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BEST DRAMA SERIES
WILL WIN: The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale has one more acting nomination (10), The Mandalorian the same total (24), and this is the last chance to honor Lovecraft Country and Pose, but Netflix will snag its first series win for season four of Peter Morgan’s show about the British royals. — Scott Feinberg
SHOULD WIN: Lovecraft Country (HBO)
The fourth season of The Crown was more consistent, while it’s easy to see how The Mandalorian and Bridgerton struck their respective populist chords. I’m going, however, with the messy and inconsistent ambition of Lovecraft Country, which swung for the thematic fences every week. — Daniel Fienberg
BEST COMEDY SERIES
WILL WIN: Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
This feel-good show received more nominations (20) than any other rookie comedy in history, and its second season was auspiciously rolling out during voting. Late-breaking Hacks can’t be counted out, but Apple is aggressively pursuing its first series win. — S.F.
SHOULD WIN: PEN15 (Hulu)
PEN15 has evolved from a high-wire stunt — Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine playing teenage versions of themselves opposite real teens — into the most cringingly realistic take on adolescence since Freaks and Geeks. Season two was funnier and cut closer to the bone than any other half-hour on TV. — D.F.
BEST LIMITED SERIES
WILL WIN: The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Though it’s facing formidable competition from the likes of Mare of Easttown and WandaVision, Scott Frank’s Netflix miniseries about a chess prodigy — one of the must-watches of the pandemic era — appears to hold a slight edge. — S.F.
SHOULD WIN: I May Destroy You (HBO)
Once Emmy voters avoided something dumb, like nominating The Undoing, this became the night’s marquee category. My vote would come down to Michaela Coel’s darkly funny, personal exploration of sexual assault and Barry Jenkins’ technically astonishing Underground Railroad adaptation. — D.F.
BEST LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES
WILL WIN: Josh O’Connor, The Crown (Netflix)
Don’t count out past winners Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) or Billy Porter (Pose), but the edge this year goes to the 31-year-old first-time nominee whose portrayal of Prince Charles has already won him a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award. — S.F.
SHOULD WIN: Billy Porter, Pose (FX)
Since he already has an Emmy, a win wouldn’t have the same history-making shine as a lead actress triumph for Pose co-star Mj Rodriguez, but what Billy Porter has going for him is a spectacular showcase episode in “Take Me to Church.” Few pair theatricality and being painfully raw so well. — D.F.
BEST LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES
WILL WIN: Mj Rodriguez, Pose (FX)
Olivia Colman and Emma Corrin will split supporters of The Crown, and enough voters will be drawn to the opportunity to make history and propel the first trans person ever nominated for a lead acting award to a win for her work on the outgoing Pose. — S.F.
SHOULD WIN: Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country (HBO)
I give Jurnee Smollett so much credit for grounding the craziness of Lovecraft Country, whether she’s wielding a bat or decades of ancestral trauma. It’s another star-making performance from a versatile actress who should have topped the A-list years ago. — D.F.
BEST LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES
WILL WIN: Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
For his portrayal of an unshakably sunny coach of American football who tries his hand at European football (aka soccer), this Saturday Night Live alum and co-creator of his show — who never has been previously nominated in any category — is the clear favorite. — S.F.
SHOULD WIN: Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Does Jason Sudeikis deserve to win because of the complicated tiptoe act of making Ted Lasso an optimistic Pollyanna and an inexplicably likable character? Or does he deserve to win because this year’s lead actor in a comedy category is one of the limpest in Emmy history? Does it matter? — D.F.
BEST LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES
WILL WIN: Jean Smart, Hacks (HBO Max)
The beloved television veteran, on her 10th Emmy nomination, looks certain to land her fifth win — and first as a lead — for this HBO Max series in which she plays a trailblazing comedian navigating the winter of her career. She turns 70 the week of the ceremony — Happy Birthday! — S.F.
SHOULD WIN: Jean Smart, Hacks (HBO Max)
Jean Smart’s one-two punch of Mare of Easttown and Hacks felt like a cumulative achievement, especially her HBO Max comedy. Deborah Vance has shades of a dozen overlooked female stand-ups and, in Hacks, we see the vulnerable, industry-warped personality behind the onscreen patter. — D.F.
BEST LEAD ACTOR, LIMITED SERIES
WILL WIN: Paul Bettany, WandaVision (Disney+)
Hugh Grant’s (The Undoing) and Ewan McGregor’s (Halston) shows were divisive, and Hamilton‘s Leslie Odom Jr. and Lin-Manuel Miranda will cancel each other out, paving the way for this character actor, who’s nominated for the first time for playing a domesticated superhero. — S.F.
SHOULD WIN: Paul Bettany, WandaVision (Disney+)
Nominees here include two miscategorized performances from Hamilton and two pieces of decent scenery-chewing from otherwise awful shows, so Paul Bettany gets my vote for getting to be silly and tragic and to fly around like a superhero, somehow never making any of it look ridiculous. — D.F.
BEST LEAD ACTRESS, LIMITED SERIES
WILL WIN: Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown (HBO)
The Queen’s Gambit‘s Anya Taylor-Joy looked unbeatable after sweeping the Critics Choice, Golden Globe and SAG awards, but this A-list past Emmy winner made a major impression late in the game as a haunted Pennsylvania cop, complete with accent, paunch and attitude. — S.F.
SHOULD WIN: Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
In the ultimate “no wrong choice here” category, one delivered the year’s great star turn, tracing a character over a decade and often wordlessly conveying the machinations of chess, the throes of addiction and a journey from lonely youth to star. — D.F.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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