Who should win? Experts weigh in
We persuaded four Emmy voters — a male studio president, a female showrunner, a male actor, and a female publicist — to share their ballots with us anonymously.
Outstanding Drama Series
The Publicist: The Americans. It kills me to have to choose between The Crown and anything else, but alas. I’ve watched every season of The Americans, and it’s unbelievable to me how the writers managed to make each season better and better. It’s complicated, it’s messy, the characters are extremely flawed, and yet I can’t tear myself away.
The Showrunner: The Crown. The degree of difficulty with having to play real people! You can look up what happened on the internet after each episode. They keep every character fully realized, and still are able to surprise you. It transports you in a beautiful way.
The Studio President: Game of Thrones. It’s like they are making a movie every week. Each episode is ridiculously epic.
The Actor: The Handmaid’s Tale. Is it too late to pick The Leftovers? There’s nothing on TV like Game of Thrones, but The Handmaid’s Tale had a stunning season that set up an ending that made me so hungry for a third season. They really long-played Offred’s breaking point, which I loved.
Outstanding Comedy Series
The Publicist: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. These nominees are all so different. It’s not entirely fair to judge them against each other, especially when they don’t all have to make the same number of episodes. However, I watched all eight episodes of Mrs. Maisel in one day. I couldn’t get enough of it.
The Showrunner: Atlanta. It’s subtle in ways and rich in ways. It’s a tough one for me because of what Kenya Barris is doing on black-ish. Writing for broadcast is harder. Since Atlanta is on FX, they can depict [life] more realistically.
The Studio President: black-ish. I love creator Kenya Barris. I think it’s really funny, and it’s also about something.
The Actor: Atlanta. Wait, was The Good Place not nominated? I mean, I’m still voting for Atlanta, but really? No Good Place? Atlanta does things that no other television show does. It is the most authentic show on TV.
Outstanding Actor in a Drama
The Showrunner: Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us). I voted for him based on the fact I know him and he struggled in the wilderness before this happened. I did not vote on performance; I voted based on his story. He’s a really good guy.
The Actor: Jason Bateman (Ozark). He is really going for it — and he drives that whole series. To watch that character think on his feet is fascinating. That’s an easy thing for an actor to overplay or to forget about.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama
The Showrunner: Claire Foy (The Crown). This is the Claire Foy moment. I know everybody loves what’s-her-face. [She means Elisabeth Moss.] But it’s Claire for me. Having to depict a real person is harder than what anyone else has to do.
The Actor: Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale). No one beats Elisabeth Moss in a close-up.
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
The Showrunner: Anthony Anderson (black–ish). I didn’t watch [Bill Hader on] Barry. I wasn’t super interested in it. I voted for Anthony. He’s so talented.
The Actor: Ted Danson (The Good Place). He has to deliver jokes and mountains of information, and he does it so seamlessly and with such delight and joy — and then panics when Michael’s own rules seem to betray him.
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
The Showrunner: Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish. On family sitcoms, especially on broadcast, the moms are usually super put-upon. I like that she’s cool. She feels like an adult.
The Actor: Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish). I feel like we’ve celebrated Allison Janney enough — not that that’s necessarily possible — and Tracee Ellis Ross is one of the great underrated television comedians. Let’s give her an Emmy — and a moment.
Outstanding Reality Competition Program
The Publicist: The Amazing Race. I’ve watched every season, and it never gets old. The production is so tight, you feel like you are there. They always devise challenges that are unique to the country they’re in, so it’s not like Ugly Americans intruding upon these faraway lands.
The Studio President: The Amazing Race. It’s the only one I watch. I love the combo of a travelogue-meets-competition show.
Outstanding Variety Talk Series
The Publicist: Jimmy Kimmel Live! He’s very brave to be so outspoken about gun control and health care in this horribly divided climate. When he talks about his family he makes the political personal, which it should be. Also, he’s super funny and adorable.
The Studio President: The Late Late Show With James Corden. It’s a genuine variety show. It’s got everything — good conversation, unique and fun sketches, and an incredibly lovable host.
—With additional reporting from Dan Snierson