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Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Will the "Barry" men knock each other out or will one dominate the competition? [Updated September 16]

Stephen Root in "Barry" Season 2 Episode 8 finale

Stephen Root in “Barry”

Aaron Epstein/HBO

Last Year’s Winner: Henry Winkler, “Barry”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Unlike the women’s category, the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy race hasn’t seen a repeat winner in over a decade. The last performer to take home back-to-back Emmys here was Jeremy Piven for “Entourage” in 2007 – 2008 (whereas even one win seems unimaginable today). “Modern Family” won three consecutive years, but the chosen victor rotated between Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet, while Tony Hale took home two trophies for “Veep,” but his streak was interrupted by Burrell winning again for “Modern Family.”
Fun Fact: “M*A*S*H” has more nominations than any other program with 21, but it only has two wins — Harry Morgan in 1980 and Gary Burghoff in 1977. If “Modern Family” can squeak out two more nods, it will tie the record (but the ABC comedy got blanked in 2018). “Veep” and “Will & Grace” are the next active series with the highest nomination count, currently locked together at seven apiece. (Oddly enough, “SNL” has the most nominations for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series with 15, while the men only have six.)
Notable Ineligible Series: Louie Anderson, “Baskets”; Brian Tyree Henry, “Atlanta”

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. This article will be updated throughout the season, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz from the 2019 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, September 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

When looking over the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nominees, one glaring fact stands out: There are a lot of nominees from “Barry.” While HBO is certainly happy about that in terms of the nomination count, what it means for who wins depends on what tactic you take. It could mean there’s a huge swell of support for the show, and one of the three nominated actors — Henry Winkler, Stephen Root, and Anthony Carrigan — is bound to win. But it could also mean the dreaded “split vote” curse, where “Barry” pulls in the most winning ballots, but they’re divvied up among the actors and thus no one actor receives the most.

So, which way will things go in 2019? It’s hard to say, but the category offers a few hints. In the last decade, there have been eight shows to snag multiple Best Supporting Actor nominees in the same year. Of those eight, four winners have been crowned. Considering obvious other factors like momentum, popularity, and compelling narratives, those figures seem to indicate vote splitting isn’t really a problem. If the most-nominated program wins half the time, those make for pretty good odds this year for “Barry.”

But there is a caveat. Since the Emmys changed voting procedures in 2015 — shifting from blue ribbon panels representing each branch (including actors) to letting everyone cast their own ballot — no series with multiple nominations has won in the Supporting Actor category. “SNL” was nominated twice last year, and “Veep” had two nominees in 2016 and 2017 — none of those actors won, perhaps because tastes are more varied when you’re talking about thousands of voters instead of hundreds.

With all that in mind, the race is pretty open. Last year’s winner (Winkler) is still beloved, but the urgency to get him a trophy has lessoned after he finally won in 2018. His co-star Root will take up that torch, having never been nominated for an Emmy before, while Anthony Carrigan has the breakout character of the bunch. (NoHo Hank is arguably the face of the series, even with Hader front-and-center.) Meanwhile, HBO’s other nominee, Tony Hale, could grab his third Emmy after a particularly heartbreaking performance in “Veep’s” final season.

But then there’s “Maisel.” The “Marvelous” Amazon series leads all comedies in nominations, and Tony Shaloub is a long-standing Emmy favorite. Last year, he couldn’t topple Winkler’s long-time-coming narrative, but with that out of the way, the TV Academy could choose to honor the actor for taking on — and owning — another role. That being said, Netflix will be looking to get “The Kominsky Method” a trophy somewhere, and Alan Arkin might have the best chance of breaking through. An Oscar-winner who’s never won at the Emmys, Arkin had the juicier role on his own show and should carry a wide appeal for voters. Having Netflix behind him won’t hurt, especially if the “Barry” crew steps on each other’s toes.

Power Ranking the Nominees:

  1. Stephen Root, “Barry”
  2. Tony Shaloub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  3. Tony Hale, “Veep”
  4. Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”
  5. Henry Winkler, “Barry”
  6. Anthony Carrigan, “Barry”

Will Win: Stephen Root, “Barry”
Could Win:
Tony Shaloub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Should Win:
Tony Hale, “Veep”

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