Emmys: Who Will Win, Who Should Win, and Who Got Snubbed

As the 70th Primetime Emmys draw near, our guide to the biggest shocks and surprises

The Americans (FX)
The Americans (FX)

    There’s just too much TV these days. We’re not complaining about it, at least not really, but it’s the truth. When a series used to develop what we once referred to as “water-cooler buzz,” you were waiting and discussing for a week or more between installments. You were able to breathe. Digest. Go outside a little. Now, it seems like with every new day another buzz-heavy series premieres or returns, and between broadcast television, cable networks, pay cable networks, and the increasing deluge of digital viewing options, there’s just too damn much.

    That’ll hardly stem the rising tide of new shows, however, and it’s particularly overwhelming when so many of them are so damn great. There’s a series of note for pretty much any taste these days, and if July’s announcements of the nominees for tomorrow’s 70th Primetime Emmy Awards are any indication, we’ve never been more split over the things we like. If anything, the only commonality is that (for the most part) we like them bigger and louder by the season. There are a slew of familiar Emmy faces still featured for shows old and new, but bold, new voices rise to join them. Legends of screens big and small stand beside emerging talents, and in a year where a handful of consistent and reliable series were snubbed or left out of the running entirely, we’re eager to see where the ceremony looks next.

    In that spirit, the TV team at CoS has made its best predictions of where we think the 2018 Primetime Emmys are going, where we wish they were, and the people who should’ve been invited along for the ride. The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony will take place on Monday, September 17th, but knowing how these things work, that’ll likely only kick off a whole new set of debates.

    —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
    Film Editor


    Outstanding Comedy Series


    Atlanta (FX)
    Barry (HBO)
    Black-ish (ABC)
    Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
    GLOW (Netflix)
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
    Silicon Valley (HBO)
    Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

    What should win: Atlanta
    What will win: Atlanta

    This year’s roster of comedy series noms is a pretty even spread between fantastic new shows (GLOW, Barry, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), solid programs hitting their middle years (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Silicon Valley) and some unremarkable establishment picks (Curb, Black-ish). But our vote (and the Emmy) should go to FX’s fantastic, transcendent Atlanta: Robbin’ Season ­– even apart from “Teddy Perkins,” it’s a dynamic season of television.

    If we voted: Seriously? No The Good Place?! After that second season? Whatever, Emmys. We sentence you to read a stack of New Yorker magazines till the end of time. —Clint Worthington


    Outstanding Lead Actress – Comedy Series


    Rachel Brosnahan Pamela Adlon Lily Tomlin Kristen Bell

    Pamela Adlon, Better Things
    Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
    Allison Janney, Mom
    Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie
    Issa Rae, Insecure

    Who should win: Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Who will win: Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    For an Emmys roster unuaually devoid of many of the familiar faces of recent years, here’s a category where mainstays are ruling the day, for the most part. What’s curious to us is that the pair of first-timers nominated are also our favorites to take home the award: Issa Rae and Rachel Brosnahan. The former continued to cement herself as a new household name with the second season of Insecure, but Brosnahan’s outstanding turn as a late-1950s housewife turned incendiary stand-up comedian was one of TV’s biggest breakouts of the past year, and it’ll be the one that takes home the prize.


    If we voted: The Emmys’ lack of love for The Good Place is all-around frustrating this year, and Kristen Bell’s snub as Fake Eleanor is one of the more egregious omissions from this year’s entire list. Also: Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Justina Machado, One Day at a Time; Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer


    Outstanding Lead Actor – Comedy Series

    Donald Glover Bill Hader Ted Danson Andy Samberg

    Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
    Ted Danson, The Good Place
    Donald Glover, Atlanta
    Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Bill Hader, Barry
    William H. Macy, Shameless

    Who should win: Ted Danson, The Good Place or Bill Hader, Barry
    Who will win: Donald Glover, Atlanta

    Don’t get me wrong, Donald Glover is great on Atlanta. But Robbin’ Season centered way more on Alfred, to great success, and as good as Glover was in outings like “Teddy Perkins,” there are more interesting choices here. Our hearts are with legend Ted Danson, one of The Good Place’s disgustingly few nominees, but Bill Hader’s affecting turn in HBO’s Barry is also well worthy of recognition. Take your pick — and when Glover wins, that’ll be fine, too.


