Will ‘Barry’ Star Bill Hader Take Home the Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Emmy for the Second Year in a Row?

Bill Hader scored his first acting Emmy win last year for his role in the HBO dark comedy Barry. This year, he received his second nomination and is the overwhelming favorite to take home the award again. But, just because he is popular with TV critics, it doesn’t necessarily mean Emmy voters will follow suit.

Bill Hader Barry Emmys
‘Barry’ Emmy winner Bill Hader with Henry Winkler | Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

A jack-of-all-trades

Hader may be in the spotlight for his acting chops, but he has a whopping five Emmy nominations this year in a variety of categories. Hader is also up for writing, directing, and producing Barry, and he received a nomination for producing the variety series Documentary Now.

In addition to his acting win last year for the role of hitman-turned-actor Barry Block in Barry, the Saturday Night Live alum has also won a producing award in the past for his work on South Park.

According to Gold Derby – a site all about predicting Hollywood races – critics from a variety of publications like Vulture, NPR, Rotten Tomatoes, and Rolling Stone believe Hader is the man to beat this year.

Hader might be the frontrunner going into the ceremony, but that doesn’t mean winning will be easy. He is facing some serious comedy legends like Eugene Levy from Schitt’s Creek and Ted Danson from The Good Place. Oscar-winner Michael Douglas also received a nom for his work on The Kominsky Method, as did Don Cheadle for Black Monday and Anthony Anderson for Black-ish.

The comedy acting categories this year are filled with both legends and talented newcomers that make it clear we are in the golden age of television. But, according to IndieWire’s Screen Talk podcast, it’s a bit of an illusion when it comes to how close the races actually are.

A sure thing?

Game of Thrones is primed to win just about every category the show is nominated in on the drama side, and Barry might just do the same on the comedy side. Barry nabbed 17 nominations overall, and Hader appears to be a sure thing to win the Outstanding Leading Actor category, just like Julia Louis-Dreyfus is expected to win her seventh straight award for Outstanding Lead Actress for her role in Veep.

Of course, there is always the chance of an upset. Levy’s role as Johnny Rose on Schitt’s Creek might be a bit of a dark horse, but it could land him his first-ever acting Emmy (he won for writing on SCTV in 1982 and 1983). The show has already become a binge-worthy cult classic, and an Emmy win would be newsworthy for the little show from Canada.

Ted Danson and Michael Douglas also nailed it in their respective performances, as did Cheadle and Anderson. This category is so loaded with talent, it’s amazing anyone can make a prediction with absolute confidence.

Barry’s first season ended with both Hader and his co-star Henry Winkler winning Emmys last year, setting the standard high for Season 2. The show was able to meet – and even exceed – those expectations in their second season thanks to their decision to take the show even darker.

Avoiding the sophomore slump

Hader’s character ended the season by going on a killing spree, which led to his acting teacher Gene Cousineau (Winkler) realizing that it might have been Barry who killed his girlfriend in Season 1. And, the season also featured an encounter with the most terrifying 11-year-old girl on the planet – Lily (Jessie Giacomazzi) – which is an episode that Hader directed.

The show received even more accolades this year thanks to this dark turn. In addition to Hader, Winkler also received another nomination for Supporting Actor in a Comedy, as did Stephen Root for his role as Monroe Fuches, Anthony Carrigan who plays NoHo Hank. And, Sarah Goldberg (Sally Reed) also got a nom for Outstanding Supporting Actress.

Hader says that the reason the second season was even better is that they expanded the storylines of the supporting characters.

“It just gets boring if it’s all about Barry,” Hader said. “His storylines [are] in the front, you’re following him, but you also want to see what’s going on with these other people. They’re just as interesting, and if you can do it right, their stuff is affecting his stuff. That’s what we’re always trying to figure out.”

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday, September 22nd on FOX.