If this past year in television has proven anything, it’s that the sea of quality programming has become so vast, that trying to figure out what is worth your time can make couch surfing feel more like swimming the Atlantic. In a sense, then, the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards‘ crowning of “the best” could be seen less as a competition amongst artists, and more as a means of filtering down the average person’s viewing habits into a more manageable list.
That’s not to take anything away from the accomplishments of the nominees, as there are some deserving choices this year (what with Tatiana Maslany finally securing a nomination for her portrayal of nearly every character on Orphan Black). But what really sets this year’s award ceremony apart from the previous 66 is that it marks the final chance for Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, and Christina Hendricks (all of whom are nominated this year) to take home acting awards for their respective performances on Mad Men. Astonishingly, despite all the awards Matthew Weiner’s Madison Avenue-set period drama earned over the course of its seven-season run, no actor has taken home an Emmy in the best actor, actress, or supporting role categories.
This year also marks a change in some of the Emmy nominations, which means series that were eligible for certain categories have been shifted around. Case in point: Orange is the New Black is now considered to be a drama rather than a comedy, meaning it will be up against six other shows that are more typically thought of in that sense, which could mean Jenji Kohan’s prison comedy drama could upset things, or will find itself in the ironic position of being locked out.
Still, there are plenty of interesting nominees across the various categories, so let’s take a look at some completely unscientific predictions as to who will be the likely winner, as well as some thoughts on who should be the taking home a statue in the major categories.
Best Drama Series
Predicted Winner: Mad Men
This should be the clear sentimental favorite, considering the series ended earlier this year with a string of strong, compelling, and artfully composed episodes that sent what was left of SCDP off on a (mostly) high note. Matthew Weiner’s show isn’t just a masterstroke of great television, it also stands as the last of the New Golden Age shows, so sending it off into the ether with a big win makes sense.
Should Win: Mad Men
The show that made AMC is facing some stiff competition from the likes of Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul, but again, considering the show hasn’t won the best drama award in a few years, and the cast has perpetually been shut out, this is the last time the Emmys have to honor such a major program. Besides, there may be several traditions worth breaking with when it comes to the Emmy’s but giving a great series one last chance to take a bow by winning the Best Drama Emmy – like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad did, for instance – is one tradition that can stick around for awhile longer.
Potential Upset: Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones had a terrific year in season 5. The show became bigger than ever before – both in terms of ratings and in terms of its narrative scope – so it may be a frontrunner for some. But maybe it’s chances will be better next year, when Mad Men won’t be a contender.
Should’ve Been a Contender: The Americans, Hannibal, Justified
It can be argued that Homeland, Downton Abbey, and House of Cards have no business being among the nominees – what with shows like The Americans, Hannibal, and Justified just standing right there, waiting for the Emmy’s to love them.
Best Comedy Series
Predicted Winner: Transparent
This may sound like a long shot, but if any series is going to knock Modern Family from its five-season perch as the reigning Best Comedy, it will be Amazon’s award-winning Transparent. Emmy voters are notorious for picking a horse and sticking with it (just look at Kelsey Grammer’s track record when it comes to bringing home the gold on awards night), but considering the sweep Transparent made at the Golden Globes, and the outright critical praise that has been deservedly heaped upon it, this could be the year Modern Family falls.
Should Win: Parks & Recreation
Not a popular choice, but rather a sentimental one for this category, as Parks & Recreation often felt like the little show that could. The sweet, funny series lasted longer than anyone could have predicted on a network that seemingly wasn’t even aware it existed. Its odds were slim going in, and considering the finale aired in February 2015, chances are not many voters were thinking Parks & Rec when it came time to fill out their ballots.
Potential Upset: Louie
FX’s Louie could sneak in there and steal away the gold, especially if the voters are looking to make a less conservative choice than Modern Family. The idiosyncratic comedy from Louie C.K. earns high marks not only for its creative endeavors, but because it’s such a singular effort.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Broad City, Review
Despite its name, Comedy Central doesn’t have a single title in the race for Best Comedy Series. And that’s too bad, because the Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer joint Broad City, and Andy Daly’s incredibly dark and funny Review deserve a shot at the award.
Best Lead Actor in a Drama
Predicted Winner: Jon Hamm
How has Jon Hamm’s portrayal of Don Draper earned him a nomination every season, and not a single win?
Should Win: Jon Hamm
That’s right, Jon Hamm has now earned a nomination for his performance in Mad Men eight times. That’s eight times too many without a win.
