The Emmys are Sunday, so here's my best effort at handicapping them. Last year, I went on and on about how the Emmys are always hard to predict because they're even more predictable than you think they are. If that makes any sense. Case in point: James Spader last year, who nobody saw coming, even though he'd won that same award, what, twice before? Emmy voters might be the laziest people in Los Angeles. (Which, yes, would put them high in the running for laziest people on the planet.) And when they can't be arsed to take an objective accounting of this season's performances, they WILL revert back to old habits. The best you can hope for on Emmy night is 1-2 honest to god quality wins in the midst of all the predictable crap. (Wow, I am cheerful today, huh? Sorry, I'm actually quite looking forward to the awards. Honest.)
Anyway, this year's slate:
Outstanding Drama Series
Mad Men is the one everybody's talking about, and rightfully so. It's also one of only three nominees (with Damages and Dexter) that got to put in a full season uninterrupted by the writers' strike. Which would make a difference if voters watched full seasons instead of one-episode screeners. The zeitgeist is certainly on their side, but that was the case with The Sopranos in their first season and they didn't win either. I'll predict Mad Men but I won't be shocked if Lost pulls the upset.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Two and a Half Men
30 Rock is really the only choice that doesn't seem terribly stale. (Though I am told Curb Your Enthusiasm had a resurgent season, and I personally thought The Office had a solid second half to its season.) This might be the year the earth opens up, swallows us whole, and Two and a Half Men wins this thing. In accordance with The Secret, I won't put that thought out into the universe. 30 Rock
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Gabriel Byrne - In Treatment
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall - Dexter
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Hugh Laurie - House
James Spader - Boston Legal
So every year I wonder if this is finally the year they let Hugh Laurie get up there, get a trophy, and make a charmingly British and hilarious speech. It'd be funny if that finally happened the year that everyone's ceding the trophy to Jon Hamm. Recent Emmy history tells me that the odds of Mad Men winning best drama AND Hamm taking this award aren't good. So then there's Spader, lurking in the background. The collective groan when he won last year might be enough to shame Emmy voters into looking elsewhere. I'll go ahead and pick Hugh Laurie.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Steve Carell - The Office
Lee Pace - Pushing Daisies
Tony Shalhoub - Monk
Charlie Sheen - Two and a Half Men
See, this is what happens when you keep choosing haphazard winners like Ricky Gervais (or allow Shalhoub to win eight of these things): you end up with both Baldwin AND Carell being crazy overdue. 30 Rock won't be able to sweep the comedy awards, so give this one to Steve Carell.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Glenn Close - Damages
Sally Field - Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter - Saving Grace
Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer
Glenn Close is getting all the buzz, but that was the case when she was nominated for The Shield a couple years back. I could see Hargitay grabbing another win here, or even Sally Field going back-to-back. And of course Kyra Sedgwick is the female Hugh Laurie -- one of these years they've gotta give it to her. I'll hedge with Glenn Close, but I'm not confident.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate - Samantha Who?
America Ferrera - Ugly Betty
Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - The New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker - Weeds
Tina Fey has everything going for her, she should have won last year, and if she wins, she might accept in the Sarah Palin voice. She seems like the safest pick.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Ted Danson - Damages
Michael Emerson - Lost
Željko Ivanek - Damages
William Shatner - Boston Legal
John Slattery - Mad Men
Don't rule out Shatner for one second. The grim specter of Boston Legal is a pall over this whole event. But assuming that the voters opt for someone who can act, I say it's a dogfight between the silver-tops, Danson and Slattery. I'd flip if a character actor like Emerson or Ivanek could win (they're my two favorites), but I'll put my money on Ted Danson.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Jon Cryer - Two and a Half Men
Kevin Dillon - Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother
Jeremy Piven - Entourage
Rainn Wilson - The Office
Same lineup as last year. Same depressing feeling that this goes Entourage's way. Once again, if NPH or Rainn Wilson doesn't win, it's a complete travesty. By which I mean: Kevin Dillon's gonna win.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Candice Bergen - Boston Legal
Rachel Griffiths - Brothers and Sisters
Sandra Oh - Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Wiest - In Treatment
Chandra Wilson - Grey's Anatomy
Once again, everybody's awesome here. I'll even spot you Candice Bergen, sight unseen. After seeing In Treatment, I am so completely in the tank for Dianne Weist it's not funny. If the voters are really going on just one screened episode, I think she stands a real shot, especially if she submitted her penultimate performance. Of course, I'm watching out for Emmy-magnet Bergen, who could very well follow the lead of Tyne Daley and Blythe Danner before her as older ladies whose shows I don't watch who steal Emmys from a superior field.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Kristin Chenoweth - Pushing Daisies
Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live
Jean Smart - Samantha Who?
Holland Taylor - Two and a Half Men
Vanessa L. Williams - Ugly Betty
The buzz is on Poehler, but I really doubt it. It's a big enough leap just to nominate a sketch performer here. It'll probably be one of the grand dames, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Kristin Chenoweth is able to charm voters long enough to steal a win. Pardom my rare moment of optimism.
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
Dancing With the Stars
There is no reason to think voters will stray from The Amazing Race here. I'm starting to think the refusal to honor more than one show ever in this category is some kind of organized protest by the whiny anti-reality factions in Hollywood.
Outstanding Host for a Reality Show or Reality Competition
Tom Bergeron - Dancing With the Stars
Heidi Klum - Project Runway
Howie Mandel - Deal or No Deal
Jeff Probst - Survivor
Ryan Seacrest - American Idol
Phil Keoghan isn't here, but the voters are still going to want to choose the classiest option possible. Which means Bergeron, Mandel, and Klum are out. I will begrudgingly admit that Ryan Seacrest does a better job than most give him credit for (he's no Cat Deeley, but we know this), but I'll bet they award Probst. Just to piss me off.