In spite of the tumultuous last half year, the current pandemic has done very little to derail the typical media storm leading up to the Primetime Emmy broadcast. Perhaps it’s the escapism we have been so desperate to cling onto in short bursts over the last six months, or maybe there really is nothing that can stop us TV junkies from talking about our favorite shows, actors and award snubs. In light of the hype, the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards will set yet another live television precedent, going completely virtual due to COVID-19. The ABC telecast will be hosted by the ever-present Jimmy Kimmel this Sunday, September 20th, while this week’s Creative Arts Emmys lead-up is hosted by the consistently hilarious Nicole Byer.
With the big day fast-approaching, and quite a number of major trophy hogs like Fleabag, Game of Thrones and Veep (and their respective much-awarded actors) wrapped up, 2020’s predictions have been at their most delightfully up in the air in years. Nevertheless, behold our best dartboard shots at this years winners.
Outstanding Comedy Series
What will win: Schitt’s Creek has absolutely dominated pop culture in the last two years. While mainstream appeal is certainly not the best indicator of Emmy success, it certainly would be wonderful poetic justice to finally award this once-underrated comedy masterpiece.
What should win: Schitt’s Creek certainly does deserve the praise it has been heaped on as TV’s latest sleeper hit, so we have no qualms about its great odds. That said, Issa Rae’s comedy masterclass Insecure would be equally deserving.
Potential upsets: It is hard to understate the dominance of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel at the Emmys, but given its wins in the last few seasons, it seems like another major award for the show itself would be unlikely. If the Academy really wants to shake things up, then Emmy newcomer What We Do in the Shadows is the best way to do that. Then again, they also might be clamoring to reclaim broadcast television’s place in the winner’s circle, in which case their only viable option is NBC’s The Good Place.
Outstanding Drama Series
What will win: Succession seems to be the TV buzzword this year, with the majority of its main and supporting cast snagging noms. While the Outstanding Comedy Series award is a little more up in the air, this one seems like Succession’s to lose.
What should win: It is really hard to argue with the popularity of Succession. Bolstered by such a strong cast, the most likely winner seems like the correct one in our eyes. Though we wouldn’t be completely un-pleased if Killing Eve or Ozark swooped in at the last second.
Potential upsets: The Crown has been lauded season after season for its depiction of it’s titular subject, and Olivia Coleman’s turn as Queen Elizabeth II was touted as Emmy-bait before she even premiered on-screen. But if anyone will sweep the rug out from under Succession, our money is on Ozark and its widely praised fourth season.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Who will win: We think the Academy might realize that it is finally time for Ted Danson to score his first statue since Cheers. His fan-favorite role in The Good Place has re-cemented his place as TV royalty, and the show’s popularity has been nothing but bolstering for his odds.
Who should win: This category seems a touch less predictable than previously. If voters want to acknowledge innovation, heart, comedy, and introspection, as opposed to just the latter three like usual, Ramy Youssef is our pick as the most deserving for his touching portrayal of a fictionalized version of himself struggling to navigate America as a modern-day Muslim.
Potential upset: With Schitt’s Creek’s major presence among the nominations, it wouldn’t be too much a of a shock to award at least some of its cast. With that in mind, the father/son duo of Eugene and Daniel Levy seem the most likely winners of the main four members of the Rose family.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Who will win: While the internet would suggest that it is finally time for the much-beloved Catherine O’Hara to receive her acting Emmy dues this year, our bets are cautiously placed of Christina Applegate for the completely bonkers yet utterly engaging Dead to Me.
Who should win: We have to concede with the public on this one that it really is Catherine O’Hara’s time. As Schitt’s Creek premiere breakout character, Moira Rose has become an endlessly quotable, effortlessly hilarious LGBTQ+ icon and mainstream star in a very short amount of time, and for that we applaud Mrs. O’Hara.
