Scaling Emmy heights is tough in the era of so-called peak TV, with the volume of shows matched by lofty expectations from academy voters.
Good isn’t enough for comedies and dramas, which need to resonate with the political and social zeitgeist. Actors who also pull off the high-wire act of writing and directing collect more respect and trophies.
So is it “Game of Thrones” (with a leading 22 nods, but the majority technical ones) or “The Handmaid’s Tale” for best drama? Will Donald Glover repeat as best comedy actor for “Atlanta”? Or could Bill Hader of freshman “Barry” be an upset winner?
Here are predictions on who will win, and who should, at the ceremony airing at 6 p.m. Monday on NBC. It’s hosted by “Saturday Night Live” players Michael Che and Colin Jost.
Should win: “The Handmaid’s Tale.” No other show matches its demands with equal rewards.
Will win: “The Handmaid’s Tale.” For many voters, it’s got that zeitgeist thing down pat.
Should win: “Atlanta.” Auteur TV at its best, with star Donald Glover the series’ creator as well as creative force, winning Emmys last year for acting and directing.
Will win: “Atlanta.” While worthy freshman competitor “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” offers a female-empowerment vibe, the series set in the 1950s can’t compete with the contemporary edge of “Atlanta.”
Actor, drama series
Should win: Matthew Rhys, “The Americans.” Rhys’ somber, conflicted depiction of Soviet spy Mischa grounded the now-ended series. Time to honor him, comrades.
Will win: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us.” Brown was the only network drama series cast member to win last year, with cable and streaming gobbling all the other awards.
Actress, drama series
Should win: Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve.” The five-time Emmy nominee for “Grey’s Anatomy” gives a visceral performance in this female version of a mano-a-mano spy thriller.
Will win: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Moss won the trophy last year for her portrayal of an unbroken victim, and her steeliness remains magnetic.
Actor, comedy series
Should win: William H. Macy, “Shameless.” Must Macy’s damaged, erratic patriarch Frank Gallagher clean up his act or die for Macy to get the award he so richly deserves?
Will win: Donald Glover, “Atlanta.” He’s a master of performance as well as seriocomic storytelling, bringing his searching young character to life with nuance and without cliche.
Actress, comedy series
Should win: Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” She is dazzling as a betrayed wife who finds her voice in witty and cathartic stand-up rants.
Will win: Brosnahan. A breakout charmer in the right vehicle.