In recent years Emmy voters picked up the habit of singling out a couple of their favorite comedies and picking their supporting nominees from that small pool. In the past it was obvious what show was a favorite of actors when something like Modern Family swept up six of the twelve nominee slots or the year supporting actress race was only filled with three shows.
This year the casts behind The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Veep, and Saturday Night Live are likely to sweep up a majority of the nominations. In a tight race for the top comedy prize the way that these supporting acting races pan out might be the clearest indicator of a frontrunner. Will a nomination for Marin Hinkle be a sign that The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is still winning over voters? Or is a nomination for Timothy Simons proof that one last hurrah for Veep is inevitable?
But that doesn’t mean all other performances are necessarily lost. Last year Betty Gilpin surprised everyone as the sole acting nomination for GLOW and with an even stronger second season she’s back in the conversation. Oscar winners like Olivia Colman and Alan Arkin are also in the conversation.
Over the past couple of years three members of Veep’s supporting team have become Emmy favorites. Tony Hale is a five-time nominee and has already won two Emmys as Gary. Anna Chlumsky has been nominated for the past four seasons and now that Amy has had a whirlwind of final season beginning with a pregnancy scare and ending with her going full Kellyanne Conway this might finally be the year she wins. Matt Walsh has been nominated for the past two seasons but this year Mike has been mostly removed from the rest of the ensemble working as an inept journalist.
For the past couple of seasons fans of the show have heavily advocated for Emmy voters to finally recognize Timothy Simons and if there were ever a time to nominate him it would be now. Throughout the final season Jonah Ryan was taken to the extreme, marrying his stepsister, accidentally starting an anti-vaccine candidate across the country leading to the death of his stepdad, and wreaking havoc at the convention. The only thing is that the more the writers leaned in on making comparisons to our own political climate the broader and more annoying Jonah became. Are voters going to be scared away by such a polarizing character that they’re willing to ignore one of the funniest performances on the show?
In a perfect world the television academy would be singling out both Sam Richardson and Clea DuVall. Their characters are probably the only two that end the show with even an ounce of dignity. Marjorie’s feud with Gary is some of the funniest material from the season and Richard’s infectious personality gave the political comedy a reason to keep going.
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
Emmy voters have been talking nonstop about the second season of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. The Amazon comedy has been on a winning streak since breaking big at last year’s Emmys especially at the SAG awards where it swept all three comedy categories. For the second season there’s a big possibility that voters embrace it even more and check off everyone from the ensemble as they fill out their ballots.
Both Alex Borstein and Tony Shaloub have only gotten better throughout the second season and it would be shocking if they both didn’t return for a second consecutive nomination. Borstein won the Emmy just last year and Shaloub won the SAG award beating out lead performances and Oscar winners.
If the actors branch goes all in for the second season Marin Hinkle’s performance as Rose Weissman is the one to keep an eye on. The second season opens with an arc all about her with the usually buttoned up matriarch running away to Paris and living her best commitment free life.
This year’s supporting actor doesn’t have a lot of new names in the race and if voters are starting to get bored it leaves a lot of room for someone from the Maisel cast to land a surprise coattail nomination. Michael Zegen’s performance as estranged husband Joel doesn’t have a lot of flashy material to work with but he is for the most part likable. Zachary Levi joined the cast in the second season as a potential love interest for Midge and has had a big year starring in the surprise box office success Shazam! and hosting the MTV Awards. Can all of the extra publicity land him a surprise nomination?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the actors branch loves a show like Barry. Never before has a comedy completely nailed the excruciating awkward and self-absorbed life of the struggling actor in Hollywood while also pushing aside that self-importance and incorporating real world themes like PTSD that any actor would love to explore.
After a 50+ year career Henry Winkler finally won his first Emmy last year for his performance as acting coach Gene Cousineau and its pretty safe to say he’s back as a frontrunner. The second season gave Winkler the opportunity to explore his character even further in the aftermath of his girlfriend’s murder and his strenuous relationship with his adult son. It was a newly vulnerable side of Gene but Winkler was still able to insert the hilarious accurate opportunistic tendencies that made us fall in love with his performance in the first place.
The fact that Barry won two acting awards last year is proof that actors love the show making room for more nominations for its supporting cast. The obvious actor to be singled out in a comedy actor is none other than Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank, flamboyant Chechnyan mob boss. Hank has quickly become the fan favorite for his outfits, incessant need to be liked, and over the top accent.
The other actor that has an outside chance of a nomination is Sarah Goldberg as Barry’s girlfriend Sally. Throughout the first season she was an incredibly frustrating character, shockingly unashamed of her selfishness. But in the second season we saw a different side of Sarah and a storyline was introduced that many members of the actors branch are well-familiar with as an actor putting their heart, pain, and past traumas into their creative work only to be taken advantage of by the industry.
