Jane Lynch seems to be out front to win Best Supporting Comedy Actress for the second year in a row for her role as conniving cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on the FOX comedy "Glee," but those stats are skewed because only one of our Emmy experts has voted. If you consider just Gold Derby editors and users, a much different picture emerges. Six out of eleven editors pick Betty White to win for TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland," and 35% of users agree, compared to 23% who think Lynch will prevail. If White wins, it will be her seventh career Emmy victory.
This year's race may be as much about strategy as it is about performance. Winners in the series acting categories are decided by sample episodes submitted to Emmy judges, and when multiple actors compete for the same program, your co-star's submission is just as important as your own. This factor has produced upset victories in the past. Felicity Huffman, for instance, was considered a long-shot to win Best Comedy Actress in 2005 for the first season of "Desperate Housewives" because of her underwhelming episode submission, but her scenes in Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher's reels pushed her over the top.
This year, two "Modern Family" actresses go head-to-head – Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara. Bowen submitted "Strangers on a Treadmill," in which Claire (Bowen) and her brother Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) make a pact to tell each other's spouses to quit their bad habits. Vergara is featured in the episode as well, in a storyline involving a misunderstanding at an engagement party. Vergara submitted "Slow Down Your Neighbors," in which her character, Gloria, learns how to ride a bicycle, but the episode might be just as good a showcase for Bowen, whose storyline lends the episode its title: Claire becomes fanatical in her campaign to stop a woman from driving too fast through the neighborhood. Nevertheless, two of our eleven editors and 23% of users think Vergara is out front, giving her 6-to-1 odds, compared to Bowen, who is a long-shot at 25-to-1.
But the "Modern Family" women are not the only actresses who may benefit from a fellow nominee's submission. Kristen Wiig submitted an episode of "Saturday Night Live" hosted by Jane Lynch, giving Lynch the benefit of an extra ninety minutes of material in addition to her own hour-long reel. That's a total of two-and-a-half hours for Emmy voters to judge, far more than any other actor in this category. And, according to Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker, Lynch even upstaged Wiig in the episode, "on the sheer strength of brassiness during the show’s 'Password' parody, 'Secret Word.'"
Lynch's own submission, "Funeral," is a dramatic episode of "Glee" in which Sue is distraught over the death of her sister, leading her to break down while delivering a eulogy and then reconcile with arch-rival Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Submitting a dramatic performance backfired on Chris Colfer last year in the Comedy Supporting Actor race; he lost to "Modern Family" scene-stealer Eric Stonestreet, who played a clown in his reel. But Colfer didn't have the benefit of an extra episode to show off his comic chops as Lynch does with Wiig's "SNL" submission.
White submitted the "Hot in Cleveland" episode titled "Free Elka," in which an incarcerated Elka Ostrovsky (White) discovers that her cellmate is an old friend played by Mary Tyler Moore. The episode marks the actresses' first on-screen appearance together since "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" more than three decades ago, and though the episode is only a half-hour long – one-fifth the amount of material judges will be viewing from Lynch – the combined star power of White and Moore might be difficult for voters to resist.
The sixth and final nominee is "30 Rock" star Jane Krakowski, who seems to be out of the race entirely with distant 100-to-1 odds. This is her third consecutive nomination for playing vain actress Jenna Maroney on the NBC sitcom, and she chose to submit the episode "Queen of Jordan," a reality-show parody centered on guest star Sherri Shepherd, in which Krakowski has a subplot where Jenna pretends to be an alcoholic to get publicity. None of our editors and a mere 4% of users think she will win.
But most of our experts have yet to enter their predictions, and editors and users' picks are subject to change in the weeks leading up to the Emmy telecast on September 18. Is Jane Lynch or Betty White the real frontrunner? Or is support for "Modern Family" so strong this year that Julie Bowen or Sofia Vergara will win? Can Kristin Wiig or Jane Krakowski stage a stunning upset? Make your own predictions here, and discuss the contenders in our message board.