Every year from 2002 to 2004, the Screen Actors Guild chose to nominate the casts of the same five TV series for their Best Comedy Ensemble award: “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier,” “Friends,” “Sex and the City” and “Will & Grace.” When the groups of actors first faced off, they had all been playing their characters for at least four seasons, and the majority of them had already won the collective prize. By contrast, this year’s lineup includes no past winners, only one previously nominated cast, and — for the first time ever — three ensembles whose shows have each been around for only one season.
The new comedy series up for this year’s ensemble award are “Ted Lasso,” “The Flight Attendant” and “The Great.” Also in contention are the team from “Dead to Me,” who are two years into their run, and the “Schitt’s Creek” cast, who hung up their hats at the end of their sixth season and are competing here for a second consecutive time. The Pop series notoriously pulled off a historic Emmy sweep last September, but it began to falter during the winter awards season as the fresher “Ted Lasso” picked up steam. The sports comedy’s popularity and inescapably feel-good nature have kept it and its actors on a winning streak.
The Apple TV Plus series focuses on the titular Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), a successful college football coach from Kansas who is facetiously hired to lead an English Premier League soccer team. Although he lacks an understanding of the game, he compensates by effusing an abundance of folksy charm and positivity that gradually becomes infectious among his players. As he teaches each of them the “Lasso Way” of valuing personal growth over superficial achievements, he solves problems in his own life by adhering to the same credence.
The “Ted Lasso” cast could become the first to triumph here for their first season since the “Modern Family” ensemble, which prevailed for the latter half of Season 1 and the first half of Season 2 at the 2011 SAG ceremony. The year prior, “Glee” won for the first part of its first season at the 2010 kudos. The only other shows to win for a whole or part of their first seasons were “Friends” (1996), “Ally McBeal” (1999) and “Desperate Housewives” (2005). Will the “Ted Lasso” actors join this esteemed group?
This year marks the 10th time in SAG history that at least one member of each nominated comedy cast has also picked up an individual bid. Sudeikis represents his series in the Best TV Comedy Actor category where he once again faces Nicholas Hoult (“The Great”) as well as Dan Levy and Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”). Rounding out the roster is lone nominee Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”). Sudeikis and nearly all of his costars are SAG newcomers. Only Jeremy Swift is a returning nominee, having vied for 2017’s Best TV Drama Ensemble award as a “Downton Abbey” cast member.
This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “SAG Awards nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.
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