Potential upset: Issa Rae is in the uncomfortable position of being in one of the most competitive categories in one of the most competitive years in recent memory. But given Insecure’s praised fourth season, as well as the surge of recent support for the Black Lives Matter movement (The Academy is not always known for voting based on opinion rather than to placate public outcry), Rae may very well emerge as the dark horse here. Though she does deserve it on merit alone for her stunning performance.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Who will win: Of Succession’s two leading figures, Brian Cox is undoubtably the favorite leading up to Emmy day. Again, the show’s seemingly undisputed rise makes at least some of the cast’s wins unavoidable, with Cox being the most likely champion of the whole bunch.
Who should win: It is quite rare for actors to take home trophies more than twice for the same role, so it would be outstanding to see Billy Porter take home a second win for Pose, if not for his incredibly moving performance, then to avenge his nomination-snubbed transgender castmates.
Potential upset: Just as Ozark is the most likely of contenders to snag Succession’s seemingly inevitable win, its leading man Jason Bateman is the most likely to come from behind and upset both Cox and Porter.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Who will win: For such a monumentally hyped role like Olivia Coleman’s in The Crown to be received with the same glee with which it was anticipated should be an award in its own right. The show has not let down its momentum, and with both Claire Foy and John Lithgow walking away with top prizes in past years, Coleman seems primed to be the next Emmy checkmark on the cast list.
Who should win: Jennifer Aniston won her only Emmy back in 2003 for Friends, and 17 years later has finally made her return to the lead actress nominations list. However, while we would love to see Aniston rewarded for her successful breakout in the realm of drama, the show’s exclusion from the Outstanding Drama Series category lowers her odds.
Potential upset: It would be unfair to call Laura Linney a potential upset for this award, as it’s really just as much her race as it is Applegate’s and Aniston’s. But for Ozark’s current status as the potential dark horse of the race, the two A’s just make it through with better chances. That said, a Zendaya win should not be counted out either.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Who will win: Yet again, Succession is primed and ready to take home a good chunk of its whopping ten potential statues this Sunday evening, so we are hedging our bets on the terrific Sarah Snook taking home the gold.
Who should win: Like Catherine O’Hara, Helena Bonham Carter is long overdue for some recognition at the Primetime Emmys. Her resume stretches back decades and includes a laundry list of standout performances, yet she has received no love from the Academy. If everyone else from The Crown can take one home, why not the equally-deserving Carter?
Potential upsets: Just how we keep slotting Succession’s major players into the winning slots, Ozark’s remain in the by no means out-for-the-count category of dark horses. With that in mind, Julie Garner probably has a decent chance to take this one. Then again, the Academy will always love Meryl Streep, and her meme-able role in Big Little Lies was surely one the second season’s few bright spots.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Who will win: Kieran Culkin, to beat a dead horse, is the most likely to walk away victorious here.
Who should win: Anyone on Succession could and should take this one, as it does have a fabulously eccentric ensemble cast. We don’t really see it going another way.
Potential upsets: With only five shows represented amongst eight nominees, Billy Crudup is our pick for the win if vote splitting decides stops the frontrunners from success.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Who will win: The fan favorite character Janet from The Good Place has taken the internet by storm, so we are going out on a limb and saying that its face, D’Arcy Carden, will come from behind and take this one, if not for her brilliant performance, for the show’s acclaimed final season.
Who should win: We would happily watch any woman from this list crowned, but Annie Murphy and Yvonne Orji rocketed their respective characters to new heights that elated fans and critics alike.
Potential upset: As strange as this sounds, Alex Borstein is one of the less likely winners of this bunch, if only because taking a win three years in a row for the same character is so rare. Don’t count her out though.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Who will win: The Schitt’s Creek takeover has been staggering, and we wouldn’t be taken aback if the Emmys gave the show and its four principle actors a near-clean sweep. That said, as the head writer and creator, Daniel Levy is the most likely candidate if they decided to keep it to just one win.
Who should win: There’s a reason Daniel Levy’s celebrity has grown so significantly recently; he is charming, hilarious, and full of heart, not to mention just as talented with a pen as he is in front of the camera. He deserves a good shot at Emmy stardom for his magnum opus’ farewell season.
