SAG Awards: Why So Many Television Co-Stars Are Competing Against Each Other

Courtesy of HBO
'Barry' co-stars Henry Winkler and Bill Hader are both nominated for their performances in the HBO comedy

The awards' limited categories mean that deserving castmembers — such as 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' co-stars Alex Borstein and Rachel Brosnahan or 'Barry's' Henry Winkler and Bill Hader — are vying for the same honor.

In theory, no group has reaped the benefits of a 500-plus scripted series TV universe more than SAG-AFTRA, but the diversity of the landscape is lost by the peculiar lack of TV supporting categories at the SAG Awards.

It's a system that forces voters to weigh the merits of a showy supporting performance against a meaty lead. And sometimes it doesn't even have to be a showy supporting performance, such as Joseph Fiennes' occasional appearances on The Handmaid's Tale, which don't really seem comparable to a single show anchor like Bob Odenkirk or John Krasinski.

It also can force a choice between performances that have both been found winner-worthy. For Barry, voters will be forced to pick between Bill Hader, an upstart writer-director-star, and Henry Winkler, consensus choice as Hollywood's Nicest Person four decades running. Industry reverence would give Winkler the edge, except The Kominsky Method earned double noms for the equally adored Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin. If the Kominsky and Barry men all split the vote, might Tony Shalhoub sneak in?

Shalhoub's Marvelous Mrs. Maisel cohorts Alex Borstein and Rachel Brosnahan, both Emmy winners, face a similar problem in the female actor field, vying with show-sharing legends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. There, it's Alison Brie of GLOW who could benefit in a double split. In all, the 10 individual comedy acting nominees come from only five shows.

On the drama side, Ozark lead Laura Linney will go against her co-star Julia Garner, leaving Killing Eve fans to wonder how, with all these double noms, Sandra Oh is in but Jodie Comer is not. If the Ozark women split and Oh is weighed down by a missing co-star and Robin Wright by a troubled former co-star, could Elisabeth Moss be the beneficiary?

This story first appeared in the Jan. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.