Among the most familiar faces at the Emmys in recent decades has been Mare Winningham, an eight-time nominee who first scored recognition in 1980 with her (then called) Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special nomination and win for Amber Waves.
Since then, Winningham has been a nominee In Limited Series Lead Actress (for Love Is Never Silent) and Drama Guest Actress (for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) but the bulk of her bids have come in Limited Series Supporting Actress, with additional nominations for The Boys Next Door, Mildred Pierce and Hatfields & McCoys, plus a second category win for George Wallace.
This year, with her devastating turn as a mother impacted by the opioid epidemic on Dopesick, Winningham is in Limited Series Supporting Actress contention for the sixth time, just one nomination short of Kathy Bates’ category record of seven appearances. Should Winningham score her third trophy, she will break the category record of wins, two a piece, presently held by her, Jane Alexander (who triumphed for Playing for Time and Warm Springs), Judy Davis (Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story and The Starter Wife), Colleen Dewhurst (Between Two Women and Those She Left Behind) and Regina King (two seasons of American Crime).
What are the chances Winningham sets a new record? Let’s dive into this Limited Series Supporting Actress field.
Despite sporting a whopping seven nominees – a category record – a mere two programs, Dopesick (for Winningham and Kaitlyn Dever) and The White Lotus (Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell, and Sydney Sweeney), are represented here. The passion is robust for both programs and its performers, with The White Lotus scoring 20 overall nominations – the most of any limited series this year – and Dopesick not far behind with 14 bids.
If there’s a front-runner here, it’s surely Coolidge, the beloved character actress who has worked with just about everyone in the industry and is finally making an awards season splash after three busy decades of work on the big and small screens. In addition to some career-best notices, her turn on The White Lotus has delivered a SAG nomination and win at Critics’ Choice.
With competition this robust, however, Coolidge is hardly a shoo-in.
Co-star Britton also earned glowing notices for The White Lotus and, on her fifth career Emmy nomination without a win, voters may see the former Friday Night Lights and Nashville star as due for victory. First-time nominees Daddario, Rothwell and Sweeney are, despite their stellar notices, likely more of long shot, with Sweeney perhaps having a stronger chance on her other nomination this year, in Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Euphoria.
Perhaps most formidable for Coolidge will be Dever, whose heartbreaking performance on Dopesick earned incredible notices, including a Critics’ Choice nomination. If voters prove more partial overall to Dopesick than The White Lotus – or if they struggle to choose among the five White Lotus nominees – it’s entirely plausible Dever pulls this off. She may even be helped by memories of her recent performance in 2019’s Unbelievable, a turn that scored rave reviews but, to the shock of most critics and pundits, did not result in an Emmy nomination.
And then there’s Winningham, the category mainstay who wasn’t widely predicted to earn a nomination this year but, once again, has proven herself an Emmy awards season force not to be underestimated. She has the least screen time of these nominees and delivers the sort of quiet, understated performance that too often can be overlooked at awards time.
But, voters do have a penchant for delivering upsets in this category and its often-veteran actors, like Jane Alexander (Warm Springs), Kathy Bates (American Horror Story: Coven) and Ellen Burstyn (Political Animals), who have triumphed when not widely expected to. The combination of affection for Winningham and passion for Dopesick is sure to earn her votes. Whether it’s enough to go all the way remains to be seen.
In short – expect Coolidge to take this but don’t be surprised if an upset is in store.
Photo: Gene Page/Hulu