    If we voted: Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Andy Samberg, we love you. Also: Tracy Morgan, The Last O.G.; Tommy Dewey, Casual; John Ross Bowie, Speechless . — Allison Shoemaker


    Outstanding Supporting Actress – Comedy Series

    Kate McKinnon Betty Gilpin Donna Lynne Champlin

    Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live
    Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live
    Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
    Betty Gilpin, GLOW
    Zazie Beetz, Atlanta
    Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne
    Megan Mullally, Will & Grace

    Who should win: Betty Gilpin, GLOW
    Who will win: Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

    The eight (eight!) nominees in this category are all more or less deserving, and there’s a chance that Megan Mullally will add a third Emmy to the two she’s already won for playing Will & Grace’s Karen Walker. But the great Kate McKinnon has won this for two years running, and we’re betting she’ll make it three. That said, Betty Gilpin, GLOW’s secret weapon, would deserve a win, and who knows? She just might snag it.


    If we voted: Okay, Emmy voters. You’ve got ONE MORE SEASON to nominate Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Donna Lynne Champlin. Don’t fuck it up. And just because One Day at a Time’s Rita Moreno already has an EGOT doesn’t mean she shouldn’t keep racking up wins. Also: D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place; Ser Anzoategui, Vida; Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. — Allison Shoemaker

    Outstanding Supporting Actor – Comedy Series

    Louie Anderson, Baskets
    Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
    Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
    Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta
    Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live
    Henry Winkler, Barry

    Who should win: Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta
    Who will win: Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta

    First things first: Shout-out to Kenan Thompson for earning his first-ever performance Emmy nomination in his 15th season on Saturday Night Live! He’s long been an underappreciated backbone of the show and it’s a delight to see him finally recognized for that—although in this case the nomination will likely serve as his award. There’s a chance Tony Shalhoub could solidify the “Shalhoubissance” by following up his recent Tony win with an Emmy win as well (and his fantastic work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is definitely worth rewarding). But we’re giving the edge to Brian Tyree Henry for his subtle, nuanced (although, admittedly, rather uncomedic) turn on Atlanta. Henry’s work in Robbin’ Season — and particularly in the standout episode “Woods” — was both captivating and heart-wrenching. Whatever happens, we’re just hoping the Emmys don’t give another award to Alec Baldwin for his self-satisfied Donald Trump impression.


    If we voted: We would’ve loved to see William Jackson Harper recognized for his outstanding comedic work on The Good Place, and Henry’s co-star Lakeith Stanfield was equally great in Atlanta: Robbin’ Season. —Caroline Siede

    Outstanding Guest Actress – Comedy SeriesTiffany Haddish, Maya Rudolph, Chrissy Metz

    Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
    Tiffany Haddish, Saturday Night Live
    Jane Lynch, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Maya Rudolph, The Good Place
    Molly Shannon, Will And Grace
    Wanda Sykes, Black-ish

    Who should win: Maya Rudolph, The Good Place
    Who will win: Tiffany Haddish, Saturday Night Live

    Tiffany Haddish did a great job hosting Saturday Night Live, and her fantastic opening monologue continues to pay dividends every time she shows up at events in that white Alexander McQueen, but her entertaining, game performance was let down by mediocre writing. Far more satisfying was Maya Rudolph as The Good Place’s much hyped Judge Gen, who swept in at the end of the season with guacamole to share and laughs to spare.


    If we voted: Chrissy Metz was delightful and highly memorable in her guest turn on The Last O.G., and Brooke Shields proved incredibly game on Jane the Virgin as a welcome addition to an already stellar cast. —Kate Kulzick

    Outstanding Guest Actor – Comedy Series

    Sterling K. Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Josh Groban

    Sterling K. Brown, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    Bryan Cranston, Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Donald Glover, Saturday Night Live
    Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
    Lin-Manuel Miranda, Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Katt Williams, Atlanta

    Who should win: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Who will win: Sterling K. Brown, Brooklyn Nine-Nine


    This is the Year of Our Lord Sterling K. Brown, He Who Can Do No Wrong. Even in his one-episode stint on “The Box,” Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s hilarious homage to Homicide: Life on the Street, he holds his own as a formidable opponent to Andre Braugher and Andy Samberg. We really won’t mind him winning this one, despite the generally impressive set of performances nominated here.

    If we voted: Life is a gradual series of revelations that occur over a period of time, and apparently one of those revelations is that Josh Groban won’t get nominated for his lovely cameo in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Is Crazy”. Or, maddeningly enough, anyone else from that show. —Clint Worthington

    Outstanding Drama Series

    The Handmaid's Tale, The Americans, Halt and Catch Fire, Killing Eve

    The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
    Game of Thrones (HBO)
    The Americans (FX)
    The Crown (Netflix)
    This Is Us (NBC)
    Westworld (HBO)
    Stranger Things (Netflix)


    What should win: The Americans
    What will win: The Handmaid’s Tale

    The Handmaid’s Tale may be depressingly timely, but The Americans’ final season successfully paid off six seasons of buildup while giving its tremendous cast career-best material. Consistently heartbreaking and gripping, The Americans avoided the easy, violent end many predicted and went instead for a twist of the knife and a cold look at a foreign land. With one of the best finales and one of the best final seasons in recent TV, it may not have a prayer, but The Americans absolutely deserves to win.

