Why Jennifer Coolidge will pull a Maggie Smith at 2023 Emmys

As of this writing, all of Gold Derby’s Experts (our savvy pundits from major media outlets) and Editors (our staffers who write about awards year-round) are in agreement that Jennifer Coolidge (“The White Lotus: Sicily”) will win at the 2023 Emmys in Best Drama Supporting Actress. This would be her second consecutive Emmy Award for playing fan-favorite socialite Tanya McQuoid on the HBO show. However, her trophies would be in different categories, as “The White Lotus” is making a Tanya-esque leap this year (just use the ladder!) from a limited series to a drama series.

Amazingly enough, there is recent precedent for this exact scenario at the Emmys. Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”) won in the same supporting actress categories for playing Violet Crawley both before and after her PBS show swapped genres.

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SEE‘The White Lotus’: What are its Emmy chances now that it’s competing as a drama series?

Dame Maggie initially prevailed in 2011 in the limited series race against “Upstairs, Downstairs” scene-stealer Eileen Atkins and the “Mildred Pierce” trio of Melissa Leo, Mare Winningham and Evan Rachel Wood. In 2012, “Downton Abbey” was reclassified as a drama series and Smith triumphed against co-star Joanne Froggatt, plus Christine Baranski and Archie Panjabi (“The Good Wife”), Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) and Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”). Smith earned one more Emmy for the last season in 2016 against the likes of Maura Tierney (“The Affair”), Constance Zimmer (“UnReal”) and Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Maisie Williams (“Game of Thrones”).

Coolidge’s win last year when “The White Lotus” was considered a limited series came at the expense of four (!) of her own co-stars — Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell and Sydney Sweeney — as well as two featured ladies from “Dopesick”: Kaitlyn Dever and Mare Winningham. Coolidge’s 2022 Emmy speech went viral because she shimmied along to the play-off music after declaring her lavender bath made her “swell up inside [her] dress.” Watch the video below.

SEEJennifer Coolidge (‘The White Lotus: Sicily’): My life right now ‘doesn’t feel real’ [Complete Interview Transcript]

So, just because there is precedent for someone to win Emmys for the same role in different categories, does that mean it will happen again? Laura Dern tried and failed for “Big Little Lies.” The supporting actress first prevailed in 2017 for playing Renata Klein when her HBO show was a limited series, but then she lost out to Julia Garner (“Ozark”) in 2020 after making the jump to drama.

Gold Derby’s predictions say Coolidge’s trajectory will be more like Smith’s than Dern’s. She currently enjoys leading 4/1 odds for “The White Lotus: Sicily,” after her recent wins at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice and SAG Awards. Per Gold Derby odds, Coolidge’s likely Emmy competition will consist of Sarah Snook (“Succession”), Rhea Seehorn (“Better Call Saul”), Elizabeth Debicki (“The Crown”), Christina Ricci (“Yellowjackets”), Aubrey Plaza (“The White Lotus: Sicily”), Meghann Fahy (“The White Lotus: Sicily”) and J. Smith-Cameron (“Succession”). In other words, steer clear of lavender baths, Jennifer!

In the second cycle of the Mike White megahit, Coolidge’s character experiences relationship troubles with Greg (fellow returnee Jon Gries) in Italy before eventually finding solace with a bunch of local gay men who were later revealed to have ulterior motives. “These gays, they’re trying to murder me,” Tanya screeches in the season finale in what has become one of the most quotable lines from the 2022-23 television season. Alas, because of what happens to Tanya in the last episode, Coolidge is not expected to return for “The White Lotus” Season 3, which will have an East Asian theme.

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