6 Burning Questions for Emmy Voting, From ‘Succession’ Dominance to the Comedy Crunch

As the ballot deadline looms, we’re wondering what awaits when nominations are revealed on July 12

Only Murders Succession
"Only Murders in the Building" (Hulu), "Succession" (HBO)

With four days remaining for voting in the nomination round of the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, here are some numbers:

More than 900 programs have qualified, from a high of 163 drama series to a low of 12 scripted variety series. In the 20 acting categories, 2,466 different performances have made the ballot. In the writing and directing categories, 541 different screenplays and 745 different directed episodes are eligible.

And if you add it all up, you’ll get lots and lots of questions as we wait for the voting to end, the ballots to be counted and the nominations to be announced on July 12.

Here are a few of those questions. Spoiler alert: For the most part, these questions won’t have answers for about three weeks.

How many “Succession” actors can be nominated in lead?

“Succession” (HBO)

Over the years, it’s been common for “Succession” to place multiple nominees in the acting categories: Nicholas Braun, Kieran Culkin and Matthew McFadyen have all been nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for the last two seasons, while last year’s guest categories included four actors and three actresses from the HBO series.

The Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, meanwhile, has found both Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong nominated for the past two seasons. But this year, with Cox’s character dying in the third episode, Culkin moved from the supporting into the lead category, where he’ll be vying for a nomination alongside Strong and Cox (who opted to remain in lead even though his character is physically missing from most of the season).

All three are considered among the favorites to be nominated – but to have three lead actors nominated for the same show would be unprecedented. Shows have landed two nominees in the category plenty of times, with “Succession,” “This Is Us,” “Westworld” and “True Detective” combining to do it seven times in the last nine years. But three nominations in a lead acting category has never been done before in drama; the only time series performers have hogged a lead category to that degree is in Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, where “Golden Girls” did it four times between 1986 and 1989 and “Desperate Housewives” did it once in 2005.

The Emmy rules were also changed this year, ending the ability of voters to mark their ballots for an unlimited number of contenders. Instead, they’ll be restricted to six choices in categories that have six nominees, as this one does. That could discourage them from giving half their votes to one show, though it’s risky to underestimate an Emmy juggernaut like “Succession.”

By the way, “Succession” also has one contender in the lead actress category, four in supporting actor, two in supporting actress, four in guest actor and five in guest actress.

Who misses out in comedy?

"Only Murders in the Building" (Hulu)
“Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)

As we mentioned last week, the comedy categories were hit particularly hard by Emmy rules that tie the number of nominations in a category to the number of eligible entries in that category. Submissions were down across the board this year – but in comedy, the decrease often has not brought entries just below a cutoff line and gave them one fewer nominee than they had last year. The lead actor and actress categories had 68 and 76 entries, respectively, giving them five nominees when 81 entries in either category would have bumped them both up to six slots. Supporting actor in a comedy series fell to 239, which means seven nominees, when two more submissions would have given the category eight nominees.

The question is, who are going to be the casualties of those bad numbers? In comedy actress, the top eight seem to be (alphabetically) Christina Applegate, Rachel Brosnahan, Quinta Brunson, Bridget Everett, Elle Fanning, Selena Gomez, Natasha Lyonne and Jenna Ortega – but barring ties, three of them will be out. In comedy actor, it’s hard not to pick Donald Glover, Bill Hader, Steve Martin, Jason Segel, Martin Short, Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Allen White, but there’s no room for two of them.

Will entering too many episodes hurt?

“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)

It’s pretty common for a series to receive multiple nominations in the directing and writing categories, and very common for shows to submit multiple episodes in those races. But there’s a school of thought that it’s risky to potentially split your vote – that “Only Murders in the Building,” “Shrinking” and “Ted Lasso,” for instance, run the risk of not being nominated in the comedy-directing category because they submitted four, four and five different episodes, respectively, while “Barry,” “The Bear,” “Jury Duty” and “Wednesday” gave voters a single episode on which to focus their votes.

Let’s just say that’s probably less of a risk for “Ted Lasso,” which ended up with three nominations in this category two years ago, than for shows like “The Conners,” “Rap Sh!t” and “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” all of which submitted three different episodes.

In the comedy directing category, multiple submissions also came from “Abbott Elementary” and “Somebody Somewhere” with three entries each, and “Grand Crew” with four. In drama directing, “The Mandalorian” was tops with six submissions, followed by “For All Mankind” with five and “Better Call Saul,” “The Crown,” “House of the Dragon,” “Truth Be Told,” “Will Trent” and “Yellowjackets” with four.

In the writing categories, fewer shows submitted multiple episodes. On the drama side, “Better Call Saul” entered five and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “House of the Dragon” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” submitted three each; in comedy, “The Conners” led with five, followed by “Abbott Elementary,” “Act Your Age,” “Atlanta,” “The Great North” and “Poker Face” with three.  

Will we have any potential EGOTs after the nominations are announced?

Elton John Live - Farewell From Dodger Stadium
“Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium” (Disney+)

At the moment, there are three living people who are an Emmy shy of the Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony grand slam known as the EGOT: Elton John and the songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. All three are on the Emmy ballot.

John is an executive producer of “Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium,” the live concert that streamed on Disney+. The special has a good shot of advancing in the Outstanding Variety Special (Live) category, which only has 29 eligible programs – enough to give it a full slate of five nominees while keeping the odds pretty good in John’s favor.

Pasek and Paul (who won Oscars for “La La Land,” Tonys for “Dear Evan Hansen” and Grammys for both) are co-writers with Lizzy McAlpine of the main title music to “Dear Edward,” one of 69 entries in the Outstanding Main Title Theme category. They’re a longer shot.

Will we see a rush of final-season sentimentality?

Bob Odenkirk in "Better Call Saul" (AMC)
Bob Odenkirk in “Better Call Saul” (AMC)

Remember the grand sendoffs that Emmy voters gave to the final seasons of “Schitt’s Creek” and “Fleabag,” or to Jon Hamm when he finally won an Emmy for the seventh and final season of “Mad Men?” This year will provide plenty of opportunities for those kinds of farewell salutes, because it brought the final seasons of lots of notable shows: “Ted Lasso” (we think), “Barry” and “Atlanta” in comedy and “Succession,” “Better Call Saul” and “Westworld” in drama, among others.

That means we could see Bob Odenkirk’s final chance to win an Emmy for “Better Call Saul” complicated by more than one actor from “Succession” and maybe even by Matthew Rhys for the now-canceled “Perry Mason” or Patrick Stewart for the final season of “Star Trek: Picard.” Or we could see the end of “Ted Lasso,” the end of “Barry” and the end of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fighting for parting gifts in the comedy categories.  

But are Emmy voters really that sentimental? In truth, it’s much easier for a show to be recognized in its first season than its last one – and the shows that do well in their final seasons are typically the ones that have picked up momentum with previous wins. (“Fleabag” and “Schitt’s Creek” were complete anomalies, where the voters didn’t discover them until late and then tried to make up for lost time.)  That puts “Succession” and “Ted Lasso” in good position for nice farewell tours, assuming hot newcomers like “The Last of Us” and “The Bear” don’t get in the way. But it doesn’t suggest that voters will be driven by sentiment as they cast their ballots.

Will the voice-over performance category be the key to double and triple nominees?

“Tuca & Bertie” (Netflix)

There’s not much question that multi-hyphenate actor-writer-director-producers like Bill Hader and Quinta Brunson will end up as multiple nominees when the announcement is made on July 12. But looking at the Emmy ballots, there’s another category that could provide an influx of double- and triple-dippers: Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance.

That’s a category where you can find all-but-certain “Succession” nominees Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin eligible for “Koala Man” and “Solar Opposites,” respectively. Where “Beef” stars Ali Wong and Steven Yeun are also in the running for their work on the animated “Tuca & Bertie.”  Where “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Alex Borstein moonlighted on “Family Guy,” “Tiny Beautiful Things” lead Kathryn Hahn did side work on “Central Park” and “The Last of Us” standout Nick Offerman lent his voice to “The Great North.”

Also in the running: Aubrey Plaza (“The White Lotus”) for “Little Demon,” Niecy Nash-Betts (“Dahmer – Monster”) for “Agent Elvis,” “Saturday Night Live” cast member Heidi Gardner and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel for “Crank Yankers” and “The Mandalorian” director Bryce Dallas Howard for an animated entry from the same cinematic galaxy, “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi.”

The nominees will no doubt include some actors who’ll be receiving their only nomination (contenders include Hank Azaria, Julie Andrews, Mel Brooks, Tina Fey, Matthew McConaughey as Elvis and Priscilla Presley as herself), but this could also be a category that helps a few people land an extra nom.