The Emmys and I have had a volatile relationship ever since the days when Jennifer Garner (and perhaps even more egregiously, Victor Garber) were passed over for their work on Alias. There are times when surprise nominations and wins bring me endless joy—like Kate McKinnnon’s first win. But there are also times when shocking snubs send me into fits of rage—like the fact that Amy Poehler never won an Emmy for playing Leslie Knope and Steve Carell never won for playing Michael Scott.
Those last two names remind that an Emmy isn’t everything. Legendary performances and beloved television shows don’t need to have their time in the Emmy spotlight to mean something to both an individual and the TV-loving community at large.
But it’s still nice to see your favorites win.
With that being said, this has been a challenging prediction post to make. I’m too invested in some of the shows—especially one drama series in particular—to be completely objective (or even logical) in my choices. But the good thing is, I don’t really have to be. (That’s when not doing this for a living has its perks.) This year, I’m picking with my heart, so while you probably shouldn’t use my ballot as a key to winning your office pool, you should know that it’s a close look into where my heart will be on Monday night. (Side note: I HATE having the Emmys on a Monday night. It’s THE WORST.) And if you want an even closer look, you can follow along with all the evening’s fun—and probably emotional devastation and angry ranting—on Twitter, where I’ll be live tweeting starting around 6 p.m. EST!
Without further ado, let’s get to the picks!
Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick: The Americans
My Thoughts: It’s my last chance to root for what I think is the most nuanced and unexpectedly powerful drama on television, so you better believe I’m going to pick it to win in pretty much every category its nominated for. But this is more than just a choice from the heart; I think it has a good—albeit, not great—chance to get some of that last-season love the Emmys sometimes like to dish out. While this category is probably a two-horse race between The Handmaid’s Tale and Game of Thrones, I want to believe there’s some goodwill in Emmy voters’ hearts for this moving portrait of marriage and parenthood wrapped up in a spy story that’s completely compelling in its own right. The show’s final season featured some of its most breathtaking performances and heart-stopping moments, and it was capped off by one of the most talked-about finales of the year. I hope the well-deserved praise for that brilliant episode leads to the Emmy glory this show has always deserved.
Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Atlanta
My Thoughts: Although I don’t watch Atlanta (There’s too much good TV to watch!), I’m no dummy; I know it’s something special. I also know its second season was highly praised, and I’m always a supporter of Donald Glover winning all the awards. While I’d love to see GLOW take home this award (and am already hoping for it to win next year for its stellar second season), I won’t be completely devastated to see such an inventive show get the recognition it deserves.
Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick: The Assassination of Gianni Versace
My Thoughts: This is the only Limited Series pick I’m going to make this year because I’m woefully uneducated about the nominees, and that includes this iteration of American Crime Story. Although I only watched the first few episodes because it was too disturbing and violent for my taste, I knew it was a shoe-in for this award and pretty much any others it was going to be nominated for (including the career-redefining work Darren Criss did in a role that literally gave me nightmares). I can appreciate art without having the stomach to consume large amounts of it, and The Assassination of Gianni Versace was a true work of art.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
My Pick: Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
My Thoughts: This is the award I think The Americans has the best chance of winning, and it’s one I’ve been hoping for ever since Rhys tore up that Bible back in the show’s second season. This season, his work continued to be masterfully understated and profoundly physical. The way his body language changed from the confident strides of the season’s opening montage (and the happy line dancing!) to the brutally broken hunch of his shoulders as he called his son for the last time was the textbook definition of “show, don’t tell,” and his ability to convey his character’s innermost struggles with just a sigh or a lowering of his eyes has always been one of the show’s secret weapons. And all of this is to say nothing of the fact that this native Welshman has been doing the best American accent in the business for the last six seasons. No one on television can break my heart like Matthew Rhys, but this time, I hope he makes me cry tears of joy with what I can only assume will be the most charming and self-deprecating acceptance speech of all time.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Ted Danson (The Good Place)
