The Emmys should not hold much significance, but they do. They are sometimes arbitrary and often do not reflect the greatness of a year in television. Despite this, I still love the Emmys. When a television show is advertised it is accompanied by, “Emmy winning drama” or “Four time Emmy winner for best actor.” When we recommend a show to a friend or family member we like to tell them it has been nominated for or won Emmys because it makes it more appealing.
This is not to say the Emmys get it wrong most of the time or always, but the awards show is the best way we view what is acknowledged as great television and it is somewhat of a record for history, like the hall of fame in sports leagues. Steve Carrell’s performance on The Office and The Wire’s five year run won’t be diminished in one’s eyes but they will not be recognized many years from now when historians and television critics are learning about this era of television. Those folks will think Modern Family is a classic it is not) or that Jeff Daniels was a better actor than Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston for the 2012-2013 Emmy calendar.
Who I think will win and who I think should win are usually the same, which is not a good sign because I will go with the show I love over what will likely win and what will likely win is colored by popular consensus, previous success, and a 2015 rule change that altered the voting procedure so anyone could vote in their respective categories, rather than people who volunteered to be on blue-ribbon panels. The change was made largely became these panels attracted older people who had made conservative choices or choose the same shows every year. Because of this change, voting blocs have become more important.
Game of Thrones and Orphan Black were not eligible for this year’s awards ceremony because of when their respective seasons aired. My choices will be in bold. Here goes the mediocre prognostications…
Outstanding Comedy Series
Master of None (Netflix)
Modern Family (ABC)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Who will win: The comedy series favorite of the last couple years has been Veep and I do not see that changing this year even with great competition. Veep has done very well since the 2015 rule change because HBO has the largest voting bloc. I would love to see Atlanta or Master of None surprise everybody but they are likely on the outside looking in.
Who should win: Despite most of these shows having great seasons, there is one clear and deserving winner: Atlanta. No thirty minute program was as creative, unpredictable, funny and thought-provoking as the breakout FX hit. Donald Glover’s show is unique and it is the best of this category.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish (ABC)
Aziz Ansari, Master of None (Netflix)
Zach Galifinakis, Baskets (FX)
Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX)
William H. Macy, Shameless (Showtime)
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
Who will win: Jeffrey Tambor is the obvious choice here. Even though Transparent’s third season was more uneven than its first two seasons, Tambor put on the same fantastic and moving performance. He is beloved by the voters and I wont be surprised if he takes home the award nearly every year Transparent is on.
Who should win: Despite my admiration for Aziz Ansari, Donald Glover, and Zach Galifinakis, three men who lead shows which are part comedy and part drama like Jeffrey Tambor, there is nobody else quite at his level. He is the Julia Louis-Dreyfus of this category.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Pamela Adlon, Better Things (FX)
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish (ABC)
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
Who will win: One of the two biggest locks of Sunday’s Emmys is Julia Louis-Dreyfus winning her sixth consecutive Emmy. This might be her toughest year of competition yet with Pamela Adlon and six-time winner Allison Janney in the category (she moved from the supporting actress category this year), but her new arc as beleaguered former president Selina Meyer gave her many great moments and showed she is still the best comedic actress we have around. Plus she is beloved by people in the industry.
Who should win: As much fun as I think it would be to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus win every year Veep is on, Pamela Adlon is perfectly playing a thinly veiled version of herself as an actress raising three kids. She is hilarious and honest and charming. Better Things was one of the most enjoyable shows to watch last year and it was largely because of Adlon.
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Louie Anderson, Baskets (FX)
Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)
Matt Walsh, Veep (HBO)
Who will win: In the last year or so, politics and pop culture have melded and it seems nearly everything is a response to what is happening in the White House and what Donald Trump is doing. The most prominent example of this was Saturday Night Live. Although in an election year this is normal for SNL, Trump was a character on SNL for almost every episode last season which is unusual. Why was this the case? Sometimes it was very funny, but also, ratings! According to Nielsen, the 42nd season of SNL was watched by an average of over 11 million viewers each episode — and this does not even factor in DVR numbers — which is the highest viewership sine the 1993-1994 season. The popularity of Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump and his hilarious portrayal will earn him the trophy.
Who should win: Baskets is a woefully underrated show and Louie Anderson is a huge part of its greatness. The humanity and humor he brings makes Christine Baskets so lovable. I affectionately call season two of the series the “Year of Christine” because of the increased role Christine has and it would not be the same without Anderson’s performance.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Vanessa Bayer, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live (NBC
Anna Chlumsky, Veep (HBO)
Judith Light, Transparent (Amazon)
Kathryn Hahn, Transparent (Amazon)
Who will win: See the explanation under “who will win” for supporting actor in a comedy series,” except this time insert Kate Mckinnon’s name. She shined every second she was on screen but the episodes she portrayed Secretary Hillary Clinton were most memorable. It was the perfect blend of real yet outlandish. I still get emotional watching her perform Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as Clinton.
Who should win: I am not particularly impressed with this year’s category. I would have preferred the nominations be spread around more instead of SNL hoarding them, but it was an election year so I understand why. Kate McKinnon is the best of this list and the clear winner.
Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This Is Us (NBC)
Who will win: Despite the rule change previously mentioned, this category could be more wide open than one would assume. Westworld could win thanks to HBO’s huge voting bloc and the fact that it is an expensive, ambitious HBO drama. People love that shit. The Netflix series sans House of Cards have a legit shot as one took the summer by storm and the other is a highly acclaimed prestige period piece about Queen Elizabeth. This is Us might’ve had the most buzz around a network drama’s first season since Lost in part due to the twists and viewership and I would not be surprised if it won. But I think the winner will be The Handmaid’s Tale. It told a harrowing, powerful story in its first season and it feels culturally relevant due to the political climate and the treatment women still endure today.
Who should win: Despite Game of Thrones being ineligible and The Leftovers being snubbed in its final season, there is still some excellent television in this category (and then there is Westworld and House of Cards, which we as viewers should pretend do not exist). Better Call Saul is the cream of the crop here. Saul’s third season was its greatest yet and it deserves recognition for a riveting season of television.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (NBC)
Anthony Hopkins, Westworld (HBO)
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Matthew Rhys, The Americans (FX)
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan (Showtime)
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us (NBC)
Who will win: I am assuming Sterling K. Brown is the favorite here. He is coming off a remarkable Emmy winning role last year as Chris Darden in Ryan Murphy’s The People v. O. J. Simpson which gives him momentum going into this year’s standout role on This is Us. It is a decent, but overhyped show and Brown is the primary reason it succeeds. It would not be what it is without his and spellbinding performance.
Who should win: Even though Brown is likely the favorite, I don’t think it as clear as the other acting categories. Here is why: there is no previous winner in the list and the winner from a year ago was not even nominated, which is highly unusual. Bob Odenkirk gave the best performance of the seven men in this category. His range as Jimmy McGill from sweet and charming to ruthless and manipulative continues to amaze viewers and this season might have been his best yet. We are now just patiently awaiting his descent to becoming Saul Goodman.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
Claire Foy, The Crown (Netflix)
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Keri Russell, The Americans (FX)
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld (HBO)
Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)
Who will win: The other guarantee of Sunday night is Elizabeth Moss’s victory. She was never awarded for her awesome performance as Peggy Olson on Mad Men but now is her chance in a relatively weak category and one of the best performances in the last several years on television.
Who should win: Again my choices for who should and who will align because of how dominant a performance Elizabeth Moss gives. She is the best part of The Handmaid’s Tale and that is saying a lot because there is a ton to admire about the freshman series.
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
John Lithgow, The Crown (Netflix)
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland (Showtime)
Michael Kelly, House of Cards (Netflix)
David Harbour, Stranger Things (Netflix)
Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us (NBC)
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld (HBO)
Who will win: Even if This is Us does not win best drama, it should fair well in the acting categories. I envision Brown winning and see Ron Cephas Jones winning for a stirring performance as Brown’s father. It is a complicated father-son relationship brought to life by Jones’ touching and gentle showing.
Who should win: I love Jonathan Banks a tremendous amount and he has never been recognized for portraying Mike Ehrmantraut. But this past year was a remarkable stretch of episodes for him and he is the most deserving candidate in this group.
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things (Netflix)
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us (NBC)
Thandie Newton, Westworld (HBO)
Who will win: A difficult choice but Ann Dowd is the right one here. A supremely talented character actress, Dowd plays a stern but caring instructor of the handmaids and does tremendous things with the material. She somehow never won for The Leftovers, but she will get this one.
Who should win: I don’t think this is a very deep category. Aduba was not even the best supporting actress of her own show but she continues to be nominated because people cling to her memorable season one moments. Wiley and Dowd brought such humanity and compassion to their characters on The Handmaid’s Tale that was much needed in a dark world but I think, despite the show coming out fourteen months ago, Millie Bobby Brown should win. Her charm and radiance shines through in every scene and propels the show to greater heights because of her.
Outstanding Limited Series
Big Little Lies (HBO)
Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Genius (National Geographic)
The Night Of (HBO)
Who will win: If you are gambling, put all your money on Big Little Lies. It the HBO factor, and though it could split votes with The Night Of, it is more recent and offered a more satisfying conclusion. It has A-list movie stars and was written by David E. Kelley, who has already won ten Emmys. Last year The People v. O. J. Simpson dominated this category, this year it will be Big Little Lies.
