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Who will win the Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Comedy? 

By Spencer Coile 

When you consider all of the funny women working in television, you might think that the past winners in the Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series race would be competitive. However, with Julie Bowen, Allison Janney, and now Kate McKinnon monopolizing the 2010’s with two wins apiece, the other nominees don’t seem to stand a chance. (That’s not to say there aren’t shocking winners every once in a while – look no further than Merritt Wever’s win in 2013 for Nurse Jackie.) With McKinnon back in the race, can anyone overtake her?

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominees: 

Zazie Beetz as “Van” on Atlanta: “Helen” 

Alex Borstein as “Susie Myerson” on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: “Doink”

Aidy Bryant as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live: “Host: Chadwick Boseman”

Betty Gilpin as “Debbie Eagan” on GLOW: “Debbie Does Something” 

Leslie Jones as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live: “Host: Donald Glover” 

Kate McKinnon as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live: “Host: Bill Hader”

Laurie Metcalf as “Jackie Harris” on Roseanne: “No Country for Old Women” 

Megan Mullally as “Karen Walker” on Will & Grace: “Rosario’s Quinceañera” 

Will Win: Between Atlanta and being the best part of Deadpool 2, Beetz is having a great year, but her nomination feels like the reward. Gilpin is a marvelous Liberty Belle, but with the omission of Alison Brie and Marc Maron in their respective categories, perhaps she was lucky to have gotten in at all. It's nice to see Metcalf and Mullally return for their Emmy winning roles, but the buzz for both Roseanne and Will & Grace has cooled considerably. 

As much admiration as I have for the cast members of Saturday Night Live, I’ve always found it odd that they compete in the comedy categories when the series itself does not. In many ways, it feels like we’re comparing apples and oranges – Bryant, Jones, and McKinnon are simply doing a different kind of work than the others. 

Despite these reservations, the other women in this category are no match for McKinnon, who will likely take home her third consecutive Emmy.

Should Win: Remember the good old days when submission tapes helped determine one’s Emmy chances? If that were the case today, Mullally would be winning this with ease. Sure, the Will & Grace revival was not completely embraced by voters, but Mullally’s performance in “Rosario’s Quinceañera” reminded us why Karen Walker was so beloved in the first place. It was equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking and a proper return for a previous Emmy darling. 

Gilpin would also be a worthy winnerbut I have a feeling I will be banging the drum for her victory next year for her stellar work on the second season of GLOW. 

Could Spoil: If voters are experiencing some slight McKinnon fatigue, the likeliest runner-up is Borstein. She is a scene-stealer on an Emmy favorite, and if The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel cleans up on Emmy night, Borstein might get swept up in the Maisel love. Plus, she’s great on the show.  

Your turn! Is McKinnon a slam dunk and, more importantly, who do you think deserves to win? 

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Reader Comments (25)

i want borstein to win, expect mckinnon will yet would not be surprised if mullaley does

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Mullaley deserves it plain and simple. Her performance in her submitted episode was beautiful. But I do not think the voters watch the episode submissions 😥😥😥

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

My heart belongs to Megan Mullally for playing Karen Walker, probably one of my favorites characters of all time and definitely a role model.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Indeed, if tapes still mattered, it'd be Mullally in a cake walk. Gilpin's submission is fabulous too, as is Metcalf's.

Alas, it's probably McKinnon again.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

I love a lot of these ladies so I don't have a strong horse in the field. I will say I think Metcalf is going to win for two reasons. One is the general industry support she's received this past year between her Oscar nom (should've won) and her tony win. Second is that people are going to feel sympathy for her concerning the whole Roseanne issue. Think of when Charlie Sheen went through his controversy eventually getting fired from TAHM. Jon Cryer his co-star ended up with an Emmy and I believe that Metcalf will have a similar path to a win. Also Emmy's love her having just two years given her three nominations for acting in three different shows.

Personally, I'm either Gilpin or Mullally but since Mullally has won twice I'd pull harder for Gilpin as I've loved her since Nurse Jackie through American Gods and now this.

P.S. I'm just gonna say it here but Borstein has a history of racist sensibilities and I think rewarding her could look pretty bad with some of the things she's been accused of saying.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

Just a strange rant... I seem to have some unexplained resistance to Alex Borstein portrayal of Susie on TMMM. Except for a few good scenes here and there she comes off as a caricature.

But why? Certainly there were many unusual people back in the day in the Village but Susie appears particularly unrealistic. Something is not quite genuine about her. Maybe it is her constant vacillation, the perfect designer odd clothing and hat or the forced over use of the f word. I am always aware that I am watching a creation of a character. It does not seem organic.

I am not a prude nor do I have any ill will for the creators of the wonderful or should I say marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Anyone agree or do I need to re-evaluate?

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGay Senior

Was surprised to read about Alex Borstein's alleged racism. She would have been my "Shoulda" as her role on Mrs. Maisal is unlike any other role I've ever seen.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrrrich7

Gay Senior - I sort of agree on Borstein and I love the show. I think Tony Shalhoub is perfect (I still want Tituss to win in that category, but would be happy if Tony won).

Borstein was apparently Amy Sherman-Palladino's original choice for the Sookie St. James role on Gilmore Girls. I am so glad that Melissa McCarthy got that role. I adored McCarthy on that show and ever since (no, I am not seeing The Happytime Murders). It's hard for me to imagine Borstein as the chipper, somewhat insecure, supportive and endearing best friend - Sookie would have been a very different character if she had played her.

I don't really have a favorite in this category, but I think Metcalf may win it as well. Honestly, I am still so irritated she lost the Oscar that if I were an Emmy voter, I might be motivated to vote for her. (The true best supporting actress in a comedy, Donna Lynne Champlin, never gets nominated anyway.)

