Why Selena Gomez (‘Only Murders in the Building’) could finally break in at the winter awards

It seemed impossible at the outset, but the second season of Hulu’s comedic murder mystery “Only Murders in the Building” is just as good and funny as the first. Much of that is due to the show’s writers, who continue to find new ways to play with the true crime genre and viewers’ obsession with it. But just as much is owed to the show’s uber-talented cast, which is anchored by the trio of Martin Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez.

Last year, both Short and Martin snagged nominations for Best TV Comedy Actor at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards for their performances (sadly, neither won). It seemed possible that Gomez, who effortlessly nails the deadpan, straight woman routine opposite the two comedy legends, might sneak into the comedy actress races as well. Ultimately, it didn’t happen, but we’re not ready to write off the possibility of it happening this year.

In Season 2, Gomez’s Mabel is framed for the murder of another Arconia resident, pushy board president Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell), which provides ample opportunities for the actress to shine. She might not be as loud and showy as Short or be able to deliver a line quite like Martin, but Gomez is just as important to the series and its success as they are. As Mabel works to not only clear her name and identify Bunny’s real killer, we learn more about the character, as well as her own wants and desires, through a burgeoning new relationship with an artist and a trip into her past. Gomez hits every beat with aplomb, but she’s never better than in “Flipping the Pieces,” an outing that sees Mabel figure out the reasons for her selective memory after teaming up with Theo Dimas (James Caverly) to investigate the person who assaulted her on the subway. No matter what was required of her in Season 2, Gomez brought it.

For her efforts, she’s currently sitting in third place (5/1 odds) at the Globes and seventh place (30/1) at the SAG Awards. Since the Globes have lead and supporting categories, unlike SAG, it makes sense Gomez is higher there. She’s behind reigning champ Jean Smart (“Hacks,” 82/25), who already took home the corresponding Emmy Award in September, and Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary,” 19/5). Former winner Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” 13/2) is in fourth and “Julia” star Sarah Lancashire (9/1) is in fifth. Smart, the defending SAG Awards champ, also leads those odds at 10/3. Brunson (39/10) trails closely in second, while her co-star Janelle James (7/1) is not far behind in third. Rounding out the top six are Hannah Einbinder (“Hacks,” 17/2), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary,” 17/2) — who recently took home the Emmy for supporting comedy actress — and Brosnahan (16/1).

SEE ‘Only Murders in the Building’s’ Nathan Lane wins long-awaited Emmy for Best Comedy Guest Actor

At the Globes, Gomez benefits from two of last year’s nominees being ineligible: Elle Fanning, as the third season of “The Great” has yet to premiere, and Issa Rae, who was nominated for the final season of “Insecure.” The Hollywood Foreign Press Association was the one organization that nominated Smart’s co-star Hannah Einbinder in lead instead of supporting, so it could very well do that again. Last year’s fifth nominee was Tracee Ellis Ross, who returned for the first time since her win in 2017, but “Black-ish” ended earlier this year, so voters could have moved on.

With “Ted Lasso” likely missing eligibility, Smart is the only possible returning SAG Awards nominee, but the group’s single acting category adds another wrinkle, hence the predicted “Abbott” trio. Despite “Abbott’s” growing following and a strong showing at the Emmys in September, it seems unlikely all three actresses will make it into the SAG Awards race. The guild does not have separate supporting performance categories, which forces leads and supporting players to compete against each other for only five slots, making it extremely difficult for shows to snag three spots. However, three performers from the same show being nominated is not unheard of. It typically happens in the limited series/TV movie categories — “Angels in America” pulled off triple nominees in actor and actress in 2004. Just last year, three actors from “Succession” were recognized in the drama category, and the year before that, three women from “The Crown” snagged nominations too. It does seem to be a growing trend, but so far only one comedy has earned more than two acting nominations in the same year: “Everybody Loves Raymond” in actor in 2004.

So what seems more likely is that “Abbott Elementary” will pick up two spots, while a third will no doubt go to Smart. This leaves two slots into which Gomez could slide. Einbinder could potentially take one of the two. Meanwhile, Brosnahan is a former winner for “Maisel,” but the show aired in early 2022, which means it’s far from viewers’ minds at this point. Furthermore, it’s been three years since the Amazon show was last eligible, so it’s difficult to know whether voters will even remember it when it’s time to cast their ballots. It seems far more likely that they’ll go for something fresher but still familiar, and since Short and Martin are almost certain to repeat, Gomez could easily get swept up alongside them now that voters have seen what, exactly, she can do.

SAG Awards odds for Best TV Comedy Actress
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