My Thoughts: Ted Danson is a national treasure. I know he already has Emmys, but his work on The Good Place deserves to add many more trophies to his mantle. Whether it’s his evil smile, his hilarious description of kissing as people putting their “food holes” together, or his beautiful breakdown when he can’t kill Janet (“The reason is friends!”), Danson has been able to add new layers to his portrayal of the “reformed demon” Michael this season, and the result has been one of the most clever, compelling, and emotionally satisfying character arcs I’ve had the pleasure of watching on a network comedy. Also, a win for Danson would be a win for what I think is the smartest show on television—a show that was robbed of a Comedy Series nomination.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
My Pick: Keri Russell (The Americans)
My Thoughts: Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: I know this is a long shot. I know Elisabeth Moss is the favorite, and I know the only hope I have for a victory for Russell lies with voters either not wanting to reward Moss in back-to-back years or choosing this win as a kind of “(early) career Emmy” because Russell is such a beloved actress and this is her last year in what’s become known as her most award-worthy role. However, I will never stop hoping that Russell gets recognized for delivering what I consider to be the most underrated performance on television. Russell has a unique ability to be able to terrify you and move you within the same scene, and she can do it all without ever saying a word. This year was Russell’s year on The Americans, as Elizabeth was pushed to her breaking point as an agent, a wife, and a mother. The way Russell was able to let us see that slow erosion of her composure and control without ever letting it devolve into out-of-character melodrama was sheer brilliance. Russell never asked you to like Elizabeth with her performance, but in this last season, she made it impossible for you not to feel for her. Russell is the kind of performer who can rip your heart out with just a gasp, and I can never pick against the actress who has broken my heart more in the last few years than any other.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
My Thoughts: While I’ve only watched the pilot of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Again, too much good TV!), I watched enough to see that the hype surrounding Bronsnahan’s performance is completely deserved. She simply shines on screen in a way only the brightest of new stars do, and her energy propels the show forward from the very start. She’s riding a tidal wave of support and accolades into these Emmys, and I can’t see it slowing down any time soon.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
My Pick: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
My Thoughts: Game of Thrones has to win something, right? So why not win for a performance that’s long overdue for recognition. Jaime Lannister was a hard character to like (unless you’re me), but Coster-Waldau always made him an easy character to understand. And this season, Jaime became even more compelling as he found himself growing more distant from the sister he once loved. Coster-Waldau played Jaime’s growing unease and his eventual outright distrust and disgust with a control that speaks to the honorable knight he’s always wanted to be but lost sight of somewhere along the way. When Jaime finally listens to Brienne and decides to say “Fuck loyalty,” the instantly iconic rejection of his Cersei is years in the making and worth every bit of the wait. Coster-Waldau has been quietly delivering some of the show’s best work since his bathtub confession in Season Three, and it’s time he got his turn in the spotlight.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Henry Winkler (Barry)
My Thoughts: Barry is another show I have yet to watch, but how can you root against Henry Winkler? Like Ted Danson, some people are television icons for a reason, and I’m so excited to see Winkler poised to take home an Emmy at this point in his long and storied career. My heart is with Kenan Thompson, but I think this is Winkler’s to lose (unless voters still aren’t tired of Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression).
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
My Pick: Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)
My Thoughts: Say it with me Chuck fans: Yvonne Strahovski, Emmy winner. We always knew she was special even back in her Sarah Walker days, and now the world knows it, too. Although she has some stiff competition, especially among the women on her show, the depth she’s given to Serena Joy is the perfect example of how The Handmaid’s Tale has progressed beyond the page to become its own remarkable entity.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
My Pick: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
My Thoughts: I love Betty Gilpin with all my heart and think she has the potential to play the spoiler here, but I still think this will be McKinnon’s award as long as she keeps bringing her delightfully weird brand of comedy to SNL. Her Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani impressions have become instant classics, and she’s such a comedic force that I can’t see anyone dethroning her.