The battle for Best Comedy Supporting Actress is one of the most competitive of all races this year. Two previous Emmy winners, two past nominees and two newcomers make up the field of six.
According to the exclusive Gold Derby odds, Kristen Wiig ("Saturday Night Live") has a slight lead with odds of 14 to 5 based on the support of three Experts, three Editors, and 34% of Users. Last year's champ Julie Bowen ("Modern Family") is in second place at 3/1 with the backing of three Experts, four Editors, and 21% of Users.
The late Kathryn Joosten ("Desperate Housewives"), who won the guest acting Emmy twice for this role (2005, 2008), contends in this category for the first time and has odds of 10 to 3 with four Experts, two Editors, and 17% of Users predicting her to prevail. Bowen's co-star Sofia Vergara has two Expert votes and odds of 6 to 1 for her third bid while one of the the two rookies -- Mayim Bialik ("The Big Bang Theory") -- has odds of 9 to 1 with one Expert expecting her to win. The other newcomer, Merritt Wever ("Nurse Jackie"), is well back at 50 to 1.
The winner of this race will be the actress who submitted the most compelling episode. Let's take a closer look at each of these.
Mayim Bialik, "The Big Bang Theory" ("The Shiny Trinket Maneuver")
Bialik began as a guest star in the role of Amy Farrah Fowler on the third season finale and upped to a series regular for the recently concluded fifth season. This is her first Emmy nomination.
Pro: She has the most memorable moment of all six episodes in this category. After feeling betrayed by her boyfriend Sheldon (Jim Parsons), he feels guilty and gives her a tiara. Her expression of joy and screams of delight are a true highlight.
Con: She is off screen for long periods of time.
Julie Bowen, "Modern Family" ("Go Bullfrogs!")
Bowen won for her second straight bid as Claire Dunphy and is back to defend her title.
Pro: Her episode has several qualities Emmy voters normally love: out on the town away from her kids and husband, getting drunk, making passes at her "gay" date, and confronting her female friends.
Con: While there are no negatives in her own episode, but voters will also see a more negative and shrill side of her character on the episode submitted by Vergara.
Kathryn Joosten, "Desperate Housewives" (“Give Me the Blame," "Finishing the Hat”)
After three nominations and two wins as a guest star, she became a series regular for the final season of this ABC laffer.
Pro: Three weeks after her character, crotchety Karen McCluskey, died of cancer in the series finale, Joosten lost her own battle with the disease. Thus her scenes in the finale (she submitted the double episode) have eerie and profound impact. She was a beloved leader of the TV academy, serving three terms on the Board of Governors as a leader of the performers' peer group.
Con: She only has a few scenes in the finale, which focused chiefly on the four main stars. Emmy voters have not shown themselves to be sentimental over the years as just one of 14 other posthumous nominees since 1980 has won (Raul Julia, "The Burning Season") in recent years.
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family" ("Tableau Vivant")
This is the third consecutive nomination for Vergara in her role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett.
Pro: In her own episode, she has some funny scenes as she is angry with her husband Jay (Ed O'Neill) for flirting with a waitress. Voters will also see her in Bowen's episode, where she also has good moments worried about her son spending too much time in his room.
Con: While this is her best submission yet, there isn't one memorable moment.
Merritt Wever, "Nurse Jackie" ("One-Armed Jacks")
Wever earned her first bid for her fourth season as Zoey Barkow.
Pro: In her episode, she has funny scenes looking for a new roommate, changing uniforms, and dancing with delight.
Con: It is sometimes difficult to be a stand-out performer when Emmy darling Edie Falco is the star. The show is more of a drama with comedic moments. The nomination itself is probably her biggest reward.
Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live" ("Host: Mick Jagger")
This is Wiig's fourth and final nomination as a regular cast member of the variety series.
Pro: Producers pulled out all the stops in letting Wiig have a heartfelt musical farewell at the end, led by host Mick Jagger and the rest of the cast. She also shone as a game show contestant, Lawrence Welk singer, and member of the "Californians."
Con: Perhaps only guest stars have won for this show because their episodes are edited down to just their scenes while supporting nominees don't have this advantage and are absent for long stretches of the 90-minute show.