The Emmy nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series include a number of exciting firsts, including Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hacks) as the first openly non-binary actor nominated and Bowen Yang as the first featured SNL player to get a nomination. Yang’s costar Kenan Thompson also reaped another bid (on top of a lead nomination for his sitcom) while Paul Reiser is an Emmy nominee for The Kominsky Method, almost 20 years after his last.
Then there are the four Ted Lasso men — Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, and Jeremy Swift. All could have a leg-up thanks to the show’s second season airing now. So which of these eight will triumph? Let’s take a look at each nominee’s potential for a win.
Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hacks) — “New Eyes” (HBO Max)
While many awards experts correctly predicted Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder would be Emmy-nominated for their roles in Hacks, far fewer were expecting Clemons-Hopkins to show up as well. The actor, who plays Deborah’s (Smart) chief operating officer Marcus, delivers a brilliantly deadpan performance on the show, a rare example of an understated performer catching the attention of the TV Academy. In their episode submission, “New Eyes,” we see Marcus figuring out what to do with some rare time off, which includes hooking up with the water maintenance guy, with Clemons-Hopkins exhibiting a dry humor throughout.
Clemons-Hopkins is not the typical winner of Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, but with the potential for vote-splitting among the four Ted Lasso guys and two SNL players, the actor could emerge as a threat for voters who are voting Hacks straight down the ballot. But Clemons-Hopkins’s acting style may be a little too understated to get enough of a groundswell of votes.
Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso) — “All Apologies” (Apple TV+)
While Jason Sudeikis may have brought viewers to Ted Lasso in the beginning, the strength of the supporting cast has made them stay. This is especially true of Goldstein as potty-mouthed footballer Roy Kent, who adds to the show’s sweet center some satisfying bitterness. Goldstein submitted the episode “All Apologies,” where Ted (Sudeikis) breaks the news to Roy, who isn’t as agile as he used to be, that he’s going to bench him, causing Roy to lash out at first. But over time, he lets go of his pride and accepts his worth as a person beyond Roy Kent the footballer.
It is easy to use the “vote split” argument to count out the Ted Lasso guys for a win. But vote splitting doesn’t always apply when there’s a clear choice among the group, and many would argue that Goldstein is the obvious favorite of the group. Not only does he add a unique element to the show but he is one of the driving forces in Season 2, which is airing now during final voting. If members don’t want to go for an SNL cast member, Goldstein feels like the chosen one, especially if Ted Lasso sweeps the comedy categories as many are expecting.
Brendan Hunt (Ted Lasso) — “Two Aces” (Apple TV+)
Hunt earned more than just this one acting nomination for playing untalkative Coach Beard in Ted Lasso — the multi-hyphenate is also nominated twice in Best Writing for a Comedy Series and as a producer in Best Comedy Series. The actor submitted the episode “Two Aces” to Emmy voters, where the team tries to cleanse their club which they suspect is haunted. While Hunt does not lead any storylines in this episode, he has a handful of comedic moments, such as a runner where he and Ted say the word “aces” repeatedly.
Hunt occupies a similar deadpan space as Clemons-Hopkins, which puts him at a disadvantage in final voting. Yet, being an executive producer on the show and playing Ted’s sidekick, might benefit him.
Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso) — “Make Rebecca Great Again” (Apple TV+)
Mohammed emerged as one of the other breakout supporting stars among Ted Lasso’s vast ensemble for his likable performance as Nate Shelley, the team’s assistant coach. His episode submission is “Make Rebecca Great Again,” where Ted asks Nate to pitch his ideas for how to improve the team, to the team itself. This includes some harsh criticisms, with Nate getting a huge moment to express some of his pent-up frustrations.
Like Goldstein, Mohammed has the advantage of Season 2 airing in the middle of voting, with a big showcase episode having aired recently. But like Hunt and Swift, his screen time is generally limited compared to Goldstein, so he may not be seen as the standout of the supporting cast.
