Emmys 2011: A Look at the Supporting Comedy Actress Race, Including Our Dream Nominees

Last year, the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series race was dominated — and we do mean dominated — by Glee, Modern Family and 30 Rock. This year looks to be a reprise of that contest unless a seeming underdog (Cougar Town or Community perhaps?) manages to pull off an Emmy breakthrough in awareness and respect – the kind that, say, How I Met Your Mother has been yearning for for so long. It can be daunting. Here’s how things look going into nomination season.

Emmy Races In Review: Lead Comedy Actor | Lead Comedy Actress | Comedy Series

Review this slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s half-dozen Dream Nominees — then vote for your own favorite six below. And check back Monday for our take on the Supporting Comedy Actor race!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Nate says:

    I can’t believe that you included Heather Morris, but left out Naya Rivera for Glee!

    • Sasha says:

      I completely agree.

      I think Naya really has a shot at a nomination

      No offense to Heather BUT Naya was Hilarious…more so than…unfortunately….Jane Lynch

      • sladewilson says:


        • Me34 says:

          1) I think she wasn’t there because I’m pretty sure the creators of the site don’t think she’s good. I’ve read articles here praising a lot of actors, but not Naya Rivera in particular (I even read other actors on Glee not as good as her… Mark Salling, Cory Monteith, Heather Morris, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley…). It’s weird, because they have ignored her in GoldDerby too (I don’t know if they had some altercations with her, but that’s very unlikely… :S).
          2) She will never be nominated for an Emmy, there’s already a Latin woman in there, Sofía Vergara (who is hilarious), and while I think Emmy voters look for diversity, I think they have a limit (I don’t think they’re racists in the slightless, I think they will think the audience will think they’re overcompensating to not look racists).
          3) It’s impossible for them to nominate pretty or what you would call “hot” actresses who happened to be young (even more difficult if they’re Latin actresses). There is some really weird exceptions.
          4) Her great work has been done in a very bad season, not even those who have been nominated before have a chance at being nominated (Colfer, Lynch, Morrison and Michele).
          5) Mostly explained in (3), Emmy voters rather vote for adult/old actresses, those with extense body of works or those who they have been taking care of (mostly actresses who had previous nominations, and who will have until the last season of their shows).
          6) They don’t watch show which were not made for them, they watch series for their demographic age, like “Modern family” (voters just watch shows on their own homes, casually if they’re given DVD sets as gifts) and they probably think Jane Lynch is still good.

      • Captain says:

        Naya definitely deserves a spot over Jane Lynch but I feel like her and Heather Morris were just as funny as each other on Glee this year (different types of funny but funny none the less) and including them both (given they’re percieved as a pair) would cancel each other out thus neither of them win.

      • PopCultureMngr says:

        Naya is getting a lot of buzz… let’s hope she makes the cut…

      • Josh says:

        Sorry, I don’t think anyone from Glee but Jane would get a nomination in this category.

    • Kaiulani says:

      Me too!

    • Thomas says:

      I agree. Heather Morris and Naya Rivera both deserve it over Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester who was a cartoon character this year and not even funny.

      • laulau says:

        i agree!! naya should be in this poll too
        i’m rooting for her to get a nomination at least, and even win…
        if not, i’m rooting for mayim bialik o aubrey plaza

      • Sofia says:


      • Daye says:

        Naya certainly deserves a nomination over Jane Lynch. Not that it’s really Jane’s fault – just look at the material she’s been given. I no longer notice when Sue isn’t in an episode. Actually I really wouldn’t be bothered if she left the show…

      • Spencer says:

        Jane likely submitted Funeral as her episode for consideration, which I think she was phenomenal in. But yeah, Sue as a character was incredibly inconsistent (as was Glee as a whole) this past season.

    • Frank says:

      Naya way before Heather. Heather is getting better but her acting is still limited.

      • Captain says:

        But her comedic timing is impeccable. Naya is a riot but if I had to choose who the funnier one of the two was, I’d give it to Heather. Her deadpan delivery is genius while Naya is more insincere/arrogant funny.

    • bto says:

      completely agree! after the list i thought “where’s Naya?!”. she’s been the funniest girl on the show this year.

    • Shia says:

      Agree. Brittany is funny, but not Emmy worthy. Naya Rivera brings an amazing truth to her character AND she’s funny

    • Lily says:

      YES! Exactly what I was thinking. I mean, wtf?!!

    • ParalysedBeaver says:

      >MFW people think Glee characters should be nominated for comedy emmys:

      • Jim says:

        Because it is more of a comedy than a drama. The drama storyline just happen to be the ones reported on. Comedic moments throughout all the episodes.

    • Emily says:

      Could not agree more–how is Naya Rivera not on this list???

      • Pierina says:

        Yes I agree! Naya should be nominated..I love Heather and Jane and I think they are amazing and both so funny, but novody tops Naya Rivera :) I just know next year she will be on that list or nominated..

    • ddutchie88 says:

      Count me in on Team Naya. If anyone from Glee deserves an Emmy nod (if not win) it’s Naya. I demand a recount :p

      So Naya’s my favorite, but I’m also rooting for Alison Brie, Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara and Mayim Bialik.

    • Raven_Moon says:

      Exactly what I was thinking Naya was awesome this season & deserves a nomination.

    • Yakumo says:

      I agree, I can’t believe Naya Rivera isn’t listed here. While I liked a lot of the actresses listed here for me Naya outshone everyone here.

    • Cory says:

      I agree…Naya nailed the humor and the serious stuff as well. I really honestly think she has a shot at a nomination, and I hope that she gets one.

    • Plommu says:

      Where are the Happy Endings’ gals?

    • Lauren says:

      I also agree. Where is Naya. She has been absolutely amazing portraying Santana, no matter what the storyline/situation or emotion. She definitely deserves an Emmy for her performances. And sadly, I also agree about her being more funny than Jane Lynch. Her role in the show this season has definitely shrunk and Naya definitely far out-shined many of the other cast members this season.

    • Fitzgerald says:

      Totally Agree ¬¬… Naya= all awards!!!

    • Donna says:

      yeah naya!

  2. Holly says:

    AUBREY PLAZA! If not then Julie Bowen

  3. Bobby says:

    This is really close and obviously who I chose wont be in the final 6, but my dream picks were Miayim Balik, Christa Miller, Busy Phillips, Alyson Hannigan, Jane Krakowski, and Aubrey Plaza. Nothing taking away from the others as a lot of these women are great

    • S says:

      You have impeccable taste!

    • Rhonda Price says:

      I agree with you that Mayim Bialik should be ranked right up at the top somewhere! She comes close to stealing every single scene she’s in on Big Bang Theory and has proven she is just as hilarious when she’s not playing off Sheldon. She’s a delightful actress who surely deserves a nod!

  4. Sasha says:

    I know I agreed with another commenter BUT

    Naya Rivera should be included on the list.

  5. Sarah says:

    Where’s Naya Rivera? She was the first one I expected on here.

  6. Mike says:

    Wow, this is an absolutely loaded category, as I am sure the supporting actor will be too. It is a real shame that carryovers will dominate the nominees, because there are so many new faces that deserve a chance. It would be amazing if Alison Brie got her due and was nominate. One can only wish the emmy voters felt the same way…

  7. Kevin says:

    I would give the Emmy to Naya Rivera just for the Silly Love Songs episode alone, not to mention the rest of her work the entire season.

  8. Patrick says:

    Where’s Kaitlin Olson (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”)? Huge oversight!

  9. side3 says:

    “Glee” seems more like a melodrama to me. Not very funny. in my opinion.

    • fren says:

      Wow the comedy must just fly over your head. Odd.

    • John says:

      Doesn’t matter what it actually is, they submit as “Comedy,” so any award speculation will be in this category. And I agree, it was almost more melodrama than comedy this year.

  10. Sofia says:

    I LOVE Heather Morris, BUT where is Naya Rivera? She is the most deserving of an Emmy nomination this year for Glee.

  11. Matt says:

    After I saw Heather Morris, I was convinced Naya Rivera would see some Dream Emmy love. Where is it?!

  12. Lara says:

    How on earth did HeMo even get in this poll instead of Naya Rivera? Are you kidding me? Or did you just confuse the two actresses because that is the only sane explanation I can think of…

    • Captain says:

      Give it a rest. It seems like Naya fans are a catty bunch. Its funny cause I garuntee that 90% of these people rallying against Heather cause Naya didn’t get a nod, are the same group who passionately support Brittany/Santana together. Naya’s awesome but lets not go overboard and claim she’s the secon coming of comedy. The high profile comediennes on Glee are Jane Lynch, Lea Michele and Heather Morris. Despite her amazing talents, Naya Rivera is overlooked sometimes which isn’t fair but lets not blow it out of proportion.

      • lizzy says:

        ^ Agreed

      • Theo says:

        Over the past seasons of Glee, Naya Rivera has been playing a character aimed at comedy (only having a few serious scenes in the last few episodes), and Lea Michele has been playing a character aimed at drama (with a few one-liners and some great reaction shots, yes. But mostly there for the dramatic scenes.)
        Summarize: I would consider Naya Rivera over Lea Michele in terms of high profile comedy. Rachel is known for her melodrama and constant need to be important, Santana is known for “I keep it real and I’m hilarious” nature.

