Emmys Preview, Part 1: Comedy and Drama

The Emmys are on Monday!  Time to dive into the nominations, predict the winners, and preemptively gripe about the losers. Breaking Bad or True Detective? Veep or Orange is the New Black?

Now that we’ve gotten over the snubs (well, maybe not entirely — TATIANA 4EVA), the FOTS team is here to make you look like a genius on Monday night. Let’s get started:


Comedy Series
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black
Silicon Valley

Chase: This seems like a tight race between Orange is the New Black and Veep, but you never know if Modern Family could jump back in the mix and screw everything up. It already has a shelf-full of Best Comedy Series Emmys for seasons that didn’t deserve them. But I think this is Orange is the New Black’s year. “Comedy” or not, it had the best year of any series in this category and the buzz to back it up.

David: It definitely feels like (though stranger things have happened) this is finally the year that Modern Family will lose, and both Veep and Orange are well-positioned to knock it off its perch. But while the former would be my preference, Orange is the New Black has all the heat, including an impressive haul last week at the Creative Arts Emmys.

Rachel: Orange is the New Black is NOT a comedy and will totally win. I will admit, however, that Orange is some of the best television not on television, with Veep and Parks and Recreation being the best comedies. Fingers crossed for Veep.

Sean: I hate knowing that you are all right about this.  But it’s nice to know that most of us are rooting for the best comedy on television – Veep.


Lead Actress in a Comedy
Lena Dunham – Girls
Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
Melissa McCarthy – Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
Taylor Schilling – Orange is the New Black

Chase: As much as I’d love to see Amy Poehler win this, I think it goes to Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

David: The Golden Globes finally recognized Amy Poehler earlier this year, but I don’t expect the Emmys to follow suit. And with a submission episode like “Crate,” JLD completely deserves her third-straight trophy. She’s that good.

Rachel: I will resist the temptation to spew my usual vitriol at nominating Dunham in this category, instead naming Amy Poehler. This is the year she edges out the heavyweight that is JLD.

Sean: I just don’t see how JLD loses this to anyone.  It was her strongest season yet.


Lead Actor in a Comedy
Louis CK – Louie
Don Cheadle – House of Lies
Ricky Gervais – Derek
Matt LeBlanc – Episodes
William H. Macy – Shameless
Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory

Chase: Jim Parsons has won this award three times, which I guess makes him the favorite? I honestly don’t know who should or deserves to win this award. To me there’s no clear front-runner. I honestly don’t know. I’ll pick Louis CK despite Louie’s bumpy season. Who doesn’t want to see Louis CK stand on the stage with an Emmy in his hand?

David: It’s a weak category, and I wouldn’t really bet against Jim Parsons, who has the only “ha-ha” comedic role on the list, and has his Normal Heart role for contrast. The multi-hyphenate Louis CK has certainly earned itThe sleeper, though? The category-jumping Macy.

Rachel: Louie was in the press a great deal this year; Emmy voters will not remember that it was for scandalous possible-rape and fat-shaming scenes. Louis CK will take down Parsons.

Sean: Nothing in this category excites me in the slightest. Sure, let’s go with Louis CK.


Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Mayim Bialik – The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen – Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky – Veep
Allison Janney – Mom
Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live
Kate Mulgrew – Orange is the New Black

David: A rising tide for Orange could lift Mulgrew’s boat, and Chlumsky is wonderfully acidic — she’d be my choice. However there’s not much in the way of the Emmy-beloved Allison Janney pulling off the rare double, having already snagged the Guest Actress in a Drama award (for Masters of Sex) last week.

Chase: Put your tasers and billy clubs away, FOTS staff. I’m picking Mayim Bialik to win from the notably staff-unloved Big Bang Theory. Since joining the show in a role that was originally intended to be a guest spot in 2010, Bialik has become one of the main reasons to watch it. She’s perfectly cast against Jim Parsons. A lesser actress could easily be overshadowed by his quirkiness, but Bialik holds her own. This would be deserved.

Rachel: Chase, you have once again underestimated me. I enjoy so much of The Big Bang Theory — save for the story lines, cheap one liners, nonsensical character arcs, and Kaley Cuoco’s “acting.” That is to say, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch are the only reasons I watch; I typically fast forward anything they’re not in. Mulgrew or Janney could pull this one out, however.