Paul Reiser (The Kominsky Method) — “Chapter 18. You only give me your funny paper” (Netflix)
Reiser earned his first Emmy nomination in almost 20 years for playing Martin in The Kominsky Method. The former Mad About You star is submitting the episode “Chapter 18. You only give me your funny paper” to Emmy voters, in which Sandy (Michael Douglas) is uneasy about bequeathing a fortune to his daughter (Sarah Baker) and her wasteful boyfriend, Martin. Martin also meets Sandy’s ex-wife (Kathleen Turner) and bonds with her, and in his crowning moment of the episode, performs an extremely white cover of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Make It Hot.”
Like Clemons-Hopkins, Reiser’s best hope for a win is if voters are less charmed by Ted Lasso or SNL and looking for a viable alternative. He is also an industry veteran having worked since the early ‘80s and collected 10 Emmy nominations for Mad About You, though he did not win any of them, even in the heyday of Helen Hunt hysteria. Older voters may be more drawn to Reiser’s performance than those in hipper shows.
Jeremy Swift (Ted Lasso) — “Biscuits” (Apple TV+)
The final Ted Lasso nominee in this category, Swift probably benefited most from the Ted Lasso tidal wave. Playing Leslie Higgins, Swift has one of the smaller presences compared to his fellow nominees, though he does provide some of the more broad comedic moments on the show. The actor chose to submit “Biscuits,” in which Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) makes Higgins get to the bottom of where Ted is finding his delicious biscuits. He has very limited screen time and impact in the episode, which makes this one of the more odd submission choices.
It is very unlikely that Swift will amass enough votes to win this, but for those Ted Lasso fans who enjoy the bigger laugh-out-loud moments and the Rebecca-Higgins dynamic could throw a few votes his way.
Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live) — “Host: Dave Chappelle” (NBC)
SNL’s old reliable not only earned another nomination in Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series but a lead acting nomination for his new sitcom, Kenan. Thompson chose to submit the Dave Chappelle-hosted episode of SNL in this category, where he plays such characters as Uncle Ben and an older gentleman who finds love amid a hailstorm. While not the showiest of submissions, the episode does represent Thompson’s ability to elevate even the dumbest of sketches.
While Thompson technically has an Emmy, his win came for writing a song for SNL in 2018, he has yet to win as a performer, and this category is filled with so many actors who are newer to Emmy voters that some might be drawn to an actor they know and love like Thompson. He did not have a standout season, necessarily, but the additional nomination for Kenan may be a sign that there is strong support within the Academy.
Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live) — “Host: Carey Mulligan” (NBC)
Yang made history as the first SNL featured player to earn an Emmy nomination. It speaks to the impression he’s made after only two seasons, before he’s even been promoted to the repertory cast. For his episode submission, Yang naturally went with the Carey Mulligan-hosted episode, in which he appears in one of the most viral sketches of the year — the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. The idiosyncratic piece is arguably the standout comedic scene of all eight episode submissions.
That one sketch might be enough to carry the win for Yang, on top of the narrative of his many “firsts” — the first featured player nominated, the first openly gay male cast member nominated, and the first Asian actor from SNL nominated. But more than anything, Yang provides numerous laugh-out-loud moments on the show, and Emmy voters love to reward actors that truly make them laugh in the comedy categories.
Emmy winner voting began August 19 and continues until August 30. The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards will be on September 19.
Here are my ranked predictions for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
- Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso) — “All Apologies” (Apple TV+)
- Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live) — “Host: Carey Mulligan” (NBC)
- Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live) — “Host: Dave Chappelle” (NBC)
- Paul Reiser (The Kominsky Method) — “Chapter 18. You only give me your funny paper” (Netflix)
- Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso) — “Make Rebecca Great Again” (Apple TV+)
- Brendan Hunt (Ted Lasso) — “Two Aces” (Apple TV+)
- Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hacks) — “New Eyes” (HBO Max)
- Jeremy Swift (Ted Lasso) — “Biscuits” (Apple TV+)