The 2020 Emmy nominations spread 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 for Watchmen. 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 for Desus & Mero, another year overlooking the best of Better Call Saul, and was there a plot against The Plot Against America? But who can complain about The 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 by Jimmy Kimmel. But we do have some educated guesses about the biggest races. (For more Emmy news and analysis, check out all of EW’s Awardist coverage.)
○ = should win
● = will win
♦ = should and will win
Outstanding Drama Series
The nomination is likely the prize for Killing Eve, Stranger Things, and The 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? Zendaya is 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 on The Morning Show should not be ignored. Still, with Ozark coming 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)
Zendaya, Euphoria (HBO)
Outstanding Comedy Series
Insecure returned 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 discovered Schitt’s Creek on Netflix.
The Good Place (NBC)
○ Insecure (HBO)
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 to Ramy 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 made The 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 for Schitt’s Creek and general love for Catherine O’Hara. But remember: Any year without a Pamela Adlon nomination means we all have to scream, “Better Things is 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, and Little Fires Everywhere earned nods for female directors, while Mrs. America, Unbelievable, and Unorthodox got writing noms for episodes penned by women.) With its 26 nominations, HBO’s critically revered Watchmen is almost certainly a lock to win.
♦ Watchmen (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
As much as we would like to give this to Watchmen‘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 in Bad Education (which was initially headed for theatrical release), and Mark 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 beat Regina King‘s near-perfect turn as Angela Abar on Watchmen, it’s Cate Blanchett, whose near-perfect turn as anti-ERA crusader Phyllis Schlafly would take the prize any other year. That said, no one can (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 winner John Oliver engaged in a headline-making faux feud with the mayor of Danbury, Conn., over a sewage plant.
The 72nd Emmy Awards will air Sunday, Sept. 20, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC