Voter’s Guide to the 2022 Emmys: Early Favorites and the Power of Timing

With the race tighter than ever, planning strategy comes into play for the Emmys favorites. Here, Variety analyzes the competitive stakes of flagship races.

drama series

With one more nominee than last year, this category is again mixed. Early predictions were that it would be a battle between Netflix’s “Squid Game” and HBO’s “Succession.” At the SAG Awards, “Succession” won overall, but the Netflix series picked up the acting wins. But they’re far from the only names in the game. Apple TV+’s “Severance” and Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” are two freshman shows in the running; the previous season one show to win was “The Handmaid’s Tale” – proving that when a new show wins the trophy, it has the ability to sweep. Plus, “Severance” has gained some writing, directing, and casting names, which bodes well. Of course, Netflix’s “Ozark” and AMC’s “Better Call Saul” are finishing their runs while “Stranger Things”‘s last-minute drop may be in its favor, and HBO’s “Euphoria” has always been a fan favorite. fans.

Lead Actor – Drama
Will Jason Bateman finally win an acting Emmy for the final season of ‘Ozark’? Although a win as director seems more likely, last season’s push might help. The same goes for Bob Odenkirk; although he still has two chances with the final season of “Better Call Saul” cut in half, the series received seven names, so don’t count it. Lee Jung-jae (“Squid Game”) surprised with a SAG Award win, and with the series becoming the first non-English speaking drama nominated, he’s definitely in the running. Elsewhere, ‘Succession’ stars Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong are in danger of canceling each other out and ‘Severance’ Adam Scott was a bit of a surprise on nominations morning.

Alexi Lubomirski for Variety

Lead Actress – Drama

Last year, Zendaya made history with her “Euphoria” win. This year, she became the youngest nominated producer, so never count her out. “Killing Eve,” a show many didn’t expect to enter the race, earned two nominations in this category for the two leading women, Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh. However, Oh has yet to win an Emmy despite a dozen nominations. While ‘The Morning Show’ has already seen success and Reese Witherspoon is a big draw, if the Academy offers a comeback show, it’s likely to lean towards ‘Ozark’s’ Laura Linney, who had a compelling arc from the final season. Last but not least, Melanie Lynskey was shocked when she won the Critics Choice Award for “Yellowjackets,” but as fan favorites — the show and Lynskey herself — we got to see her back on stage.

Comedy series

One of my favorite stats is that “Friends” only won Best Comedy Series in 2002 for Season 8; that year, the sitcom wasn’t nominated in the directing or writing categories, so don’t let the sheer number of names fool you. This year, ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” missed out on the directing nomination, but creator and star Quinta Brunson still made history as the first black woman to receive comedy nominations in the categories of actor, writing and series. The sitcom is also one of the few to keep TV airing in the Emmys conversation. Elsewhere, HBO’s “Barry” brings the darkest element to the category while Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” and “Hacks” tied with 17 nominations each. And don’t forget last season’s winner, Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso,” who led the race with 20 nominations. HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” isn’t as much of the times, but has still landed a name for nine of its 10 years, while FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows” has proven that it’s not. Nor was he a sleeper with seven names. Amazon Prime Video’s ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ took home the trophy for its first season and this could be the comeback tour.

Main Actor – Comedy

Although FX’s “Atlanta” was snubbed in the series’ run, star and creator Donald Glover still gained recognition, as did Bill Hader for “Barry.” (Hader is also nominated for writing on the show as well as guest starring on “Curb.”) Last year, viewers and the Academy were hungry for feel-good content, so Jason Sudeikis and his “Ted Lasso “directed it all. With a change in the political world, voters may have been able to turn in a dark comedy like “Atlanta” or “Barry” again. Otherwise, there are other options: legends Steve Martin and Martin Short are nominated for their roles in ‘Only Murders in the Building’, while Nicholas Hoult is nominated for the first time for Hulu’s ‘The Great’, a surprising addition to the mix. .

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Alexi Lubomirski for Variety

Main actress – Comedy

It’s hard to say which actress is a shoo-in this year, but Jean Smart is for HBO’s “Hacks.” The four-time Emmy winner — and last year’s winner in that category — turned in a performance that had everyone talking from the start of the second season. Still, the category is stacked. Former winner Rachel Brosnahan returns for ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’, Brunson is up for ‘Abbott’ despite a small promotion, Kaley Cuoco is up for HBO Max’s ‘The Flight Attendant’ and Issa Rae is nominated for the latest season of HBO’s “Insecurity.” The biggest surprise in the category is Elle Fanning, who earned her first nomination for “The Great.”

