Who Should Win the Emmys? Experts Weigh In
To help you win your Emmy pool (or just to satisfy your curiosity), we asked some Hollywood pros to share how they plan to vote in the major categories in exchange for their anonymity. While they had universal love for one particular comedy (hint: it rhymes with “beep”), they weren’t afraid to throw some shade when necessary.
The Panel: The COMEDY WRITER: Beloved by critics, this Emmy-starved scribe behind one of TV’s laugh riots has a soft spot for single-camera comedies, Tatiana Maslany, and a certain USA Network phenom. The DRAMA WRITER: Sorely overdue for an Emmy himself, the writer who created one of cable’s most groundbreaking dramas loves The Americans but hates seeing nontraditional funnies in the comedy category. The VETERAN PRODUCER: The Emmy-winning talent behind one of CBS’ most successful franchises wishes the stars of Vice Principals had been eligible. But until the 2017 Emmys, he’ll settle on Jeffrey Tambor for yet another win. The ACTRESS: Having already won an Emmy, this sitcom star takes her role as a voter very seriously and considers it a privilege to lie in bed and binge full seasons of Bloodline and House of Cards. The LEGEND: After more than 60 years in the business and with far too many nominations to count, this golden-ager proves that Emmy voters don’t have to be young and hip to be able to spot quality TV.
Outstanding Drama Series
THE COMEDY WRITER: At the risk of Game of Thrones‘ Cersei blowing me up with wildfire, I’m going with Mr. Robot. From its unreliable narrator to its near-fetched dystopian future, it’s a show that demands you put down your iPad and watch carefully.
THE DRAMA WRITER: The Americans. Finally, the best drama on TV is nominated. Mercifully, Downton Abbey never will be again. It’s time to honor the Russians on FX for their sustained excellence in what might be their best season yet.
THE VETERAN PRODUCER: I picked Homeland only because watching Mandy Patinkin eat up scenery is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I love him.
THE ACTRESS: Game of Thrones. It’s like watching an epic every week. It’s never long enough, though. It ends and you’re like, “What? I want another hour.”
THE LEGEND: Downton Abbey. While Game of Thrones might be a more obvious choice, I firmly believe in giving credit where it is due. Downton Abbey was as spectacular and dynamic as ever this year. They delivered their final season with grace and power. I am only sad to see it go but know that great television will follow in its place, as it always has.
Outstanding Comedy Series
THE COMEDY WRITER: The test of a comedy series is if you can watch an episode [a second time] and laugh again. So…Veep. It’s a sleeper of a show that lacks the network push of Modern Family or the stylized kitsch of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s a comedy that makes me laugh.
THE DRAMA WRITER I dreaded the showrunner change on Veep this season, but they didn’t miss a beat. It’s still the funniest, most cutting, most honest, most profane attack on government we’ve ever seen on TV. Stop nominating non-comedies for best comedy (I’m looking at you, Transparent).
THE VETERAN PRODUCER Veep, not only because it’s the best show on the list but it will satisfy whoever wins the election. It’s the story of a woman President, so Democrats will be happy, and it’s the story of a staff of morons, so Republicans will be happy.
THE ACTRESS Veep. The writing is so clever! You know half the people in government are nowhere near as smart as we think they are. So when I watch this show I feel like, “Oh, I understand politics.”
THE LEGEND Veep has been nominated on several occasions for a reason—it has been consistently quick, sharp, and brilliantly witty. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a comedic genius, and she is lucky to be flanked by such talented cast members, who help her carry the show.
Lead Actor, Drama
THE COMEDY WRITER: Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek, by a mile. Every actor in this category is terrific, but Malek is doing something I’ve never seen before. His tortured stoic face, his mumbled monotone, and his intensity create an astonishing and unique performance.
THE DRAMA WRITER: Matthew Rhys. Everyone praises Tatiana Maslany—and rightfully so—for how well she plays so many roles on Orphan Black, but look at the library of diverse characters Rhys and Keri Russell have crafted over four seasons on The Americans. You could also talk me into Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul.
THE VETERAN PRODUCER: Kevin Spacey for House of Cards. I think he deserves it because he’s one of America’s greatest actors. And secondly, we don’t want any more talking-cat movies, so give him the Emmy.
THE ACTRESS: It’s a toss-up between Kyle Chandler and Kevin Spacey. Kyle deserves an Emmy for Bloodline. But I can’t get enough of House of Cards.
THE LEGEND: Liev Schreiber is fantastic as Ray Donovan. He effortlessly balances his roles as the villain with the caring husband and father.
Lead Actress, Drama
THE COMEDY WRITER: Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany. Show me someone else who can convincingly play one of her characters pretending nearly—but not quite perfectly—to be another of her characters and I’ll relent.
THE DRAMA WRITER: Keri Russell. I understand why some people like the theatrics of Cookie’s tantrums [on Empire] or Carrie’s breakdowns [on Homeland], but give me Keri’s subtlety and intensity on The Americans any day.
THE VETERAN PRODUCER: Taraji P. Henson, because she can carry off that wardrobe and dialogue on Empire. I once had a role in a movie, and I remember saying to Harry Dean Stanton, “I’ve never acted before!” He said, “Let the costumes do the talking!” Taraji is the greatest at that.
THE ACTRESS: Robin Wright. I could eat her up. She is so good, and I love that she directs House of Cards episodes. She is a badass—a woman to be reckoned with. If anybody could run our country, God knows it could be her.
THE LEGEND Robin Wright. I have long been a fan of her talents and believe she’s truly found her calling in this role.
Lead Actor, Comedy
THE COMEDY WRITER: I’m going with Silicon Valley‘s Thomas Middleditch. A character who could be a colorless center instead has a wonderful, self-conscious charm.
THE DRAMA WRITER: Black-ish‘s Anthony Anderson. Maybe it’s the parent in me, but I just appreciate the humor and honesty that Anderson brings to being a father tackling tough issues. Jeffrey Tambor, who’s a hall of famer, needs to be in the drama category for Transparent.
THE VETERAN PRODUCER: Until Danny McBride and Walton Goggins get nominated for Vice Principals—they are two of the funniest guys on TV—I have to pick Jeffrey Tambor, only because I guess that’s the thing to do.
THE ACTRESS: Tambor’s acting is so brilliant. The problem is, it’s hard for me to see Transparent as a comedy. It’s like how they put The Martian in comedy [for the Golden Globes]. It makes no sense, and it’s weird for everyone.
THE LEGEND Tambor’s performance is astounding. His inherent comedic talent and timing make the show a true pleasure to watch. Transparent is incredibly brave and relevant, and stands out as an important turning of the tides in television history.
Lead Actress, Comedy
THE COMEDY WRITER: This is a toughie. There are too many good choices! Let’s give it to [Amy] Schumer—she’s doing variety, and I miss variety. But [Lily] Tomlin [Grace and Frankie] and [Laurie] Metcalf [Getting On]…real toughie.
THE DRAMA WRITER: Ellie Kemper. Julia Louis-Dreyfus probably deserves to win every year, but as a changeup, my vote goes to the buoyant, exuberant Kemper who makes Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a joy to watch. Amy Schumer didn’t deserve the nomination this year, but there were a lot of “name recognition” votes in this category this year, apparently.
THE VETERAN PRODUCER: Veep‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I love hearing every single word written for her, and the way she delivers them is flawless. She is the one genius on that list of nominees.
THE ACTRESS: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She wins all the time, but come on, Julia! Get it! The s— that comes out of her mouth just blows my brain.
THE LEGEND: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, of course.