As our pal Michael Scott would say, “Well, well, well, how the turntables.” Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”) topped the Best Comedy Actress odds nearly the entirely way through nominations phase until the final hours when Jean Smart (“Hacks”) crawled past her for the No. 1 spot. Both were nominated on Tuesday as expected, and now? It is Smart all the way.
In our early winner odds, Smart has opened up a huge lead over the field at 31/10. As of this writing, all 11 Experts and nine editors predicting have her walking away with the Emmy. Neither Cuoco nor any of the other nominees — Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), Allison Janney (“Mom”) and Aidy Bryant (“Shrill”) — have a pundit predicting them.
The change of fortune is not surprising and also speaks to how well “Hacks” landed as a late-arriving contender — it premiered on HBO Max on May 13, exactly two months before nominations were announced. It netted 15 nominations, making it the second most-nominated comedy after frontrunner and 20-time nominee “Ted Lasso.” (“The Flight Attendant,” the heretofore presumed runner-up to “Ted Lasso,” earned nine nominations.) While many were fretting over whether newcomer Hannah Einbinder would be nominated for supporting actress, not only did she make the cut but “Hacks” grabbed two additional acting bids for Carl Clemons-Hopkins in supporting actor and Jane Adams in guest actress.
SEE Full list of Emmy nominations
A double nominee this year, Smart is also up in Best Limited/TV Movie Supporting Actress for “Mare of Easttown,” but her best chances lie with “Hacks,” on which she plays Deborah Vance, a legendary comedienne who hires Ava (Einbinder), an entitled writer, to freshen up her material. Smart is having a banner year — it’s the Smartaissance after all — on the heels of several great years. These are her 10th and 11th Emmy nominations and she is seeking her fourth win. She’s had some recent close calls: Despite being widely predicted to win for “Fargo” in 2016 and “Watchmen” in 2020, she lost to Regina King (“American Crime”) and Uzo Aduba (“Mrs. America”), respectively.
The “Designing Women” alum previously won Best Comedy Guest Actress Emmys in 2000 and 2001 for “Frasier” and the Best Comedy Supporting Actress prize in 2008 for “Samantha Who?” If she prevails for “Hacks,” she’ll join Betty White as the only people to win Emmys in the comedy lead, supporting and guest categories. At this point, if you’re wondering if she will do it, you won’t be wrong to quote Ava and say, “I think she will.”
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