2020 Emmys Predictions – How Wrong Can I Be?

It’s almost that time again. The Emmy nominations are one week away, so it’s prediction season. This past year is one of the best seasons of television we have ever had. We had several new streaming services launch, new shows premiere, and some new faces enter the scene. So many good shows aired throughout the year, but only a few will make their mark with the Television Academy.

Comedy Series

  • Better Things (FX)
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
  • Dead to Me (Netflix)
  • The Good Place (NBC)
  • Insecure (HBO)
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Ramy (Hulu)
  • Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)

Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Good Place, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Schitt’s Creek all earned nominations for their prior seasons, so I expect them to return. The others all delivered excellent seasons this year, so I hope they make it given four of the 2019 nominees (including the winner, Fleabag) will not be returning after ending their runs or being on hiatus for the year.

Drama Series

  • Better Call Saul (AMC)
  • The Crown (Netflix)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
  • The Morning Show (Apple TV+)
  • Ozark (Netflix)
  • Pose (FX)
  • Stranger Things (Netflix)
  • Succession (HBO)

Better Call Saul, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Ozark, Pose, Stranger Things, and Succession should all return to the category this year. The only newcomer for me is The Morning Show, which had a first season with a huge following from voters after its inclusion in awards ceremonies earlier in the year. This could be a big moment for Apple TV+ if they can make it into the category with one of their first series.

Limited Series

  • Hollywood (Netflix)
  • I Know This Much Is True (HBO)
  • Mrs. America (FX)
  • Unbelievable (Netflix)
  • Watchmen (HBO)

This category is extremely difficult to predict. I think the easiest choices are Mrs. America, Unbelievable, and Watchmen. The other two slots are where we find some trouble. Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu), The Plot Against America (HBO), and Defending Jacob (Apple TV+) are probably the biggest competition, but I went with Hollywood and I Know This Much Is True for my final selections given my own enjoyment of them.

TV Movie

  • American Son (Netflix)
  • Bad Education (HBO)
  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)
  • Transparent Musicale Finale (Prime Video)
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend (Netflix)

There are few television movies each year, but predicting this one comes with its own challenges. Other than Bad Education and El Camino, I am unsure which movies are on the voters’ radar. So, I chose the one with a lot of attention right before voting began, American Son, the one that acted as series finale for an Emmy favorite, Transparent, and and the one that also acted as series finale for an Emmy favorite, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Comedy Lead Actor

  • Don Cheadle, Black Monday (Showtime)
  • Ted Danson, The Good Place (NBC)
  • Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
  • Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
  • Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
  • Ramy Youssef, Ramy (Hulu)

Only Youssef was not nominated for the previous season of his respective show, so he is my only shot in the dark here. However, I have a strong feeling that Ramy is going to break out this year at the Emmys with multiple nominations.

Comedy Lead Actress

  • Pamela Adlon, Better Things (FX)
  • Christina Applegate, Dead to Me (Netflix)
  • Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me (Netflix)
  • Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
  • Issa Rae, Insecure (HBO)

All are former nominees except Cardellini and Rae, who both had excellent seasons this year. The biggest threats to this lineup would be Merritt Wever (Run, HBO), Elle Fanning (The Great, Hulu), and Kristen Bell (The Good Place, NBC).

Comedy Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali, Ramy (Hulu)
  • Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
  • Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
  • James Marsden, Dead to Me (Netflix)
  • Leroy McClain, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Noah Reid, Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
  • Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)

I’m betting on a field of relative newcomers for this category this year. Only Arkin and Shalhoub were nominated here before, with Shalhoub winning last year. I expect the other nominees to ride along the waves of their respective shows for the year, coming from Ramy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Dead to Me, and Schitt’s Creek.

Comedy Supporting Actress

  • Hiam Abbass, Ramy (Hulu)
  • Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Emily Hampshire, Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
  • Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Jane Lynch, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
  • Yvonne Orji, Insecure (HBO)

I’m taking a leap and throwing in a few performers who may have an outside chance of making it: Abbass, Hampshire, and Orji. If even one of these performers makes it, I’ll be thrilled.

Comedy Guest Actor

  • Jason Alexander, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Luke Kirby, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Zachary Levi, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • John Mulaney, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Eddie Murphy, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Fred Willard, Modern Family (ABC)

Guest acting categories are always complicated, but we try our best. Maisel performs well here, so I have three actors from it included. SNL always makes it, so I have two of the biggest names listed. Fred Willard made his mark on television for many years, so I imagine they may honor him with a nomination in this category but it may be for either Modern Family in its final season or Space Force in its initial season.

