Alex and Becky watch a lot of TV. Probably too much. But that means that they sort of know what they’re talking about when the annual Emmy nominations come out. For reference’s sake, Becky has seen most of the programs we talk about here. Alex has seen some of them. He may be talking out of his ass a lot more.
Will Win: Right off the top, it’s worth noting that this might be the strongest set of nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series in Emmy history. The voters done good! They can follow up on that by giving this award to anything not named Modern Family. ABC’s mainstay has won this award every year since it debuted, which would make it six if it triumphs again. There’s a chance that it happens, since it’s the only series in this lineup that we would call “traditional.” But five seems like (more than) enough and its relative lack of other nominations points to the voters agreeing. We think Amazon’s freshman dramedy Transparent is in the best shape to finally take the crown.
Should win: Speaking of Transparent, it’s a really great show! Problem is, it’s not very funny. It’s essentially a half-hour drama that is handled with a light touch, which is enough to be called a comedy. Still feels weird to us, but we won’t yell if it wins. Our personal pick is another new show: Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. We love its screwball energy and the wonderfully committed performances from its regular cast. Worth giving a shout-out to Parks and Recreation, which got its second Series nod for its outstanding final season. It’d be great to see Pawnee get some long overdue recognition.
WTF?: Modern Family needs to be stricken from the ballots. It stopped being even passably entertaining in its third season and its Emmy success has gotten more grating every year since then. Another win would be deadening.
Will Win: Tough call. Last year’s winner, Breaking Bad, and its presumed runner-up, True Detective, are gone. 4-time winner Mad Men ended its run on a high note back in May, but the Emmys have dramatically cooled on that show in the past few years. We’d love it, but a farewell win seems like a stretch. Which makes us think that Game of Thrones will win for lack of major competition. Though the show got rocked by (well-earned) criticism for its sexism this season, it still delivered enough intrigue and action to land 24 overall nominations. Seems like enough to finally win.
Should Win: Do you even have to ask? We recapped every season of Mad Men last winter and wrote effusively about its finale two months ago. It was the best drama on TV during its entire run and should win this award in a walk.
WTF?: Another year and another round of us complaining about Downton Abbey‘s resilience with Emmy voters. It’s just not a good show anymore and its nomination here steals precious space from the under-seen or under-appreciated like Rectify or Justified. Also, House of Cards remains a silly show that should not be watched by the un-drunk.
Variety Sketch Series
Will Win: This is a new category and we love it. Sketch shows traditionally get overshadowed by narrative comedies and talk shows, so for them to get their own Emmy category should give some well-deserved love to some of TV’s funniest shows. It’s a little tough to say what will win without precedent, so we defer to the most viral nominee at this moment: Inside Amy Schumer. It’s her year (Trainwreck is pretty good and worth seeing, by the way) and the series hit new heights this year. Of course, we might just wind up with voters seeing SNL and voting for it out of habit. Which would suck. Don’t count out the consistently hilarious Key & Peele, either.
Should Win: Much as we love Inside Amy Schumer and Key & Peele, only one of these nominees is perfectly suited for the Beans: Drunk History. Little on TV can top the inspired lunacy of watching actors act out the ramblings of people asked to tell a historical story after getting smashed. It’s hit or miss, of course, and lack the name recognition of its competitors, but we love it anyway.
WTF?: SNL is one of the marquee names in television history and can still pull off an wonderful sketch from time to time. But nobody could honestly look at what’s being performed on SNL these days and says it’s up to the standard set by these other shows.
Variety Talk Series
Will Win: A split! Becky says this will go to The Daily Show as a send-off award for Jon Stewart, who will be leaving the desk during the voting period. That seems plausible, but Alex thinks it will go to Last Week Tonight. It’s been popular, viral, and actually made a difference in the world. John Oliver may be the most important person on TV right now, so giving him the award feels natural.
Should Win: Did you see what we just said? The Daily Show is consistent, if a bit tired, and The Colbert Report had a wonderful send-off last winter, but the hour belongs to the English bloke.