Sean: The comedy categories are difficult for me in general.  I loathe most sitcoms and have barely made it through more than five minutes of the beloved (if you’re going by ratings) Big Bang Theory.  That being said, I would love to see Kate Mulgrew on stage that night.  And since we seem to be predicting a OITNB tidal wave it’s not too much of a stretch.


Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Fred Armisen — Portlandia
Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Ty Burrell – Modern Family
Adam Driver – Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson – Modern Family
Tony Hale – Veep

Chase: I’m really surprised Christopher Evan Welch, the quirky angel investor from Silicon Valley, didn’t get a nomination. Maybe next year…oh wait. He died in real life. No chance at a do-over, Emmys. My heart says Andre Braugher, but my head says Tony Hale.

David: Braugher and Hale (who won last year) are neck-and-neck. Braugher’s dry line readings as Captain Holt are the best thing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a show that has many great things about it already and deserved more nominations. So I’m going with him, because only one of these actors rocked a ’70s afro.

Rachel: Please please please be Andre Braugher. Although, Adam Driver does extremely interesting multi-dimensional work on Girls.

Sean: Adam Driver’s work on Girls was the highlight of its season this year, but its dramatic leanings probably look awkward in a line-up full of howlers.  Tony Hale will deservedly return to the podium this year.


Writing for a Comedy Series
Episodes – “Episode 305” – David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik
Louie – “So Did the Fat Lady” – Louis CK
Orange is the New Black – “I Wasn’t Ready” – Liz Friedman & Jenji Kohan
Silicon Valley – “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency” – Alec Berg
Veep – “The Special Relationship” – Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, & Armando Iannucci

Chase: Oh man. “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency” from Silicon Valley is so incredibly funny, but I don’t know if it can win. Actually, I don’t care. It’s hilarious. I’ll pick it.

David: I would LOVE a Silicon Valley win, for landing the most technically complex extended dick joke in television history. Probably, though, Orange’s pilot takes the prize.

Rachel: While in absolutely, 100% NO WAY A COMEDY, Orange is the New Black is the best of these that I’ve seen.

Sean:  I’m rooting for Veep, but OITNB will easily win.


Directing for a Comedy Series
Episodes – “Episode 309” – Iain B. MacDonald
Glee – “100” – Paris Barclay
Louie – “Elevator, Part 6” – Louis CK
Modern Family – “Vegas” – Gail Mancuso
Orange is the New Black – “Lesbian Request Denied” – Jodie Foster
Silicon Valley – “Minimum Viable Product” – Mike Judge

David: This is the only time I’ll want to throw a bone Modern Family’s way, as “Vegas” was one of its strongest episodes of the last few seasons — a slamming-doors farce expertly staged by Mancuso. Trouble is, Mancuso won last year. So I’m leaning Jodie Foster on name recognition alone, and another win for Orange.

Chase: No idea. No opinion. No strong hunch. Jodie Foster, a name the industry is familiar with from a show that had a great year anyways.

Rachel: Old Emmy voters only know two names on this list, even if the Directors’ Branch themselves know the rest. All the same, Jodie Foster will steal it from Louis CK — who deserves it for the completeness of “Elevator, Part 6.”

Sean:  Emmy voters will take any and every excuse available to them to throw an award at a famous name in the director’s chair.  Foster wins.


Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
True Detective

Chase: Yes, Breaking Bad is deserving, and it seems crazy to think that it could win just one Best Drama Series Emmy, but I think it’s going to happen. The overwhelming attention paid to True Detective this year is something I can’t pass up. No, it shouldn’t be in this category. It’s a mini-series, but that’s beside the point now. It’s here, and it was the zeitgeist of this year.

David: The Emmy category classification process is widely mocked, but in this case I’ll allow it because it allows Fargo to clean up in the miniseries categories. Breaking Bad was expected to repeat long before HBO made this move, and while it’ll be close, I think it’ll withstand the charge. As it should.

Rachel: Each one of these shows Everything EXCEPT Downton Abbey deserves to be here this year. Though Mad Men presented its best (half) season to date, and Breaking Bad provided the best hour of television, the award will go to the “new and exciting” True Detective.

