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Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — No Sure Thing

Two Hannahs take on "SNL" in a Supporting Actress race that could still break in a few different directions.

Hacks HBO Max Hannah Einbinder

Hannah Einbinder in “Hacks”

Jake Giles Netter / HBO Max

Last Year’s Winner: Annie Murphy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Last year, Annie Murphy put a stop to Alex Borstein’s two-year win streak for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” who in turn had ended Kate McKinnon’s own two-year win streak for “Saturday Night Live,” who, yes, was the one to dethrone Allison Janney after she won — you guessed it — two years in a row for “Mom.” With “Schitt’s Creek” over and done, Murphy will not have a shot at her own winning streak, though someone else could very well start theirs.
Fun Fact: If you want to put “Cheers” popularity (and overall excellence) into perspective, look no further than its history of success in the Best Supporting Actress category. Not only is it the most nominated scripted series of all-time (and the second-most nominated series overall, behind only “SNL”), but a) it has the most wins (six), b) two different supporting stars won (Rhea Perlman and Bebe Neuwirth), and c) both winners had their own separate winning streaks. Perlman won three in a row from 1984 – 1986, took a two year break, then won again in 1989. Immediately after, Neuwirth won in back-to-back years. Considering most shows fade away quietly after the wins turn to nominations, that “Cheers” resiliency speaks volumes to how well the 11-season sitcom held together.
Notable Ineligible Series: Annie Murphy, “Schitt’s Creek”; Alex Borstein and Marin Hinkle, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; D’Arcy Carden, “The Good Place”; Betty Gilpin, “GLOW”; Yvonne Orji, “Insecure”; Sarah Goldberg, “Barry”

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire Deputy TV Editor Ben Travers’ predictions for Best Supporting Actress 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 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

Heading into nominations’ morning, everyone assumed “SNL” would perform well in the Best Supporting Actress category. After all, the NBC staple’s female cast members had earned 16 nominations overall and two or more in three of the last four years. Considering the 2020-2021 TV season was disrupted by production shutdowns, and that paved the way for “SNL” to control the category.

Technically, that’s what happened. Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Aidy Bryant all landed nominations this year, pushing the show’s category total to 19 overall and its double-nominee-or-better hot streak to four of the last five years. NBC should be pleased, but with nominations in the rearview mirror and the winners’ circle up ahead, “SNL” isn’t the story here. It’s everyone else.

That’s not to say one of the three sketch stars couldn’t win — speculation over McKinnon, Strong, and Bryant leaving “SNL” could earn them a few career tribute votes — but it’s more likely they steal votes from each other than one rises to the top. Setting vote splitting aside, the heat is burning elsewhere. “Ted Lasso” pulled in 20 nominations (one shy of “SNL’s” total) and is widely considered the frontrunner in most Comedy races. That holds true here, as Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple both have legitimate shots at the top spot. Well-liked and respected, I have to give the edge to Waddingham, simply because her character had a more surprising Season 1 arc. Yes, they could steal votes from each other as well, but Waddingham has been singled out more often by past awards shows, and she’s as close to a co-lead as anyone could get in a show named after one man.

Of course, an even more convincing case for co-lead status could be made for Hannah Einbinder. “Hacks” is very much a two-hander, and while no one can shine as bright as Jean Smart, the newcomer earned a lot of respect for going toe-to-toe with the legendary talent in her breakout role. If voters want to show their support for the HBO Max series beyond Smart (who’s the definite frontrunner in Lead Actress), Einbinder could be how they do it — and the “Ted Lasso” / “SNL” vote-splitting wouldn’t hurt.

Power Rankings: 

  1. Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”
  2. Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”
  3. Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso”
  4. Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
  5. Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live”
  6. Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”
  7. Rosie Perez, “The Flight Attendant”

Will Win: Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”
Could Win: Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”
Should Win: Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”

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