When the parade is over and you’re too exhausted to drink anymore — hey, it could happen — you might wanna curl up in front of the TV and watch the Emmy Awards, which typically air the same day as the parade each year.
The creative awards ceremony — which took place last week (but which air on Saturday night on FXX) — can provide a glimpse at some of the “big” awards, but we’re more interested in what should win, anyway. (Hint: It won’t be La La Land, no matter what Faye Dunaway says.)
First to know: Best drama series will not go to Game of Thrones, simply because the most recent season you just watched didn’t qualify for this year’s awards. (Look for it to be on the lineup of 2018 nominees.) Which opens the door for some newcomers and overlooked returnees.
The hot show of this year, 11 months after its premiere, remains a different HBO series, Westworld. The moody adaptation of the 1973 theme-park-gone-wrong Michael Crichton film (he refined the idea nearly 20 years later with Jurassic Park) has more nominations than any other drama series with 22, including all major categories. It will face off against four streaming series (three of which are also brand new): Netflix’s House of Cards, Stranger Things and The Crown, and Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale. The eerie relevance of House of Cards’ corrupt White House may, after five seasons, finally take home the prize. It certainly has the edge over AMC’s returning Better Call Saul. No streaming series has even won the top prize for drama or comedy series, and if that trend continues, it’s possible that NBC’s This Is Us will carry the wood and water for network TV. Should win: Westworld. Spoilers: This Is Us, House of Cards.
Will Veep continued its run in the best comedy series category? It could be called the flip-side to House of Cards — a story about a dysfunctional and pathetically incompetent president. On the other hand, that’s stopped being funny anymore. It faced fierce competition from the hottest show of the year, Atlanta, whose edginess gives Emmy voters a sense of hip attitude. They are the hottest contenders in a slate of returning series: multi-winner Modern Family, Black-ish, Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Silicon Valley. Should win: Atlanta. Spoilers: Veep or Black-ish.
Best limited series nominations have become an expected highlight for the FX network since queer producer Ryan Murphy set up shop there with his American Horror Story franchise (although the series has never won), and his O.J. Simpson mini last year (which did win). And indeed, FX has two contenders: Murphy’s uber-gay Feud: Bette and Joan, and the third incarnation of former winner Fargo. They are up against two HBO shows — the gripping justice drama The Night Of and the salacious Big Little Lies — and NatGeo’s first entry into scripted drama, the Einstein bio Genius. Big Little Lies could eke it out for buzz more than quality, though I’m still rooting for the compelling Night Of. Should win: The Night Of. Spoilers: Big Little Lies or Feud.
TV Movie: HBO again has some contenders, including the Madoff dissection The Wizard of Lies and the DNA drama The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. They are up against the latest Sherlock Holmes movie, The Lying Detective, a Dolly Parton christmas movie (not a serious contender) and San Junipero, an entry in the Black Mirror series about a lesbian couple’s time-hopping romance. It’s the most acclaimed entry in an acclaimed series, and the frontrunner Should win: San Junipero. Spoiler: The Wizard of Lies.
The reality competition category is the strongest among broadcast and basic cable, and two-time best host winner, RuPaul Charles, is up for the big award this year with RuPaul’s Drag Race. She’s up against some familiar competition: The Amazing Race, The Voice, Top Chef, Project Runway and newcomer American Ninja Warrior. It would be great to see the John Tesar season of Top Chef take it but I have a soft spot for Drag Race (despite this recent season being the show’s worst). Should win: Top Chef.
The two variety categories (talk and sketch series) are some of the most politically charged. Talk pits the Jon Stewart alums against each other: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The are joined by stalwarts Real Time with Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Late Show with James Corden. (Notably absent: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.) I’m a huge Maher fan, but his recent controversy has probably made him too toxic for an acceptance speech. Colbert’s rating bonanza has given him the edge, though a win for Bee would be a signal that women are finally welcome in late night. Should win: Last Week Tonight. Spoiler: Colbert.
TruTV’s Billy on the Street with out comic Billy Eichner would be the bold choice, but among the other nominees — Documentary Now!, Drunk History, Portlandia, Tracey Ullman’s Show — it’s the final contender, Saturday Night Live, which has experienced a true renaissance, thanks in huge part to Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump, Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer and Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton impersonations. Look for it to win, justly. Should win: SNL.
Lead actor in a comedy: Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura on the LGBT dramedy Transparent continues to rake in applause, but it’s Donald Glover in Atlanta who is the actor of the moment.
Lead actress in a comedy: Jane Fonda finally joins co-star Lily Tomlin on the short list for Grace and Frankie, and a case could be made for both, though Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ run on Veep could remain unstoppable. But put money on Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow on Black-ish.
Supporting actor in a comedy: Last year’s hands-down winner, Louie Anderson on Baskets (playing a woman), will likely be supplanted by Alec Baldwin’s stint on SNL, though I wouldn’t be upset if Tituss Burgess as flighty Titus Andromedon on Kimmy Schmidt — in full Lemonade mode — won.
Supporting actress in a comedy: Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Vanessa Bayer from SNL are all nominated, and good as McKinnon is, she won last year; it might be Jones’ turn. She will need to best Judith Light and Kathryn Hahn from Transparent, and perennial also-ran Anna Chlumsky on Veep.
Lead actor in a drama: If This Is Us has the momentum, either Milo Ventimiglia or Sterling K. Brown could ride the wave, though I’d like to see Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood on House of Cards finally take it.
Leading actress in a drama: Queer actress Evan Rachel Wood has perhaps the year’s most difficult role as an android slowly coming to sentience on Westworld, but it’s a race between her, Elisabeth Moss from Handmaid’s Tale and Claire Foy from The Crown.
Supporting actor in a drama: Hand it to John Lithgow as Winston Churchill on The Crown, though Jeffrey Wright’s surprising character turn on Westworld could sneak in.
Supporting actress in a drama: Millie Bobby Brown was a surprise nominee as Eleven on Stranger Things, but that could sweep her in, unless Anne Dowd from Handmaid’s wins.
Lead actor in a limited series or movie: John Turturro as the schlubby but relentless defense attorney on The Night Of was incredible, but will they pass on Robert DeNiro’s first TV role in ages for The Wizard of Lies?
Lead actress in a limited series or movie: Two pairs of actresses from a pair of minis —- Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon from Big Little Lies, and Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange from Feud —- bring tons of Oscar powerhouse to the Emmys, with the clear frontrunner being Lange. “Mamacita!”
Supporting actor in a limited series or movie: Michael Kenneth Williams as a prison leader in The Night Of will have to fend off Alfred Molina from Feud.
Supporting actor in a limited series or movie: Jackie Hoffman on Feud is the shit.