‘Sex Education’ switch to comedy at the Emmys could pay off for Gillian Anderson, say these Experts

Netflix’s “Sex Education” was overlooked by the Emmys in 2019 for its first season, but the British dramedy about teenagers dealing with families, relationships and their overwhelming adolescent hormones was entered for consideration as a drama. In 2020 the show is back in contention, but this time in comedy categories, which could pay off for the whole show, but especially for Gillian Anderson.

Anderson is a contender for Best Comedy Supporting Actress for her performance as Jean Milburn, a sex therapist whose line of work and matter-of-fact sharing of her expertise often makes her relationship with her teenage son (Asa Butterfield) especially awkward. Among the show’s large ensemble cast, she’s the most familiar to Emmy voters. She earned four Best Drama Actress noms for “The X-Files,” winning in 1997, and then she contended for Best Movie/Limited Actress for the Charles Dickens adaptation “Bleak House” in 2006.

As of this writing two of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed think Anderson will be nominated: Debbie Day (Rotten Tomatoes) and Tim Gray (Variety). She’s also backed by four of our Top 24 Users who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Emmy nominations and three of our All-Star Top 24 who got the highest scores when you combine prediction results from the last two years.

Anderson may especially benefit from the expansion of the category this year. The Emmys changed their procedures this year to determine the number of nominations in any given category based on the number of submissions, and there are enough entrants in Best Comedy Supporting Actress this year to guarantee eight slots.

Voting was so close in the category in 2019 that there were already eight nominees for that award when there normally would have been six. But four of last year’s eight are out of the running this year. Olivia Colman and Sian Clifford are out because “Fleabag” ended its run last year. Anna Chlumsky is also ineligible because “Veep” ended its run too. And Sarah Goldberg is taking a gap year because “Barry” didn’t air any new episodes during this eligibility period.

The only returning nominees from last year are two-time defending champ Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) and her co-star Marin Hinkle, two-time past champ Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”) and Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”). Will Anderson join their ranks now that “Sex Education” is competing as a laffer for the first time?

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