Oh, the Emmys. These awards can be so crazy and unpredictable! Haha. Just kidding. That was a joke. The Emmys is sort of like a high school prom — the theme changes slightly every year and there is a different king and queen, but it's always the same party with the same streamers in the same gymnasium. That said, who would ever miss their prom?!
Certainly not me, but it does make discerning who is going to be Prom King and Queen — oh, sorry, Best Actor and Actress — kind of easy. And, just like in high school, the person holding the scepter isn't always the one who is most deserving. So, in anticipation of the Awards on Sunday, Sept. 23, here are my picks for who will win... and who should win. I didn't pick a Miss Congeniality, because we all know it would go to Heather Locklear anyway.
Best Drama Series
Game of Thrones
Will Win: Breaking Bad: The long reign of Mad Men will probably be coming to an end after four consecutive wins and the Academy will most likely reward this other critic's darling, which has a lot more punch and pizazz that voters usually like. That's what being on meth will do to ya! That is, unless these two AMC shows cannibalize each other's votes and we get another winner.
Should Win: Homeland: What this race really needed was some new blood... and there was no show bloodier than the first season of this Showtime hit. Not only was it twisty and unpredictable, it also had amazing performances and told a story that comments on the world we live in now, even a decade after 9/11.
Best Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Will Win: Modern Family: There is no doubt, this is everyone's favorite comedy. Even Ann Romney likes it! Even as it ages, there is no beating this crowd-pleaser.
Should Win: Girls: I was very skeptical of this HBO comedy when it started and I still can't stand most of the characters that populate Lena Dunham's Brooklyn, but that doesn't mean this show shouldn't be recognized. The season ended up being smart, funny, touching, insightful, and speaking to an audience that is otherwise ignored. This is one of those shows that, looking back, will be hailed as a watershed, and not just because it had a girl running through the streets on crack. Though that does help.
Best Leading Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Will Win: Bryan Cranston: He's won every year he's been eligible and with good reason. Walter White is an absolute monster and it takes someone with the skill of Cranston to turn in a nuanced performance without turning him into another hammy version of Scarface. It leaves us all asking, "Malcolm in the where now?"
Should Win: Damian Lewis: Speaking of nuanced monsters, did you catch the range of emotions Lewis had to go through as a POW who may also be a secret terrorist? And he's not even an American. Does he get extra credit for the great Mid-Atlantic accent (and the shirtless scenes)?
Best Leading Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Who Will Win: Louis CK: Wow, most of these nominees are staler than the bag of Bugles that fat Betty Draper left under the couch. Mr. CK ('cause he's nasty) is the only one doing anything exciting or original these days. This will be the ultimate consolation prize for his show not winning any other awards.
Who Should Win: None of these other jokers.
Best Leading Actress in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates, Harry's Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Who Will Win: Claire Danes: Can you say no to Angela Chase, especially with that head of preternaturally shiny hair? (It's so shiny!) But Danes did earn every vote as a trouble plagued CIA analyst who will do anything to stop a man she thinks is a terrorist. Including cussing more than a sailor who stubbed his toe.
Who Should Win: Elisabeth Moss: Another season and another great turn for Peggy Olson, especially with her arc allowing her to come into her own and leave Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce. What does this girl gotta do to win an award?
Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
Who Will and Should Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus: The Academy loves to reward a veteran and, as the only Seinfeld survivor to go on to a successful TV career, Louis-Dreyfus is definitely a vet. But it was her turn as this simultaneously harried and charismatic Vice President that makes her actually deserve this award. Her reading a PSA script from a teleprompter was done as a bit to run with the closing credits, but it was one of the funniest minutes of comedy on the air last year.
Best Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story
Hatfields & McCoys
Hemingway & Gellhorn
Who Will Win: American Horror Story: Ryan Murphy scared the bejesus out of all of us. No, it wasn't because of the frights in this horror story, but because the show did everything a TV show shouldn't do: It had a storyline that only lasted one season, it kill off the leads, and it honed a talented acting troupe for seasons to come. His risk should pay off for the ultimate reward. No, I don't mean he'll be visited by a guy in a gimp suit (though he might like that).
Who Should Win: Hatfields & McCoys: I'm still not entirely convinced that AHS is a miniseries or movie or if it should be competing in the Best Drama category. If it's not a miniseries, then the statue should go to this crowd-pleaser, which not only brought back the genre as we used to know it, but proved it could be a gigantic hit.
