Few were expecting Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”) to win the 2016 Emmy for Best Comedy Supporting Actress for playing various characters on the sketch comedy series including Hillary Clinton. Several “SNL” guest hosts have won in recent years, but no regular cast member had prevailed since they started competing in the comedy categories in 2008. But that was before the Emmys changed their procedures last year to replace the ranked preferential ballot with a simple plurality vote. McKinnon was the first beneficiary of that, so perhaps we can expect her to keep winning, especially since “SNL” surprised us this year by tying “Westworld” as the most nominated program of the year, so we know the show has more support than ever. This is McKinnon’s forth straight nomination in this category and her fifth overall.
Be sure to make your own predictions in this race as well as the rest of the Primetime Emmy categories and compete against our Emmy experts who cover this race year-round for such leading media outlets, as well as the two dozen amateurs who ranked in the top 24 last year, the all-stars who did well for two years in a row, and thousands of Emmy fans just like you. (Scroll down to see up-to-date racetrack odds derived from all of these predictions.)
While we were expecting McKinnon to be nominated again for “SNL,” we weren’t necessarily expecting her to be joined by two of her co-stars: Vanessa Bayer and Leslie Jones, who are both first-time nominees. Under the old Emmy system where episode submissions were closely evaluated by small panels of judges, this might have helped the “SNL” stars since voters would have seen their performances on their co-stars’ submissions as well as their own. And under the preferential ballot, an “SNL” fan could have ranked these three contenders first, second, and third, which would have increased the likelihood that one of them would win. But under the new system McKinnon, Bayer, and Jones may split the vote instead.
Another pair of co-stars could face that challenge: Kathryn Hahn and Judith Light (“Transparent”). Hahn is nominated for the first time in her career. Light is nominated for the second time for this role and for the third time overall — not counting two Daytime Emmys she won for Best Actress in “One Life to Live” (1980-1981). Both are looking for their first victories in primetime, though “Transparent” suffered a dip in its total nominations, from 10 last year down to seven, and the show missed out on a Best Comedy Series bid for the first time, so perhaps support for the show is waning. Then again, multiple actors won Emmys last year for shows that not only didn’t have a series nomination, but didn’t have any other nominations (including Louie Anderson for “Baskets” and Tatiana Maslany for “Orphan Black”), so “Transparent” missing out in other categories is hardly a deal-breaker for either of them.
Nevertheless, Anna Chlumsky (“Veep”) may capitalize if her competitors cancel each other out. This is her fifth straight nomination for “Veep,” and this is the show’s only nomination in this category, so any support for the show will be channeled directly to her. And it looks like there’s plenty of support: the show has 17 total nominations, more than ever before, and it’s the two-time defending champ for Best Comedy Series. What’s more, Chlumsky hasn’t won yet, which might give voters extra incentive to finally mark off her name.
UPDATED: August 24, 2017
1. Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live” — 2/5
2. Judith Light, “Transparent” — 13/2
3. Anna Chlumsky, “Veep” — 10/1
4. Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live” — 40/1
5. Kathryn Hahn, “Transparent” — 50/1
6. Vanessa Bayer, “Saturday Night Live” — 80/1