Jalal Haddad takes a look at the Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy race in a series of posts leading up to the Emmy nomination announcement on July 14th. Over the next few weeks, Jalal will be providing his own expert analysis in individual races and covering the top ten contenders in each category.
As a result of a tie, last year gave us eight nominees in an acting category for the first time. All eight of last year’s Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series nominees are eligible this year, although it is very unlikely that we will see another 3-way tie for the sixth slot. The category is so crowded that that I didn’t have the chance to dissect whether or not Netflix can sneak one of the many famous names from Wet Hot American Summer (Wiig, Shannon, Poehler) into the category based on name recognition alone. If anything, the Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series race shows that the acting categories can and should be expanded to ten nominees.
1. Anna Chlumsky (Amy Brookheimer), Veep
Anna Chlumsky’s first Emmy nomination came as a slight surprise. Now that Veep is the reigning comedy champ, she has become the surest bet in an overly crowded race. If the winners were still determined by small juries and submitted episodes, she would have already won for Amy’s infamous breakdown where she read the president to filth as “the worst thing to happen to this country since food in buckets and maybe slavery.” She may not have a scene as iconic as that but as the show grows in popularity voters will correct last year’s mistake.
2. Allison Janney (Bonnie Plunkett), Mom
Allison Janney is the queen of getting nominated for shows most voters probably don’t actually watch. Voters fell in love with the actress during The West Wing and continue to nominate her for shows like Masters of Sex and Mom. Even though the acting branch will continue to nominate her it will be increasingly hard for her to win a popular vote for a show that has never been recognized in any other category.
3. Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy), Modern Family
One by one the Modern Family cast has dropped from Emmy graces in reverse alphabetical order and now the Dunphys are the last two standing. Bowen and Burrell could easily continue reaping nominations until the show ends, but Bowen faces a lot more competition. She was also left out of individual recognition from SAG, although they have left her out and brought her back before. In an insanely crowded category anything could happen but enough voters probably still love the show to keep her in the category.
4. Jane Krakowski (Jacqueline White), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
After five nominations, Krakowski is well overdue for her first win. Her material in season two started off rocky (the questionably offensive Native American story line), but as the season progressed she was given a lot of great material surrounding her new life as a divorcee and great guest stars to play off like Anna Camp and Amy Sedaris. She will also be on the radar of voters for her appearance on James Corden’s caraoke, winning every theater award this season short of the Tony, and she has the advantage of Netflix’s massive FYC campaign.
5. Kate McKinnon (Various Characters), Saturday Night Live
For the past nine years Emmy voters have consistently nominated someone from the SNL cast. For the past two years that person has been Kate McKinnon. The Emmy voters started recognizing the cast when the show was going through a renaissance, but now that the show is at its all-time worst, there is a chance that voters break that streak and leave out McKinnon. Even if voters aren’t watching SNL they have probably seen the sketches of her impersonating Hillary Clinton. She is also getting a lot of attention right now from starring in the upcoming Ghostbusters remake and in such a crowded category any attention helps.
6. Carol Kane (Lillian Kaushtupper), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
From dating Robert Durst to launching a crusade against gentrification, Carol Kane’s Lillian has become the most consistently hilarious character on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. As a former winner on a breakout show she should be a front-runner for a nomination, but she has been overshadowed by her costar in an already overcrowded category. As the show grows in popularity voters might just make room for both of them on their ballots, especially since they’re so close on the ballot, making it harder for voters to pick one over the other.
7. Sarah Sutherland (Catherine Meyer), Veep
Selina’s tragically hilarious daughter Catherine has never been given a significant story line before this season, but her presence has always been welcome. In the fifth season, she has been given the material she deserves from a romantic relationship with her mom’s bodyguard to the death of her grandmother. What started out as a reoccurring joke of Catherine hiding in the shadows recording every mistake of the White House staff culminated in the episode dedicated to her film “Kissing Your Sister.” The episode aired in the middle of Emmy voting, making Sutherland’s performance the last thing voters see before they fill out their ballots.
8. Niecy Nash (Didi Ortley), Getting On
In a perfect world Niecy Nash would have a handful of Emmys for her performances on Reno 911! and Getting On. Her nomination last year might have single-handedly been the most surprising nomination in any category. Unfortunately she was probably nominated because there were eight nominees and the chances of that happening again are very slim, especially since the show was cancelled and has been off the air for six months. The one thing that might make her standout to voters again is her versatility from her improv and slapstick skills on Scream Queens to her subtle character driven work on Getting On.
9. Judith Light (Shelly Pfefferman), Transparent
Last year, a lot of people were predicting Judith Light to be nominated for the first season of Transparent even though she didn’t have the material to warrant it. Instead, voters surprisingly nominated the standout supporting player, Gabby Hoffman. Light actually has the material in season two to warrant a nomination, including a shocking bathtub scene, but so did the rest of the supporting Pfefferman clan. There is a good chance that voters disagree on the standout supporting performance and split their votes, similar to why the supporting actresses from Girls were never nominated.
10. Gabby Hoffman (Ali Pfefferman), Transparent
Gabby Hoffman was last year’s breakout supporting player on Transparent mostly for being the most likeable of Maura’s three kids. In season two Ali Pfefferman takes a backseat to her siblings (at least in the first half of the season) and voters might decide to instead vote for Amy Landecker, Judith Light, or Emmy-winner Cherry Jones. As a previous nominee, she shouldn’t be counted out, but someone from last year’s lineup has to be dropped. Even though she was nominated twice last year, she still doesn’t stand out compared to the rest of last year’s nominees.
11. Jenifer Lewis (Grandma Ruby), black-ish
Grandma Ruby is the funniest character on television. It’s as simple as that. In season two, Lewis was promoted to a series regular, and the writers found countless excuses to bring her around from harassing Bow and inviting gentleman callers over to a house she doesn’t live in. Even though she is everything voters love to reward in the supporting races, she hasn’t been campaigned as predominantly as the rest of the cast. She already has the cards stacked against her. If she does get nominated, it will be because the acting branch recognizes how many years of hard work Lewis put in as a character actress.
12. Mayim Bialik (Amy Fowler), The Big Bang Theory
Mayim Bialik has managed to last longer at the Emmys than Emmy juggernaut Jim Parsons, and the only justifiable argument of this is how early she appears on the ballot. She was probably at the bottom of the eight nominee barrel last year and now that voters have rejected the show in every other category, she will be the next to go. The category has grown too competitive, and she doesn’t have the ballot or the old popularity of her show to rely on to easily stand out to voters.
Worth Mentioning: Amy Landecker, Leslie Jones, Allison Williams, Kristen Wiig, Kristen Schaal, Kether Donohue, Sofia Vergara, Melanie Lynskey
Readers, which six actresses do you think will be nominated on July 14th? Is there any chance of there being another tie? Sound off below in the comments!