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2022 Emmys Preview: Handicapping the Supporting Acting Categories

With a whopping 8 supporting performance nominations, White Lotus is the one to beat.
  • Photos: AMC, HBO, ABC.
    Photos: AMC, HBO, ABC.

    Joe Reid isn't just Primetimer's managing editor. He's also an awards expert and one half of the popular podcast, This Had Oscar Buzz. Over the last month Joe has been looking at the competition in each of the major categories at this year's 74th Annual Emmy Awards. This week: the Supporting Acting categories.

    If you love TV in all its ever-expanding glory, the supporting categories at the Emmys are where it's at. There are just so many performances beyond the leads that are award-worthy, and if you look at the six lineups below, you'll see it's not short on talent. Variety is another story. Continuing a trend, this year's supporting categories have coalesced around a small handful of shows getting multiple nominees in each category. That's great news for fans of Ted Lasso, Succession, Dopesick, and The White Lotus, but it leaves a whole lot of other worthy performances unrecognized.

    But that's a worry for another day. Today we're looking at each of these six lineups and hashing out who stands the best chance of collecting a trophy. Will last year's winners show up big again? Can anyone break through with their first Emmy win? Let's dive in.

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

    • Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank on Barry
    • Brett Goldstein as Roy Kent on Ted Lasso
    • Toheeb Jimoh as Sam Obisanya on Ted Lasso
    • Nick Mohammed as Nathan Shelley on Ted Lasso
    • Tony Shalhoub as Abe Weissman on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    • Tyler James Williams as Gregory Eddie on Abbott Elementary
    • Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau on Barry
    • Bowen Yang as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live

    The Frontrunner: Talk about a horse race. Three of the four previous winners in this category are represented: last year's champ Brett Goldstein, plus Tony Shalhoub and Henry Winkler. Shalhoub is a four-time career Emmy winner, but at this point Maisel is by far the least buzzy of the three shows. Think of Goldstein and Winkler as 1A and 1B.

    The Likeliest Spoiler: Aside from the three-headed beast at the top of the category, don't sleep on Bowen Yang. A lot of people had the SNL breakout star penciled in for a win last year, and sometimes the Emmys operate on a year's delay, handing out a trophy the year after someone was highly touted to win (see: Olivia Colman last year for The Crown).

    The Feel-Good Long-Shot: Lots of contenders here, so let's zero in on two: Anthony Carrigan has been given such a flat-out delightful performance as NoHo Hank on Barry that, even with Winkler as in-house competition (and plenty lovable himself), it would be a joy to watch Carrigan collect his own trophy. Similarly, while Brett Goldstein is the Ted Lasso contender of choice, Toheeb Jimoh's nomination was the one that everybody seemed happiest about on nomination day. He'd be a huge feel-good surprise.

    Stat to Chew On: Ted Lasso's back-to-back years of three Supporting Actor nominees is the first time a show has accomplished that feat since Modern Family did it four years in a row, from 2010-2013.

    Prediction: This is one category where something truly surprising could happen, but if I had chips to play, I'd place them on Winkler getting his second Emmy.

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

    • Alex Borstein as Susie Myerson on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    • Hannah Einbinder as Ava Daniels on Hacks
    • Janelle James as Ava Coleman on Abbott Elementary
    • Kate McKinnon as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live
    • Sarah Niles as Dr. Sharon Fieldstone on Ted Lasso
    • Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbrara Howard on Abbott Elementary
    • Juno Temple as Keeley Jones on Ted Lasso
    • Hannah Waddingham as Rebecca Welton on Ted Lasso

    The Frontrunner: Hannah Waddingham has proven to be the breakout star of Ted Lasso, and her Emmy win last year solidified that. She faces stiff competition here, including two former winners in this category in Alex Borstein and Kate McKinnon, who've each won two apiece, not to mention for her own co-star, Juno Temple. Emmy voters have been known to judiciously hop from one co-star to another in supporting categories (they did so in the past with Modern Family and The West Wing). But as the defending champ, Waddingham remains the frontrunner.

    The Likeliest Spoiler: McKinnon, Borstein, and Temple all have cases to be made on their behalf, but there's also the matter of Hannah Einbinder, who has an advantage as a co-lead of Hacks being campaigned as supporting. That's the kind of thing that often helps a nominee's chances at the Oscars. And while Ava isn't a universally beloved character, she definitely has a lot of screen time to work with.