    If we voted: A casualty of recency bias, Halt and Catch Fire also went out with a beautiful, achingly human final season and it should absolutely be nominated. Other great series that should be in contention: Queen Sugar and Killing Eve. —Kate Kulzick

    Outstanding Lead Actress – Drama Series

    Elisabeth Moss, Keri Russell, Mackenzie Davis, Kerry Bishe

    Claire Foy, The Crown
    Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
    Keri Russell, The Americans
    Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
    Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

    Who should win: Keri Russell, The Americans
    Who will win: Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Elisabeth Moss is terrific in The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s an amazing actress with a long career of excellent work behind her. She also already has an Emmy. Keri Russell is not only incredibly deserving (the vein on her forehead that comes out when Elizabeth is tense, but hiding it, deserves an Emmy of its own), but she’s overdue. This is the Emmys’ last chance to recognize an all-time great TV character in a season that gave Russell loads to do and spotlit her range. It may be a long shot, but Emmy Awards, you know what you should do.

    If we voted: Emmy voters may have forgotten about it, but Halt and Catch Fire’s final season was eligible this year, which means the powerful, complicated performances of its leads, Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis, were as well. Also great and overlooked: Jodie Comer of Killing Eve and Mandy Moore of This Is Us. —Kate Kulzick


    Outstanding Lead Actor – Drama Series


    Sterling K. Brown, Matthew Rhys, Jonathan Groff

    Jason Bateman, Ozark
    Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
    Ed Harris, Westworld
    Matthew Rhys, The Americans
    Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us
    Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

    Who should win: Matthew Rhys, The Americans
    Who will win: Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

    Sterling K. Brown took home this award last year, and there’s a good chance he’ll do so again this year (the Emmys love consistency). But while Brown is no doubt one of the best actors working today, the second season of This Is Us wasn’t as strong of a showcase for him as the first (plus he has a good chance of winning in another category for his guest turn on Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Instead, we’d love to see Emmy voters finally reward Matthew Rhys for his six seasons of phenomenal work as Philip Jennings on The Americans. Though it’s racked up nominations over the years, The Americans has only ever won two Emmys — both for Margo Martindale. This is Emmy voters’ last chance to spread the love and salute the series for its excellent final season. Rhys’ work in the finale, in particular, is well deserving of recognition.

    If we voted:There are no hugely egregious snubs in this category, but we wouldn’t have minded seeing Jason Bateman’s slot go to Mindhunter’s Jonathan Groff, Halt and Catch Fire’s Lee Pace, or even The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal instead. —Caroline Siede

    Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series


    Thandie Newton, Melora Hardin

    Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
    Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
    Thandie Newton, Westworld

    Who should win: Thandie Newton, Westworld
    Who will win: Thandie Newton, Westworld

    It’s fair to say that we have our qualms with HBO’s Westworld, a series that looks like a million bucks and tells its story like a drunk guy sitting by a campfire, trying to remember that one urban legend he heard that one time. But any quibbles we might have do not extend to Newton, whose deeply thoughtful performance as Maeve ensures that everything she touches, from mourning to mind control, makes perfect emotional sense. When she wins, we’ll cheer.

    If we voted: Over on Freeform, Melora Hardin is giving one of TV’s best supporting performances as dream boss Jacqueline Carlyle on The Bold Type, and the lack of recognition for her work in season one closer “Carry the Weight” is a real shame. Also: Holly Taylor and Margo Martindale, The Americans; Susan Kelechi Watson, This Is Us; Tina Lifford, Queen Sugar; Aubrey Plaza, Legion. — Allison Shoemaker


    Outstanding Supporting Actor – Drama Series


    Noah Emmerich, Peter Dinklage, Tobias Menzies

    Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
    Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
    Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid’s Tale
    David Harbour, Stranger Things
    Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
    Matt Smith, The Crown

    Who should win: JUSTICE FOR STAN BEEMAN
    Who will win: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

    Peter Dinklage is great, even when he’s got dick to do, and there are some worthy nominees in this category. But there’s also a pick or two I’d call head-scratchers, if I weren’t so filled with rage. Where in the hell is Noah Emmerich in this list? For six incredible seasons, he gave one of TV’s best performances as The Americans’ Stan Beeman, an FBI agent with a knack for loving the wrong people. His big scene in the finale, a tour de force in a parking garage, is a goddamn masterpiece. But sure. Joseph Fiennes. Whatever.

