This category is the battle between ABC’s Modern Family and HBO’s Veep, both of whom have a supporting cast that dominates television screens. Modern Family, if voters continue the nomination trend in this category, will undoubtedly grab at least two nominations. Last year Modern Family managed to grab two of the six nomination slots, which was a demotion from it’s typical 3-4 nomination grab. The possibility of Modern Family slipping to only one nomination in the supporting actor category is not improbable, but unlikely to happen. Of the four cast members in Modern Family – Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, and Eric Stonestreet – it is likely Academy voters will stay with their two constants – Burrell and Ferguson, who have both been nominated every season. Both actors are scene-stealers, but this could also be extended to Eric Stonestreet, who easily could take one of the acting nominations. If Stonestreet would to oust a cast member, it is more likely to be Ferguson than Burrell.
The advantage Modern Family has over Veep is that it gives its cast enough space to break away from the concept of being part of an ensemble. Veep has hardly been able to achieve that despite its incredible supporting cast. The only exception to this claim would be Tony Hale, who predominantly stands on his own and has already won an Emmy for the show’s second season. Nominating Hale also would be the Academy acknowledging the caliber of acting from Veep’s supporting cast. Cast members such as Gary Cole or Kevin Dunn, who both provide some of the show’s biggest laughs, will see themselves snubbed this year. Cole and Dunn may have had a chance of being nominated in the Guest Actor category, but that was before the Television Academy’s newest ruling that any actor who appears in more than 50% of the episodes of a show’s season will be considered part of the main cast. Gary Cole was nominated last year for his performance as “Kent Davison” in the Guest Actor category, and undoubtedly would have been nominated there again if it hasn’t been for this rule change. However, Veep’s newest cast member, Hugh Laurie, was able to break away from being part of an ensemble and provided a new facet of comedy in the show’s narrative. Laurie’s performance was acting perfection by how he played his role as a likable politician whose patience slowly runs out, allowing for one of the funniest explosions Veep has ever seen. Laurie’s acting went beyond the script and much of his comedy stemmed from body language and looks of astonishment as his character consistently witnesses the incompetence around him. Voters may also vote in the favor of Laurie since he is well liked and was previously nominated six times for his former show, House M.D.
Outside of Modern Family and Veep, this category is wide open for newcomers. Netflix’s new shows, Grace and Frankie and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, are benefiting the most from this. Tituss Burgess’ performance as “Titus Andromedon” was one of the best parts of the Netflix comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which puts him in a good position of being nominated. Grace and Frankie’s Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen also are in a good position to be nominated. Unlike Grace and Frankie’s leading ladies, who are in a heavy contender category and may only see one of them being nominated, Sheen and Waterston both could be nominated for their roles. Most critics and reviews tend to favor Waterston more, which may be a hint that Sheen could be snubbed this year. However, both Waterson and Sheen have name-recognition, which could help both of them in being nominated.
If Academy voters decide to lean more in the favor of actors from veteran shows, Fred Amisen may be nominated again for his versatile performance on IFC’s Portlandia. Amisen was the surprise nomination in this category last year and could find himself with a second one if voters do not lean in the favor of nominating both Sheen and Waterston. Andre Braugher was the shocking sole nomination from FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine last year after the show won the 2014 Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series. The voters clearly indicated they were not fans of the show, which could easily translate into this year’s nominations again. Braugher could be collateral damage if voters deviate further from the show. Another nominee from last year, Adam Driver, from HBO’s Girls could see himself snubbed as well. This is because Girls has lost the attention and intrigue of many voters, which could hurt Driver’s chances of being nominated for a third time. Parks and Recreation could potentially have some sentiment on its side with the show having concluded its final season this year. Nick Offerman or Chris Pratt could potentially sneak in and steal their first Emmy nomination for the show’s final season. In the scenario this would happen, it is more likely Pratt could succeed at this, given his recent film resume and being on the forefront of many television viewer and critics minds.
Below are Dan’s Predictions for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
1. Ty Burrell – “Modern Family”
2. Jesse Tyler Ferguson – “Modern Family”
3. Tony Hale – “Veep”
4. Hugh Laurie – “Veep”
5. Tituss Burgess – “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
6. Sam Waterston – “Grace and Frankie”
Spoiler: Martin Sheen – “Grace and Frankie” or Andre Braugher – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Long Shot: Gary Cole – “Veep” or Kevin Dunn – “Veep”