Potential Upset: Who knows?
As this category has proven with past winners like Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom, this could be anyone’s award to win. Not a single performance seems to outshine Hamm’s in Mad Men, and yet it’s worth repeating: Daniels won for The Newsroom, while Hamm has always gone home empty handed.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Matthew Rhys
As you may have noticed, The Americans is a perennial favorite around these parts. Much of that has to do with Matthew Rhys’s performance as conflicted KGB spy /American family man Philip Jennings. There isn’t a single episode in which Rhys doesn’t turn in a stellar effort that not only makes the series as amazing as it is, but also underlines the oversight in his lack of nominations.
Best Lead Actress in a Drama
Nominees: Claire Danes (Homeland), Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder), Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Robin Wright (House of Cards)
Predicted Winner: Elisabeth Moss
This year the Best Actress category is one of the strongest the Emmys have seen in years. But there is one performer who has turned in an incredible performance for years and seen little in terms of Emmy love for it. That’s why it’s finally time for Elisabeth Moss to take home an award she should have already had plenty experience winning.
Should Win: Elisabeth Moss
Just like the Best Actor category, this is a deserved win that is long overdue.
Potential Upset: Taraji P. Henson
Cookie Lyon is no joke (even though she’s frequently very funny) on Empire, and Henson’s performance is one of the many reasons that series saw its ratings increase from week-to-week last season. Even if Henson doesn’t play spoiler this year, look for her to walk home with the award soon enough.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Carrie Coon (The Leftovers)
Carrie Coon delivered the most affecting performance of HBO’s The Leftovers, in an episode that centered completely on her character Nora Durst. That episode, ‘Guest,’ was arguably the best of the first season, and Coon should have been recognized for her efforts.
Best Lead Actor in a Comedy
Nominees: Anthony Anderson (black-ish), Louis C.K. (Louie), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Will Forte (Last Man on Earth), Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), William H. Macy (Shameless), Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)
Predicted Winner: Jeffrey Tambor
Anyone would be hard pressed to name another series that so completely lives and dies on the strength and compassion of its lead. As such, it’s no surprise that Jeffry Tambor’s performance as Maura Pfefferman will be the frontrunner to take home the award.
Should Win: Jeffrey Tambor
This is the sort of role requiring a measured performance that is emotional without being too earnest. In that sense, given the comedic and dramatic choices Tambor has made as Maura, it’s no surprise the winner is the also the one most deserving of the prize.
Potential Upset: Nobody
If any award feels like a lock, it’s Tambor for his lead role in Transparent.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Andy Daly (Review)
Outside of cable news channels, no one on TV makes blundering idiocy and wanton ignorance funnier than Any Daly does as intrepid life-reviewer Forrest MacNeil on Comedy Central’s Review. A recap of Forrest’s misadventures in season 1 is a demo reel worthy of at least a nomination.
Best Lead Actress in a Comedy
Nominees: Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Lisa Kudrow (The Comeback), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation), Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer), Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie)
Predicted Winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
As mentioned above, the Emmy’s tend to pick a favorite and stick with it. In this case, it’s three-time Emmy winner for Veep Julia Louis-Dreyfus. HBO’s political satire has cemented Louis-Dreyfus’ position as one of the most celebrated comedic performers of this or any generation, and it’s unlikely this year will be any different.
Should Win: Amy Poehler
Another “shoulda won” for Parks & Recreation, but Poehler’s emotional last turn as Leslie Knope, would-be savior of Pawnee and lover of waffles, is the sort of role that should be recognized as the high-water mark it is. Like some other nominees on this list, Poehler has never won an Emmy, an error that, considering it coincided with the end of a great series, should have been rectified this year.
Potential Upset: Amy Schumer
Schumer had a banner year with her series Inside Amy Schumer turning out one viral comedic sensation after another, and that, combined with her starring role in this summer’s Trainwreck, makes her a viable candidate to take home the award.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Abbi Jacobson (Broad City)
Jacobson’s performance as Abbi Abrams on Broad City somehow weaves together elements of shyness, empowerment, and gross incompetence to make not only one of the most memorable characters on television, but one of the most endearing.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Nominees: Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Michael Kelly (House of Cards), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline)
Predicted Winner: Jonathan Banks
The moment Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut uttered the words “I broke my boy” in the episode ‘Five-O,’ the race for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama was ostensibly over. It had been a long time coming to see Breaking Bad and now Better Call Saul‘s stone-faced cleaner shed that tough-guy persona and show the hurt that was hidden underneath, and for his efforts, Banks will likely take home the award.
