If we left it up to the networks and their campaign departments, almost no one worthy of an Emmy nomination would make the cut (stop nominating Jim Parsons!). So we here at Indiewire are hoping to start some grassroots campaigns of our own, pushing the best of the unlikely nominees to the forefront and hoping to receive some support from you, our wonderful readers. Below you’ll find our picks for the comedy supporting actors we’d like to see honored by the television academy as well as video evidence of their talents. Next week, we’ll pick drama supporting actors, then comedy leads, drama leads, series, and so on until we reach nominations day on July 10th. Online ballots are available June 9th, so let the Emmy push commence!
6) Lauren Weedman – “Looking”
Peter Knegt: Alright, so I’m kind of cheating here as I suspect given her screen time Lauren Weedman falls into the “guest actress” category, but she was in every one of the (too few) eight episodes of the first season of “Looking” and was kind of a definitive “supporting actress.” The show’s sole female role, Weedman’s sharp-tongued, big-hearted Doris was a consistent treat and certainly the primary source of laughs from this very arguable “comedy” as she played BFF to its leading gay men. We’re introduced to her when she calls one out for suggesting he should contact his emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend, and it was love at first sight. “We’ve come a long way for a couple of Modesto rednecks, all right,” she spits at him. “You don’t need to be taking career advice from a psychotic narcissist.” This nomination probably won’t happen, but given she’s been upped to a series regular for next season, I’m just gonna offer my consideration a year in advance.
6) Chelsea Peretti – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Ben Travers: I don’t think you’re cheating at all, and not just because my No. 6 pick is a series regular whose screen time is less than or on par with Weedman’s. Similar to your selection, I believe my choice elevated the show considerably in only a few scenes, sentences, or moments within each episode. Peretti, a writer and actress with an immense Twitter following, snuck in some surprises with impeccable timing while providing a nasal-y, know-it-all tone without being overbearing. She was the wild card of FOX’s freshman cop comedy, and I do have a tendency to fall for show’s wild card characters (as will be further illustrated on this list).
5) Hannibal Buress – “Broad City”
PK: No word of a lie, Peretti was my Lauren Weedman alternative, so I can’t complain with that (and hope she gets in). Though for my No. 5, I went with only two folks on this list that aren’t women (television truly is a remarkable place for comedic actresses these days) by picking a man from a show that is, well, pretty much all about its female leads: “Broad City.” While the show’s creators and lead actresses Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson largely make the web series turned Comedy Central cult hit, they were wise to cast comedian (and former “SNL” and “30 Rock” writer) Hannibal Buress as their second banana Lincoln, a dentist who Glazer’s character sleeps with throughout the series’ first season. His timing is basically perfect, and playing the straight man to Glazer and Jacobson’s stoner comedy buddy thing they have going truly enhances the series altogether.
5) Charlie Day – “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
BT: Women really have taken over contemporary television. Despite my inclusion of mostly men here, my two favorite TV shows, “Parks and Recreation” and “Veep,” feature strong female leads (both of whom should be nominated). Still, I would love to see one of the men from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” finally land a nod for their meaner, nastier, drunker version of a Philly-set “Seinfeld.” Charlie Day has always been the fan favorite, and while it was somewhat understandable for voters to avoid casting a ballot for an actor they only knew as the show’s “wild card” (there it is again), now he’s proven his versatility and charisma in “Horrible Bosses” and “Pacific Rim.” It’s about time he — and the show — get the respect their characters’ do not deserve.
4) Natasha Lyonne – “Orange Is The New Black”
PK: This was actually the first season of “It’s Always Sunny” I didn’t watch, and now I feel like I need to binge it. Though I also feel like if the Emmys finally start showing them love now, it’s a bit too little too late. But my No. 4 pick would be an example of the voters actually being with the times, which is rare. I went back and forth between which of the dozen or so women on “Orange Is The New Black” I wanted to vouch for — I’d actually be all for a “Modern Family”-style sweep of the category by the “Orange” ladies. And while I wouldn’t be surprised or unhappy if at least Kate Mulgrew or Laverne Cox got in, I’m pulling for Natasha Lyonne. Playing former drug addict Nicky, Lyonne’s storyline clearly hit a bit close to home (she’s been very open about her own struggles with drugs), but instead of just seeming like obvious casting, Lyonne created someone so real and surprising and funny in Nicky despite that process surely being a personal challenge for her.
4) Max Greenfield – “New Girl”
BT: Lyonne’s come a long way since “American Pie,” both in her personal life and as an actress. Leaning on the “life imitating art” parallels could prove a fruitful Emmys campaign strategy for a show I expect to get lots of love. One that won’t, and really doesn’t deserve much, is “New Girl,” a passable and sporadically creative sitcom that hit a wall in season three despite adding the comic talents of Damon Wayans Jr. Still, the one mainstay is Max Greenfield who plays Schmidt with such contagious verve it’s hard not to imitate his fast-talking diction post-viewing. He earned a nomination two years ago, and he deserves one again for the 2013-14 season, if only for thriving under the most ill-fated circumstances. He’s the star of a show frustratingly determined to put him in the back seat.
