The 71st annual Emmy Awards: what will, should, could win

Illustration of TV show characters nominated
Ariel Lung /Senior Staff

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The 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards finds television’s best shows at a crossroads.

The violent and majestic fantasy world that “Game of Thrones” submerged viewers in came to a close this year as the vivacious tete-a-tete of “Killing Eve” gained even more momentum in its second season. The crude world of politics hysterically painted in “Veep” may have seen its last season on the small screen, but the genre-shifting witticism of “Barry” and the period-based joy of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” grew even more popular. This year’s nominees have been especially telling of how television has evolved in 2019. 


Outstanding Comedy Series

  • “Barry” (HBO)
  • “Fleabag” (Amazon)
  • “Russian Doll” (Netflix)
  • “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
  • “The Good Place” (NBC)
  • “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
  • “Veep” (HBO)


While “Veep” has proven itself a powerful contender in the past, its latest season has not been its best work, with many jokes landing flat. Thus, a win in this category for the show would seem less like a deserved reward and more like a recognition of a strong history. 

But this strong history bows in the face of HBO’s “Barry”, which, through stellar performances and consistency, more than deserves the award in this category. Setting the tone for where comedy television can go, it’s a shame that “Barry” will most likely lose out to “Veep.”


What will win: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

What should win: “Barry” (HBO)

What could win: “Veep” (HBO)

What should be there: “Glow” (Netflix)


Outstanding Drama Series

  • “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
  • “Bodyguard” (Netflix)
  • “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
  • “Killing Eve” (BBC America)
  • “Ozark” (Netflix)
  • “Pose” (FX Networks)
  • “Succession” (HBO)
  • “This is Us” (NBC)


In its final season, “Game of Thrones” has dominated the 2019 Emmys. With a nomination in almost every category it was eligible for, the series is a definitive front-runner despite many critics and fans calling this season the series’ worst.

“Killing Eve” has a small chance to usurp “Game of Thrones” after continuing to surprise and impress critics. And the female-led show deserves recognition for the carefully curated season it has spun. But ultimately, despite a win for “Killing Eve” being well-deserved, “Game of Thrones” will likely take its final Emmy in this category. 


What will win: “Game of Thrones” (HBO)

What should win: “Killing Eve” (BBC America)

What could win: “Killing Eve” (BBC America)


Outstanding Limited Series

  • “Chernobyl” (HBO)
  • “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
  • “Fosse/Verdon” (FX Networks)
  • “Sharp Objects” (HBO)
  • “When They See US” (Netflix)


This year’s outstanding limited series nominations focused on drama. From mass radiation poisoning to wrongful arrests, to small town murders reminiscent of “In Cold Blood,” the mini-series scene this year was painted in grim cinematography and solemn portrayals from acclaimed actors, old and new. For the award for outstanding limited series, HBO’s “Chernobyl” and Netflix’s “When They See Us” will duke it out for the top spot. And although HBO leads in nominations for this category, it is likely that “When They See Us” will steal this Emmy.


What will win: “When They See Us” (Netflix)

What should win: “When They See Us” (Netflix)

What could win: “Chernobyl” (HBO)


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Bill Hader, “Barry” 
  • Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”
  • Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
  • Eugene Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
  • Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
  • Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”


Bill Hader will likely claim his second win in this category for the role of Barry Berkman. This win would be tremendously earned, considering the second season of “Barry” — which Hader also writes and occasionally directs — has been such a success.


Who will win: Bill Hader, “Barry”

Who should win: Bill Hader, “Barry”

Who could win: Ted Danson, “The Good Place”


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
  • Kit Harington, “Game of Thrones”
  • Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
  • Billy Porter, “Pose”
  • Sterling K. Brown, “This is Us”
  • Milo Ventimiglia, “This is Us”


This category’s front-runners are Bob Odenkirk for his portrayal of Saul Goodman on “Better Call Saul” and Billy Porter for his role as Pray Tell on “Pose.” Odenkirk’s portrayal offers wonderfully genre-bended scenes where dramatic pauses and broken looks can live simultaneously with quick quips and witty jokes. Porter’s performance offers a subtle and powerful palate of emotion, momentously brushed together and extremely captivating. 


Who will win: Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”

Who should win: Billy Porter, “Pose”

Who could win: Jason Bateman, “Ozark”


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”
  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”
  • Natasha Lyonne, “Russian Doll”
  • Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”
  • Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”


The major contenders for this award are Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her final season as Selina Meyer on “Veep” and Rachel Brosnahan for her role as Miriam Maisel on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” While both are veteran winners in this category, it will most likely be Louis-Dreyfus who takes the award home. 

Despite the fact that this award will probably go to a recurring nominee, it’s impressive to see how many new comedy shows and faces are being recognized by the Television Academy.  


Who will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

Who should win: Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Who could win: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”

Who should be there: Alison Brie, “GLOW”


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”
  • Robin Wright, “House of Cards”
  • Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
  • Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
  • Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
  • Laura Linney, “Ozark”
  • Mandy Moore, “This is Us”


It seems that, this year, the actresses from “Killing Eve” will be the ones to watch out for. Both Sandra Oh’s performance as Eve Polastri and Jodie Comer’s role as Villanelle have garnered a great deal of attention from critics and the Television Academy alike. Comer’s sociopathic ticks and teasingly quiet facial expressions blend into Oh’s manic morals and emotions. After Oh was nominated for this award in 2018 and won a Golden Globe for the role in January, chances are viewers will see her recognized by the Emmys this time around. 


Who will win: Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”

Who should win: Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”

Who could win: Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”

Maisy Menzies covers television. Contact her at [email protected].