Nominees: Better Call Saul (AMC), Euphoria (HBO), Ozark (Netflix), Severance (Apple TV+), Squid Game (Netflix), Stranger Things (Netflix), Succession (HBO), Yellowjackets (Showtime)
A year after The Crown’s Diana-centric season swept the drama awards, this is one of the more interesting drama races in years – a mix of Emmy favorites (Stranger Things, Ozark, 2020 winner Succession), buzzy newcomers (Severance and Yellowjackets) and the first non-English language nominee in Squid Game. It’s possible that Netflix’s astoundingly bleak capitalist parable from South Korea will out-muscle Succession, the most nominated of any series this year with 25 nods; count the two other freshman series as dark horses, particularly Apple’s Severance, an unnerving, slow-burn mystery of work-life balance that won over critics. I’d expect Emmy voters to reward Better Call Saul for the second half of its sixth and final season, which aired in July and isn’t eligible until next year. It’s also unlikely that Zendaya, already the youngest best dramatic actress in Emmys history, will also become the youngest producer for Euphoria’s chaotic, excessive second season. This is pretty much a lock for Succession, beloved by the Emmys and just as ruthless and riveting as ever in its third season.
Will win: Succession
Should win: Severance
Nominees: Abbott Elementary (ABC), Barry (HBO), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), Hacks (HBO Max), The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon), Only Murders in the Building (Hulu), Ted Lasso (Apple TV+), What We Do in the Shadows (FX)
Abbott Elementary, an Office-style mockumentary about a majority-Black elementary school in Philadelphia and the lone broadcast nominee, is the feelgood story of the 2022 Emmys. The Emmys will probably go for the equivalent of the Oscars’s Coda moment with Abbott, given that the second season of last year’s feelgood winner, Ted Lasso, was less enthusiastically received. The Emmys have already demonstrated their love for Hacks, with wins last year for best actress (Jean Smart), writing and directing; the HBO Max show on a post-prime comedian and her younger writing partner has an outside chance, as does another odd-throuple show, Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building. Barry, which is arguably not a comedy, seems too thorny to win; The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Curb are past their prime. No offense to What We Do in the Shadows, but the real best comedy is another Taika Waititi-produced series: FX’s Reservation Dogs, a truly original black comedy about Indigenous American teens in Oklahoma, that’s criminally not nominated.
Will win: Abbott Elementary
Should win: Barry
Nominees: Dopesick (Hulu), The Dropout (Hulu), Inventing Anna (Netflix), Pam & Tommy (Hulu), The White Lotus (HBO)
Though the second season will premiere next month, “best limited series” is The White Lotus’s award to lose – the HBO satire of privilege and moral perversion at a Hawaiian resort basically swept the supporting acting nominations and has 20 nominations overall. No other series comes close except maybe The Dropout, Hulu’s gripping imagination of the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos saga that was the only member of this spring’s lackluster true-scam TV wave to really hit (that includes the overlong disappointment Inventing Anna, which should not be on this list). The consent drama within Hulu’s Pam & Tommy, while gonzo and well-acted, is undercut by the reported disapproval of its central subject, Pamela Anderson. Dopesick, on Purdue Pharma’s manufacture of the US opioid crisis, is noble in its intentions but muddled in execution. It would be a shock if this didn’t go to The White Lotus, which among other things included one of the best ensemble cast performances in recent memory.
Will win: The White Lotus
Should win: The White Lotus
Lead actress in a drama series
Nominees: Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Laura Linney (Ozark), Melanie Lynskey (Yellowjackets), Sandra Oh (Killing Eve), Reese Witherspoon (The Morning Show), Zendaya (Euphoria)
This is a similar best drama actress list to the 2020 Emmys, except swap in a shock nomination for Witherspoon over her more deserving The Morning Show co-star Jennifer Aniston. Lynskey is the only newcomer with an outside shot for her riveting portrayal of a plane crash survivor with shocking capacity for coldness in Yellowjackets. Oh has 13 Emmy noms but zero wins – she’s lost in this category to The Crown’s Claire Foy and Killing Eve co-star Comer in 2019 – and seems unlikely to triumph here for a show whose buzz has faded. The spotlight has only pooled more around Zendaya since she became the youngest winner in 2020; Euphoria is a mess, but she is a star and has the momentum.
