Jalal Haddad takes a look at the Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy race in the first of many posts leading up to the Emmy nominations announcement on July 14th. Over the next month, Jalal will be providing his own expert analysis in individual races and covering the top ten contenders in each category.
1. Titus Burgess (Titus Andromedon), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tituss Burgess was robbed of an Emmy last year and, if the results were still based off episode judging panels, he would have won. He may not have had a scene that went viral like last year’s “Peeno Noir,” but he dominated season two from the beginning with storylines about his estranged wife and construction worker boyfriend. Burgess is by far the funniest supporting performance on television and the supporting actor race is incredibly weak, making it easy for Burgess to win his first Emmy. Netflix also seems to be campaigning him excessively, even giving him his own FYC commercial during the Tonys.
2. Tony Hale (Gary Walsh), Veep
The two time Emmy winner might be the safest bet of the entire category. Hale has had a lot of standout “small” moments throughout the fifth season including walking in on Selina having sex, his shock of the “C” word, and his obsession with his spot on The White House hottest staffers list. His Emmy wins have come through both systems of voting proving that Emmy voters really do love him so the actor who has been entertaining on television since Arrested Development should never be counted out for a win.
3. Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy), Modern Family
Ty Burrell has won two Emmys and is the only male actor from Modern Family to be nominated for all six seasons. As funny as he is, voters are slowly getting tired of Modern Family, and I doubt he could muster up enough popular support to actually win.
4. Keegan-Michael Key (Various Characters), Key & Peele
Keegan-Michael Key is quickly becoming one of the most popular comedic talents in Hollywood. Since his first acting nomination last year he has starred on three shows, lent his voice to two popular animated shows, and appeared as a guest on five other shows. His first nomination last year came as a surprise, mostly because most Emmy pundits weren’t anticipating how popular Key & Peele was becoming amongst voters. Now that the show is eligible for its final season it’s pretty safe to say that voters are going to continue supporting the show and its breakout star (but what about Peele?) unless they are confused by him being submitted for three different comedies in the supporting actor race.
5. Andre Braugher (Captain Ray Holt), Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Having nominated him nine times, Emmy voters love Andre Braugher. For two years in a row he has been the only major nomination for FOX’s cop comedy and because of that it’s probably safe to say that Braugher benefits from weak categories and the fact that voters simply like him and want to vote for him without ever watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Braugher would be easily expendable if there were only more competition in the supporting actor race, and unfortunately there is not.
6. Timothy Simons (Jonah Ryan), Veep
Besides Hale and Chlumsky the other supporting actors on Veep have struggled to be individually recognized by any awards group. Hopefully that isn’t the case now that Veep is the most popular comedy amongst Emmy voters. As season five progressed I noticed I was actually enjoying Jonah Ryan as he became a hilarious puppet in a campaign for office. I originally had him at #9 on the list but was inspired by Clarence’s advocacy piece to move him up to an actual nomination. The thought of Simons receiving a nomination and shaking up the supporting actor race is the most exciting news about this category all year. Now that the Emmy ballots are randomized I think he has an even greater chance of wooing over Emmy voters and making them forget how obnoxious his character was in the past.
7. Adam Driver (Adam), Girls
Girls’ fifth season was arguably the best yet and could bring Lena Dunham back into the best actress race but I’m having a hard time telling if Driver disappears into the background. The bulk of his material revolved around Adam hiding his relationship with Jessa but for some reason that doesn’t feel like enough. Voters might continue embracing him after starring in the seventh Star Wars, but starring in multiple blockbusters didn’t help Chris Pratt. I could be overthinking it and Emmy voters could easily embrace him for the fourth year in a row.
8. Jay Duplass (Josh Pfefferman), Transparent
As boring and predictable as Emmy voters can be it is rare for a category to completely mimic the lineup of the year before. With no breakout hits in the comedy race a surprise nominee has to come out of an already popular show, right? Jay Duplass was surprisingly given some of the best material on Transparent’s second season with dealing with his new relationship and discovering he has a teenage son. Duplass would make an excellent addition to the category and deserves to get in off of performance alone although some might argue he doesn’t belong in a comedy category. In the end his chances will depend on how well voters embrace the second season especially since the Emmys have a history of losing interest in dramedies during their second season (Glee, Desperate Housewives, Orange is the New Black).
9. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill, Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
The way that Emmy voters started dropping the Modern Family actors from the category suggests that voters were just ticking off whoever came first on the ballot as opposed to picking their favorites. In reverse alphabetical order they dropped off with Stonestreet first, O’Neill second, Ferguson third, and now Burrell is the only actor that is still being nominated. Now that the television academy has shaken up the nomination system one of the actors could sneak back in. The likeliest to return is probably Stonestreet who won two Emmys and continued to be individually recognized by SAG even after he was forgotten by Emmy voters.
10. Sam Waterston (Sol Bergstein),Grace & Frankie
I was surprised last year when Emmy voters didn’t embrace Grace & Frankie more passionately, especially since the show appeals so well to older Emmy voters who love the stars of the show. No the show isn’t a critical hit but as trite as it feels the show makes me laugh more than a lot of the other big contenders. Waterston’s Sol is the easiest of the two ex-husbands to love even when he cheats on his fiancé with his ex-wife. Now that Netflix has begun a tremendously excessive campaign for their entire slate of programming, actors like Waterston might have a better chance of receiving a nomination.
Honorable Mentions: Martin Starr, Jordan Peele, TJ Miller, Martin Sheen
Readers, which six actors do you think will be nominated come announcement morning? Are we completely overestimating or underestimating someone on this list? Sound off below in the comments!