3) Debra Lawrance – “Please Like Me”
PK: I didn’t know anyone still watched “New Girl”!? I joke, and can do nothing but respect that opinion since its been a season or two since I saw what Greenfield brought to that table. But I digress, and offer my vouch for the least likely nominee on my top six: Debra Lawrance in “Please Like Me.” I know: Who? What? To which I say: If you have not heard of “Please Like Me” you should immediately find a way to watch its first season. The Australian import — which got picked up for US release on Pivot (and as a result I don’t even know if it’s eligible for Emmy consideration) — is a half-hour comedy-drama based on the autobiographical stand-up of 26-year-old gay Aussie comedian Josh Thomas. It’s pretty stellar for a bunch of reasons, veteran actress Lawrance (yes, I’m spelling that correctly) not least among them. Playing Thomas’ suicidal mother, she offers up an extraordinary mix of vulnerability and — despite the whole suicidal part — laughs. Frankly, I’m mostly just using this as a forum to get people to watch the show, since I think it’s more likely the Emmys collectively nominate every single person we list here than Lawrance.
3) Danny Pudi – “Community”
BT: You caught me. I’m as ignorant to “Please Like Me” as anyone can be, but your pitch certainly won me over. Consider it on my pirating, I mean, streaming list. As for me, I’m going to throw one more oldie — but a goodie — on the heap I’m quickly establishing of yesteryear’s favorites. Whether or not “Community” is saved, Danny Pudi remains the unheralded hero of the ex-NBC sitcom. While the cult hit has earned one Emmy nomination for writing and even a win for animation (for “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”), none of the fine ensemble has earned any recognition from the television academy. It’s time that changed. Pudi, who recently unveiled his character’s older-than-expected age, has brought an unprecedented mix of immaturity and knowledge to the show’s most mysterious persona — and its most necessary. Abed really is the glue holding the Greendale gang together, and Pudi has pulled off cleverly meta, cluelessly ignorant, borderline Aspergers, and wholly lovable, many times all at once. His range within a single character is what impresses.
2) Michaela Watkins – “Trophy Wife”
PK: I got another offering from a sitcom that wasn’t renewed by a network, but at least “Community” got more than a few chances (if it doesn’t get picked up by Hulu, that is). ABC didn’t even give “Trophy Wife” a second season, and while I get that the ratings were the catalyst, the series had so much potential for audience growth. This was in large part thanks to its fantastic cast, who across the board were comparable to the ensemble from “Modern Family” during its best seasons. MVP status among them is a tough call (young Albert Tsai is pretty fantastic, as is Marcia Gay Harden), but I’ve landed on Michaela Watkins, the “SNL” alum who takes what could have been a one note character — flaky, flamboyant new age Jackie — and turns her into one of the most hilarious, layered women on network television. It sucks we won’t get to see where she could have gone in season two, but hey maybe Hulu will add it to its cancelled by network pickup pile.
2) Aubrey Plaza – “Parks and Recreation”
BT: Hear, hear! Watkins et all deserved better from ABC — how they weren’t paired with “Modern Family” for an hour block of comedy is beyond me — so hopefully Emmys voters will make up for their oversight. Plus, a few awards couldn’t hurt the show’s chances for renewal. But now I’m shifting away from canceled TV to one about to end on its own terms. Amy Poehler deserves every Emmy nomination she’s received so far (and more), but it’s downright criminal the rest of the cast has gone unrewarded. This is the show deserving of more than one slot in each supporting actor field, not “Modern Family” (and, I’m sorry, but more than “OITNB,” too, especially considering it’s a borderline drama). First and foremost is Aubrey Plaza, a young actress who appears to be even more unpredictable than her character, April Ludgate (at this year’s Paleyfest, Plaza refused to provide a single straight answer to questions and there were jokes about being surprised she even showed up). She’s handled an increase in responsibility and forced maturation well, particularly this season. Chelsea Peretti owes a lot to Plaza considering how similar their characters’ demeanors are, so why not pay homage to both the new and the old in 2014?
1) Christopher Evan Welch – “Silicon Valley”
PK: I’m gonna take that and switch to a much more somber tone with my No. 1 choice, so be warned: Christopher Evan Welch from “Silicon Valley.” As billionaire Peter Gregory, Welch was the best thing about the series — until he passed away from lung cancer after shooting its fifth episode. If you haven’t seen the show and don’t think you know who Welch is, you’re wrong. He had tiny but memorable roles in films like “The Master,” “Lincoln” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (though the latter was just his voice — he was the narrator) and on TV with “The Good Wife” and “Nurse Jackie.” “Silicon Valley” was his big chance, and he nailed it. So to have tragedy strike just as that was getting started is just plain sad, and though I’m not necessarily one to advocate sentimental posthumous nominations, Welch totally deserves one. And on top of that it would just be a nice way for the people that knew him to have a collective moment.
1) Nick Offerman – “Parks and Recreation”
BT: I wholeheartedly agree with Welch deserving a nod. “Silicon Valley” is a bit of an Emmys wild card overall this year, so it will be interesting to see how their campaign — including a giant FYC billboard in the heart of Hollywood — will play out. For my top spot, I’m pushing another “Parks and Recreation” vet (that’s right — TWO) who’s gone shockingly overlooked by the Emmys thus far. Ron Swanson is practically a household name. He’s on par with the Marlboro Man, John Wayne, and “The Expendables” cast as an aughts example of manliness, all the while being an ardent feminist. He’s not a simple character, but he is a cultural landmark on a show packed with sharply original creations. Offerman has broke out since, nabbing many indie roles, more TV roles (“Axe Cop,” “Children’s Hospital”) and even some blockbuster films (“The Lego Movie,” “21” & “22 Jump Street”). Now’s the time to reward him for his original contribution to TV history with all the awards you have — before it’s too late.