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Who should win and who will win in the Emmys comedy races

Jason Sudeikis and Brett Goldstein in "Ted Lasso."
(Apple TV+.)

“Ted Lasso’s” second season launched last month, with new episodes rolling out every Friday during the voting window when television academy members are mulling their final choices and filling out their ballots.

It’s the best Emmy campaign Apple TV+ could possibly ask for.

The show’s new season is just as sunny and endearing as its first and adds a few interesting wrinkles that examine why the relentlessly optimistic title character might be going heavy on the good cheer to avoid some healthy introspection. The supporting ensemble is as good as ever and given even more room to shine. There’s even a Christmas episode loaded with glad tidings ... that’ll be airing in August. Because who doesn’t want to hear Bing Crosby crooning “Mele Kalikimaka” when it’s 1,000 degrees outside?

(That was a rhetorical question. But then, I’m OK with yuletide carols being sung even when chestnuts could be roasting out on the pavement .)

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Any momentum HBO Max’s thoughtful and funny “Hacks” might have picked up in the spring has now been smothered by “Ted Lasso’s” warm embrace. But that doesn’t mean “Hacks” won’t be winning a prize or two as you’ll see here as we look at predictions for the 73rd Emmys comedy categories, which will be presented on Sept. 19.

COMEDY SERIES

“black-ish”
“Cobra Kai”
“Emily in Paris”
“The Flight Attendant”
“Hacks”
“The Kominsky Method”
“PEN15"
“Ted Lasso”

Jason Sudeikis in "Ted Lasso," now streaming on Apple TV+.
(Apple TV+)

Should win: “Ted Lasso”
Will win: “Ted Lasso”

It appears the year after the unprecedented “Schitt’s Creek” Emmy sweep, voters will be casting their lot with another heartwarming comedy populated with likable characters and a generous view of humanity. And why not? When you’re confronted with grim news and ignorant displays of selfishness on a daily basis, it’s comforting to escape to a place where characters treat each other with kindness and refuse to indulge their worst impulses. “Ted Lasso” won’t pull off a sweep — its women are both nominated in supporting — but it’s going to win a good many Emmys from its 20 nominations. No complaints here. Unlike a lot of television series labeled as “comedies,” “Ted Lasso” is actually funny. I’ll probably watch its second season again at some point (maybe around the holidays, so that Christmas episode really lands), and I doubt I’ll be the only one.

COMEDY ACTRESS

Aidy Bryant, “Shrill”
Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant”
Allison Janney, “Mom”
Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”
Jean Smart, “Hacks”

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Should win: Smart
Will win: Smart

This category also feels a bit like a callback to 2020 when Catherine O’Hara, at the age of 66, won her first acting Emmy for playing the indestructible Moira Rose on “Schitt’s Creek.” Smart, 69, has three Emmys — two for guesting on “Frasier” and another for a supporting turn on “Samantha Who?” But winning for her star turn on “Hacks” would be the culmination of a late-career renaissance that includes “Fargo,” “Legion” and “Watchmen,” plus, of course, her delightful Emmy-nominated work opposite Kate Winslet on “Mare of Easttown.” “Hacks” offered her a long overdue showcase, and it’ll be wonderful to see her take the stage at the Emmys.

Jean Smart in "Hacks" on HBO.
(Jake Giles Netter/HBO)

COMEDY ACTOR

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Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
Kenan Thompson, “Kenan”

Should win: Sudeikis
Will win: Sudeikis

Sudeikis nails the nuances of Ted Lasso with such little apparent effort that the work is taken for granted. Every episode is a tonal tightrope walk: Coach Lasso is so gosh darn affable that outsiders think he’s a rube or, worse, a phony, but he doesn’t let that pervading cynicism defeat him. And in this second season, Sudeikis has added a bit more desperation to the character’s desire to please. What is he hiding? Sudeikis’ comic timing remains absolutely perfect, nailing each and every pun and unlikely pop culture reference. (I never thought I’d hear a sitcom riff on Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia.”) But he has also settled into the dramatic scenes in ways that display continued growth as an actor.

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”
Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Rosie Perez, “The Flight Attendant”
Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live”
Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso”
Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”

Should win: Waddingham
Will win: Waddingham

Waddingham had quite the character arc in “Ted Lasso’s” first season, playing Rebecca, the revenge-minded owner who initially hires the soccer novice coach to “burn the team to the ground” and then finds the strength to move past her history and her insecurities and open her heart again. She’s the favorite, but I could see voters wanting to honor both the women of “Hacks” and going with Einbinder, a standup comic who’d never acted much before this show but more than held her own as Smart’s frequent sparring partner.

Hannah Waddingham and Jason Sudeikis
“The minute you meet [her], you want to be friends with her,” says Temple of Hannah Waddingham (left, pictured with Jason Sudeikis).
(Apple TV+)
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COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR

Carl Clemons-Hopkins, “Hacks”
Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
Brendan Hunt, “Ted Lasso”
Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso”
Paul Reiser, “The Kominsky Method”
Jeremy Swift, “Ted Lasso”
Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”
Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live”

 Bowen Yang as Bottle Boy and anchor Colin Jost during Weekend Update
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- “Daniel Craig” Episode 1782 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bowen Yang as Bottle Boy and anchor Colin Jost during Weekend Update on Saturday, March 7, 2020 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)
(Will Heath/NBC)

Should win: Goldstein
Will win: Yang

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Four “Ted Lasso” cast members earned nominations. Goldstein, to me, is the clear choice, but maybe that’s just because I have a bad knee and bottle up my emotions. Maybe you root for the underdog and relate to Mohammed’s shy kit man or appreciate Swift, a bootlicker who develops a spine, or you’re a taciturn beardo and claim Hunt as your favorite (though you’d never admit it to anyone). My point: There’s a lot of choices for “Ted Lasso” supporters — too many. That could mean Thompson finally wins his first acting Emmy, a real possibility as voters liked him enough to also nominate him for “Kenan.” Or it might be Yang, the center of many of “SNL’s” most viral moments, including one that decried anti-Asian hate. The veteran Thompson is the headliner, but I’m leaning toward Yang, the cast member making the headlines.


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