How That ‘Succession’ Shocker Shakes Up the Show’s Emmys Prospects

So far, only two series regulars have won an Emmy their work on "Succession." The recent Season 4 shocker creates a scenario where that number seems sure to increase.
The Roy siblings embracing each other in Episode 3 of Season 4 of "Succession"
Macall B. Polay / HBO

[The below contains spoilers for “Succession” Season 4, Episode 3.] 

Not only does the death of Logan Roy whip the seven remaining episodes of “Succession” Season 4 into a frenzy, the shocking plot point also calls into question what the acclaimed HBO drama’s Emmys campaign plans are now that Brian Cox is presumably ineligible for a third Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series nomination.

For however tragic it is to see the imposing patriarch fall so early into the show’s final season, it does burst open the door to even more interesting new awards prospects for “Succession.” For instance, there has already been plenty of conversation around Alan Ruck, who plays eldest son Connor Roy, finally making the cut for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, having never been nominated for his work on the past three seasons of the show.

Now, Cox too seems most likely to make a bid for that category. Though creator Jesse Armstrong likes to keep mum about what comes next for all the “Succession” characters, Cox told Vulture, “I do pop back and I have a couple scenes later on, which is flashback stuff.” Appearing in two more episodes would likely render the 76-year-old star ineligible for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, a category that HBO awards strategists would most likely avoid submitting him into anyway, as that award is not given out at the main Primetime Emmys ceremony, and given the circumstances they would want Cox to have his first Emmy win and acceptance speech for the series be televised.

That all said, the actual cast members that have been mainstays in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category are Kieran Culkin, Nicholas Braun, and Matthew Macfadyen, with all three being nominated for Seasons 2 and 3, and the latter winning last year. Again, we don’t know what the rest of the season holds for their characters, but the way things are teeing up, it’s safe to assume Braun and Macfadyen will stay in the category. Those two plus Ruck and Cox would already give the show four extremely viable contenders for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, that is why it would be smart for Culkin to now submit for Lead.

So far, “Succession” has only won two acting Emmys: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series to Jeremy Strong for Season 2, and the aforementioned Supporting Actor win for Macfadyen after Season 3. The show was not nominated in any of the acting categories its first season, but the following seasons really hammered in how the central dynamic on the show was between Logan and Kendall, hence Cox and Strong twice entering the Lead Actor in a Drama race.

Season 4, though, has so far been much more centered on the Roy children as one unit (sans Connor). With Logan’s death automatically pushing Roman into playing a bigger role in the narrative, it’s fair to have Culkin’s Emmy submission reflect that. Putting him in Lead would also give even more “Succession” actors an opportunity to win their first Emmy for the show.

Succession Season 4 Episode 3 Logan dead Brian Cox
Brian Cox and Matthew Macfadyen in “Succession”Courtesy of David M. Russell / HBO

Yes, Emmys history dictates that Strong and Macfayden are more likely to win again, rather than a new star from the show winning, but given how this is the last season, the proposed setup does seed the idea among Emmy voters that they might have overlooked Culkin and Cox one too many times, and should hand them Emmys on their way out.

How the women of the show will submit for Emmys is more complicated. Sarah Snook, who plays Shiv Roy, Logan’s only daughter, has been nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series twice, but lost both times to “Ozark” star Julia Garner. With that show ending last season, one would think Snook is now in the clear to finally win the category, should she submit for Supporting Actress again, but she would now have “The White Lotus” Season 2 cast to deal with.

Though it contended as a Limited Series last year, it was still very telling that the Mike White vacation dramedy took up five out of seven nomination slots for Supporting Actress, and the Emmy still went to Jennifer Coolidge. And “The White Lotus” Season 2 not only had more fleshed out female characters, it was also better and more widely received. While Snook’s role in the final season of “Succession” does look like it could warrant a move to Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, so does Jennifer Coolidge’s “The White Lotus” swan song. If it’s ultimately HBO making the decisions on who submits where, it would be most beneficial to move the latter actress up to Lead, since she would be the most competitive against the women of “Yellowjackets,” the other buzzy spring drama already proven to be on the TV Academy’s radar.

That would pave the way for the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series race this year to be between Snook, her “Succession” co-star J. Smith Cameron again, and maybe even Justine Lupe as well if Season 4 continues to be a strong showcase for her, against a mix of “The White Lotus” stars like Aubrey Plaza and Meghann Fahy, and “Yellowjackets” actresses like Christina Ricci and Simone Kessell.

There are more individuals from other shows that could crack into Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series as well, “The Crown” star Elizabeth Debicki being a prime example. But the main wild cards will be “Better Call Saul” star Rhea Seehorn — also overdue — who is in contention for the last season of her show, with a possibility of moving up to Lead. And don’t forget about the women of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which have dominated the nomination slots for the category before, with Ann Dowd even winning after the Hulu series’ first season. Although it does seem like fans were less engaged with the recent penultimate season of the 2017 Outstanding Drama Series winner.

When all is said and done, Logan Roy’s death ensures “Succession” will be keeping Emmys prognosticators on their toes well after the beloved series ends in May.

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