For most media awards, multiple actors nominated for the same program or film run the risk of splitting votes, but at the Emmys, actors nominated against their co-stars actually have a distinct advantage. Winners at the Emmys are decided by judging panels that view sample episodes of the nominees’ work, so when multiple stars from one program are in contention, they benefit not only from their own submissions but from their scenes in their cast-mates’ submissions. In the past, this has helped Felicity Huffman, who won Best Comedy Actress for “Desperate Housewives” in 2005 with help from nominated co-stars Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher. Lorraine Bracco‘s reels helped Edie Falco win multiple Emmys for “The Sopranos.” And Jimmy Smits helped Dennis Franz win for “NYPD Blue.”
Last year, it helped Eric Stonestreet win Best Supporting Comedy Actor for “Modern Family.” He entered a strong episode of his own, “Fizbo,” and he also appeared in the episodes submitted by fellow nominees Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell. This year, all six adult cast members of “Modern Family” are nominated. What episodes did they submit, and which of the nominees do they really favor?
For Best Supporting Comedy Actress, Julie Bowen submitted “Strangers on a Treadmill,” in which she and her brother agree to deliver tough love to each other’s spouses. Does anyone else benefit? Not co-star and fellow nominee Sofia Vergara, who has a subplot about a quinceañera, but that storyline is a better showcase for Ed O’Neill than it is for Vergara.
Vergara’s episode is “Slow Down Your Neighbors,” in which she overcomes her fear of riding a bicycle, but it turns out to be a much better showcase for Bowen, who is the dominant focus of the episode, crusading against a reckless driver who threatens the neighborhood.
If a “Modern Family” actress prevails, it’s likely to be Bowen. However, “Glee” star Jane Lynch also benefits from a fellow nominee’s submission: she is the guest host of Kristen Wiig‘s sample episode of “Saturday Night Live,” which makes Lynch the favorite to win for the second year in a row.
Stonestreet returns to the Best Supporting Comedy Actor race with the episode “Mother’s Day,” in which he complains about being regarded as the woman in his relationship with Mitchell (Ferguson), but voters might be more impressed by the performance by O’Neill, who sheds a few tears while reminiscing about his late mother. O’Neill shares a few memorable scenes with Burrell, who tries to bond with his emotionally reserved father-in-law.
O’Neill submitted “The Kiss,” in which he expresses regret about raising a son who is afraid of showing affection, but Ferguson and Stonestreet are the actors most prominently featured in the episode, clashing over Mitchell’s aversion to kissing in public.
Ferguson’s episode, “Halloween,” emphasizes physical comedy. In it, he is embarrassed to be the only person who comes to work in costume and must find a way out of his squeaky, rubber Spider-Man suit without anyone noticing. But Burrell’s scenes are just as good, as his character suddenly fears for his own marriage after learning that their neighbors have split up.
Burrell’s own episode allows him to play against type. In “Good Cop, Bad Dog,” he goes overboard when he attempts to be a disciplinarian to his teenage daughters, leaping on the hood of a car and taping their computers shut until they clean their bathroom. O’Neill has a major subplot in the episode, in which he harshly critiques a young entrepreneur before deciding to adopt his dog. Meanwhile, Ferguson looks for a way to sneak out to a Lady Gaga concert while Stonestreet is stricken with a nasty cold.
Gold Derby editors Chris Beachum and Rob Licuria watched the submitted episodes and agree that Ty Burrell fares the best among the “Modern Family” men, followed by O’Neill and Ferguson, while defending champion Stonestreet appears unlikely to repeat. The four “Modern” actors face off against 2009 winner Jon Cryer (“Two and a Half Men“) and this year’s Golden Globe champ Chris Colfer (“Glee”).
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