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.