Awards: Can Henry Winkler win a second consecutive Emmy for ‘Barry?’

Welcome to the 2019 Emmy Circuit series. We are now in the Emmy post-nomination phase, where we watch all the nominated Emmy episodes and predict their chances of winning. The Creative Arts Emmy winners will be revealed Saturday, Sept. 14, while the Primetime Emmy Awards airs on FOX Sunday, Sept. 22. Tune in week after week as we tackle all things Drama, Comedy, Limited Series and Variety.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series is a remarkably competitive category, if only because of the prestige most of the actors nominated have in the entertainment industry. Normally, an actor who has won in a category before is considered to have a leg up on the competition when nominated again for the same role, but this category is again fairly unique.

Both Tony Hale and Henry Winkler have won Best Supporting Actor for the role they’re nominated for this year; Winkler currently holds the title having won last year, but Hale has won it twice before. Will voters go with a performance they’ve loved in the past, and if so, which one? Or will they select an actor (Tony Shalhoub) who has never won for his current role, but has had significant Emmy success with a previous, very similar performance?

Of course, it’s also possible they could go rogue and choose a winner from one of the two actors who have never even been nominated for an award at the Emmys. Although there are undoubtedly actors who stand a good chance of winning this year, the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category feels like it’s still fairly open, and anything could potentially happen.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE…

  • Alan Arkin – “The Kominsky Method” – Episode: “An Agent Grieves”
  • Anthony Carrigan – “Barry” – Episode: “Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday”
  • Tony Hale – “Veep” – Episode: “Veep”
  • Stephen Root – “Barry” – Episode: “berman>block”
  • Tony Shalhoub – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “We’re Going to the Catskills”
  • Henry Winkler – “Barry” – Episode: “What?!”

Alan Arkin – “The Kominsky Method” – Episode: “An Agent Grieves”

THE KOMINSKY METHOD

Episode Synopsis: Sandy helps Norman organize an event with complicated arrangements and invites Lisa on an unusual date. Norman is a hit with Sandy’s class.(IMDb)

At 85 years old, Alan Arkin is a living legend in the entertainment industry. But although he has been nominated for an Emmy five times, he’s never taken home the top prize. The long-term actor is perfectly suited for his role on “The Kominsky Method” starring as Norman, an aged Hollywood agent who has been best friends with one of his clients, Michael Douglas’s Sandy Kominsky, for decades.

And although the show is framed as a dark comedy, in the episode “An Agent Grieves,” Arkin carries a tremendous amount of dramatic weight. His beloved wife Ilene has just died, and he has been tasked with planning her funeral. Norman gets caught up in carrying out every one of his late wife’s requests, from procuring her a coffin made of reclaimed, eco-friendly wood to getting Barbara Streisand to sing at the burial. He does this, of course, to distract himself from the reality of his wife’s death.

Arkin effortlessly brings to life all of the absurd nuances to avoid facing grief. Throughout the episode, he perfectly balances the inherent comedy in his relationship with Sandy and the unspoken sadness of an old man who has been left very much alone.

Anthony Carrigan – “Barry” – Episode: “Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday”

Episode Synopsis: As part of a class project, Gene tasks Barry with revisiting his past, and Sally reflects on her own history. Barry offers to provide training to NoHo Hank’s men. Fuches finds Barry in an unexpected location. (IMDb)

Anthony Carrigan is undoubtedly the new kid on the block this awards season – No-Ho Hank on “Barry” is his breakout role, and he’s up against some of the most acclaimed comedic actors alive today. And although he has a massive mountain to climb for him to walk away with the Emmy this year, there’s one element he has that keeps him in the game: NoHo Hank is beloved, maybe one of the most popular characters on television at the moment. That level of affection on the part of both viewers and Emmy voters shouldn’t be underestimated.

It’s no small task to take a Chechnyan mobster stereotype and create a well-developed character that is funny, sympathetic, and vulnerable. NoHo Hank is all of those things and more. The episode that Carrigan is nominated for highlights all of the qualities that make him so endearing. As Barry’s self-appointed sidekick, NoHo Hank is, let’s face it, more of an nuisance to our hero than anything else, and one that can barely be taken seriously at that.

But here we get so much from Carrigan: his desperation to avoid being sent back to Chechnya, his sense of betrayal towards Barry, and the childlike glee at Barry’s attempts to make amends with a very illegal weapons tutorial for Hank’s men in the middle of the California desert. In a very real way, Hank is the heart of “Barry.”

Tony Hale – “Veep” – Episode: “Veep”

Episode Synopsis: The nominating fight between Selina and her rivals reaches its climax, as their race comes to a historic finish. (IMDb)

Tony Hale and his memorably submissive personal assistant Gary on “Veep” have quite the history with this Emmy category. Hale has been nominated six times for this role, and has won twice. With “Veep” ending after its seventh season this year, will Emmy voters want to reward him for services rendered one last time?

Throughout the entire series, Gary was President Selina Meyer’s stalwart companion, always at her side armed with exactly the right lipstick or sycophantic compliment. More than anyone else in her entire life (and arguably more than she deserves), Gary could be counted on to do anything to protect his beloved boss, and was never appreciated for his efforts. That’s basically the entire character, built up with a ton of mad little details you only get in a largely improvised show with a comic actor who’s preternaturally good on his feet.

