I Lay The Odds For This Year’s Emmys
Week 2, Part 4: Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy
Mahershala Ali, Ramy: 6–1. For Playing: Sheik Malik, Ramy’s new spiritual leader. Pro: I never expected to see Ali back in the Emmy hunt the year after his stint in True Detective, much less in a comedy series. But I think it’s well established what an exceptional actor Ali, and the fact that he can lend his gravitas to such real effect in this series — and then show such real anger in the last few minutes of the season. He has been rising in predictions and could pull off an upset particularly if there are people out there (like me) who thought he was robbed last year. Con: Technically, I think he has the same problem Sterling Brown does (see below). Also, this series fell under the radar during its first season, and it could well end up hurting Ali.
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method: 17–2. For Playing: Norman, the widowed agent and Sandy’s best friend. Pro: Things actually were better for Norman last season than they were for Sandy. He rediscovered an old love (true to form for this series, it was at a mutual acquaintance’s funeral) and began to heal things. He finally began to make piece with his daughter and she seemed genuinely determined to recover from her addictions. Of course, being Norman he may have screwed them both up, but he made it incredibly funny to watch. Also, he’s kind of the sentimental favorite in this category, and an argument could be made he should’ve won last year. Con: Arkin has spent pretty much his entire career being ignored by the people who give awards — I’m pretty sure everybody thought his Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine was a valedictory; instead, his career is actually at a peak. And his role has the kind of subtleties the academy overlooks.
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine: 19–2. For Playing: Raymond Holt, the captain of the squad. Pro: Is Andre Braugher one of the greatest actors who ever lived? There are few performers who would create one of the most indelible characters in the history of the medium, and then fifteen years come back to it and utterly torch both the character and the genre he appeared, and do it so brilliant. Few actors have been nominated for as many shows as Braugher has been, and I think he deserves to win at least one for this series. Con: Recent events have made everybody look at the police procedural under a microscope the past few months. It’s going to be really hard for an actor in a satire of the genre to prevail, no matter how brilliant.
Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: 8–1. For Playing: Ray, Shy Baldwin’s put-upon manager, who does a lot of put upons himself. Pro: Who’d have thought that the man responsible for bringing us to tears so often as Randall could be so funny on this show? Brown is active and joyful — hell, he even sings! — and is a professional in a way that so many of the characters on this show aren’t. I didn’t understand why he was nominated before; believe me having seen his work, I get it now. Con: That being said, it’s kind of a stretch to see him being nominated as a Supporting Actor rather than a Guest Actor. Throw in the fact that Brown has already won quite a bit in every other category and you get the feeling that they might just let the nomination be enough.
William Jackson Harper, The Good Place: 9–1. For Playing: Chibi, the ethics experts who ultimately becomes key to saving humanity. Pro: I’ve thought for the entire series run that Harper never got nearly enough for his incredible work on The Good Place. As the mouthpiece for all of the ethical questions on the series, as the man who couldn’t make up his mind about anything, and as Eleanor’s unlikely soulmate, this was one of the most demanding roles on the series. Throw in the episode which he probably submitted for consideration — where we learned what turned him into a man searching for the answer, and how he finally found it — and its hard to argue why he wouldn’t deserve the Emmy. Con: Clearly, I’m not a member of the academy. More to the point, there are a lot of outstanding performances from the top down — they needed eight nominees for a reason — and as exceptional as Harper’s work is, I think the Emmys will make a more concrete decision than Chidi could and vote against him.
Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek: 9–2. For Playing: David Rose, the gay son about to get married and leave with his family. Pro: It tells you a lot that in a cast with as many great comic actors, Dan Levy has become the actor everybody loves. He managed to win an MTV award for TV two years ago, and he has become beloved by an entire world for his humor and his humanity. And its remarkable that in a cast with so many legendary, award winning actors that Levy has become the slight favorite to win. This is going to be a hard fought category but he could pull it off. Con: It’s still his first nomination, and it’s really hard for any performer to win on their first nomination in the last year. I’ve got a list three pages long of actors and actresses who’ve failed.
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: 5–1. For Playing: Abe, former scientist living on the East Side, now a rebel — sort of — living with his in-laws in Queens. Pro: It tells you a lot about how good the rest of the cast is that Shalhoub still has some of the funniest lines on this show. But as the series expands, he tries to find his roots and just keeps finding new ways to get put upon by everybody. This role may be the high point of his career — and that’s saying a lot. The fact that he managed to win the SAG Award for Best Actor in a Comedy tells you just how good he is. The nominal favorite, and that’s even if the Emmys don’t get lazy and give him a repeat award. Con: He’s won a lot — last year was his fourth Emmy for Comedy — and there may be a desire to give the award to some new blood. And you can’t tell whether or not Brown’s presence in the category will take votes away from Shalhoub. Then again… See Supporting Actress.
Keenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live: 9–1. For Playing: Various Characters. Pro: Holy crap, Thompson’s been on SNL for twenty years?! And he’s only won one award for his work. Let’s give him a lifetime achievement award or something. Thompson has the admirable gift of being ubiquitous and somehow giving the laughs to everyone else in the sketch, which is remarkable considering how funny he is when he’s in a sketch himself. I take back a lot of what I said before about SNL performers taking nominations away from actors in comedies. He deserves it. Con: For all the wins SNL has managed in the Best Sketch Comedy show the last decade, it’s being really hard for the other performers to win awards. Throw in the fact that Thompson plays so few recurring characters and it may be difficult for them to find a single show that best encapsulates his brilliance.
PREDICTION: With Levy and Shalhoub likely battling it out, I give the narrowest of edges to Shalhoub. Watch out for Ali, though.