My relationship with the Emmys has always been complicated. I can still feel the bitter sting of teenage years spent waiting for the day Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber would be recognized for their work on Alias, the bitter sting that happened all over again every year Amy Poehler was passed over for Parks and Recreation. Every year, I rant about the unfair snubs (RITA MORENO! THE AMERICANS FOR BEST DRAMA!), and every year I find myself praying for a rule change that says you can only win one time for playing a role.
With all that being said, I can also still feel the joy of young adult years spent watching wins for LOST and Grey’s Anatomy, joy that was echoed last year when The People vs. O.J. Simpson took home so many well-deserved awards. And every year, my anger at certain snubs is balanced out by joy over some pleasant surprises. (I literally leapt off my couch in excitement last year when Kate McKinnon won.)
No matter how you feel about who ultimately ends up with nominations and wins, the Emmys are a night for those of us long-time TV nerds to enjoy getting to see our favorites in the spotlight. It’s a celebration of a medium that has given me so much over the years, and I’ll always be thankful for times when I get to reflect on just how much good TV there is in the world right now.
I love award shows. I love eating pizza on my couch in sweatpants while I look at gorgeous celebrities in designer gowns and tuxedos. I love seeing what clips they choose for nominees and yelling about what I would have chosen instead. And I love making my predictions and sharing them with you.
Below you’ll find my picks for most of the night’s major categories, and I’d love to read yours if you want to share them in the comments! And if you want to get in on the Emmy fun on Twitter, I’ll be live-tweeting the entire evening (including the red carpet) starting at 6 p.m. EST!
Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick: The Handmaid’s Tale
My Thoughts: This is a category that could go in so many different directions depending on what Emmy voters want to honor—buzz (Stranger Things), popularity and bringing strong storytelling back to network TV (This Is Us), complexity (Westworld), beautiful period pieces (The Crown), or unflinching political statements (The Handmaid’s Tale). I might want to change my pick based on how the rest of the evening goes, but I think the timeliness and fearlessness of The Handmaid’s Tale will push it over the edge. And not only is it an important piece of drama in our current political climate, it’s a great television show—plain and simple. Its performances are incredible, its cinematography and direction make every episode feel like a movie, and it did a phenomenal job of adapting a beloved piece of literature into a bold and brilliant drama.
Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Atlanta
My Thoughts: Although I haven’t had enough time to watch Atlanta yet, I can’t see Emmy voters looking past its fresh point of view and smart execution. Everything I’ve heard about the show makes me think it’s a breath of fresh air, and I’m hopeful that Emmy voters will give new voices the praise they’re rightly due this year. Out of the shows I’ve seen, I would be thrilled if black-ish won, but I won’t be upset at all if (and most likely when) Atlanta takes home the victory instead.
Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick: Big Little Lies
My Thoughts: Big Little Lies was the best thing I’ve watched on television so far this year. Every single episode left me breathless, and it struck the perfect balance between making me laugh, making me sob, and making me so physically upset and anxious that I could feel my entire body shaking during certain scenes. The cast was filled with A-list stars bringing their A-games. And what struck me the most while I was watching it—and what I hope Emmy voters recognize—is that this told a story about women as we really are, and that’s not something shown on television very often. These women were trauma survivors and moms and no-nonsense bosses in the boardroom (sometimes all three at one time), women with careers and women who gave up their careers, women who are fierce and flawed and who love and hate deeply. No two women on this show are the same—there are no tropes, stereotypes, or one-note characters among them. Instead, this show aims to go beyond the surface to reveal that every woman has her own story. Big Little Lies is a show about the power of women—women who might be completely different but who will fight like hell for each other when they sense a threat to one of their own—and that focus on telling the truth about the strength of women and the complexity of our relationships with each other made for the most powerful and poignant story told on television in 2017.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
My Pick: Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
My Thoughts: This Is Us is a very good television show, but it becomes a great television show every time it focuses on Randall, and no small part of that is due to Brown’s incredible talent. The vulnerability he gives to every moment he’s onscreen is stunning, and the sincerity he brought to his Emmy-winning work last year in The People vs. O.J. Simpson is the secret ingredient that makes This Is Us feel honest and not manipulative. When he makes you cry, he earns your tears, and that’s no small feat. No other actor working in television today makes people feel as deeply as Brown makes them feel, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t win a second Emmy this year.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Donald Glover (Atlanta)
My Thoughts: This is a stacked category, filled with big names and great performances. But I think this is Glover’s year; the buzz around Atlanta has been so strong, and he’s the force that makes it all go.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Ewan McGregor (Fargo)
My Thoughts: This is one category where I don’t have much of a rooting interest based on this year’s performances. (I actually didn’t see any of the nominees’ work in this category.) However, I can’t pick against one of my tried and true Hollywood crushes, who I also think happens to be an incredibly underrated actor.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
My Pick: Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)
My Thoughts: This was the toughest choice I had to make this year. Although it killed me to pick against Keri Russell, I just don’t think her submission episode was the best showcase of her work this year. (“Dyatkovo” was a powerful episode, but I think her work in others—especially “The Soviet Division”—was much stronger, even if it was more subtle.) I will be happy if I’m proven wrong, but I will also be happy if Moss wins for her harrowing work in The Handmaid’s Tale. She is Offred—her controlled fury, grief and loneliness; the war between the will to survive and the desire to give up that plays out in her every change of expression; and the sickeningly real feeling of confusion and disbelief she gave to the flashbacks showing how everything fell apart were exactly what I’d pictured while reading the books and yet somehow even more affecting because they were all grounded in such honesty.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish)
My Thoughts: I know that I’m stupid to pick against Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but she has to lose eventually, right? And if she’s going to lose (which she probably won’t), I hope it’s to Ross, who has been turning in some of the finest comedic work on television for two years now. Bow is such a great character, and Ross makes her come alive with humor, intelligence, and heart.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies)
