Emmy Experts Typing: Will ‘Abbott Elementary’ or ‘Hacks’ expand in the supporting categories?

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Welcome to Emmy Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Emmy race — via Slack, of course. This week, we wonder if some old faves can over-perform in comedy.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! We’re back to laugh again about this year’s Emmys comedy race. This has remained a pretty stable race, so much so that not even FX seems concerned about “The Bear” and its status as the obvious frontrunner. The third season of the show comes back on June 27, after Emmy nominations voting has closed and well before final voting begins. It seems like Season 2 of “The Bear” is so far out in front that it might not even need Season 3 to goose its win potential. That’s maybe bad news for our beloved “Hacks,” which always faced an uphill battle in Best Comedy Series but should be very competitive in the actress races. I still have Hannah Einbinder winning in my predictions despite the potential for multiple “The Bear” stars there. (It’s always possible Liza Colón-Zayas has her “Forks” in Season 3 to vault ahead in the final stretch for her work in Season 2, but, for now, it feels like Einbinder is the choice.) For actress, I’ve got Ayo Edebiri because “The Bear.” But if Jean Smart is to pull her third win in three tries for “Hacks,” I think a big reason will be one of this week’s episodes, “One Day,” the fifth of the season. Trapped in the woods with Ava and ruminating on mortality, Deborah is given several great moments of both comedy and drama. (Her speech about how people don’t realize they’ve aged felt in conversation with her incredible monologue in my beloved “Babylon.”) It’s showy stuff and, no disrespect to Edebiri, much more compelling than any of the material her “The Bear” competition had in Season 2. The risk, as you’ve clocked, is that Emmy voters have just moved on from “Hacks” after a year away. That would be a shame, but you can’t teach taste. Elsewhere in comedy, I’m wondering about the backend of the race. There are six shows, by my count, that feel pretty stable: “The Bear,” “Hacks,” “Abbott Elementary,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “What We Do in the Shadows.” Most people have “Reservation Dogs” in seventh place, and then the odds are split on that last position. We both have “The Gentleman” (you had it first and I laughed in your face and then ate crow when I put it into my picks weeks later), but “Palm Royale” stans are still out in force as well. Do you feel confident about any of those shows getting in or are we sleeping on some underdog contenders?

joyceeng: Like we’ve mentioned many times, this year’s race is a softer version of last year’s: six obvious nominees and two open spots. Last year, the two slots went to a massive Netflix smash, “Wednesday,” and a late-breaking organic hit, “Jury Duty.” We don’t really have either this year. I’ll probably keep now two-time Peabody winner “Reservation Dogs” for my guy John Landgraf. “The Gentlemen” is obviously no “Wednesday,” but it is a hit and has shown a lotta legs, unlike some other more high-profile Netflix shows this season. Just anecdotally, I feel like “Palm Royale” had more stans at the start of its long season than by the end. I can see it going the way of “Shrinking” and “Poker Face” did last year: new shows starring big names and/or former nominees that everyone had an eye on before they even premiered because of their pedigree, but they fall short of being breakout hits, so in the end, they only manage acting bids above the line. Would anyone be shocked if Kristen Wiig made the comedy actress cut but the show misses series? I guess that makes Carol Burnett Harrison Ford. To be fair, she’s not in the top seven in the odds at the moment. One of your big changes this week was dropping Claire Bear Molly Gordon for Melissa Ann Caterina Schemmenti herself, Lisa Ann Walter. I’m ready for you to switch back once Season 3 of “The Bear” arrives though. The question is really whether “Abbott Elementary” will expand in acting after failing to do so last year, the guest nom for Taraji P. Henson notwithstanding. Season 3 is superior to Season 2, but voters also love “The Bear” more than “Abbott.”

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Christopher Rosen: We know Emmy voters haven’t fully embraced “Abbott” yet — the strong buzz for Season 1 gave way to a Season 2 that most people thought was just fine, and that kind of showed in the 2023 Emmy nominations. Season 3 is a leap — much like we’ve said about “Hacks,” it’s the best season yet for the ABC fan fave. So I feel like all those Emmy voters who want to love the show will finally be able to do so without reservation. That’s mostly why I’ve moved Lisa Ann Walter in, especially because even the most ardent “The Bear” fans were iffy on Claire Bear (most seem to be shipping Carmy and Syd, not sure I agree but I know better than to go against the stans). Unless, what if, “Abbott” keeps its two supporting actress nominees and Walter replaces Janelle James? Is that possible? While you ponder that, we should also talk about supporting actor just because I want to stump again for Paul W. Downs. He’s in ninth place in the odds but I’d be hard-pressed to find a funnier supporting actor contender this year. Jimmy is the best and Downs’ take on his Hollywood manager is absolutely one of the best comedy creations on TV right now. Downs is just behind Bowen Yang in the odds and it feels like many are ready to return Yang to the Emmys again for his strong season on “Saturday Night Live.” Yang even sat down for a conversation with Vanity Fair to talk about the risks he took this season and his viral Sydney Sweeney sketch. He’s running dot gif, but I’m just not sure if Emmy voters will go back to “SNL” so soon after snubbing it.

joyceeng: No shade, but I doubt LAW would replace JJ, who remains excellent this season as well. “Hacks” was the predecessor for “Abbott”: a show that won multiple Emmys for its first season and that we expected to score more acting noms for its series regulars for Season 2, but it didn’t and only expanded in the guest categories. “Hacks,” in fact, lost an acting nom with Carl Clemons-Hopkins’ Season 2 snub. The dream is for both CCH and PWD make it. I’m getting way ahead of myself and thinking about what PWD should submit should he get nominated and he has so many options! He could go with next week’s Christmas episode. Or the finale. Or pickleball. I don’t think Yang is doing anything out of the ordinary in terms of campaigning. He’s campaigned before. And frankly, his best interview was his appearance on Seth and Josh Meyers‘ delightful podcast “Family Trips with the Meyers Brothers” (highly recommend!) a few weeks ago, during which he recounted how he thought his grandma was dead when she fell down at Yellowstone (don’t worry, she was fine). I wouldn’t be surprised if Yang got back in, but I feel like “SNL” needed to have a noisier season considering how its nominations tally has dwindled the past two years. An “SNL” nomination would tell me that they’re apathetic about the other contenders, you know?

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Christopher Rosen: I guess I’m wondering if it’s possible that they are. We’re assuming “The Bear” will add at least five supporting nominees for its second season and while that’s certainly likely, are we overestimating the strength of the ensemble? Is it just the Carmy-Syd-Richie show? And if so, does that leave room for other “Abbott” stars, maybe some “Palm Royale” actresses, and who knows who else? I don’t think so, but a boy can dream. Joyce, I’ll let you have the last word as I go make sure “Shōgun” is all over my drama predictions lol.

joyceeng: Since “The Bear” set a whole bunch of records with its Season 1 trophy haul and we know how Emmy voters are when they stan a show, I’m gonna say we are absolutely not overestimating it. Are we overestimating “Abbott” or “Hacks” though? We already did for their sophomore seasons, so joke’s on us?

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