Emmy episode analysis: Will Matt Walsh (‘Veep’) wind up ‘Kissing’ a trophy?

Matt Walsh, who for the past five seasons has portrayed Mike McLintock on HBO’s Emmy-winning comedy series “Veep,” has received his first-ever nomination this year in the Best Comedy Supporting Actor category. While this marks his first foray at the Emmys, Walsh has been a mainstay film and television character actor since the late 1990s and also co-founded the popular “Upright Citizens Brigade” comedy group. Walsh has submitted the episode “Kissing Your Sister” for consideration to Emmy voters.

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In a departure from traditional format, “Kissing Your Sister” shows viewers Catherine Meyer’s (Sarah Sutherland) oft-discussed documentary film in its entirety. In the doc, Catherine tells the story of her mother Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) campaign to break the Electoral College tie and win the Presidential election via interviews with staffers and footage that she shot in the White House and on the campaign trail. Throughout the documentary, Catherine frequently interviews Mike as he prepares for the House of Representatives’ vote as well as the arrival of a baby that he and wife Wendy have adopted from China.

In each subsequent interview, we see Mike hilariously adapt to changes in his circumstances, such as Chinese adoption sanctions, Mike’s search for a surrogate, and his ultimate discovery that he will be welcoming three babies into his home. Catherine also captures footage of Selina and other staffers deciding that they need to fire Mike for his ineptitude and hire a new Press Secretary. Can Walsh win on his first nomination? Let’s examine the pros and cons:

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Despite the show’s large ensemble, Mike serves as one of the focal points of the episode. Walsh is particularly funny when Mike gives Catherine a tour of the new nursery, complete with Winnie the Pooh knock-off wallpaper, and his constant reminders to himself to check the paint for lead. Even in scenes where Mike doesn’t appear, other characters frequently talk about him and his bumbling nature, ensuring that Walsh’s performance remains top of mind.

For any Emmy voters who may not have watched the entire season of “Veep,” the documentary style of “Kissing Your Sister” serves as an informal recap of the previous eight episodes featuring new footage. This format greatly benefits Walsh because Mike had a strong arc throughout the season and the episode both reminds viewers of his season highlights while also introducing new, hilarious material.

“Veep,” which won Best Comedy Series last year, exploded in popularity at the Emmy Awards this year with 16 nominations, almost twice the amount it reaped for its previous season. Emmy voters obviously love the series, which could significantly benefit Walsh.

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Due to the new system of voting, in which Emmy voters now only vote for one nominee rather than ranking all of the nominees in order of their preference, Walsh directly competes against his “Veep” co-star Tony Hale, a two-time Emmy winner in this category and the defending champion. Emmy voters clearly love Hale’s performance as Gary Walsh and they may choose to reward him a third time instead of spreading the wealth to newcomer Walsh.

The Emmys traditionally reward loud performances. Last year, for example, Hale won for the Season 4 episode “East Wing,” which featured his character in a screaming match opposite Louis-Dreyfus’ President. Unfortunately for Walsh, “Kissing Your Sister” doesn’t feature any scenes with such gravitas, which may hurt his chances.

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