If I Had an Emmy Ballot: Comedy Supporting Acting

Emmy voting has just completed. Over the next few weeks, I'll be laying out who I hope gets nominated in the drama, comedy, and limited series categories in this space, looking specifically at achievements in acting, writing, and directing. Below are my six personal picks for supporting acting in a comedy series, with my preferred winner in bold.

Comedy Supporting Actress

Donna Lynne Champlin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Sian Clifford, Fleabag

Judith Light, Transparent

Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time

Yvonne Orji, Insecure

Antoinette Robertson, Dear White People

(alt: Anna Chlumsky, Veep)


One thing that’s tough about choosing for “comedy” TV categories in 2017 is that several shows and performances categorized as such are really witty dramas packaged in half-hours. This category, this year, really reflects that: Antoinette Robertson and Sian Clifford are here because they were the unexpected dramatic highlights of Dear White People and Fleabag, while Rita Moreno and Donna Lynne Champlin are particularly, broadly hilarious on their respective shows. Perhaps naturally, then, this field came down to the pair who best mixed the two. Yvonne Orji is sharp with banter and wonderfully reactive, but she brings a real tenderness to the part of Molly as well that shines through in Insecure’s second half. Judith Light, meanwhile, had primarily been comic relief in Transparent’s first two seasons, and excelled in that role. Yet the entirety of Season 3 was built around her cathartic rendition of “Hand in My Pocket,” and Light’s performance was magnificently rich. She should win. (Oh, and a note here: I stubbornly refuse to acknowledge variety performances here, where the TV Academy has cornered such actors into submitting, but Kate McKinnon is obviously brilliant on SNL and a repeat win would not be undeserved.)

Comedy Supporting Actor

Jaime Camil, Jane the Virgin

K. Todd Freeman, A Series of Unfortunate Events

Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta

Andrew Rannells, Girls

John Rothman, One Mississippi

Zach Woods, Silicon Valley

(alt: John Early, Search Party)


A particularly vibrant category this year, I had a difficult time narrowing my list down from about a dozen scene-stealers. At the top of my list, without hesitation, is Brian Tyree Henry, who imbued Paper Boi with an irresistible mix of longing, exasperation, and paranoia; his deadpan skills matched his dramatic heft. Jaime Camil and Zach Woods make my ballot for the second straight year, and for my money give the two funniest continuing supporting performances on TV.  Then — my favorite part — the surprise breakouts. Andrew Rannells had always been great on Girls, but really got to show his stuff in a sensational final-season arc. K. Todd Freeman brought an utterly bizarre and mesmerizing energy to A Series of Unfortunate Events, and was the actor who (easily) best captured the original novels’ tricky tone. Finally, One Mississippi, a show I otherwise wish I could’ve loved more, was anchored by John Rothman — not the funniest guy in the category, certainly, but perhaps the most soulful. 

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