We’re roughly three weeks away from the 70th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. The awards, given out in recognition of excellence in television, are always fun to watch and predict. In addition, in the era of peak T.V., any person is bound to have multiple favorites vying for a golden statue in a given category. In this piece, I’ll break down my thoughts on the six major categories and try my best to predict the winners.
Outstanding Comedy Series
The nominees: Atlanta (FX), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), Black-ish (ABC), Silicon Valley (HBO), GLOW (Netflix), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
While all of the shows had great seasons (some better than others) this is really a two-horse race. Donald Glover’s black surrealist comedy, Atlanta, and the hilarious period comedy, Maisel, are the two shows that will most likely take home the goal. Whoever wins this year will break a three-year winning streak by Veep (HBO), which did not air any new episodes during the eligibility period. Atlanta, back for a second nomination after its first last year, somehow topped its first season. The Donald Glover creation currently holds a 97 on Metacritic and a 98% of Rotten Tomatoes. The season features incredible performances by the supporting cast and even better and sharper writing than the debut season. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, on the other hand, is only on its debut season, but with an 80 on Metacritic and a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, critics quickly became enamored with the show. Maisel follows an upper-class wife trying to make it in the stand-up comedy scene in the late 1950s. Personally, I think Blackish deserves this, Kenya Barris and Co. really pushed the boundaries of network comedy television this season with themes like Juneteenth, postpartum depression, and divorce. Nevertheless, I think FX’s Atlanta will take the golden statue home. It has more name recognition, stronger critic reviews and ratings, and Donald Glover is the hottest name in Hollywood right now.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
The nominees: Donald Glover (Atlanta), Bill Hader (Barry), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Ted Danson (The Good Place), William H. Macy (Shameless).
I think this category is pretty easy to decipher by process of elimination. Danson and Macy are the only nominees from their respective shows so I wouldn’t expect much support for them. Larry David’s comeback garnered him and Enthusiasm much good will; Anthony Anderson scored his third straight nomination here, so I’d expect a substantial amount of votes to be thrown his way. I think the top two nominees are Hader and Glover. Hader gave a masterful performance as an actor in the late entry, Barry. While I think Glover was outperformed by many of his cast members this season, his acting in the episode he submitted (“Teddy Perkins”) is so good that I didn’t realize it was him until the credit roles. It helps that Glover is won this award last year, so he’s my pick for the win.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
The nominees: Issa Rae (Insecure), Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish), Lily Tomlin (Grace & Frankie), Pamela Adlon (Better Things), Alison Janney (Mom)
Let’s get this out of the way: Adlon and Tomlin are non-factors in this rich. As much as it pains me to say it, Rae is also a non-factor, but she’s bound to have her time in the near future. I won’t count out Janney who is running on the high of her recent Oscar win for I, Tonya. Janney is also a seven-time Emmy winner, two of which were for her role in Mom. I’d say Ross has about the same chances as Janney. She’s another return nominee, but she delivered some of the best acting of her career this season on Black-ish and she’s starting to feel overdue for a win. Above all, I think Rachel Brosnahan has his locked up. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has had this category on lockdown for the past six years for her role on Veep, but due to breast cancer treatment she and Veep sat this eligibility season out. The Emmys love rewarding first-time nominees in this category and Brosnahan gave a spectacular performance on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This would be a well-deserved win.
Outstanding Drama Series
The nominees: Westworld (HBO), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), Stanger Things (Netflix), Game of Thrones (HBO), This Is Us (NBC), The Americans (FX), The Crown (Netflix)
This may be the most stacked and competitive category I’ve ever seen in any awards show. Any of these shows could win and it would be well-deserved. I’d say the least likely winners are Stranger and Westworld. To put it simply, both of these shows share their platform with stronger shows that have been shown more love by the Emmys. They are also relatively young and with Game of Thrones on its penultimate season and The Americans on its final season, voters might feel more duty to reward those shows while they still have a chance. Speaking of The Americans, I have them tied with The Crown in my predictions. The Americans has been nominated for this award twice before; this year they also scored nominations for writing and both lead actor and actress. In addition, the final season scored a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 92 on Metacritic. The Americans has only won two Emmys out of fourteen prior nominations, so the timing is right for them to possibly sweep. On the other hand, This Is Us scored widespread acclaimed this season as well four acting nominations. Nevertheless, I think this race is between The Americans, The Crown, and The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m going to give this one to The Handmaid’s Tale, this season was excellent in every component and it helps that the series scored eleven nominations across writing, directing, and acting this year.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
The nominees: Keri Russell (The Americans), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Sandra Oh (Killing Eve), Claire Foy (The Crown)
I can almost guarantee that Elisabeth Moss will take home a bookend win for her role in Tale after winning last year. Unless Keri Russell can muster up enough farewell votes or Claire Foy somehow squeaks past her, this is Moss’ to lose. I will say, however, that Sandra Oh is definitely a dark horse. Her nomination here is historic and she’s a beloved television actress who has yet to win Emmy gold despite five prior nominations.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
The nominees: Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us), Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), Jason Bateman (Ozark), Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Ed Harris (Westworld), Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Similarly to Moss, I think Sterling K. Brown will have a repeat role for his role in This Is Us. Emmy voters love this guy (He’s won two Emmys out of two nominations in just two years! He’s also nominated Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series this year.) and his performance this season was purely riveting. I’m afraid Wright and Harris will split votes at a much greater rate than Ventimiglia and Brown. Bateman is the sole acting nominee for young Ozark, and if the show keeps up its quality and momentum, he’ll have his time soon. That leaves us with Matthew Rhys, the only real threat for Brown. If Emmy voters decided to finally reward The Americans and its lead actors after years of snubs, then he’ll likely win.