It’s almost time for the Emmy Nominations. Next week, they’ll announce the official noms, but as usual, we want our list to be first and best. So the Best TV Shows on TV team of Myndi and EJ made their lists of dream nominations in the major comedy and drama categories. Then they combined their lists and each picked their winners. They may not match the actual nominations, but they’re pretty awesome.
Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Halt and Catch Fire
The Handmaid’s Tale
This is Us
EJ’s Pick: This is a great lineup. In past years, I know we’ve struggled to fill this category and this time it was no trouble at all. And if I’d done a better job of staying caught up on streaming shows, I could probably come up with five more. And any one of these shows winning would make me very happy, but if I had to pick (and I do), it’s The Leftovers. The final season was just extraordinary television and I can’t think of anything I’ve enjoyed more all year.
Myndi’s Pick: While all of these shows are unique, creative and worthy of all the accolades they get, I can’t help but rally around the wonder that is This Is Us. When a show completely hooks you with their pilot and never lets go, that’s special stuff. Unlike shows with high concepts that people can’t directly relate to, This Is Us is a more direct reflection of many in its audience. And it’s written in a way that people find real and touching. We’ve all either been sick, or had a sick loved one. Some of us are adopted, a lot of us struggle with our weight. The acting is magic, in that the cast seemed to jell instantly, even though this large ensemble very rarely all does scenes together. The various character combinations often produce delightful results. And virtually ever episode involves some well-earned tears.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama
Carrie Coon – The Leftovers
Mackenzie Davis – Halt and Catch Fire
Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale
Rhea Seehorn – Better Call Saul
Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld
Mandy Moore–This is Us
EJ’s Pick: Another rad category. There are more people we could add if either of us kept up with procedurals, too. I’ve been banging the gong for Maslany for years and you could make the case that her Emmy last year was just a starting point. And if you’re looking for people who don’t want Elisabeth Moss to win every award, you’re on the wrong website. But, and I’m going to be a broken record on this, it’s Carrie Coon. Holy smokes, the way she says “OK” in one episode made me cry harder than any single line of dialogue since David Tennant didn’t want to go. And the finale is built entirely around her, including a long monologue at the end and she just nails every second of it. She’s a phenomenal talent. (And we’re not doing those categories here, but I feel like she’s in good standing to win in the Miniseries race as well, because she is killing it over on Fargo.)
Myndi’s Pick: While I can always get behind Elisabeth Moss as a victor here, and I can’t complain about any of the others (EJ’s case for Carrie Coon is tough to beat), I am throwing my hat in the ring for Mandy Moore. What could have been a little one note, playing a stay at home mom who’d never gotten her chance to be a famous singer, became a surprisingly poignant performance. Moore proves to be a fierce mama bear when it comes to her three cubs and a devoted wife to her equally devoted but incredibly stubborn husband. It may be more subtle than her competitors, but that doesn’t make it less worthy.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama
Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us
Mike Colter – Luke Cage
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys – The Americans
Dan Stevens – Legion
Justin Theroux – The Leftovers
Milo Ventimiglia–This Is Us
EJ’s Pick: Hold on to your monocle, because I’m going with The Leftovers again. There is some straight-up great work in this category, and I desperately want Bob Odenkirk to have an Emmy, but his show didn’t end this year. The Leftovers did, and it’s time to award Justin Theroux for bringing one of TV’s saddest, deepest, and most exasperating characters to life. Just check out “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” for some amazing work. That guy performed a scene in the afterlife where the President had to stop his twin brother’s heart in order to get the nuclear codes and also his twin brother was an assassin who’d come to kill him but they’re also the same guy. There’s no way that should have worked, but it did. It totally did.
Myndi’s Pick: While I’d love to cut the Emmy in half and give it to Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia together, I have to give it to Brown the edge based on one episode: “Memphis”. His Randall Pearson went thru the searing loss of his father for a second time, as he’d already lost the dad who raised him and was now losing his biological dad, who he’d just begun to connect with. The flashback format of the show reminded us just how far both Randall and his father William had both come in their lives and how incredibly fortunate they were to have found each other just in time. The hour has stuck with me ever since.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Kerry Bishe – Halt and Catch Fire
Amy Brenneman – The Leftovers
Gemma Chan – Humans
Thandie Newton – Westworld
Aubrey Plaza – Legion
Abigail Spencer – Rectify
EJ’s Pick: OK, I’m switching it up this time. Every name in this category really impressed me this year and I can point to specific details. Catch me on a different day and I’m picking another name, but at this moment, I can’t get over Aubrey Plaza. Her performance on Legion was so… weird. Given that she spent most of the season playing a manifestation of David’s subconscious, that’s to be expected. But with the way her character went from sarcastic mental patient to ultimate evil in the space of eight episodes, she was so much fun to watch every step of the way. She does something new and different in every single episode and showed a range that I’d never imagined.
Myndi’s Pick: Aubrey Plaza is just a cool, fearless actress who has not yet gotten her due. Legion plays to her many quirks, starting with the fact that in the script, her character was supposed to be a guy. Only Plaza could take that and snub her nose at it, which is of course, just the beginning. We could never have imagined the woman who originated the nearly mute April Ludgate on Parks & Rec would become this powerful of an actress.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Jonathan Banks – Better Call Saul
Christopher Eccleston – The Leftovers
Michael McKean – Better Call Saul
Jimmi Simpson – Westworld
Robin Lord Taylor – Gotham
Jeffrey Wright – Westworld
EJ’s Pick: I will stand before you again and again and say that Robin Lord Taylor’s version of the Penguin is one of the most enjoyable ongoing performances on TV today. I so want to see him win. And those Saul boys are at the top of their respective games. But then you’ve got Christopher Eccleston. The Ninth Doctor has always been a joy to watch as the unluckiest guy on The Leftovers and he was such a standout this season. Whether kidnapping God on a sex boat, casually scoring laughs from lines that were not written as jokes, or just being there for his sister on what might be the last day of her life, his every scene was a pleasure even when he was breaking my heart.
