Breaking Down the Emmy Awards Nominees: Supporting Actress

Written by Luke Kalamar and Marla Pachter

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The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards will air on August 25th at 8 PM. In preparation,’s Television Editor Luke Kalamar and Senior Writer Marla Pachter came together to give their thoughts on each nomination. Today we have Outstanding Supporting Actress for both Comedy and Drama. Stay tuned all week for our continuing Emmy coverage!

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory

LK: Mayim Bialik has been an absolute delight on the biggest sitcom on television. While her character was initially supposed to be the female equivalent of Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler quickly grew to become one of the most endearing characters on the show. That being said, her chances of winning are not good. For one reason or another, The Big Bang Theory doesn’t jive with voters if it’s not Parsons. The show’s popularity will make her notable but unfortunately that’s it. Chance of winning:Average.


MP: I don’t watch The Big Bang Theory – I actually think it’s very well written but poorly directed. The execution just doesn’t jive with me. I like Mayim Bialik and from what I’ve seen of her as Amy, she does a good job. I don’t think she’ll win, though. Chance of winning:Low

Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy on Modern Family

LK: I don’t watch Modern Family. All I know about this is that Julie Bowen’s been nominated for the award five times in a row now and has already won it twice. We all know that the Academy has a love obsession for all things Modern Family too. For those reasons alone she could take this home a third time. Fatigue has to set in sometime though and this could be that year. Chance of winning:High.

MP: Look, I’m not saying that someone who has been on a show for five years can’t possibly deserve to keep being nominated and continue to win over and over again. But if they’re doing basically the same thing… I’m not sure it warrants a fifth-year-in-a-row nomination. I still watch Modern Family and I think the whole cast is great, Julie Bowen included. But the show has a formula to it. I still enjoy it, but I’ve also simultaneously been tired of it since season two. Still… Chance of winning:High.

Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer on Veep

LK: I don’t watch Veep either, but it’s easily on the top of my “to watch” list. Every year this show is a frontrunner for the big awards and this is Chlumsky’s second going as a supporting actress. Her skill as an actress in both drama and comedy is undeniable. But can she take the trophy? It’s not likely considering her competition, but not improbable. Chance of winning:Average.


MP: I like Anna Chlumsky. But I don’t think she’ll win. Chance of winning:Average.

Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett on Mom

LK: This is a nomination I did not expect. Mom has received primarily “meh” reviews and no one is singing the praises of Allison Janney’s performance as the titular Mom. Yet here she is with the supposed best of the best. If anything, I’d say she is this year’s Merritt Wever. A dark horse pick that no one expects, but someone the Academy thinks is worthy. I personally feel she hasno chance of winning, but who knows. Chance of winning:Low.

MP: I mean… really? We all know Allison Janney deserves to win all the awards. But for Mom? I would honestly feel offended for her if this of all things is what landed her an Emmy. Why does the academy like CBS sitcoms so much? Chance of winning:Low.

Kate McKinnon as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live

LK: Out of all the nominees, Kate McKinnon is the most deserving of this nomination. Doing live comedy on a weekly basis while simultaneously anchoring many skits is not easy, yet McKinnon is able to do it with impeccable poise. She is able to embody a whole spectrum of characters like a comedy chameleon. If the Academy is really out to pick the best, they will pick McKinnon. Maybe this is me being hopeful, but I’m giving her good odds. Chance of winning:  High.

MP: This nomination sends me straight to my happy place. When Kate McKinnon first started on SNL, she brought a vitality to it I haven’t felt in ages. I’ve been obsessed with her for years, watching her online sketches and seeing her in live UCB performances. I’m so happy for her success, and it is so well deserved. She is seriously a comedic genius. I’m happy enough just to have this nomination, and I’m under no delusions she’ll actually take home the award. Chance of Winning: Low

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Kate Mulgrew as Galina “Red” Reznikov on Orange is the New Black

LK: Sheer popularity alone can propel Kate Mulgrew to victory. Orange is the New Black has taken the world by storm with an unparalleled magnitude. Red is a fan favorite character and it’s honestly all because of Mulgrew. She is able to make this prison chef a character that is equal parts funny, tragic, terrifying, and kind. It’s a versatility that you rarely find in a category like this. Does she have more dramatic scenes? Absolutely. Yet she has plenty of comedy too. Chance of winning:Very high.

