Let’s Argue About Who Should Win The 2015 Emmys

This Sunday, for the 67th year in a row, the Primetime Emmys will infuriate and please a TV-loving nation (we already know which side Lee Daniels is on). The complete list of nominees, which includes everything from long-time favorites that said farewell in 2015 (Parks and Recreation and Mad Men, but not Justified, for some maddening reason) to promising newcomers (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Transparent), can be found here, as well as a category-by-category breakdown. But now we get to the good stuff: surefire, never-inaccurate predictions!

Here are our picks for the night’s biggest categories.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In a Drama Series

Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Michael Kelly, House of Cards

Aaron Pruner: Look, I love Tyrion Lannister and Mike Ehrmantraut as much as anyone else, but Ben Mendelsohn’s portrayal of Danny on Bloodline was equal parts disturbing, terrifying, and straight-up heartfelt.
Jamie Frevele: I’m going with Michael Kelly on this. For one thing, we all thought his character was dead. For another, I think his upsetting descent was surprising and heartbreaking to watch.
AP: So basically, this is one man’s heartbreaking downward spiral vs. another. The Emmys are very uplifting this year.
JF: The Academy loves a tragedy, especially a well-told, drawn-out one. Fortunately for us, we got to bingewatch Doug Stamper’s. And that guy never caught a break. Not even once.
AP: You know, of all the names listed here, it’s interesting we chose the two Netflix titles. And hey, don’t get me wrong. Michael Kelly’s performance this season was the main thing that kept me wanting to watch more episodes of House of Cards (sorry Kevin Spacey). However, Ben Mendelsohn is now in a Star Wars movie and if it weren’t for his compelling turn on Bloodline, I don’t think that would’ve happened. I just used the Star Wars card. I’m not ashamed.
JF: Downton Abbey has one more season, I think, so no one is going to be sentimental about it this year, unless Jim Carter did something truly devastating and visceral. Does the TV Academy care about Star Wars? I’d call him the dark horse, meaning he probably deserves it, but I don’t know if Bloodline is as much of a darling as House of Cards is.
AP: Star Wars aside, the Emmys should make a habit of giving credit to shows that merit recognition outside of the usual “darlings.” While I think that Netflix is now indeed a force to be reckoned with, and probably is the real winner here, I say enough with the darlings! And given Mendelsohn’s role as Danny, the main catalyst to all the chaos and drama that unfolds on the series, the importance of his nuanced and tortured performance was key to the entire season’s story. His was a make-it-or-break-it role and he attacked it with a ferocity that was engaging and compelling with every bit of screen time he was granted. He may be the dark horse, but he is the most deserving of the award.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In a Drama Series

Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Emilia Clarke, Game Of Thrones
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Jamie Frevele: Even with the show occupying a third of the nominees, I’m just not sure the Academy is going to go with a Game of Thrones actress, but given Lena Headey’s controversial “walk of shame,” maybe that’s enough? I’m going with Uzo Aduba, though.
Aaron Pruner: Jamie, I have very strong feelings about any Game of Thrones actors being nominated at all for an Emmy. I’ll probably instigate a lot of anger from the internet for this — I still believe Vikings is a better show — but there are more deserving performances in this category. I love Uzo Aduba and Crazy Eyes is hands down my absolute favorite character on OITNB, but Christina Hendricks consistently brought her A-game throughout the final episodes of Mad Men. Christina Hendricks, hands down.
JF: I actually agree with you, but I feel like Christina Hendricks will win more because it’s the last time she can win for playing Joan. That said, if she won, I wouldn’t be upset, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she was overlooked for the “cool kid in town,” aka a streaming series. Not that I want her to be. She’s f*cking Joan.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In a Comedy Series

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Adam Driver, Girls
Tony Hale, Veep
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele

Aaron Pruner: It’s notable that there are two gay African-American characters battling it out in this category. And while I’m all for Andre Braugher’s subtle and dry, yet nuanced portrayal of Captain Holt, the enduring power of the internet-sensation “Peeno Noir” cannot be ignored. Tituss Burgess will win or I’ll throw things out the window. I’m really non-committal on serious betting stakes but I promise you, things will get thrown. Thrown!
Stacey Ritzen: I also feel like it boils down to Tituss Burgess and Andre Braugher, although I certainly wouldn’t poo poo if Keegan-Michael Key or Tony Hale won. Unlike my colleague here, I’m personally leaning toward Braugher because HOT DAMN. Burgess will probably take it, though.
AP: Actually, Stacey, the more I think on this, it’s becoming a tough decision for me. While I absolutely love Titus on Kimmy Schmidt, Andre Braugher deserves recognition for what he’s done with Captain Holt since the rocky start of Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s first season. Still, aside from the great moment Braugher and host Andy Samberg would share if he was announced the winner, my bet’s still on Burgess.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Niecy Nash, Getting On
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate McKinnon, SNL
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Andrew Roberts: Kate McKinnon should run with this one, that’s my gut feeling. The problem is the presence of Julie Bowen and a pair of CBS heavyweights that seem to get the nod for these awards each year. Like the voters still rock rabbit ears on their televisions (not even possible, but the sentiment is honest).
Kimberly Ricci: I agree that this category is dominated by the non-cable networks. Do you have any thoughts on Anna Chlumsky? This is her third consecutive year as a Veep nominee. She holds her own against the marvelous Julia Louis-Dreyfus and frankly, deserves a shot at the statuette.
AR: Kinda glad you brought her up because I think this season was a breakout one for her on Veep and her performance — from the meltdown early on to her reunion with the team at the end — was superb. The I like here come from streaming series, namely Transparent and Kimmy Schmidt. While I don’t think Krakowski had a knockout performance, it’s a fun to think that she could have a shot for a show that NBC passed on.
KR: Well, I think Chlumsky did in fact bypass Louis-Dreyfus, who seems to walk away with all the accolades for their show. I think Gaby Hoffman also stands a good chance, as does Julie Bowen, who (to me) portrays a character with nuance inside a show full of forced cliches. One thing I think we can both agree on (and correct me if I’m wrong): Mayim Bialik’s presence on this list feels out of place. And I think this gong should go to Chlumsky, although it won’t.

Outstanding Lead Actor In a Drama Series

Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Dustin Rowles: Josh, it feels like AMC set this one up perfectly for Jon Hamm. They split the final season of Mad Men up to keep him from having to compete directly  with Bryan Cranston, Matthew Weiner gave him a lot of weighty episodes with which to work, and he’s been teed up as the sentimental favorite. The competition is relatively weak, and he deserves this Emmy for being shut out for the better part of the last decade. So, they’re probably going to give it to Liev Schreiber, aren’t they?
Josh Kurp: He’s the male Edie Falco! The thing you’re forgetting about Don Draper this season is how weepy (and sweaty and pathetic) he was. The Emmys like their masculinity in this category. Since 2008, Outstanding Lead Actor has gone to a meth kingpin, the greatest fictional football coach of all-time, a Marine-turned-terrorist, and Aaron Sorkin’s ego, personified. I want to say Jon Hamm, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Kyle Chandler or Kevin Spacey in an upset. Is there any chance Bob Odenkirk takes home an overdue award?
DR: I would not be mad at an Odenkirk win, and I think that Saul was ultimately the most fully-formed character of the bunch. I would be surprised because the Emmys are always a year or two behind. Kyle Chandler was fine in Bloodline, but Mendelsohn did all the heavy lifting on that show. I don’t think Spacey deserves it for a mediocre season of House of Cards, but if anyone is going to upset Hamm, it’ll be him. The Emmys love Kevin Spacey because he campaigns really well and he gives a good speech.

Outstanding Lead Actress In a Drama Series

Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Josh Kurp: So, we can all agree that Maslany is the “it’s an honor just to be here” nominee, right? Not that I’m complaining. The Emmys acknowledging the Canadian star of a little-watched science-fiction show on BBC America about clones is already a win, or something. This boils down to a two-woman race: Taraji P. Henson, as the scene-stealing Cookie on TV’s biggest show not named Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, and Elisabeth Moss, for her cigarette-smoking, sunglasses-wearing swagger.
Danger Guerrero: So two things: One, now I want Elisabeth Moss to win and then accept the award exactly like that, in the same outfit, with a hangover, holding a dead man’s painting of tentacle porn under her arm. Two, I am now picturing a show where Peggy goes to work for Cookie. Their relationship would somehow be the total opposite and the exact same as her relationship with Don. Pete can be there, too, if only to get yelled at.
JK: The King (me) ordered it (to series immediately). Viola Davis is the wild card here, or at least she has a better shot than Robin Wright and Claire Danes, who I hope submitted the scene where she nearly drowned her baby. That actually happened. Homeland might be an even crazier show than Empire. Anyway, voting for Peggy? That’s a great idea.