Saturday Night Live
No one believes that the television academy is watching an entire episode of SNL week after week. So why has the cast been raking in nomination after nomination? In the era of too much TV watching a couple of viral clips online is so much easier than committing to a new show and right now that’s exactly what Emmy voters are doing, especially actors. Last year five actors were submitted in supporting categories: Kate McKinnon, Alec Baldwin, Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson, and Aidy Bryant. Is the iconic sketch comedy going to continue that streak and make up a third of the supporting nominees?
It’s safe to say that Kate McKinnon is the likeliest to return. She’s won two Emmys already and her political impressions (whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Kellyanne Conway) are going viral on a weekly basis. The rest of the main cast members (Thompson, Jones, Bryant) might go either way but Emmy voters don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. There might be a chance that Aidy Bryant might get an extra boost from her new show Shrill giving her enough exposure to stay in the conversation.
The biggest SNL question heading into nominations is whether or not Donald Trump fatigue is setting in. Alec Baldwin won the supporting actor race two years ago mainly as a giant FU to the man in the White House. He was nominated again last year and this year he is once again submitted in the supporting race although his screentime really warrants a guest nomination at best. This might be the year that voters are ready to move on from an impression that used to feel politically smart.
This year fans of SNL are hoping that Emmy voters finally nominate Cecily Strong. The comedian has had one of her most prominent years on the show coming in third for total screentime behind McKinnon and Thompson. Her impression of Judge Jeanine Piero is one of the season’s most popular and if voters are actually paying attention they’ll single her out before some of her costars.
Standout Performances and Past Nominees
Even though Emmy voters repeat themselves year after year there are a couple of nominees in danger of being left out especially after last year’s eight way tie. Reboots of Roseanne and Will & Grace brought back the iconic Emmy winning performances from Laurie Metcalf and Megan Mullally but other than that the reboots were largely ignored. With reboot fatigue setting in the likelihood of these two beloved characters returning is low.
Betty Gilpin was surprisingly the sole acting nominee for the first season of GLOW. Although the well-received sophomore season is a possibility in the series race it came and went very quickly last summer making it possible that voters just aren’t paying attention. Or is it just as likely that voters will want to rally behind the show bringing back Gilpin and possibly even nominating Marc Maron in the supporting actor race?
No performance on TV elicits quite as many laughs per episode as Tituss Burgess on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Titus (the character and actor) has kept the show in the Emmy conversation and Netflix has spent a lot of energy in the past giving him his own campaign more so than the show itself. But now that the final season has come and gone the charm of Titus has worn off a little making it likely for voters to take a break from him, that is until he returns for his interactive Netflix special.
The supporting actor race doesn’t have that many new names this year with one main exception, Alan Arkin. As a curmudgeonly talent agent in The Kominsky Method Arkin has already been nominated for a Golden Globe and SAG award. An Emmy nomination seems to be on its way especially since the television academy has a long history with shows about the entertainment industry.
D’Arcy Carden has had a huge year. Her performance as Janet the all-knowing assistant of the afterlife has become the fan favorite of The Good Place. She’s really outdone herself in the third season from an episode where she battles demons in a bar fight to an episode where she’s tasked with playing herself and all four leads. On top of her standout year on The Good Place she is also on Barry so we know she’s on the radar of Emmy voters. The cult comedy is on the verge of a big year at the Emmys and if voters embrace it in a big way Carden will surprise in the supporting actress race.
Every once in a while Emmy voters fall in love with a new movie star and bring them into the Emmy race. This year, after her rapturous Oscar speech, Olivia Colman seems poised to be that nominee. The second season of Fleabag has really taken the Emmy conversation by storm and is hitting at just the right moment to win over voters.
Comedy Central has gone out of their way to give The Other Two a huge Emmy push campaigning the comedy all around town. It’s one of the best reviewed new shows of the year but it might have a hard overcoming voters’ network bias. Its one chance at a major nomination might be with Molly Shannon who plays a mom extremely eager to help her son into fame. Emmy voters really like Shannon and her work with creator Chris Kelley is some of her best in years.
It finally seems like Schitt’s Creek is starting to get the recognition it deserves. Critics have championed the comedy, larger audiences have discovered it on Netflix, and Dan Levy just won an MTV Movie & TV Award. The actors branch responds well to performers who wear multiple hats and Levy has really come into his own as a producer and writer of the single best comedy on TV. In a year with plenty of repeat nominees Levy might finally stand out especially as passionate support for his work grows.
The Layout of the Supporting Comedy Categories
|Frontrunners||Strong Contenders||In The Conversation|
|Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Kate McKinnon, SNL
|Olivia Colman, Fleabag
Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Leslie Jones, SNL
Aidy Bryant, SNL
D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place
|Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Cecily Strong, SNL
Molly Shannon, The Other Two
Sarah Goldberg, Barry
|Frontrunners||Strong Contenders||In The Conversation|
|Tony Hale, Veep
Henry Winkler, Barry
Tony Shaloub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Keenan Thompson, SNL
|Anthony Carrigan, BarryAlan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Matt Walsh, Veep
Timothy Simons, Veep
|Tituss Burgess, Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt
Alec Baldwin, SNL
Michael Zegen, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek