Praise be! Will Ann Dowd (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’) be 7th person to win back-to-back Emmys as Best Drama Supporting Actress?

Last year, Ann Dowd’s Emmy win for “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” first season was one of the biggest surprises of the evening as Thandie Newton (“Westworld”) seemed to be the frontrunner to win. Dowd was able to overcome vote splitting with her co-star Samira Wiley, but it remains unclear whether she will be able to overcome two of her co-stars this year. This time around, she is up against Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”), Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”), Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”), Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Newton.

If Dowd prevails, she’ll be the seventh in Best Drama Supporting Actress to win back-to-back Emmys, joining Ellen Corby (“The Waltons,” 1975-76), Nancy Marchand (“Lou Grant,” 1980-82), Bonnie Bartlett (“St. Elsewhere,” 1986-87), Allison Janney (“The West Wing,” 2000-01), Blythe Danner (“Huff,” 2005-06) and Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad,” 2013-14).

Looking back at last year’s race, Dowd was the typical Emmy winner under the new voting system. She is a veteran character actress who has been on countless shows and has worked with everyone, yet before last year never really got her due. Finally, when she was in a Drama Series contender, she not only got nominated for it, but also received a guest nom for HBO’s critical darling “The Leftovers.” It’s worth noting because it was the show’s sole nomination throughout its entire three seasons, which indicates significant support for Dowd.

“The Handmaid’s Tale’s” sweep probably helped her last year, but voters could have also gone with Wiley, who had a big year of her own on her other show, “Orange is the New Black.” However, Dowd’s veteran status may have given her the edge and it may as well this year. Repeating in this category is not unlikely and the last time someone did it back-to-back was Gunn in 2013 and 2014, although this was still under the old system. Ever since the new system has been in place, we haven’t had a back-to-back winner as 2016’s winner, Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”), was not eligible last year.

Working in Dowd’s favor is “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” 20 nominations, of which eight are in the acting categories, confirming significant support for the show in the acting branch. Besides her co-star Elisabeth Moss, Dowd is also the only actor from the show to have been recognized by other industry awards, in her case the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice. The episode she has submitted to Emmy voters is the second season premiere, titled “June.” Dowd once again gives an incredible performance playing Aunt Lydia, who in this episode has to teach the handmaids the consequences of disobedience while having to deal with a pregnant and hostile Offred (June). Her character is the winking devil that Emmy voters love to award time and again, and she is as deliciously evil and mysterious as always in her submission. She also appears in Strahovski’s submission “Women’s Work,” which could help her if voters watch the episodes.

But could vote-splitting between “The Handmaid’s Tale” actresses take her down? Among the three, there seems so be no clear standout. A lack of screen time in the second half of the season could hurt her, especially since that’s when Strahovski received her best material. The last time three co-stars were nominated in this category was in 2016, when Emilia Clarke, Headey and Maisie Williams were all nominated for “Game of Throne’s” sixth season. Since vote-splitting may have then paved the way for Smith’s win, it could absolutely happen again this year. Nonetheless, Gold Derby’s racetrack odds currently have Dowd in first place with odds of 6/5. Do you think she can overcome vote-splitting?

PREDICT the Emmy winners now; change them until September 17

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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