Myndi’s Pick: I’ll admit I’m way behind on every show on this list, so I’m not entirely qualified, but aren’t there plenty of Emmy voters in the same boat? I’m going to stand up for Robin Lord Taylor, EJ’s sentimental pick, because a week does not go by that my colleague does not rave about this man’s work. Can someone please give him an Emmy already?!
Outstanding Comedy Series
The Good Place
Jon Glaser Loves Gear
Last Man on Earth
Master of None
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
EJ’s Pick: Man, this is a good category. In real life, I think Master of None or maybe Atlanta has this locked up. But everything we picked had such a good year. Last Man is one of my absolute favorite things to watch every week, but if I look at the season as a whole, I keep coming back to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It is tough to find a show so consistently funny and clever, while still making twenty-two episodes a year on network TV. Still, I would be happy with any of these shows.
Myndi’s Pick: I have enjoyed all of these shows for the ways they are all so different from anything else, but none have been as wonderful to me as Master of None. Aziz Ansari has made the perfect show for Millenials while simultaneously making a show for those of us a little bit older and a little bit younger than that target demo. His Dev is a perfectly good guy who is just trying to figure everything out; whether it’s his family, his love life, his career or even how to make perfect pasta in Italy.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Aziz Ansari – Master of None
Andy Daly – Review
Ted Danson – The Good Place
Will Forte – Last Man on Earth
Donald Glover – Atlanta
Andy Samberg – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
EJ’s Pick: This is basically just a list of my favorite guys, and I could go with any of them. But given that it’s the final season of Review and Andy Daly consistently delivered a hilarious and heartbreaking performance as “life reviewer” Forrest MacNeil. Whether he’s living as Helen Keller or reaching for one last hope of a normal life, he’s been delivering a masterclass for three seasons and I’m going to miss the character so much. Plus, Andy Daly is a delightful man and I think he’d be so happy to have an Emmy.
Myndi’s Pick: It would be so easy for Ted Danson, already a comedy legend, to sit back and sort of phone in his performance as Michael. He could coast on natural charm and the jokes that have been written for him. But there’s a tenacity to his performance that’s unexpected and delightful. His interactions with Kristen Bell are incredible and the character’s arc is one that no one could see coming.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Pamela Adlon – Better Things
Kristen Bell – The Good Place
Gillian Jacobs – Love
Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kristen Schaal – Last Man on Earth
Michaela Watkins – Casual
EJ’s Pick: Here’s the problem with making our own list – it’s too good. The actual list of Emmy nominations is going to have some people who aren’t our absolute favorites. But with this lineup, how do you choose? Right at this moment, I lean toward Kristen Bell because Good Place is so different from anything else and so much of whether or not it works hinges on her. We have to accept that she’s terrible and also root for her and that’s exactly what happens. That said, I think we can all agree that Kristen Schaal would probably give the best acceptance speech, right?
Myndi’s Pick: My inclination is also to go with Kristen Bell for those very same reasons! Michaela Watkins, however, is also a solid choice because her Valerie is so profoundly screwed up and still so funny and strong. She’s dealing with a co-dependent brother, an infuriating daughter, bizarre patients and incredibly self-absorbed parents who never put much into raising her. It’s amazing she turned out as well as she did!
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Louie Anderson – Baskets
Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Brian Tyree Henry – Atlanta
Timothy Simons – Veep
Paul F. Tompkins – Bajillion Dollar Propertie$
Zach Woods – Silicon Valley
EJ’s Pick – Man, every single one of these people cracks me up and several of them break my heart in the process. Louie Anderson was spectacular this year, but he won last year and I want to discourage repeat winners. Even though Timothy Simons cracked me up more than I thought possible, I will not rest until Andre Braugher gets an Emmy for Captain Raymond Holt.
Myndi’s Pick – I have to fall in line with EJ here; we will not rest until Andre Braugher has that Emmy! There’s never been a police captain like Raymond Holt on TV, and there never will be. The man is an absolute gem!
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Stephanie Beatriz – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Zazie Beetz – Atlanta
D’arcy Carden – The Good Place
Martha Kelly – Baskets
Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live
Claudia O’Doherty – Love
EJ’s Pick – I really struggled to pick a winner here. I kept thinking about Janet handing everybody cacti or Martha being unable to negotiate. But the person who really surprised me was Claudia O’Doherty. This season fleshed out her character beyond simply being a weird roommate, and O’Doherty rose to the challenge with a performance that was warm and funny and sad. In a year of strong performances, one of the moments I keep thinking about is Birdie loaning money that she can’t afford to the guy she wants to dump.
Myndi’s Pick – I know she’d be a repeat winner, but Kate McKinnon once again deserves an Emmy for her positively brilliant work on SNL, particularly in this absolutely insane election cycle that we still can’t believe even happened. She embodies such a wide range of real and made up characters in every episode and never fails to make us laugh and think in nearly equal measure. The legendary sketch show has seen its share of breakout stars over its long history, and McKinnon is one of its most versatile. We’re always excited when she appears on screen, even if we have no idea what she’s going to do.
Let us know your picks in the comments! And when the real nomination come out, let us know how much better our lists are.