Will win: Zendaya
Should win: Melanie Lynskey
Lead actor in a drama series
Nominees: Brian Cox (Succession), Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Adam Scott (Severance), Jeremy Strong (Succession)
It’s likely the Emmys will finally honor Odenkirk, nominated for best actor five times for Better Call Saul, when the second half of the show’s finale is eligible next year. In the meantime, the fanged father-son dynamic at the heart of Succession takes center stage – Cox as patriarch Logan Roy and, more likely, 2020 winner Strong as wounded number one boy Kendall. Scott is the dark horse for his anchoring performance on Severance, but this should go to Lee Jung-jae, whose vulnerability and comic edge made the inky darkness of Squid Game not only bearable but thrilling.
Will win: Jeremy Strong
Should win: Lee Jung-jae
Lead actress in a comedy series
Nominees: Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel), Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary), Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant), Elle Fanning (The Great), Issa Rae (Insecure), Jean Smart (Hacks)
Many have predicted that Smart’s glorious turn as a twilight-era comedian in Hacks, for which she won last year, will become a Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Veep situation: she’ll win as long as the show is on. That’s not unlikely, although I could see the Emmys crowning a feelgood, deserved success story in Brunson – the first black woman to be nominated for comedy series, lead actress and writing in the same year – or offering overdue recognition to Rae for the final season of Insecure. Deserving, too, is Fanning for her underappreciated, pitch-perfect work on the tricky semi-historical farce The Great.
Will win: Jean Smart
Should win: Elle Fanning
Lead actor in a comedy series
Nominees: Donald Glover (Atlanta), Bill Hader (Barry), Nicholas Hoult (The Great), Steve Martin (Only Murders in the Building), Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building), Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
Another interesting mix of former winners – Glover in 2017, Hader in 2018 and 2019, Sudeikis last year – beloved industry veterans (Martin and Short) and surprise newcomers (Hoult, for his devilish performance in The Great, which is a win unto itself). General goodwill for Only Murders, which winningly pairs Martin’s physical comedy and Short’s zingers with millennial pop icon Selena Gomez, seems likely to push either of the leading men ahead of Sudeikis’s sophomore run as football coach Ted Lasso (this time, with anger issues).
Will win: Steve Martin
Should win: Nicholas Hoult
Lead actress in a limited series or TV movie
Nominees: Toni Collette (The Staircase), Julia Garner (Inventing Anna), Lily James (Pam & Tommy), Sarah Paulson (Impeachment: American Crime Story), Margaret Qualley (Maid), Amanda Seyfried (The Dropout)
In a category entirely composed of famous women turning into infamous real people (Collette and Qualley being the exception, as their characters are real non-celebrities), Seyfried is the frontrunner. The task of turning Elizabeth Holmes into a legible yet unsympathetic antihero was monumental, and she delivered, faux baritone and all (sorry to James, who tried her best beneath prosthetics for Pam & Tommy but was never fully convincing). There’s a chance Paulson could eke out a win here for her portrayal of Linda Tripp in the under-watched Impeachment: American Crime Story, or that Qualley could surprise for her sensitive, live-wire performance of a young single mother in the under-discussed Maid. But Seyfried’s career-best performance seems close to a lock.
Will win: Amanda Seyfried
Should win: Amanda Seyfried
Lead actor in a limited series or TV movie
Nominees: Colin Firth (The Staircase), Andrew Garfield (Under the Banner of Heaven), Oscar Isaac (Scenes from a Marriage), Michael Keaton (Dopesick), Himesh Patel (Station Eleven), Sebastian Stan (Pam & Tommy)
There’s not a performance on this list that doesn’t seem to involve a grueling transformation – Garfield into a conflicted Mormon detective in FX’s brutal Under the Banner of Heaven, Firth into a closeted bisexual man maybe falsely accused of killing his wife in The Staircase, dark horse Stan into hard-living rocker Tommy Lee. Keaton, who won the Screen Actors Guild award for Dopesick, is the frontrunner for what he’s called a deeply personal role, as a doctor in an Appalachian town besieged by OxyContin. But British actor Patel deserves the win for his understated turn in post-apocalyptic, under-nominated Station Eleven.
Will win: Michael Keaton
Should win: Himesh Patel
Variety talk series
Nominees: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Late Night With Seth Meyers, The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Emmy voters have picked Last Week Tonight for six years straight, and have no reason not to again. While the nightly programs – hosted by Colbert, Noah, Kimmel and Meyers – have continued to chug along with Trump jokes, Oliver’s Sunday night deep dives into arcane, unwieldy topics have only become more illuminative and infuriating. Oliver has a leg-up partly through the weekly format, which allows for intensive research, but in terms of clarity and originality, it’s no contest here.