Outstanding Lead Actor In a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Aaron Pruner: My brain wants to say Louis C.K., but my heart is with Jeffrey Tambor. Surprisingly enough, I couldn’t stand the pilot for Transparent but once the first season ended, it was too difficult to get Tambor’s performance out of my head. Also, I’m still yearning for a spin-off starring Bradley Whitford and Jeffrey Tambor. If Hart to Hart can go gay, The Odd Couple should go trans! Just saying…
Danger Guerrero: Okay, Tambor’s gonna win this. Obviously. Obviously. As he should. Between his performance and the moment we’re in socially and the fact that there’s really never not a reason to give Jeffrey Tambor an award, it feels like the lock of the night. That said, a teeny tiny part of me hopes Forte wins, just because the hard left turn from last year’s winner Jim Parsons to Will Forte and his bonkers deviant character would crack me up.
AP: I want to argue with you. I really want to argue with you. But… Will Forte’s performance as Phil Miller on Last Man on Earth really affected me in ways I haven’t 100 percent dealt with yet. Maybe it’s best we look to the future with hopes that CBS’s Zoo will sweep the 2016 Emmy Awards. Amirite!? Hello? Is this thing on?
DG: Zoo is easily the funniest show of the year so far. CSI: Cyber is number two. In my personal version of heaven there are a full slate of Emmy categories — Outstanding Series, Outstanding Actor, Outstanding Actress, etc. — for the most unintentionally hilarious drama. David Caruso would have so many Emmys he’d have to buy a bigger house. We appear to have careened off topic.
AP: Back on track then… Jeffrey Tambor should completely win. Transparent came out of nowhere for me and really felt like it shook up the quickly changing TV landscape. I mentioned earlier that I didn’t like the pilot, and that was mostly due to the immediately dislikable characters in this dysfunctional Jewish family. While I may have related a bit too much to the dysfunctional Jewish part, as the episodes moved on and explored the journey Tambor’s Maura was on, it hooked me completely.

Outstanding Lead Actress In a Comedy Series

Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Danger Guerrero: There are many deserving candidates here. All of them, really. It’s probably the most stacked field of the night. Either this or Outstanding Comedy Series. I mean, the only person on the list that hasn’t been a comedy institution for the better part of a decade (or more) is Schumer, who set the world on fire this year. That said, it’s Poehler or we riot, yes?
Stacey Ritzen: This is not going to be a very heated debate. Obviously it’s Poehler, and like Danger said, while this is certainly a roster of very talented and deserving ladies, I’d like to think even most of them would probably agree with us. Poehler has been passed over so many times and with Parks and Recreation going out at the top of its game with her at the center, it’s time.
DG: What we really need here is more Emmys. That way we can give one to Poehler, and one to JLD, and one to Ellie Kemper, who wasn’t even nominated. Just total chaos. Gold statues flying everywhere like bats in a cave in a horror movie. As long as Amy Poehler ends up with at least one (and I am not opposed to giving her a few retroactive Emmys, for the record), I’m good.
SR: Well if we’re just throwing around imaginary Emmys to people who weren’t even nominated, let’s make sure Catherine O’Hara gets one for the phenomenal first season of Schitt’s Creek, a show I really enjoyed but *ahem* not very many people watched. Also because how hilarious would it be to hear the Emmys announce a series called Schitt’s Creek?

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Late Show With David Letterman
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Andrew Roberts: Not to be blunt about this, but Letterman probably shouldn’t win this category. He will, but he really shouldn’t because this is a stacked category and quality is likely in John Oliver’s corner.
Andrew Husband: Agreed. In fact, the same can be said about Colbert and Stewart. All three just finished their respective shows with ratings highs and high praise, yes, but a lot of that has to do with their shows ending. Fallon and Kimmel just play games, so it looks like Oliver is a shoe-in. Or at least he should be. Last Week Tonight came off of a stellar first season and plowed straight into an even better second one.
AR: I have to put Kimmel a spot above Fallon, though. At least he gets creative with his guests and does things you want to see. I think the most glaring bit here is who is missing. Conan is far from his old self, but I’d definitely give him a nod over Fallon. And Craig Ferguson ended one of the most interesting late-night experiences in years and at least deserved a tip of the hat.
AH: Maybe so, but what is a “tip of the hat” really worth? Ferguson was nominated back in 2006, but never received another nod for his otherwise amazing work on The Late Late Show. Meanwhile, they regularly nominate Kimmel and Fallon (but never select them) just because they’ve got better time slots. Seems rather wasteful, honestly. TIL: Both Ferguson and Kimmel have won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, for Celebrity Name Game and Win Ben Stein’s Money respectively.
AR: I think wins are bogus and getting the attention means more on an annual basis, since we’re basically stuck with one winner, a limited pool, and the opinions of normal folks as opposed to some quantified stat. There’s plenty to complain about elsewhere, obviously, and at least this category usually ends up in the hands of someone that seems to garner the type of praise you expect to earn awards.