    If we voted: Outlander’s Tobias Menzies does more great acting with the muscles in his jawline than most people do with their entire bodies. Also: Brendan Fraser, Trust; Toby Huss, Halt and Catch Fire; Zahn McClarnon, Westworld. — Allison Shoemaker


    Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series


    Diana Rigg, Pam Grier, Rinko Kikuchi

    Viola Davis, Scandal
    Kelly Jenrette, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Cherry Jones, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Diana Rigg, Game Of Thrones
    Cicely Tyson, How To Get Away With Murder
    Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

    What should win: Diana Rigg, Game Of Thrones
    What will win: Diana Rigg, Game Of Thrones

    This is Diana Rigg’s fourth nomination for her role as Olenna Tyrell, and given that it’s also the Emmy voters’ last chance to award her for this particular performance, we’re betting they’re going to take it. (Outside of Game Of Thrones, Rigg has five more Emmy nominations and a win under her belt). It helps that season seven was a standout one for Olenna. “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me” was not only a great meme, but also an all-time great final line for an all-time great supporting character.

    If we voted: There’s a wealth of well-deserved nominations in this category, but we would’ve loved to see Emmy voters celebrate the fiercely maternal turns from both Pam Grier in This is Us and Rinko Kikuchi in Westworld. —Caroline Siede

    Outstanding Guest Actor – Drama Series


    Jimmi Simpson, Cameron Britton, David Strathairn

    F. Murray Abraham, Homeland
    Cameron Britton, Mindhunter
    Matthew Goode, The Crown
    Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us
    Gerald McRaney, This Is Us
    Jimmi Simpson, Westworld

    Who should win: Cameron Britton, Mindhunter
    Who will win: Jimmi Simpson, Westworld

    Sure, Jimmi Simpson is appropriately creepy as baby Ed Harris on Westworld, but due attention must be paid to Cameron Britton’s mustachioed Ed Kemper of David Fincher’s Mindhunter. Just watch footage of the real Kemper and Britton’s spooky, dead-eyed re-creation next to each other; it’s an uncanny re-enactment, but one that doesn’t lose its dramatic weight for the sake of impersonation. It’d be great to see such a stunning, scary breakout performance rewarded.

    If we voted: Syfy’s (now Amazon’s) The Expanse remains the best science fiction show no one’s watching, but it would have been nice to see David Strathairn get a nod for his arch yet deceptively complex space pirate. —Clint Worthington

    Outstanding Limited Series


    Darren Criss, Twin Peaks

    The Alienist
    The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    Genius: Picasso
    Patrick Melrose

    What should win: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (or, really, Twin Peaks: The Return)
    What will win: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

    The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is easily the most high-profile show among these nominees, and almost certainly the winner as well. It’s a well-deserving choice, even if it’s frustrating that this category is lacking in stiff competition. The biggest snub here is definitely Twin Peaks: The Return, which might have proved just a little too out-there for Emmy voters. Still, it’s bizarre to see that high-profile series ignored over less-discussed shows like Godless, The Alienist, Patrick Melrose, and Genius: Picasso. But we’ll try not to hold that against Versace when it takes home the award.


    If we voted: An even bigger mystery than “who drew the dicks?” is “why did American Vandal get so little love from Emmy voters?” We would’ve loved to see that wonderfully original series nominated along with The Terror, Alias Grace, and of course, Twin Peaks: The Return.  —Caroline Siede

    Outstanding Television Movie

    Black Mirror, Notes From The Field, The Tale

    Fahrenheit 451 (HBO)
    Flint (Lifetime)
    Paterno (HBO)
    The Tale (HBO)
    USS Callister (Black Mirror) (Netflix)

    What should win: The Tale
    What will win: USS Callister (Black Mirror)

    Obviously, The Tale is the best thing on this list, a deeply haunting story of memory and pain with an unbeatable cast (Laura Dern, anyone?!), but it’s a little too heavy for a good spread of Emmy voters to have seen. We think they’ll go with USS Callister — yet another story of how male-dominated worldviews and systems harm women, but coated in a thick sheen of charming Star Trek nostalgia.


    If we voted: We would have loved to see some attention paid to Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field, the latest in her series of sprawling, heartfelt one-woman shows, this one concerning the school-to-prison pipeline. —Clint Worthington