Emmys 2020: Who should win, and who will win

The2020 Emmy nominationsspread the love around the infinite landscape of television. Netflix earned the most overall, but its eternal nemesis HBO earned the most noms for a single series, with 26 forWatchmen. Disney+ staged a bold assault on the TV Academy’s Death Star with a piece of franchise IP about a man with a helmet, while the comedy categories found room for eccentric up-and-coming sensations from FX and Hulu. The snubs hurt: No love forDesus & Mero, another year overlooking the best ofBetter Call Saul, and was there a plot againstThe Plot Against America? But who can complain aboutThe Good Place‘s Ted Danson carrying his Emmy-nomination track record into a fifth decade?

We don’t know what state the world will be in on Sept. 20, when Emmy winners will be announced in ABC’s virtual ceremony hosted byJimmy Kimmel. But we do have some educated guesses about the biggest races. (For more Emmy news and analysis, check out all ofEW’s Awardist coverage.)


○=should win

●=will win

♦=should and will win

Outstanding Drama Series

The nomination is likely the prize forKilling Eve,Stranger Things, andThe Handmaid’s Tale— three once-great shows that are still on — and Baby Yoda, which means it’s three serious family sagas versus one spectacularly shady lawyer. In this case,Succession‘s Logan Roy may be right: Money wins.

Better Call Saul(AMC)

The Handmaid’s Tale(Hulu)

Killing Eve(BBC America)

Stranger Things(Netflix)

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

It’s a clash of the Roy-family titans! Brian Cox has the upper hand for his terrifying turn as Logan, but Jeremy Strong’s finale showcase could bring Kendall a long-awaited win over dear old Dad.

Jason Bateman,Ozark(Netflix)

♦ Brian Cox,Succession(HBO)

Billy Porter,Pose(FX)

Jeremy Strong,Succession(HBO)

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

How do you like that, fellow kids?Zendayais an Emmy nominee! The left-field nod is a welcome surprise in this expected lineup. The current favorite is Hollywood’s best Friend,Jennifer Aniston, whose tour de force onThe Morning Showshould not be ignored. Still, withOzarkcoming off a buzzy penultimate season, Laura Linney’s Wendy may scheme her way to the top.

♦ Jennifer Aniston,The Morning Show(Apple TV+)

Olivia Colman,The Crown(Netflix)

Jodie Comer,Killing Eve(BBC America)

Laura Linney,Ozark(Netflix)

Sandra Oh,Killing Eve(BBC America)


Outstanding Comedy Series

Insecurereturned from a hiatus and found new notes of rom-com sweetness. That plus co-creator Issa Rae’s rising stardom should make it a frontrunner, but… a lot of voters discoveredSchitt’s Creekon Netflix.

The Good Place(NBC)


The Kominsky Method(Netflix)

Schitt’s Creek(Pop TV)

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

In a race full of beloved old pros, give a slight edge toRamy Youssef, who also scored a directing nod. This category loves awarding the stars of eccentric, arty comedies. But we wouldn’t mind a win for Ted Danson, who madeThe Good Place‘s elegiac finale positively heavenly.

Don Cheadle,Black Monday(Showtime)

○ Ted Danson,The Good Place(NBC)

Michael Douglas,The Kominsky Method(Netflix)

Eugene Levy,Schitt’s Creek(Pop TV)

● Ramy Youssef,Ramy(Hulu)

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Catherine O’Hara‘s the immediate favorite, thanks to a combination of general love forSchitt’s Creekand general love for Catherine O’Hara. But remember: Any year without a Pamela Adlon nomination means we all have to scream, “Better Thingsis amazing!” through a megaphone.

Christina Applegate,Dead to Me(Netflix)

Rachel Brosnahan,The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel(Amazon Prime Video)

Linda Cardellini,Dead to Me(Netflix)

♦ Catherine O’Hara,Schitt’s Creek(Pop TV)

Issa Rae,Insecure(HBO)

Tracee Ellis Ross,Black-ish(ABC)

Outstanding Limited Series

Prestige TV is women’s work — in the best way possible. All these limited series centered on Female characters, and they racked up a wealth of nominations for women both on screen and off. (Watchmen,Unorthodox, andLittle Fires Everywhereearned nods for Female directors, whileMrs. America,Unbelievable, andUnorthodoxgot writing noms for episodes penned by women.) With its 26 nominations, HBO’s critically reveredWatchmenis almost certainly a lock to win.




Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

As much as we would like to give this toWatchmen‘s Jeremy Irons for Ozymandias’ climactic fart, it’s really a two-man race:Hugh Jackman, who gave what many considered an Oscar-worthy performance inBad Education(which was initially headed for theatrical release), andMark Ruffalo, who basically hit Emmy bingo: He played twins, one of whom was schizophrenic.

Jeremy Irons,Watchmen(HBO)

○ Hugh Jackman,Bad Education(HBO)

Paul Mescal,Normal People(Hulu)

Jeremy Pope,Hollywood(Netflix)

● Mark Ruffalo,I Know This Much Is True(HBO)

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

If anyone can beatRegina King‘s near-perfect turn as Angela Abar onWatchmen, it’sCate Blanchett, whose near-perfect turn as anti-ERA crusader Phyllis Schlafly would take the prize any other year. That said,no onecan (or should) beat Regina King.

Cate Blanchett,Mrs. America(FX)

Shira Haas,Unorthodox(Netflix)

♦ Regina King,Watchmen(HBO)

Octavia Spencer,Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker(Netflix)

Kerry Washington,Little Fires Everywhere(Hulu)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

All the nominees successfully met the creative challenges of pandemic production, but only four-time winnerJohn Oliverengaged in a headline-making faux feud withthe mayor of Danbury, Conn., over a sewage plant.

The 72nd Emmy Awards will air Sunday, Sept. 20, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC

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