TV movie

IP speaks loudly. Roku’s first-ever nomination, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas,” could have an impact if there are enough “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” fans in the Academy who are still upset about NBC’s cancellation. The same goes for Disney+’s ‘Ray Donovan: The Movie’, ‘Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers’, and Paramount+’s ‘Reno 911!: The Hunt for QAnon’, as they all lean into the fact that the IP, and in turn, fandom, is already in place. Then there’s HBO’s “The Survivor,” starring Ben Foster, who impressively transforms into Harry Haft, a real survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Foster was mostly snubbed in the acting category, but just might get that recognition here.

Pam and Tommy TV show

Limited Series/Anthology

With three of the five nominations this year, Hulu leads the limited space – and could surely take the win. With “Dopesick” and “The Dropout” also likely to win acting awards, both series are popular with the Academy. “Pam & Tommy” was a bit of a wild card, but with 10 names, it’s clear the pop culture-heavy show was a hit with voters. Outside of Hulu, Netflix’s “Inventing Anna” caused a stir as one of the first series Shonda Rhimes created under her Netflix contract, as did HBO’s “The White Lotus,” which remains in the limited category, though it’s in production on Season 2. (Although it’s set in a new resort, supporting contestant Jennifer Coolidge is back.) Additionally, the show has racked up 20 names, so don’t don’t count him in any category.

Limited Series/TV Movie — Actor

It’s a waste of riches in the limited series actor category, with strong arguments for each nominee. However, Michael Keaton of “Dopesick” is the favorite after winning both the Golden Globe and the SAG Award. But timing is everything. Andrew Garfield’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” on FX not only dropped closer to nomination time, but is also in the spotlight following an Oscar nomination this year and a Spider-Man cameo. Although HBO Max’s “The Staircase” didn’t get a series name, the show is at the top of voters’ minds, and Colin Firth leads the group; plus, the real Michael Peterson speaking to Variety about the series only makes people watch more. That said, don’t count out Himesh Patel, who holds the fort as the sole acting contender for HBO Max’s “Station Eleven.” The drama nabbed seven nominations in total, including writing and directing names. Plus, Oscar Issaac (“Scenes From a Marriage”) and Sebastian Stan (“Pam & Tommy”) are actors to watch.

Limited Series/TV Movie — Actress

With so many categories pending, a handful of nominees seems like a lock. Amanda Seyfried in “The Dropout” is in that group, because her performance as Elizabeth Holmes makes her the one to beat. That said, this category is far from easy, and all of the nominees represent real people, adding another layer of difficulty to the mix. Toni Collette plays the late Kathleen Peterson, throwing herself into the role figuratively – and literally, falling down the stairs three times – in HBO Max’s “The Staircase”; TV Academy favorite Julia Garner creates another accent to become con artist Anna Delvey in Netflix’s ‘Inventing Anna’; Lily James impressively channels Pamela Anderson in Hulu’s ‘Pam & Tommy’; and Emmy favorite Sarah Paulson returns to the awards hunt with another “American Crime Story,” this time against Linda Tripp in FX’s “Impeachment.” Finally, Margaret Qualley powerfully takes on the lead role in Netflix’s “Maid,” based on the harrowing memoir of Stephanie Land.

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Dan Doperalski for Variety

Variety Talk Series

It’s hard to imagine a world in which “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” doesn’t take home victory in this category, mostly because it has for the past six years. This year, the show earned five nominations in total and HBO/HBO Max remains the most nominated of them all, so it seems likely. That said, with “Conan” out of the mix, “Late Night With Seth Meyers” came in full force – the perfect timing with this timely take on the COVID-19 pandemic and the see-saw political landscape. On the ballot again this year, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Despite consistently being recognized on nominations day, the show has never won a Primetime Emmy. But it’s more in the conversation than ever, thanks to the popularity of “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” which won two nods this year.

Competition program

In the unscripted series, it is difficult to make a change. Since VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” burst into the category in 2018, and has won for four consecutive years. This time, the flagship won eight names and its three spinoffs won one name each. Past winners are also in the category: CBS’ 10-time winner “The Amazing Race” has two names, while NBC’s “The Voice” (three names in total) has been nominated every year since 2012 and won four. time. “Nailed down !” from Netflix (two names) and “Top Chef” from Bravo (five names for the flagship and one for its spin-off) are back. The one to watch is Prime Video’s newcomer “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” with six names. Much like “Drag Race” did, this one could cause a stir, especially if the Academy is looking to evolve.

Kimberly B. Nguyen