The 65th annual Primetime Emmy Awards are almost upon us, so without further warning, here are my picks, along with the usual caveat: Don’t bet the kids’ milk money on this. (This is a guessing game, after all, and with the Emmys, you just never know.)
The Sunday telecast originates from the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live at 8 p.m. on CBS. (Red-carpet coverage begins at 5 p.m. on E!)
The Big Bang Theory, CBS
Modern Family, ABC
30 Rock, NBC
WHO WILL WIN: The past six years have been dominated by just two comedies ( Modern Family and 30 Rock), but even dominance eventually cracks, and for Modern Family, this will be that year. The winner is The Big Bang Theory.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Louie, without question. But dark comedies — and Louie is hardly always comic — don’t fare well here.
Breaking Bad, AMC
Downton Abbey, PBS
Game of Thrones, HBO
House of Cards, Netflix
Mad Men, AMC
WHO WILL WIN: Homeland had a so-so sophomore season, but voters hate to disavow their judgment, especially after crowning this with such gusto after the freshman season. There could be residual guilt over snubbing Breaking Bad for so long, but I fully believe it wins anyway at next year’s Emmys. That’s why the edge goes to … Homeland.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Game of Thrones. There is simply no contest here — Thrones had a remarkable season (another one), but fantasy fiction is an almost impossibly tough sell to voters.
LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Jason Bateman, Arrested Development, Netflix
Louis C.K., Louie, FX
Don Cheadle, House of Lies, Showtime
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes, Showtime
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory, CBS
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock, NBC
WHO WILL WIN: Emmy voters were in a mildly adventurous mood here last year (Jon Cryer) and may now be remorseful (he wasn’t even nominated). Will they turn instead to old faves (Parsons, Baldwin)? Nah. Winner is Jason Bateman.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Louis C.K., except that voters don’t know whether to laugh or cry when watching.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Lena Dunham, Girls, HBO
Laura Dern, Enlightened, HBO
Tiny Fey, 30 Rock, NBC
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation, NBC
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep, HBO
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie, Showtime
WHO WILL WIN: Tough category because each nominee is perfectly solid, but when confronted with a very difficult choice, voters usually land on the default one. Winner is Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Can I ask for a tie here? If so, Dern and Dunham. But if pressed, I’ll settle for Dunham because of the strength of her nominated episode, “Bad Friend.”
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey, PBS
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, AMC
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom, HBO
Jon Hamm, Mad Men, AMC
Damian Lewis, Homeland, Showtime
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards, Netflix
WHO WILL WIN: Over the past three years, there have three different winners in this category, so logic dictates Lewis will not repeat. Never trust anything as foolish as “logic” when it comes to the Emmys, but the winner will be … Kevin Spacey.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Seriously? You have to ask? Jon Hamm.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Connie Britton, Nashville, ABC
Claire Danes, Homeland, Showtime
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey, PBS
Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel, A&E
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men, AMC
Kerry Washington, Scandal, ABC
Robin Wright, House of Cards, Netflix
WHO WILL WIN: This category can surprise. Could Washington pull an upset? Dockery? Like the actor category, there have been three different winners over the past three years, which does not bode well for a Danes repeat. But not to worry, fans. She will.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Robin Wright. If anyone stands a chance of stopping the Danes Express, Wright is the one to do it. A House of Cards twofer would match last year’s Homeland top actor feat.