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, “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 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
When it’s all said and done “Saturday Night Live” could end up with more than half the nominations here, earning more nominations in a single category than some shows get across the board. With a lineup of supporting contenders that includes Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, and Chloe Fineman, you have to like your odds. McKinnon is a former winner, Strong and Bryant are former nominees, and Fineman represents the up-and-coming “SNL” cast members just waiting for their time in the sun. The TV Academy has been opening up the shades of late, so it’s possible each and every one of them gets in this year.
Standing in the way of “SNL” dominance are two of the top-billed comedies: “Ted Lasso” and “The Flight Attendant.” Hannah Waddingham has the fullest arc among the Apple TV+ series’ supporting cast, while Juno Temple stole a ton of scenes in an endearing turn. As for “The Flight Attendant,” it’s a bit harder to guess who voters will spark to among the SAG-nominated ensemble, but Rosie Perez is a three-time nominee (for “In Living Color”), Zosia Mamet makes a meal out of the enviable “best friend” role, and Michelle Gomez becomes the undecipherable mystery antagonist. Depending on how much love there is for each program, multiple actors from the hot show could benefit.
That still leaves, oh, about two dozen names in contention. Bette Midler is hoping to turn her Guest Actress nomination for “The Politician” Season 1 into a Supporting Actress nod this year; Jane Krakowski is looking to earn her fifth Emmy nomination for “Dickinson” (and first for a show not produced by Tina Fey); Holly Hunter, meanwhile, is hoping the Fey magic can rub off on “Mr. Mayor,” and Laurie Metcalf is just hoping TV Academy voters are among the strong viewership for ABC’s “The Conners.” And that still leaves notable names like Kathleen Turner (“The Kominsky Method”), Mary Steenburgen (“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”), and Martha Plimpton (“Generation”).
As more contenders make their case in April and May, we’ll be sure to update the top contenders accordingly. With eight slots and few returning nominees, this category could go any which way.
- Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”
- Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
- Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live”
- Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso”
- Rosie Perez, “The Flight Attendant”
- Naomi Ackie, “Master of None”
- Paula Pell, “Girls5eva”
- Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”
Contenders: Laurie Metcalf, “The Conners”; Zosia Mamet, “The Flight Attendant”; Bette Midler, “The Politician”; Holly Hunter, “Mr. Mayor”; Jane Krakowski, “Dickinson”; Kathleen Turner, “The Kominsky Method”; Michelle Gomez, “The Flight Attendant”; Mary Steenburgen, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”; Molly Bernard, “Younger”; Jaime Pressly, “Mom”; Martha Plimpton, “Generation”
In a Perfect World: Lauren Ash, “Superstore”; Paula Pell, “A.P. Bio”