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Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series — ‘SNL,’ ‘Ted Lasso,’ and Everyone Else

Will the TV Academy hone in on a few favorite shows, or will it recognize the wide range of worthy nominees in this year's Supporting Actor race?

Ted Lasso Apple TV+ Phil Dunster Brett Goldstein

Phil Dunster and Brett Goldstein in “Ted Lasso”

Courtesy of Apple TV+

Last Year’s Winner: Dan Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: The category hasn’t seen any repeat winners since Jeremy Piven took home three consecutive trophies for his work on “Entourage” between 2006 – 2008. Shortly thereafter, “Modern Family’s” Emmy dominance was supported by Supporting Actor wins, as Eric Stonestreet won in 2010, then Ty Burrell triumphed in 2011, before it went back to Stonestreet in 2012 and then eventually returned to Burrell in 2014. (All those wins still weren’t enough to tie the category’s records: Both “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” won five Emmys here, which set the record for most wins by a single program, and Don Knotts set the individual high-mark by winning all five Emmys for “Andy.”)
Fun Fact: Lately, “Saturday Night Live” has become a bit of a mainstay in the Supporting categories, but it took decades before voters put sketch performers alongside their half-hour comedy peers. Eddie Murphy was the first “SNL” cast member nominated in this category, way back in 1983. It took another 29 years for the next Studio 8H player to snag a nod, when Bill Hader was nominated in 2012. “Saturday Night Live” has received six of its seven nominations in the last eight years, which ties it for 11th in total program nominations — with only one-third the tally of “M.A.S.H.”
Notable Ineligible Series: Mahershala Ali, “Ramy” (Season 3 is not expected to be eligible); Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method” (Mr. Arkin left the show prior to Season 3); Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Season 8 is not expected to be eligible); Sterling K. Brown and Tony Shaloub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Season 4 is not expected to be eligible); William Jackson Harper, “The Good Place” (the series has ended); Anthony Carrigan, Henry Winkler, and Stephen Root, “Barry” (Season 3 is not expected to be eligible)

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire Deputy TV Editor Ben Travers’ predictions for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. This article will be updated throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2020 race. Voting for the 2021 Emmys will be held from June 17 through June 28 (with polls closing at 10 p.m. PT). Emmy nominations will be announced Tuesday, July 13. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out in September, at a date (or dates) to be announced. The 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place Sunday, September 19. CBS is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

With more ineligible 2020 nominees than even the Supporting Actress category, the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series is primed for a wild race that should end with plenty of surprises. Only one of last year’s class is qualified to return — Kenan Thompson for “Saturday Night Live” — so get ready for either a) category dominance by one or two of the TV Academy’s preferred 2021 comedies, or b) an eccentric smattering of fan favorites from across television.

Rooting for the former is “Ted Lasso.” The Apple TV+ hit features a strong supporting ensemble, including Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, Nick Mohammed, and Phil Dunster. Given the love out there for all things “Ted,” it’s perfectly plausible that its cast could end up with half the slots in this category, presuming voters feel comfortable checking off multiple names for the same series. That same sense of bliss could benefit “Saturday Night Live,” as well. In addition to Thompson, the NBC sketch series will be pushing Bowen Yang, Pete Davidson, Chris Redd, Beck Bennett, Michael Che, and Colin Jost. If voters feel like the long-running live show has had a good year (or they haven’t been keeping up with the breadth of last year’s comic offerings), nominations morning could be a good day for “SNL.”

Still, there are a few big names in the supporting field. Ray Romano is looking for his first Emmy nomination since 2005 with his latest role in “Made for Love.” Paul Reiser hasn’t been nominated since 1999, though that could change this year with Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method.” Don Johnson takes us back even further, as the “Kenan” star is looking for his first Emmy nod since “Miami Vice” in 1985. Then there’s Laurence Fishburne, who won a Creative Arts Emmy just last year (for his work in the Quibi original short-form series, “#FreeRayshawn”), but who’s looking to get back in the Primetime race with “Black-ish.”

Then there are the potential first-timers, many of whom are long overdue for an Emmy nomination. Leading this year’s pack is Danny Pudi, who gets more time to shine in “Mythic Quest” Season 2 and makes the most of his complicated businessman. Nico Santos also deserves recognition for his six seasons of stellar work on “Superstore,” and John Early isn’t far behind with four excellent years of stealing scenes in “Search Party.” And lest we forget, Lance Reddick has never been nominated for an Emmy. While nothing will make up for overlooking his top-tier work on everything from “The Wire” to “Bosch,” a nomination for “Corporate” would be a good place to start.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
  2. Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”
  3. Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live”
  4. Brendan Hunt, “Ted Lasso”
  5. Ray Romano, “Made for Love”
  6. Laurence Fishburne, “Black-ish”
  7. Michiel Huisman, “The Flight Attendant”
  8. Danny Pudi, “Mythic Quest”

Contenders: Alex Newell, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”; Jeremy Swift, “Ted Lasso”; T.R. Knight, “The Flight Attendant”; Paul Reiser, “The Kominsky Method”; Don Johnson, “Kenan”; Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso”; Pete Davidson, “Saturday Night Live”; F. Murray Abraham, “Mythic Quest”

In a Perfect World: Nico Santos, “Superstore”; John Early, “Search Party”; Patton Oswalt, “A.P. Bio”; Lance Reddick, “Corporate”

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