Emmy Predictions, Comedy: So Many Shows, So Little Room to Honor Them

Between returning nominees (“Ted Lasso,” “Hacks”), shows back in the race after absences (“Mrs. Maisel,” “Barry”) and new series (“Abbott Elementary,” “Only Murders in the Building”), the competition will be brutal

Comedy Series
"Only Murders in the Building": Hulu / "Ted Lasso": AppleTV+ / "Abbott Elementary": ABC

What do you get when you start with more than half a dozen returning nominees from last year, add almost as many nominated shows back in the Emmy race after not being eligible last year and then throw in a bigger-than-usual crop of worthy new programs?

You get a very competitive Emmy race.

That’s what has happened this year in the Emmys’ comedy and drama categories, where a glut of shows is going to make things very difficult for Television Academy voters. Those voters, though, won’t exactly have to pick and choose the way most awards voters do: Instructions on the voting platform for each category read, “Vote for all entries in this category that you have seen and feel are worthy of a nomination,” which means voters can cast their ballots for as many contenders as they’d like. 

Because the number of nominees varies depending on the number of entries in each category, we’ve also indicated just how many slots are available. In the event of ties, the number of nominees can change.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Number of nominations: 8

Seven of last year’s eight nominees are eligible again this year: “Ted Lasso” (the reigning champ), “black-ish,” “Cobra Kai,” “Emily in Paris,” “The Flight Attendant,” “Hacks” and “PEN15.” But there’s no way all seven can repeat, because past winner “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is back after being ineligible last year, and so are past nominees “Atlanta,” “Barry,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Russian Doll.” Plus, new shows “Abbott Elementary,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Reservation Dogs,” “Ghosts,” “Peacemaker,” “The Afterparty” and “After Life” are angling for spots in the lineup.

That’s 19 shows for a category that only has room for eight, so competition is going to be fierce. “Ted Lasso” and “Hacks” seem to be the two locks from among last year’s nominees, with “Barry” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” joining them from the roster of previous nominees and “Abbott Elementary” and “Only Murders in the Building” representing the freshman class. That leaves two slots from a group that includes “black-ish,” “Atlanta,” “Reservation Dogs,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Russian Doll” and “Ghosts.” Our guess is that “Atlanta” slips past “black-ish” and “What We Do in the Shadows” nudges out “Reservation Dogs” and “Russian Doll.” 

Predicted nominees: “Abbott Elementary,” “Atlanta,” “Barry,” “Hacks,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Ted Lasso,” “What We Do in the Shadows”

Watch out for: “black-ish,” “The Flight Attendant,” “Reservation Dogs,” “Russian Doll”

Bill Hader and Anthony Carrigan, “Barry” / HBO

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Number of nominations: 6

Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader and Donald Glover have won four of the last five awards in this category, and it’s hard to imagine any of them not being in the running again this year. “Only Murders in the Building” is one of the liveliest and most star-driven new series, and Emmy rules will allow voters to cast their ballots for both of its lead actors, Steve Martin and Martin Short. That only leaves one slot for a group of actors that includes Anthony Anderson for “black-ish,” Don Cheadle for “Black Monday,” Nicholas Hoult for “The Great” and Ricky Gervais for “After Life” — and while Gervais and Hoult have a lot of heat at the moment, Anderson’s been nominated seven years in a row and doesn’t seem likely to be overlooked for his show’s final season.

Predicted nominees: Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”; Donald Glover, “Atlanta”; Bill Hader, “Barry”; Steve Martin, “Only Murders in the Building”; Martin Short, “Only Murders in the Building”; Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”

Watch out for: Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”; Ricky Gervais, “After Life”; Nicholas Hoult, “The Great”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Number of nominations: 6

The surest bets in this category might be last year’s winner, Jean Smart (“Hacks”), 2018 winner Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) and newcomer Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”), followed by past nominees Tracee Ellis Ross for “black-ish” and Issa Rae for “Insecure.” And while it’s tempting to turn to the eminently worthy likes of Pamela Adlon for “Better Things,” Elle Fanning for “The Great,” Natasha Lyonne for “Russian Doll” or Sarah Lancashire for “Julia” for the last spot, that race might really be between Kaley Cuoco’s multiple-character performance on “The Flight Attendant” and Selena Gomez’s teaming up with Steve Martin and Martin Short on “Only Murders in the Building,” which could feel like the fresher show.

Predicted nominees: Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary”; Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Selena Gomez, “Only Murders in the Building”; Issa Rae, “Insecure”; Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”; Jean Smart, “Hacks”

Watch out for: Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant”; Elle Fanning, “The Great”; Sarah Lancashire, “Julia”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Number of nominations: 8

The 282 eligible actors in this category mean that it’ll have the maximum of eight nominees, which is good because it might mean that people who aren’t on “Ted Lasso” or “Saturday Night Live” can land nominations. “Lasso” had four noms last year and “SNL” had two, though it’s possible that the former show could be reduced to 2021 winner Brett Goldstein and Season 2 villain Nick Mohammed, while Kenan Thompson could represent “SNL” all by himself.

“Barry” also has a trio of strong contenders (in order of likelihood): Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan and Stephen Root, while “Hacks” will likely land a second nom for Carl Clemons-Hopkins and could possibly add one for Paul W. Downs. Then there’s Tony Shalhoub and Luke Kirby for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Brian Tyree Henry and LaKeith Stanfield for “Atlanta” and four-time Emmy winner David Hyde Pierce for “Julia.” In other words, way too many contenders.

Predicted nominees: Anthony Carrigan, “Barry”; Carl Clemons-Hopkins, “Hacks”; Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”; Luke Kirby, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso”; Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”; Henry Winkler, “Barry”

Watch out for: Paul W. Downs, “Hacks”; Stephen Root, “Barry”; Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live”

Jean Smart, Hacks
Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks” / HBO Max

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Number of nominations: 8

There will be more double-dipping in this category: two nominees from “Ted Lasso” (Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple), two from “SNL” (Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong) and two named Hannah (Waddingham and “Hacks” co-star Hannah Einbinder). Rosie Perez (“The Flight Attendant”) and Aidy Bryant (“SNL”) could repeat their 2021 noms, but it’s just as likely they’ll be replaced by actresses from shows that are returning to the Emmy race: two-time winner Alex Borstein for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Sarah Goldberg for “Barry,” Yvonne Orji for “Insecure.” But that leaves out strong contenders from “Abbott Elementary” (Janelle James, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter), “Only Murders in the Building” (Amy Ryan), “Schmidagoon!” (Oscar winner Ariana DeBose) and “Hacks” (Meg Stalter).

Predicted nominees: Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”; Sarah Goldberg, “Barry”; Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”; Yvonne Orji, “Insecure”; Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live”; Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso”; Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”

Watch out for: Janelle James, “Abbott Elementary”; Sheryl Lee Ralph, “Abbott Elementary”; Amy Ryan, “Only Murders in the Building”; Meg Stalter, “Hacks”

Read Steve Pond’s other Emmy nomination predictions here:

Drama Series

Limited Series

Variety and Reality