    The Feel-Good Long-Shot: A win for either of the two Abbott Elementary actresses would be a huge feel-good moment for different reasons. Janelle James is an ascendant star in the comedy world, and she stole every scene she was in as Ava. Meanwhile, Sheryl Lee Ralph has been in the business for decades and is enjoying her first bout of Emmy recognition. A win for her would honor a long and accomplished career.

    Stat to Chew On: Hannah Einbinder and Janelle James both nominated for playing characters named "Ava" is the first time that's happened in this category since 2013-2015, when Anna Chlumsky and Mayim Bialik were both nominated for playing characters named "Amy" in Veep and The Big Bang Theory, respectively.

    Prediction: The smart money is on Waddingham, but I'm feeling reckless and putting energy for a Sheryl Lee Ralph victory out into the universe.

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

    • Nicholas Braun as Greg Hirsch on Succession
    • Billy Crudup as Cory Ellison on The Morning Show
    • Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy on Succession
    • Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Wambsgans on Succession
    • O Yeong-su as Oh Il-nam on Squid Game
    • Park Hae-soo as Cho Sang-woo Squid Game
    • John Turturro as Irving Bailiff on Severance
    • Christopher Walken as Burt Goodman on Severance

    The Frontrunner: Crudup pulled an upset on the Succession boys two years ago when they were all nominated. I'm not sure he'll be able to do the same again. The problem is deciding which of the three Succession nominees has the edge. Certainly the way the Season 3 finale shook out, one gets the impression that Macfadyen's Tom Wambsgans won the season. It was also a huge standout season, from a storyline perspective, for Roman. But then also who doesn't love Cousin Greg?? Maybe this is how Crudup won the Emmy last time around.

    The Likeliest Spoiler: No, okay, Crudup is a cop-out answer. He's not winning again for an even more poorly-received Morning Show season. So let's say Matthew Macfadyen is the frontrunner and Kieran Culkin is the spoiler. But wouldn't it be more accurate to put Culkin as the favorite (a more prominent character, at first; a more flashy performance, perhaps) and MacFadyen as the spoiler? Maybe Crudup is the lurking spoiler to Team Succession as a whole?

    The Feel-Good Long-Shot: Greg the Egg! Right? Who doesn't want to see that lanky goofball amble up to the stage and give a speech? Of course, Succession is such a heavy favorite in all categories that calling anyone from that show a long-shot is a tough sell. A Squid Game victory would be fun! Or! A tie for Severance's unlikely romantic duo of Turturro and Walken!

    Stat to Chew On: Christopher Walken is the first former Oscar winner to be nominated in this category since Jon Voight was nominated for Ray Donovan in 2016. (No Oscar winner has ever won in this category, although three-time winner Art Carney did win the Oscar later on in his career.)

    Prediction: As you can tell, this category is a little vexing. I think the edge goes to Matthew Macfadyen, but watch out for Kieran Culkin. And, honestly, Billy Crudup.

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

    • Patricia Arquette as Harmony Cobel on Severance
    • Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore on Ozark
    • HoYeon Jung as Kang Sae-byeok on Squid Game
    • Christina Ricci as Misty Quigley on Yellowjackets
    • Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler on Better Call Saul
    • J. Smith-Cameron as Gerri Kellman on Succession
    • Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy on Succession
    • Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard on Euphoria

    The Frontrunner: Sarah Snook has turned in one of the standout performances on Succession for three seasons, and frankly it's surprising she hasn't won already. Season 3 put the previously cool Shiv completely off her bearings, and Snook played that weakness and fallibility perfectly.

    The Likeliest Spoiler: Julia Garner has won this award twice already, and with Ozark ending, this is Emmy voters' last chance to honor a performance they clearly love. Meanwhile, if we're talking about actors that Emmy voters clearly adore, how about Patricia Arquette, who's already won two Emmys for her work on Medium and The Act.

    The Feel-Good Long-Shot: Rhea Seehorn was finally nominated after years of fans and critics alike howling bloody murder at her repeated snubs. She has a bit of an edge in that her show was airing new episodes in a highly acclaimed final season during the voting period.