        • Mini says:

          Except she’s not at all hilarious. Just cruel and bitchy. She’s not going to get nominated. There’s no buzz besides her dedicated fans.

  13. graeme says:

    Where’s Naya Rivera?

  14. kik says:

    Christa Miller, Busy Phillips!!!!!

  15. lily says:

    Christa Miller ROCKS!!!

  16. Daye says:

    So glad other people feel the same. I’m a Glee fan and love both girls (being a Brittana shipper) but how on earth you can include Heather Morris and not Naya Rivera is a mystery to me. Naya’s work this entire season has been outstanding. Heather is wonderful, but comedic timing and deadpan one-liners does not an Emmy nomination make.

    • Captain says:

      And what is Naya then? Yes Naya had maybe 2 dramatic scenes this season that proved she’s got more going for her then one might think but Santana is pretty much all one-liners and comic timing. No character on Glee is deep or complex despite what some juveniles might think (I’m talking to anyone who calls Quinn Fabrey “complex”) so if Heather isn’t getting nominated cause she’s all one-liners and comic relief, Santana isn’t getting nominated either.

  17. Justin says:

    I can’t believe Jane Lynch is still getting so much support. Her character has become a mockery of itself, sort of like the whole last three seasons of Friends. I’d pick Kristen Wiig, Sofia Vergara, Busy Phillips, take Martha Plimpton out of Lead and put her here where she belongs in supporting, and add Kaitlin Olsen from It’s Always Sunny.

    • Jess says:

      Jane Lynch should sue for the lack of humor in her role now. I don;t miss her at all when she is not in a episode. When she is there I wish the time was used for one of the kids.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      I’d leave Martha in lead and add Chloris Leachman to supporting for Raising Hope.

  18. Amy says:

    I have to say, I think Gillian Jacobs has taken her character on Community to a very funny place that wasn’t really there at the start of Community and I would love to see her acknowledged. Her female costars are also hilarious (I voted for them too) but Britta singing her version of “Genie in Bottle” made me laugh more than I can possibly express on this site and I rewound it 20+ times.

    • Sam says:

      YES! I loved her line “Feast your ear drums on these memory pops!” Or something like that. Gillian, and really all the Community women, deserves a nomination.

      • sashay says:

        Yes, they made up half of my picks. I actually found it difficult to find six good nominees. My other three were Jenna, Jane and Cobie. I can’t stand Glee, so I wouldn’t submit any of their actresses.

    • Mini says:

      That was genius. My stomach actually hurt. That entire episode was amazing.

    • sophia says:

      OMG! Same here, “Hit me with your genie’s bottle, rub it all over me.” Hahahaahahhahaah she’s hilarious. Another example of how funny she is when she hi fives Annie and then does the arm wave, which she desribes as; “Turning it into a snake.” Gillian actually improvised that line. That impressed me a great deal, she is truly funny and more than deserving, much like the show “Community” as a whole. – “Problem Solved, Dilemma Deleted, BRITTA FOR THE WIN.” And of course her delivering Shirley’s baby had me in stitches.

  19. I’d go with Alison Brie or Aubrey Plaza, personally.

  20. george says:

    mayim bialik – love her

    And where is Naya Riveria. She is way better than Jane and Heather.

    I still don’t get how people don’t think glee is a comedy. I guess the humor is just over their head which is odd cause some of it is really one liners and goof ball

    Plus some characters are just funny in their own right. Rachel and Santana are hilarious. Sue use to be funny but now is a waste of time and spec. And Santana going all Lima Heights on Rachel and Rachel’s reactions will never stop being funny.

  21. Dara says:

    Wow. What a complete embarrassment of riches! I could have chosen at least 10 of these ladies. But my top pick, by far, is Merritt Weaver. She has really upped her game this year as Zoe and never fails to crack me up. She’s actually the only reason I still believe that Nurse Jackie belongs in the comedy category.

    • Kit says:

      She really is the only comedic part of the show. I didn’t like her the first season but now she is the best part for me.

    • unicornwasp says:

      she is so absolutely hilarious in such a unique dorky way, that i don’t think i’ve ever seen before.

    • ChrisGa says:

      Completely agree–Merritt Wever spins gold out of every scene she’s in. Definitely that show’s secret weapon(although I think a good case could be made for Eve Best, who’s also none too shabby).

  22. LC says:

    ok, why isn’t Naya Rivera on this list?!?