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

Drunk History
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Saturday Night Live

Jason Tabrys: I feel like SNL should win simply because the show doesn’t get enough credit for its hits (of which there were a decent amount this past season) that come despite an insane process and it gets way too much guff for misses that are unfairly measured against the successes of all these other shows with their fancy pre-recorded amazingness. But that won’t happen…
Mike Bertha: I watch SNL religiously. It’s appointment television for me, but I often feel like it’s too topical for its own good. I get that that’s the point of the show, but I think the collateral damage there is that its “hits” this season don’t resonate in the same lasting, substantial way that pre-recorded sketch shows have, particularly like Inside Amy Schumer. I’m hard-pressed to think of a more culturally poignant sketch than her “Football Town Nights” parody that kicked rape culture right in the pants. Nor could I think of a funnier, more eloquent parody than “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer.” Jeff Goldblum. Paul Giamatti. Black-and-white. Jeff Goldblum!
JT: “But that won’t happen… because Amy Schumer had such an amazing year that solidified her as maybe the top talent in sketch comedy (especially now, in a post-Key & Peele world) and it’s impossible that she won’t win.” That’s what I was going to say before you cut me off, Bertha… But in all seriousness, I can’t argue. Everything is deservedly coming up Amy Schumer and she’s in the zone right now. But what about Key & Peele, though? Do they deserve a going-away present?
MB: How is it possible that we live in a world where Key & Peele had such a phenomenal four-season run that we both know they deserve a going-away present, but we both know they won’t get it and we’re kinda mostly OK with that? They’re like the Oasis of the sketch comedy world — critically renowned, commercially viable, and almost universally beloved, but somehow still underappreciated. In a way, it’s a shame that their going-away present will have a permanent place on Amy Schumer’s mantel. Maybe she’ll let them visit it?
JT: Basically, we agree on everything including the lack of a need to praise Drunk History and Portlandia in this piece for some reason. Though, I will say, how did Kroll Show not get a nomination? Seriously, how?

Outstanding Comedy Series

Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Andrew Roberts: Spoiled for choice here, Josh.
Josh Kurp: Let’s pour one out (straight into the toilet) for The Big Bang Theory. Obviously, this is Modern Family’s award to lose, because it never, ever, ever, ever, ever loses. Five nominations, five wins. But things are different this year. Transparent is a very good show and the Emmys desperately want to prove they’re hip by honoring an Amazon series about a transgender person. It’s not a lock, though. Does sentimental (and Uproxx) favorite Parks and Recreation have a shot?
AR: I think Parks could squeeze it out. It’s doubtful, sure, but I think it could be a final ta-ta to Pawnee for the Emmys in a special way. In my heart, though, I’m pulling for Silicon Valley. I like Transparent and all, but if this is a comedy award, I’m siding with the show that made me laugh like a jackal.
JK: The Emmys don’t like funny, though. That’s why Modern Family’s been so successful. Besides, the show that’s provided the most literal LOLs this year is, by far, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Still, I can’t imagine the Emmys acknowledging a show featuring an ode to black penis.
AR: Oh I love Kimmy Schmidt, but I agree with you. If it wins, I’ll be shocked. It is a winner to me, though, and likely the only Netflix show I could rewatch (barring brilliance in Bloodline).
JK: So, it’s settled: We’d be fine with any of these shows winning, except Modern Family.

Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange Is the New Black

Danger Guerrero: Dustin, I don’t know what to do. The logical part of me says Better Call Saul. I loved it so much. Bob Odenkirk is a genius, Jonathan Banks put in some remarkable work, and I really want to see a dramatic Emmy go to a show where the main character’s big emotional breakthrough included a speech to senior citizens about pooping through a car’s sunroof. But my emotions — my emotions — say to give the dumb thing to Mad Men one last time just because I’m sad to see it go. I’m a sentimental sap, aren’t I?
Dustin Rowles: You are a sentimental sap, Danger, and given how you predicted the end of Mad Men, I suspect you rightfully feel some investment in that series. I am, however, inclined to agree with you that the race comes down to those two series, or at least it should. If we were giving it to honor an entire series, I’d hand it to Mad Men. On the merits of this season alone, however, I’d lean toward Better Call Saul. The Breaking Bad spin-off impossibly managed to come out of the shadow of its predecessor and stand on its own. More impressively, it transformed our perceptions of Saul and made us feel deeply for a character who was weaselly comedic relief in another series. I won’t be heartbroken if Saul loses to Mad Men, however. Do you think the Emmy voters will throw out a wildcard? I can see them jumping on Orange is the New Black in its first year as a drama because it’s a “sexy” pick.
DG: I will be generous and give the voters a great deal of leeway here as long as they promise me — me, personally, in writing, preferably — that they will not give the award to House of Cards. But I’m not sure the voters will be able to resist the allure of a Mad Men swan song or a Breaking Bad spinoff. Those are both fantastic Emmy bait. They’re so on the nose I’d think they were invented as a trap if I hadn’t watched them both.
DR: AMC has also won the best drama award six of the last seven years, but Game of Thrones could sneak in there. The TV Academy expanded the voting pool this year to include the entire membership, so there’s a chance that Game of Thrones takes it simply because it’s the most popular show of the bunch and the series most voters will have seen. If any of those voters had their ballots lying around after watching “Hardhome,” I can see them checking off Game of Thrones in this category and moving on to the next category. It certainly was the most exciting episode of TV this year. And just maybe the best.