Who should win: This is a very competitive year for the limited series portion of the Emmys and the category gets tougher every year. These series are all flawed and even Fargo, my favorite limited series, had a down year by its standards. But of the five candidates, Big Little Lies is the most moving and thrilling and enjoyable.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of (HBO)
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective (PBS)
Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies (HBO)
Ewan McGregor, Fargo (FX)
Geoffrey Rush, Genius (National Geographic)
John Turturro, The Night Of (HBO)
Who will win: I do not have a good feel for this category at all. I don’t love anybody in particular. It features three HBO shows/movies that will cancel each other out and I foresee Robert De Niro getting it. Don’t ask me why, likely because he is a legendary movie star.
Who should win: It would be great to see either of the leading men from The Night Of win since I always thought the acting was better than the storytelling. The whole cast was good but these two especially kept me engaged as the show got a little uneven throughout. Riz Ahmed is my pick here because of the riveting Walter White style transformation he went through in a span of just eight episodes.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Carrie Coon, Fargo (FX)
Felicity Huffman, American Crime (ABC)
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Who will win: Due to Big Little Lies’ popularity and the range of emotions it elicited, it will come down to the two stars from it. Both are deserving but Nicole Kidman’s work down the stretch as her character tried to break away from an abusive marriage was extraordinarily moving and heartbreaking.
Who should win: This is one of the most competitive categories of the night and has the biggest star power. Funny enough, Carrie Coon’s role was good on Fargo, but it was not as impressive as her job on the final season of The Leftovers, which was again snubbed from major awards. This was honestly Felicity Huffman’s worst season on American Crime so this award should come down to the two duos from Feud: Bette and Joan and Big Little Lies. The women on Feud were great but this is the year of Big Little Lies and Nicole Kidman should walk away winning due to her memorable work. I think years from now when people discuss the miniseries, Kidman will be the thing most remembered from it.
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Bill Camp, The Night Of (HBO)
Alfred Molina, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies (HBO)
David Thewlis, Fargo (FX)
Stanley Tucci, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Michael K. Williams, The Night Of (HBO)
Who will win: Wow, a category filled of only HBO and FX people. Lots of vote splitting, for sure. I envision one of the HBO actors winning even though the three FX men bring a challenge to the category. Big Little Lies will just about sweep the limited series category and the vote splitting of The Night Of will partially lead to Alexander Skarsgård winning. Also he was just really good.
Who should win: Another competitive limited series category. I loved the two men from The Night Of but Alexander Skarsgård is the deserving person here. His terrifying portrayal of a manipulative and abusive husband who promised he would stop but never did was one of the most intense and well-acted things I have seen all year.
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Judy Davis, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Jackie Hoffman, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Regina King, American Crime (ABC)
Michelle Pfeiffer, The Wizard of Lies (HBO)
Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Who will win: This could go any number of ways. Regina King has won the last two years for American Crime though I don’t see it happening a third consecutive time. The two ladies from Big Little Lies were good, even though I would have nominated Zoe Kravitz over Laura Dern. Despite the assumption that Big Little Lies will win nearly every limited series category it is nominated for, Michelle Pfeiffer wins this due to the high profile role and her performance.
Who should win: Shailene Woodley impressed me the most in this category. The range of emotions she played and her vulnerability was fantastic. In a tough category, she stands out.
Variety Sketch Series
Billy On The Street (truTV)
Documentary Now! (IFC)
Drunk History (Comedy Central)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Tracey Ullman’s Show (HBO)
Who will win: In the year of Donald Trump and insane political moments, I doubt will anything beat SNL in the categories it is nominated for. An election year, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and huge ratings are all a recipe for Saturday Night Live to win best Variety Sketch Series in what is the categories’ third year (it was added as a category to the Emmys in 2015).
Who should win: If you know me, you know my love for Billy Eichner and his show Billy On The Street knows no bounds. The irreverent and hilarious show has grown in popularity and reach since it started as merely a web series a few years ago. Now Eichner attracts big celebrities like Chris Pratt, Julianne Moore, Seth Rogen, and Stephen Colbert for fun segments. From laugh-out-loud, silly moments to poignant and thought provoking segments like this one with Keegan-Michael Key about the prevalence of guns in America, Billy On The Street is a very entertaining and fun watch.
Variety Talk Series
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
The Late Late Show With James Corden (CBS)
Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
Who will win: I envision it being a close race and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert winning over what people may perceive to be the favorite in Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. Colbert’s show improved a lot over its first year on the air and his political commentary during the campaign and since the election has been precise and very funny.
Who should win: This is a very challenging category to pick but I would love to see Last Week Tonight With John Oliver win for the second straight year. The balance he strikes between explaining an important news story and peppering in jokes is a great skill. Plus he is so charming. His show deserves the win for putting together an informative yet hilarious program. P.S. John Oliver is not a journalist!
Thanks everybody for reading my wholly inaccurate predictions about the 2017 Emmys. It airs Sunday at 8E/5P. It is on CBS and is hosted by Stephen Colbert. If anybody has a question or comment, leave it in the comment section below the post or message me on Facebook. Enjoy the Emmys!