Emmys 2023: Comedy power rankings

Quinta Brunson, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph pose in complementary bright colors for a portrait.
Quinta Brunson, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph figure to land Emmy nominations for “Abbott Elementary.”
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Emmy voters are creatures of habit. That’s good news for “Ted Lasso” in its quest to win a third consecutive comedy series trophy and keep its perfect record intact.

You’d figure that fans of the show would be sentimental enough to send the series off — if it is indeed leaving the air — with a warm, teary embrace. But “Ted Lasso” faces a formidable challenge this year from “Abbott Elementary.” The ABC sitcom earned seven nominations for its 13-episode debut season, winning three, including writing honors for creator Quinta Brunson and supporting actress Sheryl Lee Ralph. “Abbott” was even better in its full second season, demonstrating that it is indeed possible to tell funny, heartwarming stories in a tight 22 minutes.

And, as you’ll see here in our Emmy comedy power rankings, “Abbott” and “Ted Lasso” are far from the only shows in play. Let’s take a look at who might be smiling when nominations are announced next month. (Note: The total haul predictions include all categories, not just the ones specifically mentioned.)


A bearded man dressed like an ancient talks with a younger man in a nightclub setting.
Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillen star in “What We Do in the Shadows.”
(Russ Martin/FX)

Might be nominated: Comedy series. Plus, the show earned two writing nominations for its third season and could earn another for its fourth go-around, which saw no dip in quality.
Total haul: Let’s say four.
Could go on to win: “Shadows” took the fantasy/sci-fi costumes Emmy last year. If the outfits for baby Colin Robinson count, maybe it could repeat?

A young woman with long pigtail braids wears a school uniform with a severed hand perched on her shoulder.
Jenna Ortega stars as Wednesday Addams.

Certain to be nominated: Lead actress Jenna Ortega
Might be nominated: Comedy series, supporting actress Gwendoline Christie, guest actress Catherine Zeta-Jones
Total haul: Five to seven, including a possible nod for Tim Burton, who earned a Directors Guild nomination earlier this year.
Could go on to win: I really don’t want to get on the wrong side of Wednesday Addams, so let’s just say ... everything! But realistically, the show skews a bit young for this voting group. On the other hand, it was widely seen.

A man with his glasses lifted onto his forehead sits in a chair in a scene from "Shrinking."
Harrison Ford is a likely nominee for “Shrinking.”
(Apple TV+)


Certain to be nominated: Supporting actor Harrison Ford
Might be nominated: Comedy series, lead actor Jason Segel, supporting actress Jessica Williams
Total haul: The pilot episode was excellent, so perhaps it could land noms for writing and directing. For series, “Shrinking” will be competing with “Wednesday,” “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Poker Face” for the final couple of slots. Its earnest, adult approach will likely help its cause. How does eight nominations sound?
Could go on to win: If anyone could kick Roy Kent’s ass, it’s Ford.

Natasha Lyonne wearing sunglasses with a jacket slung over her shoulder in "Poker Face."
Natasha Lyonne stars as Charlie Cale in “Poker Face.”
(Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Certain to be nominated: Lead actress Natasha Lyonne
Might be nominated: Comedy series, guest actresses Judith Light, Cherry Jones, Hong Chau, Ellen Barkin, Stephanie Hsu, guest actor Nick Nolte, Adrien Brody, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Total haul: Could the guest actor categories be renamed “Outstanding Guest Actor/Actress in ‘Poker Face’”? Because, c’mon, how do you choose between all these great performances? (The list goes on: Chloë Sevigny and Tim Meadows, Lil Rel Howery ...) I’m afraid the abundance could actually be a problem for Rian Johnson’s immensely entertaining mystery series, splitting the vote in too many directions. But let’s be optimistic and go with a dozen nominations.
Could go on to win: Lyonne makes it look so easy, but her turn as the show’s lie-detecting sleuth might be the most challenging among the lead actress contenders.

Two women at a bar toast each other with martini glasses in a scene from "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."
Nina Arianda, left, and Rachel Brosnahan in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
(Philippe Antonello / Prime Video)

Certain to be nominated: Comedy series, lead actress Rachel Brosnahan, supporting actress Alex Borstein, supporting actor Tony Shalhoub, guest actor Luke Kirby
Might be nominted: Guest actor Hank Azaria
Total haul: By this point, the actors are automatic nominees, and the show will vacuum up the usual noms in costumes, makeup and hairstyling. Given that it stuck the landing on its fifth and final season, I’d guess “Maisel” should score at least a dozen, the same as last year.
Could go on to win: Kirby’s tender portrayal of tormented comedian Lenny Bruce has already earned him an Emmy, and along with the “Poker Face” crew, he’s the best in class this year too.

Anthony Carrigan stars in "Barry."


5. ‘BARRY’
Certain to be nominated: Comedy series, lead actor Bill Hader, supporting actors Henry Winkler and Anthony Carrigan
Might be nominated: Supporting actress Sarah Goldberg, supporting actor Stephen Root
Total haul: “Barry” does well in categories like sound, editing, stunts and cinematography, and I’d guess that Hader, who directed all eight episodes of the show’s final season, will score a nod for his work behind the camera too. Add it all up, and “Barry” should be good for 15 noms or so. And if one of them isn’t Root for his the Raven, break out the grenade launcher.
Could go on to win: It’s a good bet to win the stunt trophy again. Nowadays, though, voters generally want their comedies on the sunny side, so don’t look for any Emmys in the main categories.

Two men flank a young woman, all looking intense.
Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short star in “Only Murders in the Building.”
(Craig Blankenhorn/HULU)

Certain to be nominated: Comedy series, lead actors Steve Martin and Martin Short, guest actress Shirley MacLaine, guest actor Nathan Lane
Might be nominated: Lead actress Selena Gomez, guest actresses Jane Lynch and Jayne Houdyshell
Total haul: “Murders” scored 17 nominations last year, and as the second season didn’t stray far from the formula that voters — and viewers — loved, expect about the same. And while we’re here, can we all agree that a nomination should go to Houdyshell? “The Last Day of Bunny Folger” was a terrific showcase for the Tony Award winner and the season’s standout episode.
Could go on to win: “Murders” took three Emmys last year — for production design, sound mixing and Lane. The real victory could come on nominations day if Gomez receives her first acting nod.

A man in an apron stands in a restaurant kitchen with other employees behind him in "The Bear."
Jeremy Allen White stars in “The Bear.”
(Frank Ockenfels/Hulu)

Certain to be nominated: Comedy series, lead actor Jeremy Allen White, supporting actress Ayo Edebiri
Might be nominted: Supporting actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach, guest actors Jon Bernthal and Oliver Platt
Total haul: The standout of this year’s freshman comedy class, “The Bear” will begin airing its much-anticipated second season while nominations voting is underway. Could that have an impact? Yes, chef! It just well might.
Could go on to win: Is food prep or knife skills among the Emmys’ 838 categories? Who knows. But White should prevail, unless voters go all in for “Ted Lasso” and give another Emmy to Jason Sudeikis.


A woman, a child and two men stand in a school hallway in "Abbott Elementary."
Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams and William Stanford Davis star in “Abbott Elementary.”
(Gilles Mingasson/ABC)

Certain to be nominated: Comedy series, lead actress Quinta Brunson, supporting actresses Sheryl Lee Ralph, Janelle James and Lisa Ann Walter, supporting actor Tyler James Williams, guest actress Taraji P. Henson, guest actor Leslie Odom Jr.
Might be nominated: Supporting actor Chris Perfetti, guest actress Ayo Edebiri
Total haul: Double last year’s total of seven and throw in a few more for good measure. “Abbott” is a classic workplace sitcom and might soon join the pantheon if it maintains its quality.
Could go on to win: Ralph could repeat. Or it could be James’ turn for her outrageous portrayal of the self-absorbed principal. Brunson should pair her writing Emmy with an acting trophy, and Williams could win too. It deserves the series prize, but there’s plenty of time to talk about that.

A man and woman sit in an otherwise empty sports stadium in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham star in “Ted Lasso.”
(Colin Hutton/Courtesy of Apple)

Certain to be nominated: Comedy series, lead actor Jason Sudeikis, supporting actresses Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple, supporting actor Brett Goldstein
Might be nominated: Supporting actors Nick Mohammed and Phil Dunster, guest actresses Becky Ann Baker, Harriet Walter and Sarah Niles, guest actor Sam Richardson
Total haul: Around 20
Could go on to win: None of its potential nominees are sure things, but it’s not hard to envision Goldstein winning again, both for Roy Kent’s journey and the way he yells “whistle” during practice. And it’ll probably win the comedy series Emmy too, as fans of the show loved the season, indulgences included.