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, we take an overview of the comedy categories following the premiere of the third (and final?) season of “Ted Lasso.”
Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! We’re back and ready to start another season of Emmy Experts Tying. To quote one of my favorite comedies, are we having fun yet? We’re going to start this year with the comedy categories, which are seemingly focused on the usual suspects. “Ted Lasso,” the two-time reigning champion, returned this week with an episode that did nothing to disabuse the notion that it remains the favorite once again. I’ve seen the first four episodes of Season 3 and whether or not this is the show’s final stretch — my guess is no way, but it seems likely star Jason Sudeikis might take a backseat in potential future seasons based on how the narrative is playing out and all the general comments he’s made over the last three years, but what do I know? — it feels like if the TV academy loved the series in Season 1 and Season 2, they’ll love it once again in Season 3. But “Ted” isn’t the only big show heading toward a finish line. Your beloved “Barry” is actually ending this year, with a fourth season in which Bill Hader will direct all the episodes. HBO has “Barry” set for an April bow and Hader — the last actor to win consecutive Best Comedy Actor Emmys before Sudeikis’ back-to-back victories — is already doing the work with a thoughtful launch interview over at Variety. This spring will also see “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” come to an end, this on the heels of the “Atlanta” series finale last fall. Lots of endings! (We’ll do the drama categories maybe next week so we can save our “Succession” eulogies for then.) But there are some ascendant shows here as well. “Abbott Elementary” acquitted itself well at the Emmys last year and seemingly shows no signs of slowing down — this despite a somewhat soft performance for the comedy during the winter awards. “Only Murders in the Building” should be back here, with Shirley MacLaine ready to land a guest actress nomination. Newcomer “The Bear” could spoil the party too, especially since its second season will return in June, likely right as Emmy nominations voting is taking place. Then we’ve got some honest-to-goodness 2023 freshman shows competing here like “Poker Face” and “Shrinking.” Have I put enough keywords in here? Joyce, what are you thinking about the comedy race thus far — and how do you hope the shift away from the dreaded unlimited ballot will open the supporting acting categories up for some surprises?
joyceeng: I still can’t believe they actually killed the unlimited ballot. Our impact. (Yes, we should take credit for this.) It’s funny because we only have one year to go off of with this exact system — 2016 — and things were a lot different back then. So I hope there’ll be some inspired nominees from low-tier contenders (like Maura Tierney for “The Affair” and Constance Zimmer for “UnREAL” in 2016) and fewer coattails of widely visible, popular shows. And after her unforgivable snub last year, I very much need Sarah Goldberg to get in one final time for “Barry.” That being said, because there are *checks abacus* 59,208 TV shows now, with 58,114 to premiere in the next 10 weeks, I do think some voters will still check off a bunch of actors from their favorite show(s) on the restricted ballot merely because no one has time to watch all these shows. Plus, most people are probably not even watching the same things. I can see “Abbott” adding Lisa Ann Walter and Chris Perfetti as nominees this year. It managed four acting bids and a win for Sheryl Lee Ralph last year as a midseason series. And the cast just won SAG. Can it win series? “Ted” is still the favorite until further notice, and the hemming and hawing over whether this is the final season will probably just make the AFC Richmond stans want to vote for it even more. We should talk about who’s not here though. Season 3 of “Hacks” will unfortunately miss eligibility, so Jean Smart will give up her Best Comedy Actress crown for the time being. Most folks have Quinta Brunson as the beneficiary of her absence. There’s a lot of turnover in that category with Kaley Cuoco and Issa Rae gone as well. Is that enough room for Season 1 snubbee Selena Gomez to break through? Or Jenna Ortega, star of your favorite movie of 2023, “Scream VI”? Or for Natasha Lyonne to do what Renée Elise Goldsberry couldn’t (get a nomination for a Peacock show)? Or can “Dead to Me,” another dearly departed series, reclaim spots for Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini?
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Christopher Rosen: Maybe you won’t be surprised to know that I have almost everyone you mentioned getting in: Lyonne rules on “Poker Face” and I just feel like the show’s visibility and Peacock’s success, in general, will help her; Applegate feels pretty secure here as well, not just because of how she overcame such physical adversity but also because she’s really so good in those final “Dead to Me” episodes; Ortega is inevitable too, even if you’re right and I prefer her “Scream” performance to her “Wednesday” work; and if Gomez doesn’t get in, especially when she was arguably better in Season 2, I would be shocked. But with Brunson and Rachel Brosnahan making up the rest of the category, I don’t have room for Cardellini or anyone else at the moment. Best Comedy Actor feels a little more solidified: Sudeikis, Hader, the Martins and Jeremy Allen White. In that last spot, I can already feel your look, I’ve got Jason Segel for “Shrinking,” another Chris Special that I think could get three acting nominations (Jessica Williams and Harrison Ford, hello), and a series citation too. How do you think actor will shake out and are you pulling for any new shows to crash this conversation?
joyceeng: As I’ve said to multiple people the past two months, “Shrinking” would be “Ted Lasso’s” lead-out if they were on linear TV. They are, for obvious reasons, in the same area code. Segel deserved a nom for “How I Met Your Mother,” but I’d say he’s the third likeliest to get in for “Shrinking” after Ford and Williams, who are the MVPs of the show. Ford is doing some of his best work on “Shrinking” and he’s also in play for “1923.” Voters can easily go back to Donald Glover (for the last time) or Nicholas Hoult again to round out the lineup, so White would be the only newbie of the group. I’m currently watching the “Beef” screeners and all I’ll say for now is it reminds me of “Dead to Me” and I don’t think anyone would have a problem with the opportunity to call Steven Yeun an Emmy nominee. JAW swept the winter awards without Sudeikis in the mix and he’s arguably the only who can dethrone Sudeikis here, as much as it pains me to say because you know I would love to see Hader collect No. 3. There’s also a world in which voters just copy and paste all of last year’s winners save for Smart — “Ted Lasso” and Brett Goldstein, like Sudeikis, can three-peat and the show can win directing again, while “Abbott” can go back to back for SLR and in writing. No shade to anyone, but that would be boring and yet could totally happen. What do you see winner-wise?
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Christopher Rosen: Based on the season thus far, I do think Goldstein and Sudeikis could repeat and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Hannah Waddingham get back in the winners circle as well. That would leave Brunson to represent “Abbott” in the acting categories — she’s the frontrunner at this point with Smart out of race — though I could see Ortega or Lyonne winning in the end. Is that completely unhinged? Definitely! But let’s end here with “Barry.” Are you trying to reverse-jinx Hader into a Best Comedy Actor win? Sudeikis obviously has the edge and White is certainly a viable option, but Hader kind of splits the difference between both performances and there will probably be other opportunities to reward White for “The Bear”? How long until you’ve got Hader in first?
joyceeng: I do not have him in first and will not unless something drastically shifts in the next few months. Again, would love to see it, but we’ve just been slowly marching toward the inevitable Sudeikis-White showdown since Sept. 12. My Hader focus is, of course, getting him that long overdue directing win. I was on my own island predicting him at DGA while y’all were lounging at “The White Lotus” (a comedy to DGA, a drama to SAG and the Emmys, and a limited series to WGA — amazing versatility!), and DGA once again came through, so it’s high time (and the last chance) for the directing branch to show the same taste.
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