. He can be seen on a lot of shows throughout the year and even starred in a relative hit with Keanu. Because of all this he might be the dark horse of the race this year. Key & Peele has been nominated for 15 Emmys over the past four years and the most telling hint at the show’s strength among actors was a surprise SAG ensemble nomination earlier this year. The show is so popular that I would have him as the frontrunner right now if it weren’t for the fact that sketch comedy actors are never able to win in the acting races (except for guest roles). If there is any year for that curse to be broken it’s 2016.
Two months ago Tituss Burgess seemed like he could easily be the dark horse of the race, but after Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt completely underperformed in acting nominations this year I have a feeling voters weren’t a fan of the second season. Tituss didn’t have anything as striking as Peeno Noir this year, but he did have some moments that voters should pay attention to: the subway scene with his estranged wife, his boyfriend coming out to his family, and even his questionably offensive one-man play. Ty Burrell is a two time winner and Andre Braugher is a perennial nominee but neither performer nor their show has the momentum to win this year. One of the actors screwed over the most by the new voting rules is Louie Anderson who probably has a winning tape, but Baskets isn’t popular enough to gain the attention of a majority of voters.
Tony Hale, Veep
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele
Matt Walsh, Veep
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Louie Anderson, Baskets
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Peter Dinklage had nothing to do last season, but he won anyways, proving that when Emmy voters like you they really really like you. He surprisingly won when Game of Thrones had their most successful night yet at the Emmys and now with the show even stronger creatively he seems poised to win a third Emmy. As popular as Dinklage is, he hasn’t had the standout year that Kit Harington had. His domination of the headlines started in the Season 5 finale and continued nonstop throughout the year, including a surprise hilarious performance in the ADTV favorite 7 Days in Hell. Unfortunately for Kit, the Emmys have been known to snub handsome young actors, and a lot of voters might dismiss him because of that.
Christian Slater was primed to be the dark horse contender after Critics Choice and Golden Globe wins and beat out the Game of Thrones men until voters surprisingly left him out. The rest of the category is filled with slightly underwhelming nominees including Michael Kelly and Ben Mendelsohn who were interesting contenders last year but weren’t able to overcome Game of Thrones goodwill and don’t have the material this year to gain any momentum. After years of snubbing him for a win, voters have the chance to award Jonathan Banks, but Better Call Saul might be old news compared to the other nominees.
As boring of an option as he seems, Jon Voight might have the best chance at upsetting one of the Game of Thrones men. Ray Donovan clearly has the support within the academy and with Showtime airing the new season during the voting season the veteran actor could easily become the biggest headscratcher of the night.
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline