Emmy Talk With JWalk: Predicting the Extremely Crowded Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy Category


All I can say about the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category this year is WOW! There’s such an amazing wealth of actresses vying for eight slots here, it’s truly fascinating – even more than the Lead Actress in a Drama Series or Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie categories. I truly don’t know where to begin!

Last year, there were six nominees, four of which hailed from Game of Thrones – Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner and Gwendoline Christie. Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve) and the eventual winner Julia Garner (Ozark) rounded out the 2019 nominees. Only Garner and Shaw are guaranteed to return, and with two more slots guaranteed this year compared to last year thanks to the expanded categories rule. We have six slots to play with – but I don’t think six is going to be enough!

Garner is surely set to return, but Shaw I’m not so sure. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Killing Eve this season – I think it’s lost its magic along the way, but I have a feeling it’s going suffer a dramatic dip in nominations this year and I think Shaw is going to be a casualty of that.

If this category was allotted ten nominations slots, I still wouldn’t be able to narrow down the frontrunners in this category of deserving actresses, many competing against each other from the same show. On my radar I have last years winner Julia Garner, her Ozark co-star Janet McTeer, Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul), Succession duo Sarah Snook and J. Smith-Cameron, This Is Us duo Chrissy Metz and Susan Kelechi Watson, Pose duo Angelica Ross and Indya Moore, The Handmaid’s Tale duo Ann Dowd and Yvonne Strahovski, Big Little Lies duo Meryl Streep and Laura DernMillie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Cynthia Erivo (The Outsider), Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown) Gugu Mbatha-Raw (The Morning Show), and 2018’s winner in this category, Thandie Newton (Westworld).

First off, I’m not going to predict any performances here that I haven’t seen, no matter what social media says about their performance or name recognition – just because the list of nominees are so deep. That rules out Bonham Carter and Seehorn. Even though Seehorn’s Better Call Saul performance has been lauded as one of the best this year, I haven’t seen it, so I can’t consciously predict her.

Big Little Lies has been a head-scratcher for me over the past few months, I have no idea how its going to play at the 2020 Emmys, especially moving into the more competitive best drama race. Big Little Lies steamrolled the Limited Series categories in 2017, gathering wins for Nicole Kidman in lead actress, Laura Dern in supporting actress, Alexander Skarsgård for supporting actor, Outstanding Directing for Jean-Marc Vallèe, and Outstanding Limited Series. The stakes are higher this time around! With its added competition, along with Big Little Lies airing almost a year ago, how fresh is it going to be in the minds of Emmy voters? It’s really tough to bet against Hollywood royalty Meryl Streep and Laura Dern, who has an Emmy for this role from the first season in 2017. No matter how much I want to predict against them, it’ll be foolish to do so. They’re in for me.

The Handmaid’s Tale is back and it’s surely going to be a top earner in nominations this year. It earned 11 nominations last year just for the Creative Arts Emmys through its hanging episodes that aired outside the eligibility window. It’s safe to assume 2017’s winner Ann Dowd will earn her third nomination for this role, and I suspect Yvonne Strahovski will earn her second as well. The Handmaid’s Tale has always earned two nominations in this category, – two in 2017, three in 2018 – I don’t see that changing this year.

There’s no clue how actors and actresses of Succession will fare. It’s evident Emmy voters love Succession from its Best Drama nomination and Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series win last year. However, no actor has yet to be nominated for this series. Sarah Snook seems to be the automatic go to for a nomination for Succession, but I’m going with a left-field prediction and going J. Smith-Cameron. Not only was Smith-Cameron a delight in season 2, she shares the majority of her scenes with Kieran Culkin, who I suspect is a solid lock in the supporting actor category. 

Janet McTeer missed out on a nomination in season 2 of Ozark, but she’s highly likely to join Garner in earning a nomination this year. Everywhere I mention Westworld, I say I don’t know what to make of it at the Emmys this year. Season three wasn’t that well-received, but season 2 earned 21 nominations in 2018, far exceeding everyone’s expectations. It would be a shock if Thandie Newton didn’t land a nomination as well.

That’s not even the end of it! It’ll be a crime for the ladies of Pose, Indya Moore and especially Angelica Ross to miss out on an Emmy nomination after the elevated work they delivered int he second season of Pose. I have a fear they’ll be overlooked this season and possibly only nominated Billy Porter once again – let’s hope I’m wrong! I’m still waiting for Susan Kelechi Watson to earn her first Emmy nomination for This Is Us – I really thought it would’ve happened last season but that didn’t happen. Her material and screen time wasn’t as robust this season, so I’m apprehensive about her snagging a nomination. Even though Chrissy Metz did earn a nomination, I feel she may be left out this season.

Chances are less likely for Millie Bobby Brown, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Cynthia Erivo to earn nominations this year, but seems impossible to really know what’s going to happen with this years robust slate of contenders.

My frontrunners for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:

  • Julia Garner – Ozark
  • Janet McTeer – Ozark
  • Thandie Newton  –Westworld
  • Meryl Streep – Big Little Lies
  • Laura Dern – Big Little Lies
  • Ann Dowd – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Yvonne Strahovski – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • J. Smith-Cameron – Succession

My threats for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:

  • Sarah Snook – Succession
  • Fiona Shaw – Killing Eve
  • Rhea Seehorn – Better Call Saul
  • Helena Bonham Carter – The Crown
  • Angelica Ross – Pose
  • Indya Moore – Pose
  • Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw – The Morning Show
  • Chrissy Metz – This Is Us
  • Susan Kelechi Watson – This Is Us
  • Cynthia Erivo – The Outsider

Follow me on Twitter @TVTalkWithJWalk


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