Potential upsets: If voters want to stick with tradition, then Tony Shalhoub is their best bet. But more deserving and with just as much (if not more) Academy love is the wonderful Mahershala Ali, who’s turn in Ramy was inspired.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Who will win: Paul Mescal awed viewers as the male half of the acting duo of Irish breakout hit Normal People, chronicling the on-again-off-again relationship of two young people in secondary school. The last few Emmys have reveled in awarding fresh blood, and as a first-time nominee, Mescal is as fresh as they come.
Who should win: Mescal is not only the most likely winner, but the most deserving one, despite a talented pool of heavy hitters. We are always one to root for the underdog.
Potential upsets: Jeremy Irons and Mark Ruffalo probably are on equal footing in this leg of the race, stopping just short of Mescal. If it doesn’t go to the upstart, either of the two could take it.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Who will win: Probably the most predictable award of the night, Regina King is more than likely to win her fourth Emmy in her favorite category. And well deserved too. Anything other than a win for King will be a true surprise.
Who should win: We are sticking with the obvious choice on this one, but a win for the brilliant Emmy newcomer Shira Haas would certainly not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Potential upsets: While unlikely, Kerry Washington could very well take home her first Emmy for what is arguably her most difficult and most impressive role to date. In many other years this one would be her’s for the taking, but 2020 has far stiffer competition than would allow for Washington to coast through.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Who will win: If there was one universally acclaimed aspect of the much-disputed Mrs. America, it was Uzo Aduba’s performance. If/when Aduba wins, it will likely be the miniseries’ least-contested award of the night (assuming it actually wins anything else, which we are not counting on)
Who should win: Toni Collette’s applauded role in Netflix’s Unbelievable is what we feel the most deserving of the win, and not only because of Mrs. America’s dodgy depiction of its main character and its writing as a whole.
Potential upsets: Jean Smart is not likely to win, but Watchmen’s domineering presence certainly wouldn’t make a choice for her the most upsetting of upsets.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Who will win: Similarly to how Succession dominates the Drama category winner predictions, Watchmen is set to win a good helping of Limited Series awards. Of the three candidates, our money is on Jovan Adepo.
Who should win: Anyone onWatchmen deserves to take this one, and its hard to imagine it going any other way as one of the most dynamic shows this year.
Potential upsets: The only way in our minds Watchmen will walk away empty handed is due to vote splitting because of the three deserving candidates. If that’s the case, Jim Parsons has the best chance for his role in Hollywood.
Outstanding Limited Series
What will win: Watchmen leads this year’s nominations with a grand total of 11, so it is hard to imagine the show going home empty-handed. If there is one thing voters love, its gritty superhero adaptations.
What should win: With the snubbing of its two female leads, Unbelievable seems the unlikely choice, however deserving. Shira Haas’ acting nomination squarely puts the incredible Unorthodox in the race, and we would love to see its heart-pounding story rewarded. Though we won’t be upset it Watchmen does end up taking it.
Potential upsets: This one is such a tight race, and the statue is really anyone’s game. If we had to pick the most likely upset it would be Mrs. America, despite its contentious lead. After all, the Academy isn’t always one for cultural awareness.
Outstanding Competition Program
What will win: RuPaul’s Drag Race is without a doubt the catalyst for drag’s newfound mainstream appeal. The Outstanding Competition Program category typically works in cycles, with winners reigning for years at a time (with the exception of Top Chef’s surprise win in 2010). With its mega-success and countless international spinoffs, Drag Race is set to keep that crown for the foreseeable future.
What should win: RuPaul’s Drag Race is a cultural juggernaut for a reason. Despite its many issues and politically controversial host, the show has brought unprecedented visibility to queer people of color on television, all in a neatly packaged format filled with silly challenges, runway-worthy looks, and good old-fashioned heart.
Potential upset: Given its gargantuan ratings and surprise status as America’s newest reality hit, The Masked Singer and its gloriously absurd escapism might appeal to those looking for some levity during this monster of a year. Frankly, nothing else stands a chance to make Drag Race’s reign a short one.