Should Win: Jonathan Banks
This is another time the easy call is the right call. Banks’ performance is spot-on from start to finish in the episode, and seeing him step up to the podium would be what most people expect and want.
Potential Upset: Peter Dinklage
Dinklage consistently brings his A-game (pun!) to Game of Thrones. This season, the actor continued his trend of allowing Tyrion Lannister to feel the weight of his heavy heart without making his performance feel leaden.
Should’ve Been a Contender: John Slattery (Mad Men), Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil), Walton Goggins (Justified)
Slattery should at least be in the conversation along with Hamm, Moss, and Hendricks, while D’Onofrio was often the most compelling thing on screen in a show that was often incredibly compelling for more than just superhero fisticuffs. Walton Goggins is yet another tremendous actor who is long overdue for some Emmy consideration.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Nominess: Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Predicted Winner: Christina Hendricks
Hendricks’ Joan Holloway-Harris has had her ups and downs over the years on Mad Men, but never did she have so many in the course of one season. Through it all, Hendricks’ performance was impeccable, highlighted perhaps by her fierce showdown with Jim Hobart. With any luck seeing Hendricks make a trip to the stage will be another deserved win for Mad Men.
Should Win: Christina Hendricks
You probably saw this coming a mile away.
Potential Upset: Lena Headey
Cersei Lannister didn’t have a great time during Game of Thrones season 5, but Lena Headey sure gave a tremendous performance throughout. The last few seasons have seen the character in a state of near constant inebriation, so it was a welcome change of pace to see Cersei in a situation where her usual bottomless cup of Dornish red was replaced by an equally infinite pit of despair.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Name just about anyone from the cast of Orange is the New Black
Taking nothing away from Uzo Aduba’s consistently great performance as Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren, one of the best ensembles on television is remarkably devoid of Emmy nominations. How about a little love for Danielle Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Samira Wiley, and Elizabeth Rodriguez for starters?
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Predicted Winner: Ty Burell
It wouldn’t be the Emmys if Modern Family wasn’t represented somewhere. Burrell will likely take home his third statue as the likeable Phil Dunphy, which should be made easier considering this time he’s not competing against anyone on the same show. It’s a safe pick, but (right or not) one the Emmys feel like they have a reason to make again and again.
Should Win: Titus Burgess
Just reading this there’s a good chance ‘Peeno Noir’ is running through your head right now. Burgess’ Titus Andromedon was one of several standouts during the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt who also produced standout musical moments. Burgess should win just so he can work ‘Peeno Noir’ into his acceptance speech and the song can become an earworm for the second time this year.
Potential Upset: Tony Hale
Like Burell, Hale has taken the award home previously, and considering the quality of his performance as Gary during the most recent season of Veep, he stands a real chance at winning.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation)
When you stop to consider all the performances that have been snubbed over the years, the fact that Nick Offerman’s inimitable performance as Ron Swanson was not once given any sort of recognition from the Emmys may actually rank as a crime against television itself.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Nominees: Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Anna Chlumsky (Veep), Gaby Hoffman (Transparent), Allison Janney (Mom), Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Niecy Nash (Getting On)
Predicted Winner: Allison Janney
Janney, who is doing double duty on Showtime’s Masters of Sex, has a whopping six Emmys to her name, and it doesn’t seem like her collection is going to stop growing anytime soon. Janney is in many ways, responsible for Mom being as good as it actually is, as she’s just one of those performers whose presence naturally improves the quality of whatever she happens to be on.
Should Win: Niecy Nash
Getting On doesn’t get the kind of attention other HBO comedies do. Perhaps that is because the humor often tackles subjects like mortality and insufferable bureaucracies with a mixture of poignancy and biting wit. Nash is a key reason the show is so successful delivering both elements, and her memorable performance is the kind that should earn her an Emmy.
Potential Upset: Anna Chlumsky
Having made an appearance in Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop, and being one of the driving comedic forces of Veep, Chlumsky has mastered playing it straight while still managing to be incredibly funny. There are a lot of personalities onscreen at any given time on Veep, and to her great credit, Chlumsky not only bolsters her fellow cast mates, but also manages to make herself shine, a rare talent that deserves some recognition.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Amanda Peet (Togetherness)
Remember Togetherness? HBO’s relationship comedy from the Duplass brothers featured a terrific cast that included a real-life Duplass (Mark), as well as Melanie Lynskey, the very funny Steve Zissis, and, of course, Amanda Peet. In a role that initially appeared to be relegated toward minor B-plot antics and a potential romance with Zissis’ down-on-his-luck actor Alex, Peet created a complex character whose emotional depth was often as surprising as it was welcome.
