Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series goes from eight to seven slots this year, based on the number of submissions for the category. Of last year’s eight nominees, only Saturday Night Live‘s Kenan Thompson returns as a contender.
Since 2014, Saturday Night Live has only been nominated four times in this category (Alec Baldwin, who won in 2017, Baldwin & Thompson in 2018 and Thompson in 2020) so it’s not like this has been as strong a place for SNL guys as the guest actor category has. When this year’s season finale aired and opened with four of the show’s longest-running cast members giving what was easy to interpret as a goodbye to the show, that included Thompson, who marked his 18th year, making him the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history.
But Saturday Night Live saw a huge breakthrough this season in Bowen Yang, who began as a writer on the show in 2018. Yang was promoted to on-air cast for SNL‘s 45th season in September 2019, becoming its first Chinese-American, third openly gay male, and fourth-ever cast member of Asian descent. From his deadly accurate Fran Lebowitz to the season’s most iconic creation, ‘The Iceberg That Sank The Titanic,’ Yang has emerged as one of the show’s funniest and most consistent performers. If nominated, he would make history by becoming the first featured player to earn a nomination in the show’s 46-season history. He would also be the first Asian nominee ever in this category. No pressure.
Asian and Asian-American representation at the Primetime Emmy Awards has been bleak at best. In 2020, Asian Americans accounted for just 1 percent of all nominees. That number had been a consistent 2% for the past ten years. In 2018 Sandra Oh (AMC’s Killing Eve) became the first Asian woman nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Oh scored a third consecutive nod for her lead role in Killing Eve last year, while Dev Patel earned his first nomination for his guest role on an episode of Amazon’s Modern Love. Director Andrij Parekh was nominated and won for his episode “Hunting” from HBO’s Succession.
Ted Lasso, the most buzzed about comedy of the year, is set for multiple acting nominations for its freshman season and supporting actor is where it could hit three…and maybe even more. Breakouts Brett Goldstein and Brendan Hunt (also writers and producers on the show) and Nick Mohammed should easily be able to get in with seven spots available. I’m not counting out Jeremy Swift either, who could also find himself a place here.
The 6th and 7th spots are up for grabs here. Michiel Huisman (The Flight Attendant) could fly under the radar if the show is an Emmy hit but…is he funny? Can Alex Newell earn a nomination as the gender-fluid, genuflecting chanteuse and upstairs neighbor to the titular Zoey in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist? Newell did earn a Critics’ Choice nomination but the Glee veteran still remains a bit of a longshot. I’m keeping an eye on Paul Reiser (The Kominsky Method) or Ray Romano (Made for Love) to potentially spoil.
Here are my predictions for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
1. Kenan Thompson – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
2. Brett Goldstein – Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
3. Brendan Hunt – Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
4. Nick Mohammed – Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
5. Bowen Yang – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
6. Michiel Huisman – The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
7. Alex Newell – Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (NBC)
Then: Pete Davidson – Saturday Night Live (NBC), Laurence Fishburne – black-ish (ABC), Danny Pudi – Mythic Quest (Apple TV+), Paul Reiser – The Kominsky Method (Netflix), Ray Romano – Made for Love (HBO Max), George Segal – The Goldbergs (ABC), Jeremy Swift – Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Photo: Will Heath/NBC