Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series — ‘Ted Lasso’ vs. the World

Actors from the Apple TV+ hit take up half the category, but can one of them pull away from the pack?
Ted Lasso Season 2 Brett Goldstein Nick Mohammed
"Ted Lasso"
Colin Hutton / 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 was not eligible); Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method” (Mr. Arkin left the show prior to Season 3); Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Season 8 was not eligible); Sterling K. Brown and Tony Shaloub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Season 4 was not eligible); William Jackson Harper, “The Good Place” (the series has ended); Anthony Carrigan, Henry Winkler, and Stephen Root, “Barry” (Season 3 was not 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 2021 race. Voting for the 2021 Emmys was held from June 17 through June 28 (with polls closing at 10 p.m. PT). Emmy nominations were announced Tuesday, July 13. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12. The 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place Sunday, September 19. CBS is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

“Ted Lasso” features a strong overall ensemble, which is well-represented across the 2021 Emmy nominations. The likes of Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, and Juno Temple are all nominated elsewhere (as is casting director Theo Park), but a whopping four nominees are competing against each other in the Best Supporting Actor race: Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, and Nick Mohammed make up half the field in a category that’s eight names deep.

Considering “Ted Lasso” is the favorite in most Comedy categories, the question of “Who will win the Best Supporting Actor Emmy?” splits into a two-parter:

1. Can one of the “Ted Lasso” actors avoid vote splitting and emerge from the pack victorious?
2. Who among them has the best shot of doing so?

Vote splitting is always a dicey conversation. Some argue having multiple nominees is actually a benefit: Voters clearly love the show and thus only look at those nominees when deciding on a winner. With that decision, there’s typically either a clear frontrunner (based on their individual arcs across the submitted season) or a name that’s been regularly championed during the awards campaign (either elevated naturally or by the network). But, on the flip side, others contend most voters don’t think that hard about who to vote for: It’s just a gut call, and everyone’s gut is different, so vote splitting is thereby inevitable.

If you’re in the latter camp, then (oddly enough) expect to hear Kenan Thompson or Bowen Yang’s name called come Emmy night. Yes, they’re both from the same show, so they could also face a vote-splitting issue, but Thompson is a double nominee this year and a veteran of the NBC late-night staple; a Variety cover story and decades of goodwill are working in his favor. Yang is the new kid on the block; he could catch on with anyone hoping to see “SNL” move in a fresh direction. Each sketch performer is courting a different audience within the larger “SNL” viewership, so they may not be each other’s main competition.

Maybe I’m thinking too hard, and Carl Clemons-Hopkins or Paul Reiser benefits from six candidates from two shows diluting the votes enough for all those “Hacks” or “Kominsky Method” fans to have their voices heard… but I doubt it. In fact, if you look at the last decade or so in the category, vote splitting doesn’t appear to be that much of an issue. Last year, two “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” stars were nominated, and both lost to Dan Levy from “Schitt’s Creek” — but that was part of the “Schitt’s Creek” sweep. Tony Shalhoub’s win in 2019 for “Maisel” makes a better argument for vote splitting being a factor; after all, Henry Winkler beat Shalhoub the year prior for “Barry,” but then lost when two more of his co-stars were nominated. And yet it’s hard to prove vote splitting had much to do with it, considering back-to-back winners are so rare in the category, “Fleabag” was the big winner that year, and “Barry” only picked up three total Emmys — hardly a juggernaut toppled by vote splitting.

That’s what we’re seeing with “Ted Lasso.” Its 20 nominations are the most ever for a freshman comedy series, and when there’s that much love around a given show, little can get in its way. Back when “Modern Family” burst onto the Emmy scene, winning 16 Emmys in its first three seasons, it had three or four Best Supporting Actor nominees every year — and one of them won every year. Bet on “Ted Lasso” to do the same.

“OK, OK, enough! Which one will win?” Short answer: Brett Goldstein. While Nick Mohammed may have been the fan favorite in Season 1, Jeremy Swift’s Higgins is infinitely lovable, and Brendan Hunt gets extra credit as a series’ co-creator, Goldstein’s Season 2 arc — which shouldn’t technically be a factor yet can’t help but influence voters since it’s airing during voting — is just the kind of standout element TV Academy members may need to make their choice easier. Plus, he’s a writer. And a charming fellow. Again, those shouldn’t be part of the conversation, but they certainly are in a race this tight.

Power Rankings:

  1. Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
  2. Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”
  3. Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live”
  4. Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso”
  5. Brendan Hunt, “Ted Lasso”
  6. Jeremy Swift, “Ted Lasso”
  7. Carl Clemons-Hopkins, “Hacks”
  8. Paul Reiser, “The Kominsky Method”

Will Win: Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
Could Win: Kenan Thompson or Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live”
Should Win: Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”

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