    She’s probably the only actress on Glee that I enjoyed watching this year. Her storyline was great and she’s more then proved that she’s got great acting chops in the drama and comedy aspects.

  23. RA says:

    I’d love to see Eden Sher show up on anyone’s list of deserving people. Poor Sue Heck, even those who champion the underdog unknowns don’t know her name! I love The Middle, and she’s got that completely un-cool kid who has no idea just how un-cool she really is nailed. She can simultaneously make you super uncomfortable with what you know is going to be a disaster, yet make you cheer for her anyway. There’s not a snowball’s chance in Hades of her ever being nominated, but I love her and wanted to recognize her somewhere!

    • GG says:

      Thank you so much! Eden Sher totally blows me away every week on this show. She is a gem. Her portrayal of Sue’s geekiness, awkwardness, and overall cluelessness is utterly brilliant. She imbues the character with such a sweetness and heart, that you can’t help but love her. She is truly a talented find.

  24. Soso says:

    #1 Sofia Vergara
    #2 Betty White
    #3 Aubrey Plaza
    #4 Allison Brie
    #5 Meritt Wever
    #6 Jane Lynch
    Where is Debra Jo Rupp (Better With You) ???

  25. Soso says:

    You forgot Autumn Reeser (No Ordinary Family), Allison Janney (Mr. Sunshine) and Phyllis Somerville (The Big C) too !!!

  26. John says:

    This year is Sofia’s to lose. Her character was the highlight of the season on Modern Family, and combined with Jane Lynch getting no good material this year, it’s virtually in the bag. I’ll like to see the category padded out by Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Jenna Fischer, and Ellie Kemper.

  27. LTubb says:

    Heather Morris has been consistently funny on a comedy show that often isn’t funny anymore and this is a comedy nomination. Good call.

  28. Luisa says:

    Where’s Naya Rivera ? She deserve it better than Heather and Jane ! In Born This Way she was HILARIOUS !

  29. Jeniffer says:

    I really hope Alison Brie, Busy Phillips and Aubrey Plaza get a nomination, they most definitely deserve it.

  30. Liz says:

    Although I’m still a fan of Glee, I don’t think anyone on that show – especially the writers – deserves a nomination this year, given the overall dismal season. I’m hoping Rashida Jones, Wiig, and Jenna Fischer get nominations, but I agree that it’s Sofia’s category to lose. Really should be no contest.

  31. Jenn says:

    THANK YOU for including the lovely and talented Alison Brie. She had some stand out HILARIOUS episodes this season and I really think something is wrong if Community doesn’t get at LEAST one nod this year.

  32. Mary says:

    #1 Naya Rivera! Just because…

  33. Denise says:

    Busy Phillips is WAY underrated!

  34. James says:

    Christa Miller, Betty White and Jenna Fischer are great! and don’t forget about Phyllis Somerville! I love her in The Big C.

  35. Nlerg says:

    Going to have to add to the “where is Naya Rivera?!” comments on the poll. The girl has impeccible comedic timing and managed to bring such sincerity to her dramatic scenes too. Shes been a joy to watch in an awful sophomore slump of a season.
    Its Sophia Verga’s for the taking IMO. Fantastic in an already brilliant cast.

  36. Claire says:

    Add me to the list of people who are shocked by the exclusion of Naya Rivera. What an oversight! I hope this site doesn’t have any actual influence on the nomination process.

  37. Amy says:

    You really should have included Naya Rivera! She is the funniest mean girl out there. I love when she get all Lima Heights on us! I would love to see Allison Brie and Melissa Rauch nominated, but I will always cheer on the Modern Family gals.

  38. danrydell says:

    When has the Emmys ever wanted to “spread the riches”? (see Tony Shalhoub)

    I can see Jane Lynch getting this again, easily, but I’d so rather have Julie Bowen.

  39. Sasha says:

    1. Mayim Bianik
    2. Naya Rivera
    3. Melissa Rauch

    They are my top 3 but I personally can’t pick 3 others fromt he rest of the list….I love the HIMYM girls but I love community and cougar town too…..

