(MCT) — Behold the sad irony of the Emmy Awards telecast: It is designed to celebrate extraordinary TV shows, but it usually turns out to be dreadful, soul-killing television itself.
The good news this year is that we have a fresh and funny new host in Jimmy Kimmel. If he’s on his game, we expect to laugh like baboons.
Moreover, there’s an intriguing mix of exciting newcomers and established powerhouses among the nominees. Can “Downton Abbey” or “Homeland” break the “Mad Men” stranglehold on the best drama trophy? Will the cult-favorite “Girls” prove to be a threat to “Modern Family’s” comedic dominance?
Of course, predicting what Emmy voters will do is often an exercise in head-scratching futility. Just when you think they’re stuck in rubber-stamp mode, they fall in love with something — or someone — all shiny and new.
Still, there’s no harm in trying. Here’s our breakdown of major categories, along with our totally wild guesses. Wager at your own risk.
The nominees: “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO); “Breaking Bad” (AMC); “Downton Abbey” (PBS); “Game of Thrones” (HBO); “Homeland” (Showtime); “Mad Men” (AMC).
The lowdown: A victory would give “Mad Men” a record fifth trophy in this category. Although the moody period drama produced another superlative season, I have a hunch that Emmy is restless and ready to go home with someone else. If I had a vote, it would go to “Breaking Bad,” which has yet to win despite its enduring brilliance, or “Homeland,” which was easily the year’s best new drama. But this seems to be the year of the Brits, so I’m thinking that the voters fall for the sumptuous costumed splendor of “Downton Abbey.”
Outstanding actress, drama
The nominees: Kathy Bates (“Harry’s Law,” NBC); Glenn Close (“Damages,” DirecTV); Claire Danes (“Homeland”); Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”); Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife,” CBS); Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”).
The lowdown: While the best drama category is a brutally tough call, this one should be a slam dunk. Danes deserves to reign supreme for her riveting performance as a mentally troubled CIA analyst trying to squash a potential terrorist threat. If she doesn’t win, the voters need a dose of electroshock therapy.
Outstanding actor, drama
The nominees: Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey,”); Steve Buscemi (“Boardwalk Empire”); Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”); Michael C. Hall (“Dexter,” Showtime); Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”); Damian Lewis (“Homeland”).
The lowdown: Here’s another case of an Emmy perennial — three-time champ Cranston — going up against some strong contenders who haven’t won in this category before. Although Cranston continues to blow us away, it’s time to finally reward Hamm for his iconic portrayal of advertising boss Don Draper. My second choice would be Lewis. Still, something tells me that the voters will stick with Cranston.
Outstanding comedy series
The nominees: “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS); “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO); “Girls” (HBO); “Modern Family” (ABC); “30 Rock” (NBC); “Veep” (HBO).
The lowdown: I’m still ticked off about the makeup of this category, which should have featured the overlooked gems that are “Louie,” “The Middle” and “Community.” But we’ve got to play the cards dealt to us; in that case, I’ll stick with “Modern Family,” which is shooting for its third straight victory. It’s still prime time’s most consistently hilarious and heartfelt sitcom. As for “Girls,” the funny new kid on the block, its time will come, and I think the voters will agree.
Outstanding actress, comedy
The nominees: Zooey Deschanel (“New Girl,” Fox); Lena Dunham (“Girls”); Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie,” Showtime); Tina Fey (“30 Rock”); Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”); Melissa McCarthy (“Mike & Molly,” CBS); Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation,” NBC).
The lowdown: This category is so competitive that they stuffed it with seven nominees, including three past winners: Fey, Louis-Dreyfus and McCarthy. Emmy has had a longtime crush on Louis-Dreyfus, and it would be kind of cool to see her win for a third different show (previous trophies came for “Seinfeld” and “The New Adventures of the Old Christine”). But if the voters lean toward new and buzzy names — and I’m hoping they will — look for Dunham’s bravely raw work to edge out Deschanel’s quirky-perky performance. I wish they could both win.
Outstanding actor, comedy
The nominees: Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”); Louis C.K. (“Louie,” FX); Don Cheadle (“House of Lies,” Showtime); Jon Cryer (“Two and a Half Men,” CBS); Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”); Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory”).
The lowdown: I’m over Baldwin, and the voters should be, too. Parsons? Still hilarious, but he’s won before. So I’m crossing my fingers that Emmy finds it in her heart to cuddle up with C.K., a loveable schlub who not only stars in his edgily masterful show, but also writes and directs it. Such hard work deserves to be rewarded — and I believe it will be.
And the Emmy should
also go to …
Outstanding supporting actress, drama: Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”)
Outstanding supporting actor, drama: Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”)
Outstanding supporting actress, comedy: Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”)
Outstanding supporting actor, comedy: Max Greenfield (“New Girl”)
Outstanding miniseries or movie: “Game Change” (HBO)
Outstanding reality show: “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox)