The final season of Succession is its most-watched and highest-rated, and it’s set up to sweep the Emmys this September – but will unrewarded stars Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook finally be brought along for the ride?
Succession already has quite an admirable history at the Emmys, winning Outstanding Drama Series for both its second and third seasons while showrunner Jesse Armstrong has won Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for all three seasons and stars Jeremy Strong and Matthew Macfadyen have been awarded for their acting in seasons two and three, respectively. Still, most of its monumentally lauded (and SAG-award winning) ensemble remains Emmy-less, including main players Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, and Sarah Snook. But might they benefit from the “finale boost” this season, especially since the latter two in particular are simultaneously turning in what may be their best performances to date?
Thus far, Culkin has competed in the Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category – earning nominations for seasons two and three – but he’s come up short with both Emmy bids. However, after taking center stage alongside Jeremy Strong this season as their Roman and Kendall take over Waystar Royco following their father’s passing, he’s made the decision to move up to the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, where he and Strong (who has always competed here) would be nominated together. It’s a gutsy move, but one that just might pay off, for a few reasons. Strong had seemed like a potential repeat winner early on this season (he won his first Emmy for the show in Season 2), but Culkin’s Roman has been gifted his weightiest arc yet this year, and there’s the chance that voters will feel Strong has already had his shot, while this is their last opportunity to anoint Culkin for his work in the series.
Who else would he be up against? Well, there’s Better Call Saul‘s Bob Odenkirk for one – competing for the last half of Better Call Saul‘s final season – but given his inability to win many major televised awards thus far (recently losing the SAG to Ozark‘s Jason Bateman) and Emmy voters’ obvious indifference to BCS (never giving it a single Emmy across its six-season run), I unfortunately don’t think he’s as serious a contender as some, especially since it’s been almost an entire year since Saul ended, while Succession is coming in hot as the “show of the moment.” The Last of Us‘ Pedro Pascal, Andor‘s Diego Luna, House of the Dragon‘s Paddy Considine, and The Old Man‘s Jeff Bridges are a few other names who will likely fill out the rest of the line-up, but none are seen as serious threats for the win as of now, leaving it between Culkin and Strong (and while Brian Cox’s category placement remains up in the air after his shocking exit in Episode 3 of this season of Succession, even if he did end up here somehow, his less substantial storyline could keep him from the trophy too).
And what of Snook? Well she too, like Culkin, made the move to Lead Actress in a Drama Series after competing in Supporting Actress for seasons two and three and losing out both times (even despite a few precursor wins in Season 3 at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards). However, as it stands now, I feel slightly better about Snook’s win chances than I do Culkin’s (while still quite high on his as well), because she’s competing in a near-competition-less category narrative-wise. Heading into this Emmy season, Yellowjackets‘ Melanie Lynskey was seen as the early frontrunner, especially after coming so close to a win last year for the show’s first season but ultimately losing to Euphoria‘s Zendaya. However, the buzz for Season 2 of Yellowjackets – and its performers – has been far more muted than it was last season, while Snook is coming into the category with an “overdue” campaign and raves that have positioned her as perhaps the MVP of this season of Succession.
Beyond Snook and Lynskey, The Last of Us‘ Bella Ramsey and House of the Dragon‘s Emma D’Arcy seem like solid bets for nominations (and despite being non-binary actors, both have elected to campaign in this category, though that’s a conversation that will certainly be revisited as they, and other up-and-coming non-binary actors, continue to return to these ceremonies, with Yellowjackets‘ Liv Hewson choosing not to submit themself this year for instance due to fact that “there’s no space for [them]”), while The Crown‘s Imelda Staunton should also show up, no matter the mixed reviews for this past season of the show. The only other potential thorn in Snook’s side would be The White Lotus‘ Jennifer Coolidge, who has been rumored to be contemplating a move to Lead Actress in a Drama Series herself after winning an Emmy last year in Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.
Should she remain in Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, she’d surely win (especially since this is likely her final performance in this part, as White Lotus watchers will know, and she went out with a literal bang), so I don’t think it’d make much sense for HBO to put both her and Snook in Lead Actress and walk away with only one trophy when they could claim two. But I had to mention it since it is a possible scenario, and in that case, both Snook and Coolidge would benefit from “final performance bumps,” though Coolidge’s recent win could compel some to support Snook this time, just as I said the same line of thinking could elevate Kieran Culkin above Jeremy Strong in Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
At this point in time, I’m of the opinion that both Culkin and Snook are the frontrunners in their respective Emmy categories for two reasons. Though they won’t be uncontested, Succession is largely hailed as one of the greatest shows of all-time, and it’s going out with what is shaping up to be its best season yet, and I believe said season could be the “rising tide that lifts all boats” at the Emmys this September, with all of the Television Academy swept up in Succession fever and throwing trophies at this cast and crew one last time since they’ll never get the chance again. And Culkin and Snook – as two of the most essential elements of the show who have been knocking it out of the park for four seasons of a row and are preparing to end on their most complex and compelling performances as these characters yet – seem like they should be at the top of voters’ win wish lists, even moreso after being called the MVPs every other episode. It’s still early in Emmy season, with four months to go until the winners take their place on that stage with trophy in hand, but Culkin and Snook have done everything they need to so far to make the best case for themselves, and with four episodes to go this season, they could damn well be undeniable by the end.