This Sunday, you will make one of the toughest decisions in your life: Breaking Bad vs. the Emmys. OK, so maybe it’s not so much tough as it is, “I’m going to record the Emmys while Breaking Bad is on and catch up later, without commercials.” But zipping through the ads is going to put quite the strain on your remote finger.
The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards have no chance of superseding the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad in importance, but as far as award shows picking the “right” people go, as judged by sub-human monsters who write and read TV blogs with “naked Lizzy Caplan” in the headlines, it’s not that shabby. Many of our favorite people and shows, including Louis C.K., Tina Fey, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and naturally, Breaking Bad, are all over the place, so this year might not be a complete train wreck, with Lena Dunham stirring sh*t up in the caboose.
With so few days left until the ceremony, let’s revisit some of the main categories and pick who deserves to win and who will actually win. (Justified and Parks and Recreation, you’ve already won my heart.)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock (Episode: “A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World”) (NBC)
Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth on Arrested Development (Episode: “Flight of the Phoenix”) (Netflix)
Louis C.K. as Louie on Louie (Episode: “Daddy’s Girlfriend, Part 1”) (FX)
Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan on House of Lies (Episode: “Hostile Takeover”) (Showtime)
Matt LeBlanc as Himself on Episodes (Episode: “The Affair (Episode 202)”) (Showtime)
Jim Parsons as Dr. Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory (Episode: “The Habitation Configuration”) (CBS)
Who Should Win: Louis C.K.
Who Will Win: Louis C.K.
Who says the Emmys haven’t made progress? This year, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series should and will go to a man who admitted, “I still jerk off to that wedding album I found in the garbage” with self-loathing and pride. Also, “torpedoing towards your vagina.” “Daddy’s Girlfriend” wasn’t the strongest episode of Louie season three (that would be the three-part “Late Show” arc, though between “Daddy” and Arrested Development, Maria Bamford is an awards show MVP), but it’s the one that’s going to win Louis C.K. his first acting Emmy.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe on Enlightened (Episode: “All I Ever Wanted”) (HBO)
Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath on Girls (Episode: “Bad Friend”) (HBO)
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton on Nurse Jackie (Episode: “Luck of the Drawing”) (Showtime)
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon on 30 Rock (Episodes: “Hogcock!”/”Last Lunch”) (NBC)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on Veep (Episode: “Running”) (HBO)
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation (Episodes: “Emergency Response”/”Leslie and Ben”) (NBC)
Who Should Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Who Will Win: Tina Fey
Can Tina, Julia, and Amy be turned into one mega award show-winning monster named Tijuam? No? So I should probably throw out those sketches then? Be right back. Anyway, Julia Louis-Dreyfus rightfully won last year for her role as the venomous, sharp-tongued Selina Meyer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins again this year. But that would leave Tina Fey and Amy Poehler trophy-less YET AGAIN. In fact, between them, they’ve only won once (or, as many times as America Ferrera), back in 2007-2008, when fittingly, Fey’s opponent was Louis-Dreyfus on The New Adventures of Old Christine. They’re both extremely deserving, but Fey has the better shot because 30 Rock is nominated in multiple categories; Parks and Rec tragically only appears here, which is never a good sign. Or a good decision by the Emmys. In other words, as long as it’s not Edie Falco or Lena Dunham, we won’t riot.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family (Episode: “Mistery Date”) (ABC)
Adam Driver as Adam Sackler on Girls (Episode: “It’s Back”) (HBO)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett on Modern Family (Episode: “The Wow Factor”) (ABC)
Bill Hader as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live (Episode: “Host: Seth MacFarlane”) (NBC)
Tony Hale as Gary Walsh on Veep (Episode: “Running”) (HBO)
Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett on Modern Family (Episode: “Bringing Up Baby”) (ABC)
Who Should Win: Bill Hader
Who Will Win: Ty Burrell
…And the Modern Family Outstanding Supporting Actor steamroller flattens the competition for a fourth straight year. Ty Burrell is the best thing about the show (except for Jay’s dog butler), but winning every year is boring. It’s repetitive and expected and repetitive and doesn’t make for interesting TV and repetitive. If the Emmys want to shake this category up (which they won’t; Jeremy Piven won it three straight years), why not show some love for TV’s greatest happy sad sack, Tony Hale, or better yet, the departed Bill Hader, who made even the worst SNL sketches watchable? Give Modern Family their 294 awards elsewhere.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory (Episode: “The Fish Guts Displacement”) (CBS)
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy on Modern Family (Episode: “My Hero”) (ABC)
Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer on Veep (Episode: “First Response”) (HBO)
Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock (Episodes: “Hogcock!”/”Last Lunch”) (NBC)
Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester on Glee (Episode: “Feud”) (Fox)
Sofía Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on Modern Family (Episode: “Yard Sale”) (ABC)
Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow on Nurse Jackie (Episode: “Teachable Moments”) (Showtime)
