Emmy Experts Typing: Can Melanie Lynskey and Rhea Seehorn take down a pair of former champs?

Welcome to Emmy Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Emmy race — via Slack, of course. This week, fresh off of nominations, we discuss the drama lead and supporting actress races, which feature the returns of the 2020 winners.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! It’s the end of a busy week of Emmy Award snubs, surprises, heartbreak, and heck yeah. I’m still buzzing about Sydney Sweeney‘s two nominations and I continue to scratch my head over how the Television Academy ignored the two best supporting male performances of the year: Matthew Goode on “The Offer” and Ben Schwartz, our beloved Yasper, on “The Afterparty.” But to bemoan those snubs now would be like shouting at the sky, so rather than retread the issues with those unlimited ballots, let’s get to the matter at hand: predicting these seemingly very predictable 2022 Emmy Award results. I want to start us off with the ladies of drama, the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series categories. In the lead category, I think there are three very serious options to win: former champion Zendaya returns for Season 2 of “Euphoria,” beloved four-time Emmy winner Laura Linney has one last chance to take home the gold for “Ozark,” and Film Twitter fave Melanie Lynskey is a major threat for newcomer “Yellowjackets.” I’ve got Zendaya out front — as the No. 1 “Euphoria” stan over 40, it is my duty. While I think the second season as a whole tilted more toward an ensemble piece than the first, Zendaya has the powerhouse episode of this group: “Stand Still Like a Hummingbird,” in which Rue goes on a tragic sprint toward rock bottom. The episode — a mix of “Uncut Gems” and “Good Time” with some “Leaving Las Vegas” thrown in for good measure — is a showcase for Zendaya and it’s hard to imagine her not adding a second Emmy to bookend her first. But what do you make of this race, Joyce? Can the law offices of Linney or Lynskey race past Zendaya like she’s standing still?

joyceeng: Laura Linney and Melanie Lynskey back to back is a whole lotta alliteration. Look, this is Zendaya’s to lose. Her episode was engineered to be Emmy bait (if this were the tape system, she’d be locked, end of discussion), she won last time as “Euphoria’s” only above-the-line nomination, and now the show is in series and almost doubled its previous nomination total. She has four personal nominations this year (and just to shut down some fake news floating around the interwebs, while Zendaya has a few Emmy records to her name, she is not the youngest two-time acting nominee). She is in great position to be the first multiple winner of this category under the current system. But everyone thought Elisabeth Moss and Viola Davis would easily win a second Emmy as well, and they lost to Claire Foy and Tatiana Maslany, respectively. I think Lynskey is first in line to pull off an upset since Zendaya has never faced her, she not only has Film Twitter support but industry support as well as a nearly 30-year veteran, and “Yellowjackets” did well for a first-year series on Showtime. Sadly, I fear “Ozark” will end Linney’s streak of winning an Emmy for every one of her nominated TV roles. She really should’ve won for Season 3, highlighted by her scorcher submission “Fire Pink,” and she doesn’t quite have an episode like that in the fourth and final season. But I also think certain voters (*cough* men *cough*) are hesitant to vote for female characters like Wendy — cold, calculating and ruthless. That’s also why it breaks my heart to say that I don’t think our beloved Sarah Snook will win for “Succession” because Shiv shares many of those qualities. I know that you too are not predicting her in supporting. Emmy voters to Sarah Snook:

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Christopher Rosen: We’ve talked about this with regard to Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox, how each of them should get an Emmy Award for “Succession” before it shuffles off into the sunset. I feel that way about Sarah Snook as well — and I think it would be hard to argue against Season 3 being a peak for her work on the series so far. She owned her space in Season 3, whether it was dancing like no one’s watching in “Too Much Birthday” or selling the jaw-dropping final moment of the season with a look of outrage, betrayal and fury. But like you typed, Shiv isn’t a character who engenders a lot of (male) sympathy. So I have Julia Garner winning again here for “Ozark.” Why not? They love Garner so much over at the Television Academy she got a shock nomination for “Inventing Anna.” I think a third Emmy win for “Ozark” as it exits the cultural conversation feels right. But if anyone can pull off an upset win it’s probably not Snook but Jung Ho-yeon for “Squid Game.” She won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards against lead competition in the winter and if “Squid Game” is going to take a top award at the Emmys, I think this is an easy spot for her and the show to triumph. Do you think she’s behind Garner or am I overlooking someone even more beloved online than Lynskey? (Hint, I mean Rhea Seehorn.)

joyceeng: Listen, you don’t need to tell this “Better Call Saul” stan about Rhea Seehorn. She definitely feels like one of those people for whom the nomination was the hardest part, but now she’s in and and is a total wild card. Lots of Blue Checks are stoked for her, including her No. 1 stan Seth Meyers. Lynskey worships at the altar of Seehorn as well. What if they both win? Seehorn also snagged a second bid in short form actress for “Cooper’s Bar,” so I suppose voters do have an out to award her there and go for someone else here. I’d feel a lot better about her chances if “Better Call Saul” were a stronger player — reminder that it’s never won an Emmy and is now up to 46 nominations — but this is also the most competitive she will ever be as the series airs its final episodes over the next month, with the finale set for Aug. 15, three days after final voting begins. She’s going to have the buzz and you know she will deliver (as she always does). I also have Garner completing a hat trick, but I have Seehorn in second. Like I said the other day, maybe it’s best that I don’t predict Seehorn to win because she finally got in after I decided to not predict her for the first time to reverse my curse. This is a very competitive category and I’ll let you have the floor now to make the case for Sydney Sweeney.

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Christopher Rosen: Well, Joyce, I thought you’d never ask. She isn’t the known quantity of Seehorn or Snook or Garner, but I would put Sweeney toe to toe with all of them for her Season 2 performance on “Euphoria.” Her character Cassie is the kind of part that would be easy to position as a joke: the overly emotional, hyper-sexualized teenager with daddy issues and self-esteem buried beneath the severed floor, to mix show metaphors. But Sweeney never goes for the punchline and even when Cassie is being rightfully mocked there’s a deep level of empathy as well. I’ve frequently compared Sweeney’s work on “Euphoria” to Julianne Moore in her ’90s Paul Thomas Anderson era, particularly “Magnolia.” To me, it’s not a reach to say Sweeney is performing on the level of one of the greatest actresses of the last 30 years in her ascendency. That doesn’t mean she can win — this performance and Cassie would be easy to dismiss if you didn’t… look closer, to steal the tagline from another ’99 movie that Sweeney would have crushed — but it’s my favorite of this group by a wide margin, and that’s saying something since there are so many faves here! But Joyce, I’ll let you have the last word here. Thank you for the space to filibuster.

joyceeng: Sweeney’s double noms are fascinating because I do think she has individual passion, but she was also on two widely seen shows among voters that aired earlier in the season on an Emmy-stamped network that got 36 nominations between them. And the unlimited ballot obviously helped too, especially in limited supporting actress, aka The White Lotus Category. I think she has a better shot here, but I will add that Zendaya’s high win probability has no bearing on Sweeney’s, or at least not as much as you might think. You can prefer one but not the other because they’re different performances in different categories against different competition, like how Garner won last time while Linney lost against Zendaya. This sounds wild to say since we’re coming off of two consecutive years of seven-for-seven sweeps and voters again have reinforced their laziness by nominating, like, three shows in every genre (down with the unlimited ballot!), but it’s more competitive across the board this year. But really, let’s just thank the awards gods that no show in any genre can go seven for seven. Praise be.

Emmy odds for Best Drama Actress
Who will win?

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