WTF?: Why are the Jimmy’s here? We know they’re popular, but so was Jay Leno and the Emmys never gave a crap about his Tonight Show. Plus, this was the last chance to acknowledge the late night brilliance of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Booooo!
Lead Actor Comedy
Will Win: Jeffrey Tambor will win this easily, which will be remarkable for two reasons. Firstly, his role as a transgender retiree who reveals his gender identity to his family is timely in the best way and flawlessly performed. Secondly, despite decades of nominations, Tambor has never won an Emmy. It’s his time.
Should Win: We really love Jeffrey Tambor and his performance here, but still can’t quite get ourselves around to the idea that its a comedic performance. His win will be great, no doubt, but it’s worth noting that guys like Will Forte and Louis C.K. are doing great work in fully comedic roles.
WTF?: Matt LeBlanc is nominated again for Episodes. Alex doesn’t think that Episodes is an actual TV show. This is an on-going conundrum.
Lead Actress Comedy
Will Win: Alex thinks that Julia Louis-Dreyfus will win this until Veep is off the air. Becky thinks that long-time Emmy favorite Lily Tomlin has enough star appeal and name recognition to make up for Grance and Frankie not being a good show. Both are plausible, though it’s hard to get worked about these two ladies adding yet another Emmy to their shelves.
Should Win: Amy Poehler deserves this for seven seasons of sterling work as Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec. Only rarely does TV allow for a character as fleshed out and delightful as Poehler and the P&R writers created. Even worse, she has been nominated for Best Actress every year since 2010 and is now on her 15th Emmy nomination without a win. We like most of these nominees, but it’s gotta be Poehler.
WTF?: Edie Falco is back again for Nurse Jackie. It beggars belief that enough people still cared enough about that show after seven seasons to watch and vote for Falco. Entropy did the work for her, which is a damn shame. Ellie Kemper on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Constance Wu on Fresh Off the Boat were both phenomenal from the word go and deserved the spotlight a hell of a lot more than Falco.
Lead Actor Drama
Will Win: We are split between hope and fear here. Alex is hopeful and think that it’s finally time for Jon Hamm to win his first-ever Emmy (which is insane!) as Mad Men ends its run. Don Draper is one of the all-time iconic TV characters and Hamm’s work in the final episodes was as good as he’s ever been. A win would be so justly deserved. On the other hand, Becky sees Kevin Spacey’s ham-tastic performance in House of Cards and sees Jeff Daniels redux. It fills her with fear and loathing, but she thinks he will win. Becky does not believe the Emmys can give us nice things.
Should Win: Jon Hamm. Jon Hamm! JON HAMM
WTF?: The presence of Jeff Daniels feels like an attempt to insult us. We know you’re just trying to troll us, Emmy voters, and you don’t actually like this overwrought piece of ham in a badbadbadbadbad show is any good. You just love to hurt us, especially when you choose Daniels and Spacey over fantastic work by the likes of Timothy Olyphant, Matthew Rhys, or Aden Young. Becky was right all along.
Lead Actress Drama
Will Win: It’s gonna be either Viola Davis or Taraji P. Henson. Dunno which and we’re running out of steam, so we leave it up to you. Tell us in comments!
Should Win: Elisabeth Moss is one of the most technically accomplished performers on TV and her work as Peggy was the subtle emotional through-line that grounded Mad Men. She had more to do in seasons past, but we won’t begrudge a make-up award if they decide to drop one on Moss out of nowhere.
WTF?: Robin Wright is a lazy nomination, especially since her role is mostly supporting on House of Cards. Also, how the fuck did Tatiana Maslany actually make it in here?! Don’t get us wrong, her work on Orphan Black is astounding and the nomination is well-deserved and overdue. But the Emmys deciding to nominate her two years after her buzz was deafening is a classic Emmy move.