Best Limited Series
Nominees: American Crime, American Horror Story: Freak Show, Olive Kitteridge, The Honourable Woman, Wolf Hall
Predicted Winner: Olive Kitteridge
The limited series competition is surprisingly slight, considering Fargo‘s second season doesn’t premiere until next month. That helps make Olive Kitteridge, one of the best offerings on television last year, an easy pick for the winner in this category.
Should Win: Olive Kitteridge
Top-notch performances from Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Zoe Kazan, and especially Bill Murray, along with the usual excellence of Lisa Cholodenko’s directing make it hard to argue Olive Kitteridge is undeserving of a win here.
Potential Upset: The Honourable Woman
Hugo Blick’s international thriller was a tremendous effort of writing and directing, and, thanks to a terrific performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal, the acting is also worthy of some recognition. If anything is going to sneak in and steal the trophy from Olive, it’ll be this impressive limited series.
Should’ve Been a Contender: The Missing
Starz aired the kidnapping miniseries starring the always-engaging James Nesbitt late last year, and while it received some attention, the riveting drama seems to have missed out on a little Emmy love. Considering how thin the herd is here, this would have made a welcome addition.
Best Variety Sketch Series
Nominees: Drunk History, Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele, Portlandia, Saturday Night Live
Predicted Winner: Inside Amy Schumer
As mentioned above, Schumer was at the top of her game this year, and that was never more evident than with the kinds of sketches offered up by her Comedy Central show. From an on-point skewering of Aaron Sorkin to the amazing riff on 12 Angry Men, Schumer’s series will likely take the win.
Should Win: Inside Amy Schumer
This is honestly a tough call, considering Key & Peele has also been consistently great recently. But again, with certain sketches just hitting a little closer to center, Schumer‘s win here would be deserved.
Potential Upset: Key & Peele
What can you say? It’s a great show. That’s enough to give Key & Peele a chance to go home with the award.
Should’ve Been a Contender: Comedy Bang Bang
IFC’s Comedy Bang Bang with Scott Aukerman is irreverent comedy at its best. The show is weird and unpredictable and would have made a welcome addition to the nominees this year.
All the Rest
Here is a list of nominees for things like best directing and writing for single episodes, as well as acting in limited series. It’s been shortened to who will win and who should win in the interest of time.
Best Directing of a Drama Series
Predicted Winner: The Knick, ‘Method and Madness,’ directed by Steven Soderbergh
Should Win: The Knick, ‘Method and Madness,’ directed by Steven Soderbergh
Best Writing of a Drama Series
Predicted Winner: Mad Men, ‘Person to Person,’ written by Matthew Weiner
Should Win: The Americans, ‘Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?’ written by Joshua Brand
Best Directing of a Comedy Series
Predicted Winner: Transparent, ‘Best New Girl,’ directed by Jill Soloway
Should Win: Transparent, ‘Best New Girl,’ directed by Jill Soloway
Best Writing of a Comedy Series
Predicted Winner: Veep, ‘Election Night,’ teleplay by Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche, story by Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche
Should Win: Silicon Valley, ‘Two Days of the Condor,’ written by Alec Berg
Best Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Predicted Winner: Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall
Should Win: Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall
Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Predicted Winner: Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Should Win: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honourable Woman
Best Supporting Actor in Limited Series or Movie
Predicted Winner: Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Should Win: Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Best Supporting Actress in Limited Series or Movie
Predicted Winner: Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Should Win: Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Best Directing of a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
Predicted Winner: Lisa Cholodenko, Olive Kitteridge
Should Win: Lisa Cholodenko, Olive Kitteridge
Best Writing of a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
Predicted Winner: Wolf Hall, written by Peter Straughan
Should Win: The Honourable Woman, Hugo Blick
Best Directing of a Variety Series
Predicted Winner: Inside Amy Schumer, ’12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer,’ directed by Amy Schumer and Ryan McFaul
Should Win: Inside Amy Schumer, ’12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer,’ directed by Amy Schumer and Ryan McFaul
Best Writing of a Variety Series
Predicted Winner: Key & Peele
Should Win: Key & Peele
There you have it, Screen Rant’s picks for who will win and who should win at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. As always, feel free to let us know what your picks are for the best in television.
The 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday, Sept. 20 @8pm on FOX.