William H. Macy (‘Shameless’): Could SAG win point the way to his 3rd Emmy victory?

Earlier this year William H. Macy pulled off a surprise victory at the SAG Awards as Best TV Comedy Actor for “Shameless.” It was his second guild trophy for playing the perpetually drunk Frank Gallagher in Showtime’s long-running series (he previously won in 2015) and his third win overall including his win for the TV movie “Door to Door” in 2003. But Macy has yet to take home an Emmy for “Shameless” despite three consecutive nominations (2014-2016). Could that change this year?

Despite those losses, Macy is incredibly popular with the TV academy. He won a pair of trophies for writing and starring in “Door to Door” and has contended seven additional times: Drama Guest Actor for “ER” (1997), Comedy Guest Actor for “Sports Night” and Movie/Mini Actor for “A Slight Case of Murder” (2000), Movie/Mini Supporting Actor for “Stealing Sinatra” (2004), Movie/Mini Actor and TV Movie for “The Wool Cap” (2005), and Movie/Mini Actor for “Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King” (2007).

This past season of “Shameless,” the show’s seventh, offered many standout moments for Macy, as Frank awakened from a month-long coma and took up residence in a homeless shelter. For Macy to win, however, he’ll have to take down back-to-back champ Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”), as he did at SAG. The new Emmy voting system might help his chances. Winners used to be determined by voters ranking the nominees in order of preference. Last year that was replaced by a plurality vote: just pick your favorite contender from the list of nominees.

As we saw last year with shocking victories for Tatiana Maslany (Best Drama Actress, “Orphan Black”) and Ben Mendelsohn (Best Drama Supporting Actor, “Bloodline”), a small but passionate fan base can turn a long-shot into a winner under the new rules. With six nominees in a category, you could theoretically win with as little as 17% of the vote. And since the new Emmy voting system more closely resembles the SAG Awards, Macy’s dual wins there might indicate strong support here.

We could see a full repeat of last year’s Best Comedy Actor Emmy nominees since all six are eligible to return: along with Macy and Tambor, Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”), Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”), Will Forte (“The Last Man on Earth”), and Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) may come back. However, Golden Globe winner Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) looks poised to knock one of those competitors out. Other strong possibilities among first-year shows include Ted Danson (“The Good Place”), Hank Azaria (“Brockmire”), John Lithgow (“Trial & Error”), Nick Nolte (“Graves”) and Kevin Bacon (“I Love Dick”). In such a crowded field, having a couple of SAG Awards in your back pocket doesn’t hurt.

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