Best Leading Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Woody Harrelson, Game Change
Clive Owen, Hemingway & Gellhorn
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (Masterpiece)
Idris Elba, Luther
Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys
Bill Paxton, Hatfields & McCoys
Who Will Win: Kevin Costner: The miniseries or movie categories were basically invented so that the Emmys could get movie stars to attend. And it does this with the promise of gold. It probably won't be any different this year than last year when Kate Winslet won.
Who Should Win: Idris Elba: Call it the Revenge of Stringer Bell.
Best Leading Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Julianne Moore, Game Change
Connie Britton, American Horror Story
Nicole Kidman, Hemingway & Gellhorn
Emma Thompson, The Song of Lunch (Masterpiece)
Ashley Judd, Missing
Who Will and Should Win: Julianne Moore: With four movie stars in this category, poor Connie Britton (who is quite deserving in her own right) doesn't stand a chance. While Kidman may be the bigger star, it's Moore's stunning transformation into Sarah Palin that should rivet voters. We can almost see her winning from our house.
Best Reality Competition
The Amazing Race
Dancing With The Stars
So You Think You Can Dance
Who Will Win: Amazing Race: Ugh, again! When will it end?
Who Should Win: Anyone else: Amazing Race has been a snooze since the Bush Administration, but Academy voters don't know any other shows and think an around the world vacation with their significant other sure looks fun. That's why they keep voting for this. Enough! There are plenty of reality shows on TV — choose someone else! I would go with The Voice, for being the only show to shake up the singing competition formula with any real results.
Best Reality Host
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Betty White, Betty White's Off Their Rockers
Who Will Win: Betty White: The Academy thinks she needs one more trophy before her retirement (or something worse). Also, they have absolutely no respect for the reality categories. For shame!
Who Should Win: Cat Deeley: If you do not think this leggy Brit who is as quick with a punchline as she is with a compassionate shoulder for contestants to cry on doesn't deserve to win, then you are an idiot with no eyes. There, I said it. Speaking of no eyes, she also chooses all her own outfits and they are often – how should I put this? – unique. We need her to show up on stage wearing one.
Best Variety Program
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
Who Will Win: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: I just got off the phone with 2018 and it's still going to win then too. Just accept it.
Who Should Win: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: You have to appreciate the daffy way he creates viral videos with everything from Barack Obama to the Real Housewives franchise. This is a man who knows that the future of the genre is as much on YouTube as it is on the boob tube.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Jared Harris, Mad Men
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Who Will and Should Win: Giancarlo Esposito: One of the most terrifying villains on television didn't yell and scream and shoot up the place. He took over with quiet determination and a calm exterior that belied a deadly inner life. Esposito's Gus Fring was a study in self-restraint and his end will go down in TV history.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Who Will and Should Win: Christina Hendricks: She's long been known for the curves of her body, but this season, it was the curveballs her character threw when she decided to kick out her husband, take her destiny in her own hands, and finally get herself on equal footing with the men (of course, only by making a horrible sacrifice). She's made her portrayal of one of the most complicated women on TV look absolutely easy, so it's about time she had a busty gold lady of her own.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ed O'Neill, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Max Greenfield, New Girl
Who Will Win: Someone from Modern Family: Just pick one. Does it matter. Maybe Ed O'Neill. Is it his turn yet? Fine, then Ty Burrell. Whatever.
Who Should Win: Max Greenfield: It's a hard job stealing a show called The New Girl while having a Y chromosome, but Greenfield's fully-realized Schmidt was the character who audiences really wanted to see, even as they knew he should be stuffing $10s into the douche jar.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives
Who Will Win: Mayim Bialik: Since the boys will be shut out in the acting category, it looks like good old Blossom's work as one of this show's girl geeks is going to get some deserved attention. But look for a possible Kristen Wiig upset for her final season on SNL.
Who Should Win: Merritt Wever: She's long been the funniest thing on Nurse Jackie and she should finally get some recognition for a character that is just on the right side of wacky and vulnerable when she needs to be. If she doesn't get nominated more often, the Academy is on more drugs than Jackie.
Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Sarah Paulson, Game Change
Frances Conroy, American Horror Story
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Judy Davis, Page Eight (Masterpiece)
Mare Winningham, Hatfields & McCoys
Who Will and Should Win: Jessica Lange: There is no one we'd rather watch chew the scenery and destroy lives with a syrupy southern accent than Ms. Jessica Lange. Also, remember the rule about giving these trophies to movie stars?
Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Ed Harris, Game Change
Denis O'Hare, American Horror Story
David Strathairn, Hemingway & Gellhorn
Martin Freeman, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (Masterpiece)
Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys