Part 4: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Considering that half of last year’s nominees in this category were for Barry and Veep has had a toe hold in this category for awhile (probably the real reason Andrew Scott didn’t get a nomination for Fleabag), there’s going to be a lot more room for new faces. How many of them will be here for a cup of coffee before their series ends is up for debate, but I think there are a lot of possibilities. Here are some of my choices.
Mahershala Ali, Ramy
Honestly, when I saw the end of True Detective’s third season, I didn’t think I see Ali back on television for awhile, much less in a comedy. But as the sheik who was at the center of so much of Ramy’s sojourn to Egypt in Season 2 of this exceptional comedy, it’s really hard not to see Ali being considered as one of the contenders. Not only did he have so many powerful moments, it’s hard to imagine any other actor but Ali being able to handle the exact level of comic rage and delivery when it came to the final minutes of Season 2. Will we see him in Season 3? Hard to say. So give him a nomination now. You owe him for stiffing him for the big prize last year.
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
I thought when Arkin won the Academy Award for Little Miss Sunshine; it would be his lifetime achievement award. Not only has he not slowed down; as Norman on The Kominsky Method, there’s an argument to be made he’s doing some of his best work period. If Season 1 was about finding a reason to live when all seems lost, Season 2 was about finding happiness when you least expect it. From his efforts to try and rebuild his relationship with his daughter who finally seems to have learned her lessons to an unlikely romance with a woman who might have been his great love to being the support for Sandy when it was the other way around the last time, Arkin was masterful and delivered some truly exceptional laughs in his performance. The Emmys were more than willing to pay tribute to Henry Winkler for his superb work on Barry two years ago, and Arkin’s work is by far the equal of Winkler’s. I don’t know if they’ll be sentimental, but Arkin is more than deserving.
William Jackson Harper, The Good Place
Harper seems to have never gotten the credit for his work as Chidi, the ethics student who was the motivating force behind so much of the philosophy that made up the series, and whose unlikely romance with Eleanor was the heart of the show. Clearly, if they weren’t going to nominate for his performance in the Season 3 finale, when he sacrificed his memory to help save humanity, they can’t do it here. Or so you’d think. In arguably the most critical episode in the series run, we finally got all the details about Chidi’s backstory, why he thought the right answer could solve every problem, why it turned out it couldn’t — and how after all his experience living and in the afterlife, it turned out, all you needed was love. Don’t get me wrong. His work for much of the final season was his typical mesh of comic blabber and ethical thinking that made us — and Eleanor — love Chidi for four seasons. But if there’s an episode that cried out for a nomination, it’s that one.
Frank Langella, Kidding
Langella’s work in this new Golden Age of television is impressive when you consider that so much of his early years were spent in Silver Age of Cinema. But I’ve been admiring his work in TV the last few years, and it’s hard not to feel passionate for his work as Seb, the deeply flawed paterfamilias of the Pickles clan. After the harsh actions of Season 1 got him fired by his son, he spent much of Season 2 trying to find a new place. Then, in the saddest moment of the series, this master of eloquence finally seemed to suffer from dementia — and ended up in the most ironic place he could imagine. I don’t if Langella will come back for Season 3 if there is one, but I would miss that gravelly voice and that dirty sense of humor. A nomination would be nice.
Marc Maron, GLOW
I’m still trying to figure out why this show, one of the great accomplishments Netflix has put together, has never gotten the nominations it deserved from the Emmys. And I really don’t understand why Maron’s exceptional work as Sam, the prickly, coke-addled muse behind the women’s wrestling show has never gotten a nomination from the Academy. I don’t know if the Vegas themed third season will finally get him over the hump, but I’d like to think that there might be a sentimentality to his work this year, considering that his partner/director-writer Lynn Shelton who was behind many of the better episodes unexpectedly passed away this year/ That aside, Maron’s work remains one of the great comic masterstrokes of that series, and he deserves the nomination.
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Considering that he repeated the SAG award for Best Actor in a Comedy, it’s pretty clear that Shalhoub is the favorite to repeat this year. And really, ever since we first became aware of him on Wings, it’s become very obvious that Shalhoub has become this generation’s Jack Lemmon when it comes to playing panic and being a nebbish for laughs. Trying to be a pillar of sanity in the world of the 1960s is hard enough. Trying to do it when you have a daughter like Midge, even harder. And this year, he spent much of the season trying to find himself. Are there more deserving winners in this category? Yes. Would I object if he won again? Not really.
Keenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live
Yes, you’re reading this right. I’m now advocating for SNL cast members after spending nearly a decade saying that sketch comedy shows shouldn’t compete in the same category as comedy series. My change of heart started coming with Key & Peele and Inside Amy Schumer, but in this era, it’s hard to deny the incredible acting abilities of people who must play a range of characters every week. And Thompson has been on SNL for so long, and has only been the co-winner of an Emmy that it seems unfair to deny him of a nomination considering his superb work, often as a voice of sanity in very silly sketches. Or maybe I just miss Big Papi. Either way, he’s earned.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Paul Reiser, The Kominsky Method
I’ll be honest; I never had much use for Reiser when he was on Mad About You, and I thought of all the series that needed to come back, this was pretty close to the bottom. But he’s done some fine character work in the new Golden Age, and I honestly didn’t recognize him when I saw him play Marty, Mindy’s much older lover who has far more in common with Sandy that Mindy would have liked. Not to mention the fact that he gave him some genuine side-splitting moments as he and Sandy shopped for vitamin supplements, had dinner with Norman, and then attended Sandy’s class. I’m not sure whether Reiser fits the qualification of either guest or Supporting, but I think he deserves to be considered either way.