Emmy battle over Comedy Supporting Actor: Which ‘Modern Family’ star will win?

Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and Users agree on one thing in the Emmy race for Comedy Supporting Actor — that a star of “Modern Family” will win for third year in a row. But which one?

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Last year’s champ Ty Burrell gets the best odds from our Editors (5/4) and Users (9/5), while still-Emmyless Ed O’Neill leads among Experts (9/4). Eric Stonestreet, who won in 2010, is ranked third by our Editors with 11 to 2 odds, but he falls into distant fifth place among Experts and Users behind Jesse Tyler Ferguson and “New Girl” star Max Greenfield. Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live“) trails all three lists.

The reason that “Modern Family” stars are so heavily favored is because there are so many of them. At other awards, multiple submissions might cause the support of a TV series to split among its contenders, but Emmy voting is different. A winner is chosen by about 70 to 80 voters (fellow actors) who judge one sample episode submitted by each contender as an example of his best work. Because Burrell, for example, can be seen on the episodes submitted by Stonestreet, Ferguson and O’Neill, he’s getting far more screen time than Greenfield and Hader.

Ty Burell, “Modern Family” (“Lifetime Supply”)
Burrell is the defending champ and is looking pretty good for a repeat.

Pro: Of the men on the show, he is the standout with an arguably lead role. “Lifetime Supply” has Phil facing his mortality in a very humorous way. And once again, Burell gets an overall great showcase thanks to his co-stars.

Con: What could work against him is fatigue for the show, that he has already won or the desire to recognize the entire adult cast of the show.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family” (“Leap Day”)
As the “straight man” in the Cam and Mitchell pairing, Ferguson receives his third consecutive nomination.

Pro: Ferguson is coming off of his best-received season yet and has been mentioned by many as being the season’s MVP.

Con: He gets out of the “straight man” mold in “Leap Day” which has Mitchell planning the perfect birthday party with hijinks ensuing. He is good, but it is subtle performance that is up against some of showier ones. 

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Max Greenfield, New Girl (“Control”)
As one of this past season’s breakouts, Greenfield receives his first nomination as the lovable womanizer on the hit Fox series.

Pro: He practically stole the show from star Zooey Deschanel. In “Control”, we get to see two sides of Schmidt, the uptight control freak and carefree hippie, and both are played effortlessly by Greenfield.

Con: Greenfield’s youth and the “Modern Family” men’s stronghold on this category.

Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live” (“Host: Katy Perry”)
Hader gets the honor of being the third performer from the sketch show to receive a nomination since the rule change took effect in 2008. And with Kristen Wiig leaving the show, his nomination came at the right time. I see him being a fixture here as she was in supporting actress.

Pro: His Stefon character has gotten him the bulk of his kudos for his work on the show and that is what I credit for his nomination.

Con: All of his appearances in other sketches are too brief for them to make an impression.

Ed O’Neill, “Modern Family” (“Baby on Board”)
The veteran actor receives his second consecutive nomination as patriarch of the clan.

Pro: In “Baby on Board” we get to see Jay as a loving and supporting grandfather as he helps Lily with her recital. There’s a lovely scene at the end with the two dancing that could give O’Neill some brownie points for going the extra mile in that scene.

Con: While his episode has those sweet moments, it doesn’t really stand out in a significant way. And in a sea of laugh out loud performances, if you go with something sentimental there has to be a heft to it, which this lacks. He doesn’t benefit from his appearances on other episodes either.

Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family” (“Treehouse”)
He was the first “Modern Family” man to win and this is Stonestreet’s third consecutive nomination.

Pro: In “Treehouse” he gets to play Cameron pretending to be straight to pick up guest star Leslie Mann. It’s pretty savvy on Stonestreet’s part, because we get to see a smooth side to Cameron in addition to his usual over-the-top antics.

Con: Again, if there’s a need to reward the adult cast I can’t see another win happening right now.

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