MP: I think this is going to be Orange is the New Black’s year. The show has become a cultural phenomenon, and for good reason. There are honestly a lot of women on this show who deserve to win an Emmy, and Kate Mulgrew is definitely one of them. Red is a fan favorite, and I wouldn’t be surprised or upset if she won. Chance of winning:Very high.

Luke’s Pick: Kate McKinnon is my choice, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kate Mulgrew takes it instead.

Marla’s Pick: Kate McKinnon would be my first choice, but I definitely think Mulgrew is going to win.

Who Marla Thinks Should Have Been Nominated: I believe a lot of these Emmy nom veterans should have been pushed aside for some great newcomers. Specifically, the mind blowingly hilarious Michaela Watkins as Jackie on Trophy Wife, Chelsea Peretti as Gina on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Stephanie Beatriz as Diaz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine


Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife

LK: This is the fifth consecutive nomination for Christine Baranski. Will this finally be her year? Unfortunately, I think not. Even though I have never seen The Good Wife, I know how great of an actress Baranski is, but this category is too packed with talent to make this five-timer stand out. Chance of winning:Average.

MP: This is a really weird category for me, as I legitimately don’t watch any of the shows that have garnered supporting actress nominations. That being said, I know The Good Wife is well loved show, and I know very well how brilliant of an actress Christine Baranski is. I don’t think she’s quite the academy’s flavor, though, and I believe she will be overlooked. Chance of winning:Low.

Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates on Downton Abbey

LK: I will never understand the continued obsession with Downton Abbey. It’s watched and beloved by many, but it’s just not a program that interests me. Joanne Froggatt was nominated for this award before but lost to Maggie Smith, who is nominated again, in 2011. If the Academy is really split on which Downton Abbey actress should take this, I honestly cannot imagine them choosing Froggatt over Smith. Chance of winning:Low.

MP: I was about to write essentially the same thing Luke just wrote. I don’t get the Downton Abbey obsession, and I don’t even see the point in nominating Froggatt when Smith is in the running. Chance of winning:Low.


Anna Gunn as Skyler White on Breaking Bad

LK: Anna Gunn is an unbelievable actress. Her performance on Breaking Bad is beyond compelling. While she won this award last year (and is essentially the only nominee I got right), my money is on her taking this again. In fact, any Breaking Bad nominee is a front runner, considering how renowned the final eight episodes were. Chance of winning:Very high.

MP: Last season of arguably the most popular show to ever air on television. I’d say she’s a shoe in. Chance of winning:Very high.

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones

LK:Game of Thrones fans will find this hard to believe, but this is Lena Headey’s first nomination. This HBO powerhouse is packed with acting talent too and yet the only nominees have been Peter Dinklage every year and last year’s brief foray with Emilia Clarke. I’d love for Headey to take this one, but Game of Thrones very rarely works with those picking winners. Chance of winning:Low.

MP: Another cultural phenomenon I just don’t understand. Game of Thrones is boring – and I’ve watched two seasons, so believe me, I tried to like it. Lena Headey is great in it, though, and this nomination is well deserved. Chance of Winning: Average


Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris on Mad Men

LK: Just like Veep, Mad Men is a show I desperately need to watch. It’s been awards bait since the beginning, and Christina Hendricks is no exception. This is her fifth nomination! Yet I feel that she will likely go the way of Baranski. Always a nominee, never a winner. Which is an absolute shame. Chance of winning:  Average.

MP: Despite my general distaste for Mad Men, I know there is a lot of talent on that show. Again, though, do we really think the same people should be nominated over and over again? Who knows, maybe this will be her year. Chance of winning:  Average.

Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey

LK: You can never count out Dame Maggie Smith. Out of everyone on Downton Abbey, she is easily the most notable. She won this in 2011, but lost to Anna Gunn last year. If anything, this contest is between those two. Chance of winning:High.

MP: Agree with Luke, completely. Chance of winning:High.

Luke’s Pick: Anna Gunn by a mile.

Marla’s Pick: All these nominations are a bit meh to me, but I do think Anna Gunn will win.

Who Marla Thinks Should Have Been Nominated: Bellamy Young is easily doing some of the best dramatic acting (those monologues though) on TV right now as Mellie on Scandal. And Hayden Panettiere has done consistent, stand out work on Nashville as Juliet Barnes.

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