Supporting Actor Comedy
Will Win: Becky is sticking with her dark side here and predicting a Ty Burrell win here. Which is weird to say, because he’s winning even when the rest of his show is bunk. But any wins for Modern Family are cause for despair at this point. Alex looks at a relatively wide-open category and thinks that Emmy voters will run to one of their old favorites: Andre Braugher. Did he same the same thing a year ago? Yes. Will it work out differently this time? Er…he hopes so.
WTF?: It felt weird when Adam Driver got Emmy nominations every year when none of the supporting actresses on Girls could do the same. Now it feels weird that he’s the only thing from Girls that still attention from the Emmys. Adam Driver just can’t win with us.
Supporting Actress Comedy
Will Win: Allison Janney won last year and it seems safe to assume that she will win again this year. She’s Emmy catnip and apparently quite good in this role. We wouldn’t know, since we haven’t tuned in since the pilot.
Should Win: Despite eight (eight!?) nominees, we don’t feel particularly passionate about any of these. Our default choice is probably Jane Krakowski, since she was fine and is on our favorite show of the bunch. But her role also just felt like Jenna from 30 Rock transitioning to being a housewife. Low stakes here.
WTF?: Niecy Nash is not a name I’d ever heard before this morning. Apparently, we have seen her in a bunch of things and this show Getting On is supposed to be really underrated. Which makes it sort of cool that she showed up here out of nowhere, but her nomination may be the most WTF in recent Emmy memory.
Supporting Actor Drama
Will Win: Alex says Jonathan Banks. He was a fan-favorite and previous nominee for Breaking Bad and the episode centering on his backstory was the most acclaimed of Better Call Saul‘s first season. Becky doesn’t have a guess because she finds all these nominees to be lacking. Someone tell her that that’s not how predictions work.
Should Win: Uh, Peter Dinklage? We haven’t even finished this season of Game of Thrones, but he’s always good and hasn’t been grossly over-rewarded for playing Tyron. If they’re not going to nominate Walton Goggins or John Slattery then we will just have to settle.
WTF?: Seriously, though, where the hell are Walton Goggins and John Slattery? The millionth boring nomination for Downton Abbey‘s Jim Carter or the wasted nomination for House of Card‘s Michael Kelly are cheap stand-ins for much better work. Boo to you again, Emmy voters!
Supporting Actress Drama
Will Win: Becky says that Uzo Aduba will continue to her run as the only solo performer from Orange is the New Black to win any major awards. Apparently, her work in season two was pretty good and played with Crazy Eye’s penchant for falling too quickly and too deeply in interesting ways. Alex wouldn’t know, since he still hasn’t watched all of season one.
Anyway, his pick is Lena Headey. This is her second nomination in a row for playing Cersei on Game of Thrones and her walk of shame was one of the most talked about scenes of the TV season. If GoT is gonna win Series it will have to pick up some other big awards and this one seems ripest for the picking.
Should Win: Christina Hendricks has deserved this award three of four different times over the course of Mad Men‘s run and we think she deserves it again this year. Quelle surprise! The way she portrayed Joan’s professional and personal lives crashing due to male arrogance and being reborn because of her amazing will was one of the season’s best elements. Give it to her already!
WTF?: Another supporting category and another Downton Abbey nomination that we think is worthless. Also worth noting that while she rarely sinks the show, it’s fairly clear that Emilia Clarke is not a terribly talented actress. Maybe it’s because she has the toughest role, but she pales next to the other women on Game of Thrones.
Guest Performances (All Categories)
Paul Giamatti and Jon Hamm were both brilliant in brief guest roles on Inside Amy Schumer and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Let’s have them tie! Beau Bridges and Allison Janney deserve to win (again) for their excellent work on Masters of Sex. We don’t have strong feelings about the rest.
Directing for a Variety Series
Yeah, that’s a random category to mention after 2300 words, but it’s earned. 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer may have been the very best episode of television from this past year and it owes a lot of that to the sterling direction of Amy Schumer and Ryan McFaul. Worth mentioning that we hope they win a well-deserved Emmy award for their work.