  40. cj says:

    julie bowen and sophia vergara for obvious reasons.

    mayim bialik just because her character is… dare i say it… better than sheldon?? GASP! i know.

    aubrey plaza for 2 reasons:
    1 – deadpan – “my mom’s puerta rican. that’s why i’m so lively and colorful.”
    2 – her alter ego Janet Snakehole.

    busy phillips cause i feel like cougar town needs some love and busy phillips is the only character that appeals to me having watched only the first few episodes of the first season.

    and jenna fischer not really cause she has a chance, but because if michael is the crazy embarrassing dad of the office, pam is the mom who goes along with dad’s games but ultimately and quietly, behind michael’s back, takes control with her common sense and level-headed-ness. and she’s a little goofy too. see: “Murder”

    • Sassy says:

      What obvious reasons? I think Glee is highly over-rated, but I would still prefer one of their countless actresses to be nominated over Sofia. I think she is terrible. Talk about establishing your entire career over your T & A!! Didn’t Charo and Pia Zadora do this years ago? And do we have any respect for them now? No, just because some people think you’re good-looking doesn’t mean you’re funny. People don’t seem to make that same mistake over men, all the top comedians are nominated because they make people laugh. Julie and Sofia are completely unfunny, I think…

      • Amy says:

        I think you’re wrong. While I don’t think Julie Bowen is deserving of a nod — I think she’s fine, but not great — Sofia Vergara has a lot more going on than just her body. Maybe try looking away from her cleavage sometime? Her work in the Halloween episode alone was some of the funniest stuff they’ve ever had on that show.

        • ChrisGa says:

          Agree with you about Sofia Vergara, but definitely not about Julie Bowen. She’s turned high-strung into an art form, not to mention the fact that her reaction shots are pure genius. I would not be upset at all if either won.

          • Lindsey says:

            Absolutely agree about Julie Bowen. She is one of the best characters on the show to just watch because her expressions are often hysterical. She’s great with the physical and slapstick comedy. I’d be happy if she or Sofia won, though I think Sofia deserves it more.

  41. OK says:

    1. Naya Rivera
    2. Alyson Hannigan
    3. Julie Bowen
    4. Busy Phillips
    5. Alison Brie
    6. Aubrey Plaza

  42. Christie says:

    I’m obviously biased (and living in a dream world)… but here are mine, in order:

    1) Alison Brie – Community
    2) Jane Lynch – Glee
    3) Alyson Hannigan – How I Met Your Mother
    4) Heather Morris – Glee
    5) Gillian Jacobs – Community
    6) Cobie Smulders – How I Met Your Mother

  43. SL says:

    Really? No Naya in this? Are you kidding me? I LOVE Heather and Jane but Naya totally deserves this nomination, she is hilarious (and she keeps it real) i mean, i understand Heather cause she is really funny, but Jane? She wasn’t that funny this season. And honestly, Heather’s acting can’t be even compared to Naya’s, even though she got really better.

  44. cj says:

    i realize i may have people with pitchforks at my door tonight after saying this, but i dont think glee deserves any nominations this season. don’t get wrong, i watch every week like a good gleek, but i just dont think this season’s material was at a level deserving for a character nom, much less s show nom.

    • John says:

      Agreed on all counts, including my own personal inability to stop watching it.

    • Amber says:

      No pitchfork here. And you’re not alone in any of those comments. I’m a good little loyal gleek too, but I’m also level headed enough to realize season 2 was a huge letdown.

  45. Courtney says:

    It will be so annoying if Jane wins this year, completely doesn’t deserve it. My votes went to Alison Brie, Alyson Hannigan, Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, Kristin Wigg, and Busy Phillips (probably the most hilarious out of them all)

  46. N says:

    How is Naya Rivera not in this list?

  47. Sarah says:

    Give the Cougar Town ladies some love. Almost everything that comes out of their mouths has me crying with laughter. Imaginary hat/imaginary opera gloves to Busy and Christa.

  48. ibodan says:

    I know it is on Showtime and has a limited viewing audience, but anyone who has seen “Nurse Jackie” knows that Merritt Wever deserves not only the nomination, but also the win. Her Zoey is the definition of a superb supporting player.

    • Amber says:

      *like.* She was also fantastic as Matthew Perry’s secretary, Suzanne, on Studio 60 a few years back. She’s quite the little scene stealer.

  49. a says:

    in terms of comedy on Glee.. Naya Rivera is the best!

  50. Geoff says:

    Man, I’m not sure I can choose just 6. But I was *stunned* that Busy Philipps wasn’t nominated last year. I really hope she is this year – she’s easily my top pick from the whole list. I’d also nominate Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, even though I find Modern Family to be hugely overrated, and…umm….Cobie Smulders, Alison Brie, and….gah! I can’t choose a sixth!

    • Geoff says:

      Also, even though Desperate Housewives hasn’t had any Emmy love in years, I’ve heard rumblings that Vanessa Williams might sneak into this category just based on name recognition. I love her, but hopefully not – she’d just take a spot from someone more deserving!

      • Amy says:

        Vanessa Williams so should have won for “Ugly Betty” one year. I hope that someday VW will be featured in another show worthy of her talent, unlike the tired DH.