But this compulsion to serve takes on tremendous added poignancy in the season finale, where Gary takes a metaphorical bullet for Selina, and in a time jump many years down the line, offers a deeply moving final goodbye between the two. Things move quickly in the finale as they frantically attempt to wrap every subplot up, and Hale doesn’t have a ton of screentime. It doesn’t matter. He makes it count.

Stephen Root – “Barry” – Episode: “berkman>block”

Episode Synopsis: Barry seeks vengeance; Noho Hank faces the looming threat of being sent home; Sally makes a split-second decision on the night of the acting class’s big performance; Fuches turns to an unexpected source for help. (IMDb)

One has only to think back to Stephen Root’s cult classic performance as Milton in “Office Space” to appreciate what a long and transformative journey he has been on as an actor. Fuches in “Barry” bears no resemblance to anything we’ve seen from Root in the past, and for that reason alone he is deserving of his first-ever Emmy nomination.

Root as Fuches has something of the fox in him: he’s sly, calculating, and manipulative. He’s ulterior motive on top of ulterior motive, and isn’t above saying or doing anything (especially when it comes to Barry) to get what he wants. Root brings a surprising cruelty and menace to the role, especially considering how well he has been known in the past for playing mild-mannered, almost comically submissive characters.

In this episode, we see the fallout to Fuches’ malevolent hubris, as Barry sacrifices the person he was trying to become in a vengeful fit of rage. But it’s a testament to Root’s ability that Fuches is never relegated to just a frustrating stumbling block in Barry’s character arc. Fuches uses his bond with Barry as a weapon, as moments of warmth and camaraderie are all carefully deployed as a means to an end, and his cold fury at being defied is masterfully played by Root.

Tony Shalhoub – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “We’re Going to the Catskills”

Episode Synopsis: The Weissmans arrive in the Catskills for their annual summer trip and attempt to settle into familiar patterns. Whispers of Midge and Joel’s separation cause Rose to poke around her daughter’s love life. Susie must adjust her summer plans in an effort to keep her and Midge’s career momentum going. (IMDb)

As Abe on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Tony Shalhoub leans into an intensely quirky, obsessive role that he is intimately familiar with. After all, lest we forget, the man did win three Emmys for playing Monk, a character who shares more than a passing resemblance to Abe.

In the episode that he’s nominated for, “We’re Going to the Catskills,” we have the fun opportunity to watch Abe operate in a place that by all accounts should be out of his comfort zone, but where he has somehow built up an entire universe of vacation rituals and traditions. He gets a few moments for some truly spectacular physical comedy involving a form-fitting exercise outfit he wears for summer calisthenics.

But, to be honest, it’s a little surprising that Shalhoub was nominated for this episode and not the one immediately following it, “Midnight at the Conchord.” That’s where he really gets a chance to stretch, as Abe finally discovers Midge’s side hustle by attending one of her more ribald sets.

The frozen devastation we see in his eyes as he watches Midge on stage visually juxtaposed with Abe’s loud Hawaiian shirt and fruity cocktail is one of the show’s greatest moments, and that’s entirely down to how well Shalhoub sells Abe’s reaction. That would seem to be an Emmy-winning moment, but since that isn’t the episode nominated, it’s likely other performances may overshadow it.

Henry Winkler – “Barry” – Episode: “What?!”

Episode Synopsis: Barry’s patience is put to the test when a figure from Sally’s past arrives in LA. Gene gets a pleasant surprise and encourages Barry to believe that change is possible. (IMDb)

As the reigning champion in this category, Henry Winkler is walking into a tough competition with a certain amount of prestige. His work as Gene Cousineau, acting teacher and life mentor to one Barry Block, has if anything gotten stronger in the second season. As Gene grapples with the mysterious death of his girlfriend and attempts to reconnect with his estranged son, there’s a melancholy that adds nuance to the character.

In a season full of great moments from Winkler, the episode “What?!” features one of the best. Barry is tormented by the memory of his actions as a soldier, and the acting exercise of exploring their life-defining moments is only exacerbating matters. As his PTSD worsens and he constantly thinks about the first time he killed a man, he desperately seeks Gene’s validation. He needs someone he trusts to tell him that he’s not a bad person.

As Barry essentially goes to the actor’s version of confession and unburdens himself to Gene, Winkler brings so much to the scene. He is concerned and compassionate as he attempts to absolve Barry of his crimes (the most pressing of which, ironically, is the one that has directly hurt Gene), all while maintaining the deadpan sense of humor that has made Gene a fan favorite since day one.

CURRENT SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES PREDICTIONS

  1. Tony Hale – “Veep” – Episode: “Veep”
  2. Henry Winkler – “Barry” – Episode: “What?!”
  3. Alan Arkin- “The Kominsky Method” – Episode: “An Agent Grieves”
  4. Tony Shalhoub – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – Episode: “We’re Going to the Catskills”
  5. Stephen Root – “Barry” – Episode: “berkman>block”
  6. Anthony Carrigan – “Barry” – Episode: “Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday”

WILL WIN: Tony Hale – “Veep” – Episode: “Veep”

SHOULD WIN: Anthony Carrigan – “Barry” – Episode: “Past = Present x Future Over Yesterday”

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: William Jackson Harper – “The Good Place” – Episode: “Jeremy Bearimy”

What do you think will win Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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