If I Had an Emmy Ballot: Drama 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 drama series, with my preferred winner in bold.

Drama Supporting Actress

Amy Brenneman, The Leftovers

Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale

Aisha Hinds, Underground

Margo Martindale, Sneaky Pete

Thandie Newton, Westworld

J. Smith-Cameron, Rectify

(alt: Maggie Siff, Billions)


I could’ve filled this category with actresses from The Leftovers, The Handmaid’s Tale, Rectify, Orange Is the New Black, and a few other shows, so I made a dedicated effort to spread the wealth here. I didn’t much care for Westworld, but Thandie Newton was undeniably brilliant in a role that emerged as the show’s emotional center. J. Smith-Cameron ceded the spotlight to the likes of Abigail Spencer and Adelaide Clemens in previous seasons, but she came into stunning focus for Rectify’s final year. Margo Martindale will likely get nominated for The Americans, but it was on Sneaky Pete where the award-worthy work came through. And Ann Dowd once again created a beautiful monster in The Handmaid’s Tale. I had difficulty deciding, for the winner, between a pair of performances that had entire episodes to reveal themselves: Amy Brenneman’s devastatingly subtle case study in The Leftovers, and Aisha Hinds’ brazen poetic turn in Underground. In the end, Hinds’ audacious take on Harriet Tubman was too singular to deny.

Drama Supporting Actor

Clayne Crawford, Rectify

Christopher Eccleston, The Leftovers

Keith David, Greenleaf

Peter Gerety, Sneaky Pete

John Lithgow, The Crown

Michael McKean, Better Call Saul

(alt: Jared Harris, The Crown)


There are obvious heavy hitters in this category, particularly John Lithgow — whose gargantuan turn as Winston Churchill is almost certain to win the Emmy — and Christopher Eccleston, likely to be cruelly denied a nomination for a third consecutive year. But there are several performances getting less attention this year that deserve a spotlight. Keith David brought gravitas to Greenleaf, a show that at times could delve a little to heavily into soapy dramatics. Peter Gerety was every bit the equal of Margo Martindale (see the column to your left) on Sneaky Pete. And Clayne Crawford capped a pretty remarkable four-season run on Rectify with his best stretch of episodes yet, further peeling the layers of the tragic Teddy Talbot. Nonetheless, the winner of this category should be a clear one, and I hope he has a shot at some Emmy gold: Michael McKean. He was thrown a lot of intense material this season on Better Call Saul and made it sing. 

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