Bill Hader would make Emmy history with a third win for ‘Barry’

Barry Berkman is back, baby. Alec Berg and Bill Hader’s deeply funny comedy “Barry” has made its triumphant return to HBO after three years, and the show — and its leading (hit)man — hasn’t missed a beat.

The new season sees a troubled Barry (Hader) trying to make things right with his acting coach, Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), after the latter discovered the former was responsible for murdering his girlfriend in Season 1. The two men continue to give emotionally layered but exceptionally funny performances in Season 3, playing off each other so well that it won’t be surprising if they both return to the Emmy stage later this year. But if Hader succeeds, he’ll also make Emmy history in the process.

If Hader defeats his former “Saturday Night Live” co-star and “Ted Lasso” frontman Jason Sudeikis to take home the award for Best Comedy Actor this year, he’ll be the first person to win the award for the first three seasons of a show (though not in consecutive years, unfortunately). Hader won back to back in 2018 and 2019 before “Barry’s” extended break allowed for Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) and then Sudeikis to swoop in the past two years.

The First Three Seasons Edition of the three-peat has already been accomplished in the other lead categories. Bill Cosby (“I Spy,” 1966-68) and Bryan Cranton (“Breaking Bad,” 2008-10) both won back-to-back-to-back Emmys in Best Drama Actor, while Barbara Bain snagged three in a row for Best Drama Actress for her work in “Mission: Impossible” (1967-69). On the comedy side, Julia Louis-Dreyfus snagged three Best Comedy Actress Emmys (2012-14) for the first three seasons of HBO’s political satire “Veep,” eventually going on to win a whopping six in a row for the show.

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If Hader hopes to join their exclusive club, he’ll need to make up some ground in the coming months. He currently sits in third place at 9/2 odds behind Sudeikis (18/5) and “Only Murders in the Building” star Steve Martin (9/2) in Gold Derby’s combined odds. And he’ll also have to hold off the equally talented men behind him: Donald Glover (“Atlanta,” which returned after four years away), Martin Short (“Only Murders in the Building,”) Anthony Anderson (“Blackish”), Nicholas Hoult (“The Great”) and Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”).

Right now, two Experts and four Editors are predicting Hader to triumph compared to Sudeikis’ nine Experts and eight Editors. While many TV fans and Emmy voters have been drawn to the positivity of Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” and Sudeikis’ embodiment of the eponymous character during the deeply chaotic and difficult years of the pandemic, “Barry” is a returning favorite that remains at the top of its game. It’s not that difficult to picture a world in which voters embrace Hader once more.

Also working in his favor is the fact that “Barry” is airing now, while Sudeikis is eligible for his performance in Season 2 of “Ted Lasso,” which aired last summer. For most shows, this would likely be a death knell. However, that is likely not going to be the case for Sudeikis, who picked up his second straight Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance earlier this year. Still, the soccer-themed comedy’s third season does not yet have a premiere date, and it’s unclear whether or not we’ll see the show again before the voting period begins and ends. So, in other words, Hader appears to have the advantage of the prime viewing opportunity bump. And if there’s one thing you never want to do, it’s leave the door open for a man like Barry Berkman.

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