Throughout Emmy season, IndieWire will be evaluating the top contenders for TV’s most prestigious prize, and it all starts here. At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. This article will be updated throughout the coming months, along with all our predictions, to reflect an up-to-the-minute state of the race. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest coverage on the 2020 Emmys, including breaking news, analysis, interviews, podcasts, FYC event coverage, reviews of all the awards contenders, and more. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13. The 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, September 20. (See our awards calendar for a more detailed breakdown of important dates.) ABC is broadcasting the ceremony.
Last Year’s Winner: Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: There hasn’t been a repeat winner in the Best Supporting Actor (Comedy) category since Jeremy Piven took home three straight Emmys for “Entourage” from 2006-2008, but there have been multiple two-time winners since then. Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”), Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), and Tony Hale (“Veep”) all won twice in the last decade.
Fun Fact: “M*A*S*H” has the most nominations in the category of any television series, snagging 21 nominations in 11 years split among Gary Burghoff, McLean Stevenson, Harry Morgan, Mike Farrell, and David Ogden Stiers. Only Burghoff and Morgan won, and they each only took home one trophy, which places the legendary series behind shows like “Entourage” (three wins), “Modern Family” (four wins), and “The Andy Griffith Show” (five wins) in terms of the most wins ever. Overall, nine shows won more Emmys in this category than “M*A*S*H” — which even when considering vote-splitting, tight competition, and cast turnover, seems high.
Notable Ineligible Series: Anthony Carrigan, Stephen Root, and Henry Winkler for “Barry” (Season 3 will not premiere before the deadline); Tony Hale in “Veep” (ended)
The State of the Race
Similar to how “Game of Thrones” exit opens things up on the drama side, “Barry’s” absence from the comedy side leaves three open slots in the Best Supporting Actor (Comedy) category. Last year saw Anthony Carrigan, Stephen Root, and recent winner Henry Winkler all representing the HBO favorite, but Season 3 won’t premiere in time for the three 2019 nominees to qualify — who will take their spots?
First off, last year’s winner remains at the front of the pack. Tony Shalhoub put in another strong season for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and the Amazon favorite is expected to have a strong 2020. For its second season, “Maisel” pulled in more nominations (20) and just as many wins (eight) as its freshman run — and that’s despite intense competition from “Fleabag,” “Barry,” and “Veep.” With all three out (including “Veep” supporting star Tony Hale), “Maisel” could set new highs for Season 3. Joining Shalhoub in the supporting actor race are longstanding co-stars Michael Zegen and Kevin Pollak, but fortune may favor the fortunate: Two-time Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown joined the cast for Season 3 and left a mark. He might have the best odds of all the “Maisel” men to join Shalhoub come July.
OK, OK, enough with the “Marvelous.” What about the rest of the pack? “Schitt’s Creek” could conjure a little extra love for Pop TV’s final season, including a first nomination for its co-creator and supporting star Dan Levy. Voters could also choose to honor “Modern Family” one last time, as names that used to dominate the category — like Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Ed O’Neill, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson — could all reasonably reappear for the ABC sitcom’s swan song. The same could be said for former winner Louie Anderson in “Baskets,” while William Jackson Harper is hoping the TV Academy held back its true feelings for “The Good Place” until the NBC comedy’s final bow, as well.
That still leaves recent nominees like Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”), Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), and Alec Baldwin (“SNL”), all of whom remain front-of-mind in the category. Mahershala Ali hopes to keep his awards hot streak alive with “Ramy,” after two Oscar wins and two Emmy nods in the past four years, and John Malkovich will be gunning for his first Emmy nomination since 2003 with Netflix’s “Space Force.” Dark horse favorites include Marc Maron for Netflix’s “GLOW,” Ted Danson in the latest season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (and/or the very deserving J.B. Smoove), Walton Goggins’ singing in “The Righteous Gemstones,” F. Murray Abraham’s drunken shenanigans on “Mythic Quest,” and Andre Braugher’s long-snubbed brilliance on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” With long-time comedians going toe-to-toe with respected actors, this race could split in any direction.
1. Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
2. Dan Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
3. Kenan Thompon, “Saturday Night Live”
4. Sterling K. Brown, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
5. Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”
6. Mahershala Ali, “Ramy”
7. James Marsden, “Dead to Me”
8. John Malkovich, “Space Force”
Spoilers: Michael Zegen, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; William Jackson Harper, “The Good Place”; Louie Anderson, “Baskets”; Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”; Kevin Pollak, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Alec Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live”; F. Murray Abraham, “Mythic Quest”; Marc Maron, “GLOW”; Ted Danson, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
In a Perfect World: Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”; J.B. Smoove, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; Walton Goggins, “The Righteous Gemstones”