Who Should Win: Jane Krakowski
Who Will Win: Sofía Vergara
For the past decade, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series has been one of the toughest categories to predict. Since Doris Roberts reigned supreme four times in five years for her role on Everybody Loves Raymond (And F*cking Adores Raymond’s Mom, Apparently), the award has gone to Megan Mullally, Jaime Pressly, Jean Smart, Kristin Chenoweth, Jane Lynch, and finally, Julie Bowen, the past two times. This year is a complete toss-up, too, with a rare seven-nominee category balanced between ever-Emmy-beloved career resurrection projects (Mayim Bialik and Anna Chlumsky) and returning favorites, including previous winners Lynch and Bowen. But ultimately, everything comes back to Sofía Vergara. She’s got two things going for her: a) she’s on Modern Family, and b) she’s TV highest paid actress. Vergara’s the most recognizable face (and body) on an insanely popular show, which is what Jenna Maroney wishes we’d say about her. Hopefully the Emmys will.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley on Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode Five”) (PBS)
Bryan Cranston as Walter White on Breaking Bad (Episode: “Say My Name”) (AMC)
Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy on The Newsroom (Episode: “We Just Decided To”) (HBO)
Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode: “In Care Of”) (AMC)
Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody on Homeland (Episode: “Q&A”) (Showtime)
Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood on House of Cards (Episode: “Chapter 1”) (Netflix)
Who Should Win: Bryan Cranston
Who Will Win: Bryan Cranston
It’s not unreasonable to think the Emmys might make a BOLD STATEMENT and give Outstanding Actor to Kevin Spacey, not only because he’s a movie star but also because streaming websites like Netflix are the way of the future, and giving Spacey the award now would hurry the process and make the Emmys seem “hip.” I still think it’s Bryan Cranston and then a five-way tie for second place, but don’t be too surprised if Keyser Söze fake limps away with a trophy in hand.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes on Nashville (Episode: “Pilot”) (ABC)
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on Homeland (Episode: “Q&A”) (Showtime)
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode One”) (PBS)
Vera Farmiga as Norma Louise Bates on Bates Motel (Episode: “First You Dream, Then You Die”) (A&E)
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson on Mad Men (Episode: “The Better Half”) (AMC)
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on Scandal (Episode: “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”) (ABC)
Robin Wright as Claire Underwood on House of Cards (Episode: “Chapter 10”) (Netflix)
Who Should Win: Elisabeth Moss
Who Will Win: Kerry Washington
Few network shows had as buzzy a season as Scandal did. Everyone, including Danger, loved it, and the only reason I haven’t watched is because the shutter clicks during scene transitions makes me as insane as Norma Louise Bates’s son. Is Scandal worth the risk of killing my mom? Maybe, but I don’t want to find out. Anyway, that water cooler popularity, if water coolers were still a thing, is why Kerry Washington has the edge here (plus, a black actress has never won this category — HISTORY), with typically strong performances from Elisabeth Moss (my passive pick, despite her having a better season five), Claire Danes, and Vera Farmiga close behind.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad (Episode: “Say My Name”) (AMC)
Bobby Cannavale as Gyp Rosetti on Boardwalk Empire (Episode: “Sunday Best”) (HBO)
Jim Carter as Charles Carson on Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode Six”) (PBS)
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: “Second Sons”) (HBO)
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad (Episode: “Buyout”) (AMC)
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson on Homeland (Episode: “The Choice”) (Showtime)
Who Should Win: Jonathan Banks
Who Will Win: Aaron Paul
F*ck this category. With the exception of Jim Carter, everyone here (and not here *coughBOYDcoughRICHARDHARROWcough*) deserves to win. Bobby Cannavale’s Boardwalk Empire presence was even bigger than his actual size, Peter Dinklage makes you root for the enemy, and Mandy Patinkin is the heart and soul of Homeland. But this category is going one of two ways, and they’re both for the same show: Aaron Paul or Jonathan Banks. Remember how we felt last year, that weird mixture of happiness and sadness, when Paul won over Giancarlo Esposito, who deserved it if only because it was his final season on Breaking Bad? Well, it’s going to happen again, but this time with Jonathan Banks. (If he somehow does win, I’d pay $11 million to see Kaylee Ehrmantraut accept the award on his behalf.)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Morena Baccarin as Jessica Brody on Homeland (Episode: “State of Independence”) (Showtime)
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife (Episode: “The Seven Day Rule”) (CBS)
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones (Episode: “And Now His Watch is Ended”) (HBO)
Anna Gunn as Skyler White on Breaking Bad (Episode: “Fifty-One”) (AMC)
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris on Mad Men (Episode: “A Tale of Two Cities”) (AMC)
Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley on Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode One”) (PBS)
Who Should Win: Anna Gunn
Who Will Win: Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith will win everything until she dies, which hopefully won’t be for another 70 years. Sorry Skyler. (“What are you waiting for?” “For the cancer to come back…and for Maggie Smith to finally croak.”)