Will win: Last Week Tonight
Should win: Last Week Tonight
Supporting actress in a comedy series
Nominees: Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel), Hannah Einbinder (Hacks), Janelle James (Abbott Elementary), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Sarah Niles (Ted Lasso), Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary), Juno Temple (Ted Lasso), Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)
McKinnon has been nominated for Saturday Night Live every year since 2014, and won twice (in 2016 and 2017) – it would be unsurprising if the Emmys award her one more time for her final season. But the Emmys also love to reward a career, and industry veteran Sheryl Lee Ralph keeps delivering as battle-wizened kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary. General enthusiasm for Abbott could push Ralph ahead of the women of Ted Lasso – an excellent Niles, Temple and last year’s winner, Waddingham.
Will win: Kate McKinnon
Should win: Sheryl Lee Ralph
Supporting actor in a comedy series
Nominees: Anthony Carrigan (Barry), Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso), Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso), Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso), Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel), Tyler James Williams (Abbott Elementary), Henry Winkler (Barry), Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live)
Ted Lasso’s Goldstein, AKA Roy Kent, took home the win last year and could repeat, though don’t discount Emmy goodwill for Shalhoub and Barry veterans Carrigan and 2018 winner Winkler. But the momentum seems to be with Ted Lasso’s Nick Mohammed, whose subtle transformation in season two gave the series some needed bite.
Will win: Brett Goldstein
Should win: Nick Mohammed
Supporting actress in a drama series
Nominees: Patricia Arquette (Severance), Julia Garner (Ozark), Jung Ho-yeon (Squid Game), Christina Ricci (Yellowjackets), Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul), J Smith-Cameron (Succession), Sarah Snook (Succession), Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria)
It’s possible this could go to Garner, who won for Ozark in 2020, or Emmy favorite Arquette (who won for The Act in 2019). The women of Succession are never less than solid, but this should go to Squid Game’s breakout star Jung Ho-yeon, who stole scenes as a lithe, indomitable competitor. It will probably be Sweeney, however, whose overachieving work on the chaotic second season of Euphoria was essentially one long Emmy submission reel.
Will win: Sydney Sweeney
Should win: Jung Ho-yeon
Supporting actor in a drama series
Nominees: Nicholas Braun (Succession), Billy Crudup (The Morning Show), Kieran Culkin (Succession), Park Hae-soo (Squid Game), Matthew Macfadyen (Succession), John Turturro (Severance), Christopher Walken (Severance), Oh Yeong-su (Squid Game)
Crudup won this category in a bit of a surprise in 2020, especially considering the Emmys’ love for Succession, but it seems unlikely he’ll repeat here for the mess that was season two of The Morning Show. More likely, Emmy voters will pick Succession’s Matthew Macfadyen on the strength of Tom Wambsgans’s comeuppance in the season 3 finale, over Oh Yeong-su’s devastating, knife-twisting performance as the inscrutable old man in Squid Game.
Will win: Matthew Macfadyen
Should win: Oh Yeong-su
Supporting actress in a limited series or TV movie
Nominees: Connie Britton (The White Lotus), Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus), Alexandra Daddario (The White Lotus), Kaitlyn Dever (Dopesick), Natasha Rothwell (The White Lotus), Sydney Sweeney (The White Lotus), Mare Winningham (Dopesick)
It’s The White Lotus Olympics, although it should be noted that Dever never delivers a bad performance, and is a standout in the bleak ensemble that was Dopesick. But there’s one clear winner here: Jennifer Coolidge, whose impeccable comic timing and magnetically unhinged performance as grieving heiress Tanya McQuoid launched a mid-career renaissance for the 60-year-old actor.
Will win: Jennifer Coolidge
Should win: Jennifer Coolidge
Supporting actor in a limited series or TV movie
Nominees: Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus), Jake Lacy (The White Lotus), Will Poulter (Dopesick), Seth Rogen (Pam & Tommy), Peter Sarsgaard (Dopesick), Michael Stuhlbarg (Dopesick), Steve Zahn (The White Lotus)
Poulter, Sarsgaard and Stuhlbarg each delivered solid work in Dopesick, a sprawling, dour series whose uneven sum could not match its well-observed parts. So this is, once again, a race between the men of The White Lotus, a show ultimately hinged on and delivered by Murray Bartlett’s performance as a disassembling hotel concierge.
Will win: Murray Bartlett
Should win: Murray Bartlett