The show-biz awards business is an inherently slippery slope covering a range of human emotions — from joy to disappointment to “What? How did (fill-in-the-blank) win?!”
The Emmys, of course, are no different, and each year the Television Academy — which chooses who wins a statuette or who’s “just happy to be nominated” — ends up on the sharp end of fans’ and critics’ stick. It’s a can’t-win situation.
That being said, it’s a little different this year. In several cases, nominees who should win an Emmy will, in my opinion, walk away with the golden statuette — unlike past years, which often left me scratching my head in disbelief. Here’s who I think should win and will win when CBS airs the Emmys live at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
Outstanding Drama Series
Nominees: “The Boys,” “Bridgerton,” “The Crown,” “The Mandalorian,” “Lovecraft Country,” “Pose,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “This Is Us”
Who should win: “The Boys”
Amazon’s off-kilter, wickedly funny/violent series mixes cartoonish gore with sharp-edged humor, positing a world in which superheroes are not very nice people — in some cases, they’re narcissistic, cold-blooded murderers and sexual predators (the smarmy Homelander, played Antony Starr). It’s one of TV’s best series right now, with a, yes, killer cast.
Who will win: “Bridgerton”
Shonda Rhimes’ period drama on Netflix, set in 1813 London high-society, was a talker, if only for the too-cutesy “Lady Whistledown” (catchy name) and the romance factor.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Nominees: “Black-ish,” “Cobra Kai,” “Pen15,” “Emily in Paris,” “Hacks,” “Ted Lasso,” “The Flight Attendant,” “The Kominsky Method”
Who should win: “Ted Lasso“
Who will win: “Ted Lasso“
If the Television Academy gets this one wrong, it will be an egregious mic-drop moment. I can’t think of one weak link in the “Ted Lasso” chain of gentle comedy, optimism, feel-good spirit and winning performances all-around.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Nominees: Regé-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”), Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”), Billy Porter (“Pose”), Jonathan Majors (“Lovecraft Country”), Matthew Rhys (“Perry Mason”), Josh O’Connor (“The Crown”)
Who should win: Sterling K. Brown. There aren’t any standouts here, so I have a feeling it will be Brown — if only for the fact he’s won before (in 2017) and “This Is Us” is in its final weepy season.
Who will win: Brown
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominees: Emma Corrin (“The Crown”), Olivia Colman (“The Crown”), Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Jurnee Smollett (“Lovecraft Country”), Mj Rodriguez (“Pose”)
Who should win: Uzo Aduba, who pulled off that tricky feat of starring in a rebooted series and making the character — an angst-ridden LA therapist — significantly different in both substance and tone from the doctor played by Gabriel Byrne for the first three seasons. It helped that she had a strong supporting cast, notably Anthony Ramos and John Benjamin Hickey.
Who will win: Elisabeth Moss. Corrin and Colman will cancel each other out. But Moss? Really? It’s a lazy choice. And, really, how many more full-screen closeups of Moss as a sulking/smirking/defeated/triumphant/f–k you June Osborne do we need? Enough already.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nominees: Michael K. Williams (“Lovecraft Country”), Bradley Whitford (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Max Minghella (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), O-T Fagbenle (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), John Lithgow (“Perry Mason”), Tobias Menzies (“The Crown”), Giancarlo Esposito (“The Mandalorian”), Chris Sullivan (“This Is Us”)
Who should win: Michael K. Williams.
Who will win: Williams, for his stellar work in “Lovecraft Country.” Keep in mind that Emmy votes were cast before Williams’ untimely death on Sept. 3 at the age of 54; this is not a posthumous salute, but the industry’s recognition of his talent.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominees: Gillian Anderson (“The Crown”), Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”), Emerald Fennell (“The Crown”), Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Madeline Brewer (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Aunjanue Ellis (“Lovecraft Country”)
Who should win: Ann Dowd, who’s managed to add even more emotional depth to the scary, compassionate, evil, complicated Aunt Lydia since she won back in 2017.
Who will win: Aunjanue Ellis. Again, it’s a too-crowded field, and I think the four “Handmaid’s Tale” nominees will cancel each other out … and Anderson’s cartoonish, dessicated Margaret Thatcher sounded like she was constipated, so forget her.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”), Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”), Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”), William H. Macy (“Shameless”), Kenan Thompson (“Kenan”)
Who should win: Jason Sudeikis
Who will win: Sudeikis, who is head-and-shoulders above his fellow nominees in creating a lovable, fish-out-of-water character who sees the good in everyone and makes everyone in his orbit just a little better. Side note: Why is Kenan Thompson even on this list?
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Aidy Bryant (“Shrill”), Jean Smart (“Hacks”), Allison Janney (“Mom”), Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”).
Who should win: Jean Smart.
Who will win: Smart, who’s staged a late-career renaissance with her portrayal of Deborah Vance, a Joan Rivers-type standup comic who’s both genuinely funny onstage and emotionally brittle in real life.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Bowen Yang (“Saturday Night Live”), Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), Brett Goldstein (“Ted Lasso”), Brendan Hunt (“Ted Lasso”), Nick Mohammed (“Ted Lasso”), Jeremy Swift (“Ted Lasso”), Paul Reiser (“The Kominsky Method”), Carl Clemons-Hopkins (“Hacks”)
Who should win: Goldstein, Hunt, Mohammed and Swift — if only they could share the Emmy. But they can’t.
Who will win: I’m stumped on this one, though we can eliminate Yang and Thompson. Unless one of the “Ted Lasso” guys wins, it’s a wide-open, unpredictable field. Paul Reiser, anyone? He’s due — and he’s quite a good actor (comedy and drama).
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”), Cecily Strong (“Saturday Night Live”), Aidy Bryant (“Saturday Night Live”), Rosie Perez (“The Flight Attendant”), Hannah Einbinder (“Hacks”), Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”), Juno Temple (“Ted Lasso”)
Who should win: Hannah Einbinder. The daughter of early “SNL” star Laraine Newman gave a nuanced performance — and made it look like she’s been doing this for years. (She hasn’t; it’s her first major role.) Eiinbinder kept pace with her veteran co-star Jean Smart for a one-two punch with nice chemistry. And, let’s face it, not all the “SNL” nominees are Emmy-worthy-funny, so I don’t quite get the adulation here.
Who will win: Einbinder. But if not, it will be Waddingham — riding the “Ted Lasso” Emmy train.