My Thoughts: Has there ever been an Emmy category featuring more star power? As someone who enjoyed both Feud: Bette and Joan and Big Little Lies and who respects Carrie Coon and Felicity Huffman immensely, this is a dream group of nominees for me. Every woman in this category is absurdly talented and turned in incredible performances that would probably win in any other year. But I think Kidman’s physically and emotionally challenging performance will deservedly earn her the Emmy. I’ve always been drawn to actors who use their body language to tell entire stories without words, and Kidman said so much with just the tilt of her head or the hunch of her shoulders in this role. She made this woman—who could have easily become a stereotype—feel like a real person, and that made watching her go through all she went through even harder. Kidman’s ability to balance Celeste’s strength and fragility, her vulnerability and secrecy, and her outer composure and perfection and inner complexity and torment made for my favorite performance in her illustrious body of work.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
My Pick: John Lithgow (The Crown)
My Thoughts: I love watching actors completely disappear into a role, and that’s what happened with John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. He simply became the famous prime minister, and in doing so, he made me feel for this historical figure in an unexpected way. He showed the pathos and humanity behind the story we’re always told, and in giving us a closer look at Churchill’s flaws, failings, and fears, he gave what I think is a new definitive performance of a man I’ve seen played onscreen more times than I can count.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live)
My Thoughts: You don’t nominate Baldwin in this category if you’re not planning on giving him the award—it’s as simple as that. It’s a way to make a statement while also awarding a truly great piece of satire. Not only is Baldwin’s Donald Trump subversive; it’s funny. It may have become hard to watch after the election for many of us, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Baldwin created a truly iconic version of an American political figure—right up there with Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush, Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin, and Chevy Chase’s Gerald Ford.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Alexander Skarsgard (Big Little Lies)
My Thoughts: No matter how terrible and terrifying Skarsgard was in his role as a controlling, abusive husband (and he was absolutely terrifying at times), he never devolved into a one-note villain. There was still something horribly human about his performance, which made Perry even more frightening because he felt like a real person. Skarsgard’s nuanced and haunting work showed both the man and the monster in equal parts, and the nightmares I had about being stalked by his character clearly prove that his performance is one I won’t easily forget.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
My Pick: Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)
My Thoughts: This is another category that I think could go in a number of different ways (I was so close to picking Chrissy Metz here.), but I do think Emmy voters will want to reward Stranger Things in at least one category, and this one would be a nice nod to the next generation and a performance that many have praised. (I’m still too much of a chicken to watch Stranger Things myself.) I also selfishly want her to win because maybe then my dream of having her play young Princess Leia in a standalone Star Wars movie might be even closer to coming true.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
My Thoughts: If McKinnon deserved her Emmy last year (and I certainly believe she did), then she’s even more deserving this year. She continues to be a popular pop culture force with great name recognition, but even more than that, she added to her repertoire with more memorable characters and gave us what might be the definitive SNL portrayal of Hillary Clinton. McKinnon always makes us laugh, but this year, she made many of us cry with her raw, beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah” as Clinton, one of the most talked-about moments on television this year.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
My Pick: Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies)
My Thoughts: Like the Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie category, this category is full to bursting with talent, and I wouldn’t be upset to see any of the women nominated take home the award. However, if I have to single out one performance, my heart is with Woodley, and that’s all because of the heart she gave to Jane. This character is a trauma survivor who’s tired of seeing herself as a victim, a good mom who still worries that her son might grow up to be a monster like his father, and a fish out of water who finds a family of female friends who truly care for her. She’s a character who lives in little nuances, whose big heart, surprising strength, and love for her child come through so naturally in Woodley’s expressive eyes and open body language and line readings. It was a big task for Woodley to hold her own alongside the Oscar winners she shared the screen with, but she managed to not just fit in, but to stand out among a group of truly great actresses.
Outstanding Variety Special
My Pick: Stephen Colbert’s Live Election Night Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up This Sh*t?
My Thoughts: Colbert should win this based on degree of difficulty points alone. It was brave of him to do a live election night special, but it probably didn’t seem as brave when Hillary Clinton seemed like the sure bet. However, as the special went on and it became clearer and clearer that things were not going to go the way Colbert (and many of us) had imagined, the special became a kind of real-time catharsis presented with the kind of funny, honest, unflinching transparency Colbert does better than just about anyone. This special will be something future generations look at when they want a better understanding of the craziest election night in modern American history, and I can’t imagine anything else winning instead.
Outstanding Variety Talk Series
My Pick: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
My Thoughts: I could easily see Colbert winning here, too, but if Emmy voters want to share the wealth, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee managed to balance big laughs and genuine anger in a way that echoed what so many people—especially so many women—in the country were feeling this year. As Samantha Bee got angrier, an already great show got even better. And I just can’t find it in me to root against the woman who gave us an entire segment devoted to trying to prove that Donald Trump can’t read—one of the funniest and most biting bits of political humor to air this year.
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
My Pick: Saturday Night Live
My Thoughts: This is one of the surest bets of the night. With so many nominations in so many major categories, I cannot see any other show beating this one. SNL is back at the top of the pop culture world, and I think this year’s Emmys are going to reflect that in a major way.
Outstanding Reality Competition Program
My Pick: RuPaul’s Drag Race
My Thoughts: Don’t count out perennial favorites The Amazing Race and The Voice, but I feel like this is the year for Emmy voters to start really branching out in this category, and I think there’s no better way to show you’re branching out than going with the always entertaining RuPaul’s Drag Race.