Sean:  I finally finished Breaking Bad this past week and while Season 5 was certainly the strongest in the series history, its ending was a little too interested in fan service instead of a logical series wrap-up.  True Detective was lightning in a bottle and though I doubt a second season will have the same effect, this first season is likely to be remembered and loved for a long time to come.  I’m thinking it steals the award right out from under Breaking Bad.


Lead Actress in a Drama
Lizzy Caplan – Masters of Sex
Claire Danes – Homeland
Michelle Dockery – Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife
Kerry Washington – Scandal
Robin Wright – House of Cards

David: With no Tatiana Maslany or Elizabeth Moss in the field (yep, still bitter), my personal pick would be Robin Wright, who was probably the only one on the otherwise dreary second series of House of Cards to stand out in a surprising way, showing real cracks in her ice queen facade. And because it’ll be the Academy’s best chance to honor the show, they might agree… But Julianna Margulies is the safer bet.

Chase: Gold for Marguiles. Wright gets the silver.

Sean: I stand by my review of the trashiest prestige show on television.  Robin Wright deserves this.

Rachel: Tatiana Maslany. Screw this category. And you can quote me.


Lead Actor in a Drama
Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels – The Newsroom
Jon Hamm – Mad Men
Woody Harrelson – True Detective
Matthew McConaughey – True Detective
Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

Chase: Much of what made True Detective so indispensible was Matthew McConaughey’s indelible performance. I would argue that this, and not his Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyers Club, was McConaughey’s best work this past year. That said, this is the only place I’ll take a second to complain about the absolute lack of respect for The Americans: its second season was exquisite, and Matthew Rhys was as good as anyone on TV in 2013-2014, including Cranston and McConaughey. Rhys deserves to be here. The only good news is that Cranston, McConaughey, and Harrelson won’t be in this category next year.

David: Pity poor Jon Hamm, the Steve Carell of the Drama division. He’ll have one more shot in 2015, so they have to give it to him then, right? As for who wins now, McConaughey has it on lock, and you won’t hear a word of complaint from me.

Rachel: Here’s the thing… each of these gentleman deserve to be here; Hamm and Cranston tie for the best, IMO, but give it to the Oscar-winning McConaughey. He’s the only man in the universe who can make a line of dialogue like this: “This place is like somebody’s memory of a town, and the memory is fading. It’s like there was never anything here but jungle,” and make it work. SMH

Sean:  Is there anything left to say about McConaughey‘s remarkable performance in True Detective?


Supporting Actress in a Drama
Christine Baranski – The Good Wife
Joanne Froggatt – Downton Abbey
Anna Gunn – Breaking Bad
Lena Headey – Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks – Mad Men
Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey

David: “Ozymandias” — Anna Gunn’s submission episode — was as big a gift an actress could ever receive, and she made the most of it. And, as much as I adore Headey’s way with a quip and a wine glass, there’s no real competition.

Chase: I’ve got a female sweep for The Good Wife. I think Christine Baranski wins here in a bit of an upset. I admit this may be an emotional decision. I have always loathed Anna Gunn’s work in Breaking Bad, and I will continue to loathe it. And where the heck is Maisie Williams!?!?

Rachel: I think I am supposed to watch The Good Wife. I don’t get it. Christine Baranski.

Sean:  Anna Gunn‘s slow march to self-destruction in Breaking Bad was heartbreaking.  Skylar was a character that was tough to like, but her impossible situation as well as her fierce devotion to her children made her decisions understandable — if morally reprehensible.   It’s a complicated performance that was filled with fireworks in Gunn’s submission episode.  I honestly don’t see how she loses to anyone.


Supporting Actor in a Drama
Jim Carter – Downton Abbey
Josh Charles – The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin – Homeland
Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad
Jon Voight – Ray Donovan

Chase: Who can pass up Peter Dinklage? I’m on record as not being a huge fan of his work in “The Laws of Gods and Men,” the episode he submitted for Emmy consideration, but I’m apparently the only one who isn’t. His overall body of work on Thrones is excellent, nonetheless. This is my highest confidence pick.

Rachel: Aaron Paul will once again walk away with this one, deservedly, though Dinklage gave the best performance. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Sean: Dinklage easily stole the 4th season of Game of Thrones out from just about everyone else on screen (save for Charles Dance’s under-appreciated commanding performance).  Emmy voters love Tyrion Lannister.

David: I’m actually going to go out on a limb here. You won’t find a bigger Dinklage fan than me — I would vote for him every year. And a win for Aaron Paul wouldn’t surprise me, even with his reduced role this last season. BUT — I have a feeling that Josh Charles, who was killed off at the end of the The Good Wife’s greatest string of episodes in its history (people say; I didn’t see it) will pull a Cannavale-esque upset. Just a feeling.


Writing for a Drama
Breaking Bad – “Ozymandias” – Moira Walley-Beckett
Breaking Bad – “Felina” – Vince Gilligan
Game of Thrones – “The Children” – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
House of Cards – “Chapter 14” – Beau Willimon
True Detective – “The Secret Fate of All Life” – Nic Pizzolatto

Chase: ‘The Secret Fate of All Life” is the standout episode of True Detective’s first season, but I don’t see it winning even with the “time is a flat circle” speech. The plagiarism accusations against Nic Pizzolatto, though unsubstantiated in my opinion, won’t help his chances. I worry about the two nominated Breaking Bad scripts splitting the vote, but I’ll take Vince Gilligan’s work on “Felina.” First, it’s the finale. Second, it’s got his well-known name attached to it. Plus, I see people wanting to honor Gilligan for Breaking Bad’s incredible run, and I DON’T see him winning in the director category.

David: The season finale was NOT the episode for Benioff & Weiss to submit for Thrones — come on, not “The Laws of Gods and Men” or “The Mountain and the Viper?” But even if they had, there’s no denying that “Ozymandias” was the finest hour of television of this year (not enough to get Rian Johnson a directing nod, however, which is UNCONSCIONABLE). Gilligan has won plenty of awards, and will win more. I’m trusting the Academy on this one.

Rachel: All hail Vince Gilligan; I just don’t think the voters check off names they do not recognize. If Pizzolatto wins…yikes.

Sean: I’m hoping that Emmy voters are smart enough to call BS on the plagiarism accusations being thrown at Pizzolatto and give him the award he so richly deserved.  Yes, I’m saying “The Secret Fate of All Life” was a better and more thrilling hour of television than “Ozymandias” or “Felina”.  Sue me.


Directing for a Drama
Boardwalk Empire – “Farewell Daddy Blues” – Tim Van Patten
Breaking Bad – “Felina” – Vince Gilligan
Downton Abbey – “Episode 1” – David Evans
Game of Thrones – “The Watchers on the Wall” – Neil Marshall
House of Cards – “Chapter 14” – Carl Franklin
True Detective – “Who Goes There” – Cary Joji Fukunaga

Chase: I think Cary Joji Fukunaga’s work on True Detective is astounding. I’d pick him to win anyway….but then there’s that jaw dropping six-minute tracking shot from “Who Goes There.” It’s like an extra ace in your pile. Fukunaga, time and time again.

David: Yep. “Who Goes There” is the clear-cut winner for that shot alone, especially with the absence of the aforementioned Rian Johnson. But you know who would really make me happy? Neil Marshall. That’s a director’s episode, more than any of the others.

Sean: I would be happy with either Neil Marshall or Fukunaga winning this.  They are both deserving for varying reasons.  But Fukunaga shaped True Detective’s pulpy, dark, and ultimately uneven detective narrative into unforgettable must-watch television.  He has the edge.

Rachel: True Detective owes so much of its genius to Fukunaga. He is the Wally Pfister of television directing. (That was an reference  to cinematography. NOT this.)


Click here for Part 2, with Miniseries, Movie, Variety, and Reality!

One thought on “Emmys Preview, Part 1: Comedy and Drama”

  1. Silicon Valley really should win everything. It is, hands down, the best pilot season of any comedy series that I’ve ever seen. Hell, it may be the best pilot season of ANY television series.
    Seriously, I’ll do the ice-bucket thingy if “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency” doesn’t win for writing.

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