Comedy Guest Actress

  • Angela Bassett, A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO)
  • Lisa Kudrow, The Good Place (NBC)
  • Judith Light, The Politician (Netflix)
  • Maya Rudolph, The Good Place (NBC)
  • Wanda Sykes, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime Video)
  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

I don’t imagine the Academy will lose the opportunity to nominate Kudrow, Light, Rudolph, Sykes, or Waller-Bridge. Bassett is my outside pick, and I hope she makes it for this excellent show about which not enough people talked last year.

Drama Lead Actor

  • Jason Bateman, Ozark (Netflix)
  • Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (NBC)
  • Tobias Menzies, The Crown (Netflix)
  • Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)
  • Billy Porter, Pose (FX)
  • Jeremy Strong, Succession (HBO)

Bateman and Odenkirk should definitely return this year. Porter, after winning this category last year, may have difficulty returning but I imagine the voters will bring him back to the ceremony with Pose‘s excellent second season. Cox and Strong should also be able to make it for the first time with the strength of Succession‘s second season. Strong had the much better season, though. Menzies is the new actor for Prince Philip, and he played the man with royal ease, so I imagine he makes it. The This Is Us leading men may serve as foils to any two of these potential nominees though given that neither of them has missed a nomination for the show.

**Update: Cox removed for Brown.

Drama Lead Actress

  • Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show (Apple TV+)
  • Olivia Colman, The Crown (Netflix)
  • Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
  • Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies (HBO)
  • Laura Linney, Ozark (Netflix)
  • Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Davis, Kidman, and Moss have all won Emmys for these roles before, so they’re already on the voters’ radar. Will they return? My guess is yes. Aniston and Colman are here for their first chances to be nominated for these roles, one in a new show and the other taking over the role from Emmy winner Claire Foy. Linney could potentially win this year, so she should repeat her nomination for playing Wendy Byrde. I did exclude Jodie Comer, last year’s winner, from this lineup, but we have to make decisions somewhere.

Drama Supporting Actor

  • Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)
  • Billy Crudup, The Morning Show (Apple TV+)
  • Kieran Culkin, Succession (HBO)
  • David Harbour, Stranger Things (Netflix)
  • Matthew Macfadyen, Succession (HBO)
  • Josh O’Connor, The Crown (Netflix)
  • Tom Pelphrey, Ozark (Netflix)
  • Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Banks has never missed a nomination, so I imagine he makes it in just like Harbour. Whitford just won Guest Actor last year for this role, so his expanded part in season 3 should land him a nomination. The newcomers to the category all have different narratives bringing them to a possible nomination: Crudup in a critically-acclaimed, juicy role in the show’s first season, Culkin and Macfadyen continuing their time at Waystar, O’Connor taking over the role of Prince Charles, and Pelphrey in the one of the breakout roles of the year. My only hope is that Pelphrey is nominated because I’ll be rooting for him to win for the rest of the cycle.

Drama Supporting Actress

  • Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown (Netflix)
  • Laura Dern, Big Little Lies (HBO)
  • Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
  • Julia Garner, Ozark (Netflix)
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw, The Morning Show (Apple TV+)
  • Janet McTeer, Ozark (Netflix)
  • Sarah Snook, Succession (HBO)
  • Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies (HBO)

Garner is last year’s winner and should repeat given the reception of Ozark; McTeer should make it in after the arc of her character this season on the widely acclaimed show. Snook went from lead to supporting in an attempt to be nominated, and I think it will work in her favor. Dern previously won for playing this character in Limited Series/TV Movie Supporting Actress, so I expect she returns in this category; Streep had one of the biggest roles of the show in its second season, so it’s hard to imagine that Meryl Streep of all people misses out on a nomination. Dowd previously won this category for this role, so she has a great chance at repeating her nomination. Bonham Carter took over the role of Princess Margaret for Emmy nominee Vanessa Kirby, which boosts her chances of a nomination to great heights. My biggest leap is for Mbatha-Raw, who was the best performer of the entire season of The Morning Show in my opinion, with a full character arc to follow. She deserves a nomination, so I hope she makes it.

