I Try To Predict This Year’s Emmy Winners
Week 2, Part 4: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY
My only complaint with this category isn’t really with it. They found that there was room eight very funny men here but only five in the Best Actor category? No other complains. I’m not upset with any of the choices. Not upset they frontloaded it with Ted Lasso nominees. I’m not even upset with the SNL nominees. I’m still a little bitter that no one from Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is here, but that’s my damage. So I’ll try to pick a winner from a category full of them.
Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Hacks: 19–2. For Playing: Marcus, the gay, black gatekeeper of Deborah Vance’s empire. Pro: I have to tell you in all my years of watching TV, I’ve never seen a character like Marcus. There’ve rarely been characters like this — an African American gay man who has veto power over a legendary woman. What makes the performance resonate is everything Clemons-Hopkins puts into it, the cold front he shows to anybody who opposes Deborah, the patient but often stinging attitude he has towards her — and the fact that she accepts it, the fact that his mother is a beacon of support he really wishes he didn’t have to deal with, and oh yeah, trying to have a relationship when your work is all-consuming. This is incredible and often very funny. I expect to see Clemons-Hopkins making acceptance speeches in the years to come. Con: Just not this year. In addition to the fact that Hacks is basically all about the women for much of Season 1, there are a lot of other more robust comic performances in this category. Clemons-Hopkins too subtle work may not cut it this year
Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso: 11–2. For Playing: Roy Kent, the aging veteran and the reluctant field leader for Richmond. Pro: Every supporting character on Ted Lasso was hysterically funny. The reason that I think Goldstein in particular has been surging over the past several weeks is because Roy Kent is basically the heart of the show. An aging man who knows his time is past on the team, who finds himself trying to figure out what’s next after retirement, who finds himself drawn to Keeley, all of these moments were sweet. And the great moment of the finale — when he gives his body in the spirit of the team — was one of the most powerful of the first season. Of course, Goldstein can also being hysterically funny and my argument for his winning was the speech he gave accepting the Supporting Actor prize for the HCA on Sunday. If he was half as entertaining on Emmy night, that would make the highlight reel. Con: Same problem with all the Ted Lasso nominees: there may be too many of them and that will end up dividing the vote. It doesn’t always happen (Modern Family has proven this) but it probably will work against Goldstein.
Brendan Hunt, Ted Lasso: 8–1. For Playing: The terse Coach Beard, who has few words but they always seem to be the right ones. Pro: If I have an out and out favorite from the Ted Lasso nominees, it’s Hunt. He helped create the series and has given himself the character with the fewest words and the most taciturn of personalities. But every time he delivers a line, it’s a gem. Every episode, we get a look behind the deadpan. And when he does reveal his feelings — as he most magnificently did when Ted was considering his players feelings above winning — its absolutely astounding to watch. Coach Beard is arguably the funniest one on the series and if I had my way, ‘Coach’ would win. Con: Well, in addition to the problem I listed for Goldstein, there’s also the problem that Hunt’s role may actually be to subtle for Emmy voters to see Hunt’s genius. One has submit a single episode to best represent an actor’s body of work, and honestly Hunt’s talent is best seen over the course of the season rather than from an individual episode. You could see how this could hurt Hunt.
Nick Mohammed, Ted Lasso: 17–2. For Playing: Nate Shelley, the waterboy who ends up being the new coach’s greatest asset. Pro: If we were basing the winner of this category on terms of personal arc, one could see a real argument for Mohammed. Nate spends much of the first season utterly being the punching bag (and he’s clearly used to it) except for Ted. Nate clearly knows football and he sees the potential that Ted might miss and Ted sees the potential in him. As the season goes on, Nick clearly grows not just career-wise but emotionally and how he ends up in the finale is truly one of the series triumphs. And if you’re going to reward a guy for sight gags, its hard not to argue for Nate the Great. Con: I don’t like repeated myself, but such is how the Emmys tend to work. Too many nominees split the vote and its probably going to hurt Mohammed. Of course, Nate would probably understand that the best of any of the characters on Ted Lasso.