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
30 Rock (Episode: “Hogcock!”), Written by Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock (NBC)
30 Rock (Episode: “Last Lunch”), Written by Tina Fey & Tracey Wigfield (NBC)
Episodes (Episode: “Episode 209”), Written by David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik (Showtime)
Louie (Episode: “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 1”), Written by Pamela Adlon & Louis C.K. (FX)
The Office (Episode: “Finale”), Written by Greg Daniels (NBC)
What Should Win: “Last Lunch”
What Will Win: “Finale”
Let’s see: “Finale” and “Last Lunch” were both final episodes for much beloved, award-winning NBC sitcoms, but The Office‘s “Finale” was more of an emotional gut punch than 30 Rock‘s bow out, something the Emmys can’t and won’t ignore. I honestly think “Last Lunch” was a much stronger episode, more in line with the show as a whole, but the power of a guest appearance from a salt-and-pepper-haired returning cast member is strong, even if said returning cast member NEVER WON OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A COMEDY. I’ll never forget you, Rural Juror.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Breaking Bad (Episode: “Dead Freight”), Written by George Mastras (AMC)
Breaking Bad (Episode: “Say My Name”), Written by Thomas Schnauz (AMC)
Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode Four”), Written by Julian Fellowes (PBS)
Game of Thrones (Episode: “The Rains of Castamere”), Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss (HBO)
Homeland (Episode: “Q&A”), Written by Henry Bromell (Showtime)
What Should Win: “The Rains of Castamere”
What Will Win: “Q&A”
Say what you will about season two of Homeland, “Q&A,” a.k.a. the interrogation episode, was extraordinary, with brilliant acting matched only by intense, tight writing. Unfortunately, it might win for the wrong reason: the guy who wrote the script, Henry Bromell, tragically passed away in March. My vote in this category would still go to either “Say My Name” or “The Rains of Castamere,” which was so brilliant that it managed to exceed the massive expectations that were placed on by book readers, but “Q&A” has the sentimental edge.
Outstanding Comedy Series
30 Rock (NBC)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Modern Family (ABC)
What Should Win: 30 Rock
What Will Win: 30 Rock
Barring a major Louie upset, this is a two horse race: 30 Rock vs. Modern Family. Those pair of shows have won Outstanding Comedy Series for the past five years, ever since The Office triumphed over Arrested Development in 2006. So why am I picking Liz Lemon over Claire Dunphy? For one, 30 Rock >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Modern Family, but also: 30 Rock had one of the finest final seasons of any show, let alone sitcom, in recent memory. Knowing they were near the end seemed to revitalize the writers, allowing them to do the “Liz Lemon gets a family” stories they couldn’t do earlier in the show’s run. 30 Rock is one of the rare shows that’s won a lot of awards (14 Emmys and counting) and deserves all of them. Unlike Modern Family.
Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mad Men (AMC)
What Should Win: Breaking Bad
What Will Win: Breaking Bad
Take it away, Huell.
Breaking Bad is 0 for 3 in the Outstanding Drama Series category — it’s not going 0 for 4.