Drama Guest Actor

  • Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us (NBC)
  • James Cromwell, Succession (HBO)
  • Charles Dance, The Crown (Netflix)
  • O-T Fagbenle, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
  • Gerald McRaney, This Is Us (NBC)
  • Andrew Scott, Black Mirror (Netflix)

Cephas Jones won here in 2018 and was nominated again in 2019, so there’s no way he misses. McRaney won in 2017 and was nominated again in 2018, so I imagine he can make it again. Cromwell had a nice role this season for his respective show as did Dance and Fagbenle for theirs. Scott is the outlier here, but after missing last year for Fleabag, this is his best shot at a nomination this year.

Drama Guest Actress

  • Pamela Adlon, This Is Us (NBC)
  • Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
  • Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
  • Cherry Jones, Succession (HBO)
  • Phylicia Rashad, This Is Us (NBC)
  • Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)

Tyson has been nominated here 4 times for this role, so she should return for the final season. Cox has been nominated for this role 3 times (once in Comedy, twice in Drama) and may return for the final season. Bledel won this category in 2017 and earned a Supporting Actress nomination for the role in 2018. Jones won this category in 2019 for The Handmaid’s Tale, so the voters love her; they also love Succession which I expect to make a bigger splash this year. Adlon and Rashad are beloved by the Academy along with This Is Us, so they can definitely make it into this category.

Limited/TV Movie Lead Actor

  • Jeremy Irons, Watchmen (HBO)
  • Hugh Jackman, Bad Education (HBO)
  • Aaron Paul, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)
  • Jeremy Pope, Hollywood (Netflix)
  • Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True (HBO)

So many options are in this category, but we have to make selections at some point. I think Irons, Jackman, Paul, and Ruffalo are definitely making it. The final slot is where the questions arise. I went with my gut and chose Pope because it’s a Ryan Murphy show and he’s wonderful in it! Chris Evans (Defending Jacob, Apple TV+) or Russell Crowe (The Loudest Voice, Showtime) could take that slot, though.

Limited/TV Movie Lead Actress

  • Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America (FX)
  • Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable (Netflix)
  • Regina King, Watchmen (HBO)
  • Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
  • Merritt Wever, Unbelievable (Netflix)

Another difficult category to determine, but Blanchett, King, and Wever are my locks. Dever and Washington are on the bubble, but have very high chances of making it. Dever was a standout of the year with her role in Unbelievable, and Washington delivered some incredible scenes in the Hulu limited series based on the bestselling novel. Washington has competition from costar Reese Witherspoon, though, who shows up in two drama series this year as well (Big Little Lies and The Morning Show).

Limited/TV Movie Supporting Actor

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen (HBO)
  • Joe Mantello, Hollywood (Netflix)
  • Tim Blake Nelson, Watchmen (HBO)
  • Jim Parsons, Hollywood (Netflix)
  • John Slattery, Mrs. America (FX)
  • John Turturro, The Plot Against America (HBO)

Mantello and Parsons should make it in for their parts in the Ryan Murphy series about golden age Hollywood. Watchmen was one of the hits of the year, so Nelson is the lock for that one; Abdul-Mateen II was the star of one of the greatest episodes of the show, and had a very memorable moment, so he has a great shot at making it, too. Slattery has the great opportunity to make it as the only man in the main cast of Mrs. America, which should dominate the supporting actress category. Turturro may be the only chance for The Plot Against America to get nominated, so his 2017 nomination in Lead Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie for The Night Of, another HBO project, and a great career should help lead him to a nomination.

Limited/TV Movie Supporting Actress

  • Rose Byrne, Mrs. America (FX)
  • Toni Collette, Unbelievable (Netflix)
  • Allison Janney, Bad Education (HBO)
  • Margo Martindale, Mrs. America (FX)
  • Sarah Paulson, Mrs. America (FX)
  • Jean Smart, Watchmen (HBO)

This category could go in several different directions. All 6 of my predictions could be incorrect, and I wouldn’t even have a problem with it. So many women deserve nominations here. Plenty will be disappointed, but there are only 6 slots available. I hope there’s at least a tie and we get 7 nominees. For Mrs. America, Byrne, playing Gloria Steinem, had the biggest role, Martindale is an Emmy favorite (having won for sipping coffee in The Americans and twice more), and Paulson has 1 Emmy from 7 nominations herself and one of the best episodes of the series centers on her. Smart is a standout from Watchmen, Janney delivers what everyone thought would be an Oscar-nominated performance until the movie was picked up by HBO, and Collette has an Emmy herself for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for United States of Tara (Showtime). Byrne would be the only nominee without at least one Emmy Award let alone a nomination, so this is guaranteed to be quite the race no matter who is nominated.

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