Each year at Oscar time, we at The Seat Fillers predict the winners of all the awards in an annual tradition we call The Oscar Showdown™! We like to think of it as an annual feat of movie knowledge and strength that determines who controls Oscar knowledge for a year, but really it's just an exercise in pride and we have fun with it.
Anyway, we love the buildup to the Oscars and making our picks, and we love TV, so figured it was time to start The Emmys Showdown™, too. The Emmys air this coming Sunday night, and the great news for us this year is that there are a lot of shows that we enjoy and have have actually watched that have received nominations. There’s an incredible amount of television content available, more now than even two or three years ago. Channels once seen as afterthoughts (FX, USA Network) and streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) are now staking a foothold in the industry and have become major players during the awards season. What a time to be alive if you’re a couch (or seat) filler!
But who and what are actually going to win some Emmys? Sometimes it seems like the Emmys are easier to predict than the Oscars, because shows, actors and actresses with a history of winning do often continue winning (see Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game Thrones specifically). It's less a coronation of somebody new than a celebration of sitting royalty. But with two of those three juggernauts out of the picture, we may be looking at a different landscape where newcomers like Mr. Robot and Master of None have better shots at the big prizes. Below are Adam and Brett's thoughts on this year's major categories, plus a link to the full Emmy Showdown™ picks. Winners will be posted on Monday after the ceremony.
Outstanding Drama Series
As I mentioned, Game of Thrones is the only major titan in this category and will most likely win. Season Six was exceptional, perhaps one of the best of the series so far so there’s no real reason for it to lose. The Emmys generally favor veteran shows that are consistently fantastic over the newcomers, however I wouldn’t be too shocked if Mr. Robot snatched this one away. Game of Thrones has two more seasons, after which we’ll most likely see a tectonic shift in the types of shows that win this category. Does Mr. Robot have the legs and the consistency to be the next Breaking Bad or Mad Men?
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Out of an incredibly talented slate of nominees for Best Actress in a Drama, one in particular has consistently pulled off some incredible work over the past several years. In BBC America’s Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany plays several clones working together (and sometimes against each other) to unravel the conspiracy around this highly secretive cloning program. Nobody on television is doing anything of the sort; playing multiple characters each with different mannerisms, accents, and hair styles. She’s the best actress on television right now, unfortunately Orphan Black doesn’t draw the type of ratings of Fox’s “Empire.” I think the award will go to Taraji P. Henson as Cookie.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
This category is normally an afterthought in my mind, but I’d be remiss not to bring up two of some of the best performances on television this year. Sterling K. Brown embodied the in-over-his-head junior attorney Chris Darden in “The People Vs OJ Simpson.” I found myself yelling at my screen when he was convincing Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark to make OJ try on the glove, hoping the show would rewrite history. It was not to be, but alas Brown’s Darden showcased both exuberance and despair, two sides of the real Darden that we rarely had access to during the OJ trial. A tip of the hat to Bokeem Woodbine as MIke Milligan in Fargo. His character managed to be terrifying and hilarious at the same time. His style, inflections in his voice, weird monologues. I loved every minute of Mike Milligan on Fargo, I just wish his character could have had more screen time. I think Sterling gets the win here but would be just as happy with Bokeem taking the prize.
Outstanding Limited Series
This category is fantastic due in no small part to the fact that a miniseries has an ability to attract top level (i.e movie) talent that wouldn’t otherwise commit to multiple, twelve-plus episode seasons of a standard TV show. The excellent first season of True Detective in 2014 helped put big time movie star Matthew McConaughey back on the map, for example. The result is the some of the best actors in the world turning in brilliant performances on television, the likes of Kathy Bates, John Travolta, and Patrick Wilson. The contest this year boils down to The People vs OJ Simpson and Fargo. I think OJ will win because it was more influential in the water cooler talk circuit and had more momentum going into awards season than Fargo. I would ever so slightly prefer Fargo only because of its originality in storytelling and style, whereas OJ relied more heavily on brilliant performances, and whatever it was that John Travolta was doing.
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special
Did you know that Beyoncé could win an Emmy (shared with Khalil Joseph) for directing “Lemonade”? That’ll put her a Tony and Oscar away from the EGOT. You can do it Beyoncé!
Outstanding Drama Series
I think everyone expects Game of Thrones to walk away with this one. It won a year ago, it's by far the most talked-about show on television, and it's Emmy juggernaut HBO's prestige drama. Don't get me wrong, I love me some GoT and it's definitely one of the best dramas on TV right now. There is, however, precedent for the excellent first season of a cable drama dethroning (pun very much intended) the otherwise assumed best show on TV. In 2012, Mad Men was riding a four-peat into the Emmys and many expected it to win its fifth straight Best Drama trophy. Instead, the award went to Homeland, whose excellent first season seemingly came out of nowhere. It never won the award again. All of this is to say, Mr. Robot's first season was great and I wouldn't be surprised if it upset Game of Thrones on Sunday night. It probably won't, but it wouldn't be unheard of.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Veep is the reigning champ here, and again, it's likely to repeat. Though a bit of a slow burn and at times hard to watch from week to week (I took a break during the season and binged at the end - it was much better that way), it was probably my favorite overall season of the show and was critically praised as such. I wouldn't necessarily say Master of None is better per se (what is better in art, anyway - should they really be giving trophies for this stuff? Let's table that...), but I thought as a singular piece of work, it was more enjoyable and told a more relatable story about America today. They're both excellent though, and Veep has history and HBO on its side, so that's my pick.
Best Actor and Actress - all categories
I'm lumping these all into one discussion for brevity's sake. Let's say Courtney B. Vance and Sarah Paulson are locks in their respective Limited Series categories for The People Vs. OJ Simpson. No arguments here - they will and should win. I expect Julia Louis-Dreyfus to win yet another Emmy for Comedy and I think and hope that Aziz Ansari takes the male award here. Jeffrey Tambor won it last year, so he might repeat, but Aziz deserves all the awards love possible in my opinion. That leaves Drama. Nobody else but Rami Malek could have played Elliot in Mr. Robot, according to the show's creator Sam Esmail, and the show would be much different without him. He should win. Best Actress is tougher because there are so many great performances and not one necessarily that stands out as the best. Viola Davis won last year, but I think it goes to Tatiana Maslany for playing several different clones with distinct personalities in BBC America's Orphan Black.
First of all, there are a LOT of Emmys! And the fun and tough thing about making picks in categories like writing and directing is that it's episode, not series-based. In other words, the same show can be nominated multiple times in a category with different writers or directors. So you really have to look at the quality of individual eps more than the entire season in some cases. Basically, to accurately judge this stuff, you need to watch a lot of TV. Lucky for us, we do! I'm really hoping that a lot of new and deserving stuff wins instead of old-guard things - I think it'll probably end up being a mix of both old and new. The Emmys are weird.
Our Emmys Showdown™ Picks - Play along at home!