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Emmys 2022: Can ‘Ted Lasso’ repeat and other questions for this year’s comedy races

A man makes a ferocious face at a statue of a leopard in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Brett Goldstein might pick up another Emmy for his supporting turn on “Ted Lasso.”
(Colin Hutton/Apple TV+)

Looking at the deep, distinguished slate of comedy series Emmy nominees this year, you might wish that the television academy could splinter the category into subsections — best comedy you watch through splayed fingers, occasionally without laughing once through an episode (“Barry”), best comedy in which someone is killed but remains an absolute delight to watch (“Only Murders in the Building”), best workplace comedy about how we fail our teachers and their students (“Abbott Elementary”), best comedy about female friendship and the dangers of violating an NDA (“Hacks”) and best comedy about failure, accountability and compassion (“Ted Lasso”).

They’re all gems. But only one can win when the Emmys are presented on Sept. 12. (Categories below are ranked in order of preference.)

COMEDY SERIES

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“Barry”
“Only Murders in the Building”
“Hacks”
“Abbott Elementary”
“Ted Lasso”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“What We Do in the Shadows”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Likely winner: Not long ago, voters had this category on autopilot, rewarding “30 Rock” three consecutive years, followed by “Modern Family’s” five-year streak and then “Veep” for its final three seasons. Since then, we’ve seen four different shows win — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Fleabag,” “Schitt’s Creek” and, last year, “Ted Lasso.” Given the strength of the competition and the mild backlash surrounding its second season, there are plenty of reasons to bet against “Ted Lasso” ... except it was also the most-nominated comedy, with 20 nods, including seven for its cast members. So let’s not overthink this.

Deserving alternate: OK ... indulge me in overthinking this. Yes, “Ted Lasso” led all nominees, but “Only Murders in the Building” earned more noms for directing and “Barry” and “What We Do in the Shadows” picked up more for writing. “Hacks” won Emmys for both writing and directing last year, and, with a solid 17 nominations, could easily make the leap to win series. “Abbott Elementary” revived the broadcast network comedy with its sharp, funny look at a group of passionate teachers struggling to do right by their students. And “Barry” was bleaker — and, on occasion, funnier — than ever, taking and connecting on just about every big swing it took. If “Barry,” “Hacks,” “Abbott Elementary” or “Only Murders” won, who could complain?

A woman holds a Champagne flute while looking in a mirror.
Jean Smart seems to be on track for a comedy actress Emmy win.
(Jake Giles Netter/HBO)

COMEDY ACTRESS
Jean Smart, “Hacks”
Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary”
Issa Rae, “Insecure”
Elle Fanning, “The Great”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant”

Likely winner: The “Hacks” writing team leaned into Smart’s range even more in the show’s second season, giving her big, bravura moments (the lesbian cruise singalong!) and scenes where she could explore her character’s fears and vulnerabilities to a greater degree. A repeat victory is pretty much guaranteed.

Deserving alternate: Brunson became the first Black woman to earn three Emmy nominations for comedy, recognized as a producer, actor and writer. The writing nod — for the show’s excellent, table-setting pilot — probably represents her best shot at a trophy. But she was delightful too as the show’s scrappy schoolteacher.

Bill Hader as Barry the hitman.
It’s hard to imagine Bill Hader not winning for comedy actor after the punishing emotional journey he took as Barry this season.
(Merrick Morton / HBO)

COMEDY ACTOR
Bill Hader, “Barry”
Steve Martin, “Only Murders in the Building”
Martin Short, “Only Murders in the Building”
Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
Nicholas Hoult, “The Great”
Donald Glover, “Atlanta”

Likely winner: Hader won this Emmy for the first two seasons of “Barry,” and even with the presence of last year’s winner, Sudeikis, on the ballot, it’s hard to imagine him not winning it again for the punishing emotional journey Barry took during the show’s third season.

Deserving alternate: Wouldn’t it be something if there could be a tie, with Martin and Short taking the stage together and commandeering the Emmys for a few minutes? They’re both essential to the success of “Only Murders in the Building,” pitch-perfect in their comic rapport and affecting in the undercurrents of sadness they bring to this marvelous series.

A woman makes announcements on a school PA system
Can Janelle James unseat Hannah Waddingham for her work as an outrageous, opportunistic principal in “Abbott Elementary”?
(Scott Everett White/ABC)

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Janelle James, “Abbott Elementary”
Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”
Sheryl Lee Ralph, “Abbott Elementary”
Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”
Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso”
Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Sarah Niles, “Ted Lasso”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”

Likely winner: Waddingham won by acclaim last year and even with Rebecca’s turn to full-fledged softie in Season 2, she still had plenty of standout moments, including a storyline involving the death of her father and a sweet, stressful romance with soccer player Sam. All those “Ted Lasso” acting nominations should produce at least one winner. (Probably two.)

Deserving alternate: “Abbott Elementary” offers a tough choice between James playing the school’s outrageous, opportunistic principal and the divine Ralph, tough and understanding as the veteran teacher helping her younger colleagues deal with the frustrations of working at an underfunded school. Then there’s Einbinder, worthy for a thousand reasons, but particularly the scene in which Ava is forced to read aloud the brutal email she wrote about Deborah.

A white-haired man leans back in a chair in a scene from "Barry."
Henry Winkler drilled deep into his “Barry” character’s rage this season. It may not have been funny, but it was powerful.
(Merrick Morton/HBO)

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR
Henry Winkler, “Barry”
Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
Toheeb Jimoh, “Ted Lasso”
Anthony Carrigan, “Barry”
Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Tyler James Williams, “Abbott Elementary”
Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live”

Likely winner: Like Waddingham, Goldstein won last year. And like Waddingham, he’ll likely be called on to give another speech. As the chant goes: “He’s here! He’s there! He’s every-f—-where! Roy Kent!”

Deserving alternate: Winkler took this category for the inaugural season of “Barry,” and people couldn’t have been happier to see him finally win an Emmy after such a long, celebrated career. But it wasn’t a sentimental honor. Winkler was brilliant as Gene, the narcissistic acting teacher who considered Patrick Swayze a true friend — until he had it written into his will that he was barred from the funeral. Winkler was (mostly) the comic relief. But by the third season, he was drilling deep into the character’s understandable rage. Gene had changed — and become a better actor. The con job he pulled on Barry in the finale was a master class in misdirection.


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