    Stat to Chew On: Christina Ricci is only the fourth actress to ever be nominated in this category for a Showtime series, after Blythe Danner (who won twice in 2005 and 2006 for Huff), Morena Baccarin (who was nominated for Homeland in 2013), and Maura Tierney (nominated for The Affair in 2016).

    Prediction: I think it'll be Sarah Snook, but this is another one where the competition is insanely good, and things could easilyshake out several ways.

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series

    • Murray Bartlett as Armond on The White Lotus
    • Jake Lacy as Shane Patton on The White Lotus
    • Will Poulter as Billy Cutler on Dopesick
    • Seth Rogen as Rand Gauthier on Pam & Tommy
    • Peter Sarsgaard as Rick Mountcastle on Dopesick
    • Michael Stuhlbarg as Richard Sackler on Dopesick
    • Steve Zahn as Mark Mossbacher on The White Lotus

    The Frontrunner: With three actors from Dopesick and three from The White Lotus, it's incredibly hard to determine who sits in the best position. Especially because each actor offers voters a different rationale for voting for them. Michael Stuhlberg is a hugely respected actor playing a villain in the spotlight, which could put him ahead. But I might put Murray Bartlet in the top position just because even though the entire White Lotus cast submitted in supporting, Bartlett is the de facto lead of the show.

    The Likeliest Spoiler: This could go in a ton of different directions. Both Lacy and Zahn had major spotlight moments on The White Lotus, Poulter is an actor whose star is on the rise, and Sarsgaard has a long career behind him while still waiting for his first big award. So maybe it's Seth Rogen who plays the spoiler with everybody else splitting the vote.

    The Feel-Good Long-Shot: Both Steve Zahn and Peter Sarsgaard have been toiling for so long without any major awards to show for it. A win for either one of them would be a great moment for an actor who really deserves it.

    Stat to Chew On: Michael Stuhlbarg is the only one of these seven actors to have previously been Emmy nominated for his acting, getting a nod in 2018 for his work on The Looming Tower.

    Prediction: Toss a coin into the air and tell me where it lands. Any one of these seven could win, so I'll say… Stuhlbarg.

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series

    • Connie Britton as Nicole Mossbacher on The White Lotus
    • Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya McQuoid on The White Lotus
    • Alexandra Daddario as Rachel Patton on The White Lotus
    • Kaitlyn Dever as Betsey Mallum on Dopesick
    • Natasha Rothwell as Belinda on The White Lotus
    • Sydney Sweeney as Olivia Mossbacher on The White Lotus
    • Mare Winningham as Diane Mallum on Dopesick

    The Frontrunner: With five nominees, The White Lotus contingent might be too big to even split the vote on themselves. Especially since it's likely that voters will see Daddario and especially Sweeney's nominations as a victory in and of itself. Plus, Jennifer Coolidge's Emmy campaign has basically been running since The White Lotus premiered. She's definitely the favorite.

    The Likeliest Spoiler: I'd like Kaitlyn Dever's chances better if she didn't have another Dopesick cast member pulling on her vote. As young as she is, she's been earning respectful raves for her acting ability for a decade, all the way back to her performance on Justified, and she's got the most dramatic heft of anyone in this category.

    The Feel-Good Long-Shot: This is Connie Britton's 5th Emmy nomination — a run that's included nominations for Friday Night Lights, Nashville, and American Horror Story — but she's never won. She gave a tremendous performance of defensive privilege on The White Lotus, and she'd be a worthy winner.

    Stat to Chew On: The only other time Hulu has been nominated in this category, they won, with Patricia Arquette taking home an Emmy for The Act in 2018.

    Prediction: Jennifer Coolidge gets a richly deserved trophy.

    The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards are scheduled to air September 12th on NBC.

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    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, Abbott Elementary, Barry, Dopesick, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Pam & Tommy, Squid Game, Succession, Ted Lasso, The White Lotus, Anthony Carrigan, Billy Crudup, Brett Goldstein, Connie Britton, Hannah Einbinder, Hannah Waddingham, Henry Winkler, Jake Lacy, Jennifer Coolidge, Julia Garner, Kaitlyn Dever, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Murray Bartlett, Nicholas Braun, Patricia Arquette, Rhea Seehorn, Sarah Snook, Steve Zahn, Sydney Sweeney, Tony Shalhoub