Paul Reiser, The Kominsky Method: 17–2. For Playing: Marty, the really much-older fiancée of Mindy, Sandy’s daughter. Pro: Reiser is a TV comedy icon, and honestly deserves a special prize for making himself looking older and uglier than he does is real life. Marty’s character was a true to joy to watch through Season 2 and 3 ofT he Kominsky Method, from the fact his fiance’s parents got him so much better than Mindy did to the ridiculousness of his dream to the realization as to just how horrible a mother he has (Sandy put it best when he said to him: “You never had a chance.”) brought a special kind of laughter. Add to this the fact he somehow walked away from Mad About You without an Emmy to show for it, and he is ridiculously due a prize. Con: He’s not even this category clearest sentimental favorite. It just seems to be Reiser’s lot in life to be overlooked by the Emmys, just as it was Marty’s lot to lead a lonely and sad life. Marty got a happy ending, though. It’s likely not going to come this year for Reiser.
Jeremy Swift, Ted Lasso: 19–2. Pro: Higgins, Rebecca’s constantly browbeaten assistant. Pro: It would be easy enough to just consider Swift another characters whose put upon attitude is the sole purpose of his existence. (Lawrence has had characters like this in all his series) But, as with everybody else on this show, Higgins has layers. He has by far the most secure family life of all of the characters — his wife loves him unequivocally and says the things in private he can’t in public. He knows that he bears guilt for why Rebecca is here and why she’s doing what she does. And as the series goes on, he develops a backbone we didn’t see but clearly always did. When he finally shows it to Rebecca, it probably shocks her to the point that nothing else would. The scene where she apologizes for how she’s treated everybody — but especially Higgins — was actually moving, and it wouldn’t have worked without Swift. Higgins is funny, sweet, and sometimes more lovable than even Ted. That’s an achievement. Con: I won’t repeat myself, and even there were fewer nominees, the kind of character Swift plays usually doesn’t win. I think Higgins would accept that.
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live: 5–1. For Playing: Various Characters. Pro: When your fellow cast member and nominee in this category makes it clear he wants Thompson to win, you can understand how much the man is loved. Honestly I have watched Kenan Thompson perform for almost thirty years, all the way back to this on Nickelodeon, and while I have spent a lot of my time in these articles raging against SNL nominees presence in this category at all, I find it utterly outrageous that Thompson has spent twenty years on SNL and never won an Emmys. It’s almost as heartbreaking as Amy Poehler’s track record with them. Considering that and Thompson’s body of work on SNL — where he does not so much command the screen as generate laughs just from being in the background — than you realize it is more than his time. Con: Actors in SNL have a notoriously poor track record in the Supporting categories and anything, an even worse one in the Acting categories at all. (And honestly, the only reason the previous winner may have been exhaustion with the former president than any real ability.) That may not help.
Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live: 5–1. For Playing: Various Characters. Pro: Yang is the first Asian-American cast member of SNL of any real significance. Watching his performances, particularly on Weekend Update (he memorably played ‘The Iceberg’ earlier this year) you can see his true genius. But for all that, his nomination may have hinged on a far more serious note. After the hate crimes that left several Asian-Americans dead in Georgia — the climax of a rash that have played America this year — Yang came out on Weekend Update — and did something that I’ve never seen an SNL performer do — give a heartfelt, impassioned speech bracketed with two simple words: ‘Do More!” It was one of the most moving moments I’ve ever seen on the series. And capped with his work in general, he deserved it. Con: Leaving aside the track record I listed above, Yang said that he wanted anyone who might vote for him to vote for Thompson. I don’t know how seriously voters will take him, but it does imply how little this award means to him personally. I’m not sure that’ll help his cause.
PREDICTION: This could be Thompson’s year at last, but watching out for Goldstein on the outside.