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

The debate about whether SNL castmembers belong in this category at all: It's absolutely the wrong place for them.

But since they're here—it's insane that Cecily Strong has never gotten a nomination. Her ability to create new characters *and* transform into real-world people is superb. Watch her Ivana Trump, Catherine Deneuve, Girl at a Party, Gemma, and so many others. She's been one of the show's smartest and most talented players for a long time now.

Aidy and Leslie are good but not on Cecily's level, in my opinion. To me she's up there with the all-time great ladies of SNL.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Still can't believe that Judith Light did not win for her mesmerizing Hand in My Pocket scene.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Suzanne - agree on Champlin.

Is it too early to start banging the drum for Kristin Chenoweth to get nominated here next year for 'Trial & Error'?

I think Metcalfe might actually take it - as explained above, she has sympathy on her sign for both the Roseanne debacle and losing the Oscar.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

I say Zazie they've got to get her name more out there and recognised seeing how she's being cast in a lot of big Hollywood stuff.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Will win: McKinnon.....unfortunately.
Should win: any of the other nominees who aren't from SNL. All 5 of them are delivering stronger funnier work.
Could win: either Metclef or Mullally.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I think McKinnon will win, solely because none of the others seem to have unanimous support so even if the voting is competitive, this gives the laziness of repeating traction.

August 27, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Honestly, I think it's a four-way race between McKinnon, Mullally, Metcalf, and Borstein.

If tapes were still as important as they used to be, Mullally would absolutely win in a cakewalk, but she still has a good chance. Voters love the character and I think everyone saw and loved that episode. Metcalf has all the goodwill in the world, especially right now, and giving her the win could be seen as the ultimate middle finger to Roseanne. McKinnon has been stealing SNL ever since she got cast, and with her continued politically-charged impressions it's very easy to reward her. Plus we all know how much Emmy voters like their repeat winners! Borstein has been working in bit parts in the industry for YEARS, so she's likely accumulated a lot of goodwill, and the voters clearly loved Mrs. Maisel. Amazon is giving it a huge push, and she's playing a theatrical agent, which will likely appeal to a lot of voters, especially the older ones.

Between those four, for me, it's too close to call. Which means McKinnon will probably win again, even though I agree that the SNL cast members should be in a different category.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

Hayden-COMPLETELY agree about Cecily Strong. I am hoping that at least she will get a nom for her final season the way they finally recognized Vanessa Bayer last year.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered Commentershawshank

How do the submission tapes not matter? Do the voters not have to actually watch them?

I'm torn because Mullally and Metcalf both picked really strong episodes that showcased their range (in Metcalf's, Jackie reluctantly agrees to let her mother live with her because Roseanne is already practically housing an entire village at her place). I give Metcalf the slight edge because of the Melissa McCarthy Rule ("We're sorry you didn't get an Oscar, so please take this Emmy"). This would be Metcalf's 4th for playing Jackie and Mullally's 3rd for playing Karen.

I actually see Aidy winning over Kate. McKinnon was still great this year, but we're not in the shell-shocked state we were last year regarding Trump. Last year's wins for SNL were kind of like a catharsis. (I hope this also means Louie Anderson or Titus Burgess win in Supporting Actor).

This is always my favorite category!

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

I think Kate McKinnon will win again; she has the highest profile and voters love SNL. Alex Borstein wouldn't surprise me either.

Rooting for Laurie Metcalf because she is brilliant and I am still pissed that she was robbed of the Oscar for Ladybird.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

I'm pulling for Borstein. I think she's just wonderful, period. I've been a fan of hers since Mad TV and I'm happy she finally has a role that lets her standout and be recognized.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Please anyone but the Saturday Night Live ladies. They shouldn't be in the same category.

Because of the second season, I am going for Betty Gilpin. But I wouldn't mind seeing Alex Borstein or Laurie Metcalf winning too.

For some reason, this category feels extremely weak though.

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRod

Kate McKinnon is a tough nut to crack for me. She's obviously lovely and phenomenally talented. But my favorite SNL performers bring something of themselves to the characters they play and I'm not sure what that is for McKinnon. She's super private and that reads to me as a little...blank.

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Beetz plays the most natural character out of this group even though she's, ironically, in the weirdest show of the bunch. It's not a funny performance in the slightest, yet it's the best one out of these nominees. What I can take out of Metcalf and Mullaly (and that I was expecting someone else to say it) is that there is still hope if an actor never got recognition for a memorable character from a show that was either cancelled or ended its run. And also that it's great to see nominees from shows of different eras of TV in the same category. Don't you think that too?

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

I don't watch the show, but I'd love Borstein to win. In Australia we didn't get SNL on TV, but we did get MadTV. Plus her win would show all those SNL performers that there can be life after the show that doesn't involve bad comedies and genre spoofs.I'm still mad Judith Light didn't win for TRANSPARENT's season three finale. If they really did go by 'submitted' episodes then I can't imagine why she didn't win.

I don't think the new season of W&G figured out what to do with Karen. She's often just there, except for her 'submitted' episode (we all know now they just go by whatever they see of the show, surely). It's clear the politics of a person like Karen Walker is really awkward on the show even when they're having a laugh about it.

August 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I feel like the category is either trickier than we think or super easy. My money right now is on either Borstein or Mullally, and I will be very sad if it's a McKinnon repeat. As much as I love her.

August 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoey M

Me34, I see your point and it is interesting that these actresses are being nominated in their re-boots. However, Metcalf won three in a row for seasons 3-5 of "Roseanne" and Mullally won for the show's breakout second season and their farewell season (in what I remember was a big surprise, but I could be wrong). John Goodman was perennially nominated for ROSEANNE and never won, and I wish he would have been nominated again this year, as his work on the reboot, now vanished forever, was great.

August 29, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjakey

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