Briefing

2022 Emmys predictions: Who will win, and who could surprise?

The 2022 Emmy Awards are almost here. Who will be the big winners, and who's well positioned for a surprise? Here are our predictions: 

Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul 
Euphoria 
Ozark 
Severance 
Squid Game 
Stranger Things 
Succession 
Yellowjackets 

Will win: Succession
Might win: Squid Game

It took Succession until season two to snag the Emmys' top prize, but it may now be here to stay. 

The acclaimed HBO drama won big for its second season, and it only received stronger reviews and more buzz for season three. There's no sign the Television Academy's Succession fever is breaking based on its 25 nominations, the most of any show. Succession also won Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series at the Creative Arts Emmys, which has gone to the same show that won Outstanding Drama Series during the past three years. Besides, it's often been the case that one show will win Outstanding Drama Series multiple seasons in a row, as with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones. So Succession could follow in that tradition. 

But this isn't a done deal thanks to a little show called Squid Game. The Netflix series was a massive phenomenon last year, becoming the streamer's biggest series of all time. It has an impressive 14 nominations, and it picked up some surprise wins at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in February, as well as four Creative Arts Emmys. Much like 2020's upset Best Picture Oscar winner Parasite, the South Korean series explores issues of income inequality that resonated around the world, and were it to win, it would make history as the first foreign-language show to do so.  

Ultimately, though, overthrowing the Roys will be a tall order.  

Outstanding Comedy Series

Abbott Elementary 
Barry 
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Hacks 
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel 
Only Murders in the Building 
Ted Lasso 
What We Do in the Shadows 

Will win: Abbott Elementary
Might win: Ted Lasso

Outstanding Comedy Series is an even closer call. The reigning champion is Ted Lasso, but unlike Succession, the second season of Apple's soccer comedy seemed to receive just an ever-so-slightly more muted reception than the first. That's not to say the Academy doesn't still love it, and with 20 nominations, Ted Lasso remains a juggernaut. But there might be an opening for an upset if voters are inclined to go with a shiny new toy rather than a repeat, sort of like how they went with the critical darling Fleabag over the old favorite Veep at the 2019 Emmys. And that new toy could be Abbott Elementary

The ABC comedy about teachers working at a predominantly Black elementary school has drawn the most glowing reviews for a network sitcom in years, and some in Hollywood might feel an urge to declare the death of network TV greatly exaggerated amid streaming's domination. Let's not forget that another ABC sitcom, Modern Family, went on an epic five-year winning streak from 2010 through 2014. 

But most crucial of all is the fact that Abbott Elementary beat Ted Lasso to win Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series at the Creative Arts Emmys, which since 2015 has gone to the same series that won the top prize. It will be a photo finish, and Ted Lasso might be the safer bet. But don't be shocked when Quinta Brunson and the rest of the Abbott gang take AFC Richmond to school. 

Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series

Dopesick 
The Dropout 
Inventing Anna 
Pam & Tommy 
The White Lotus 

Will win: The White Lotus 
Might win:
Dopesick 

This one should come down to HBO's The White Lotus, about the guests at a Hawaii resort, and Hulu's Dopesick, which tells the true story of the opioid epidemic. 

Dopesick has the advantage of being about an important issue the Academy might want to shine a spotlight on. But on the other hand, The White Lotus earned a whopping 20 nominations to Dopesick's 14, including five for supporting actress alone. Plus, The White Lotus won the award for best casting at the Creative Arts Emmys, which since 2012 has lined up with the eventual winner all but once. This was one of five Creative Arts Emmys wins for the show. 

So we give The White Lotus the advantage based on that. But really, when a show already has a second season underway, shouldn't it be disqualified from the "limited series" category?  

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Brian Cox (Succession
)
Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game
)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul
)
Adam Scott (Severance
)
Jeremy Strong (Succession

Will win: Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game)
Might win: Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)

Lead actor is another tough one, and several candidates have a realistic shot. Jeremy Strong won for Succession's second season and could do so again, though many pundits think this is Brian Cox's time to shine. Doesn't it feel like he should have an Emmy for Logan Roy at this point? On the other hand, there's always the risk that Succession fans aren't quite sure which of these actors to choose and end up splitting the vote, even if that wasn't an issue last time.

So could the winner instead be Bob Odenkirk, who literally nearly died making this season of Better Call Saul? He's been repeatedly nominated without a win, but he could get a final season bump for Saul. At the same time, Saul's final season was actually split in two, and the second half is eligible at next year's Emmys. So if voters keep that in mind, it's possible Odenkirk will have to wait until 2023 for a win, sort of like how Bryan Cranston lost for the first half of Breaking Bad's final season but won for the second half. 

That could leave an opening for Lee Jung-jae. Crucially, the Squid Game star already beat Cox and Strong for a surprise victory at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and he did so again at the Critics' Choice Awards. Plus, a Squid Game star, Lee Yoo-mi, recently won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series at the Creative Arts Emmys, beating several Succession actors. So there's clearly a desire in the Academy to honor the show's cast, and in a competitive category, voters may see this as the place to give Squid Game a green light. 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
Laura Linney (Ozark
)
Melanie Lynskey (Yellowjackets
)
Sandra Oh (Killing Eve
)
Reese Witherspoon (The Morning Show
)
Zendaya (Euphoria)

Will win: Melanie Lynskey (Yellowjackets)
Might win: Zendaya (Euphoria)

Zendaya won this award for Euphoria's first season, so it's easy to imagine her doing so again. After all, Euphoria performed even better in the nominations this year than for season one, and Zendaya's co-star Colman Domingo won Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series at the Creative Arts Emmys. Laura Linney is also in the mix, and she could receive a final season bump for Ozark after failing to win in the past. 

But Melanie Lynskey has emerged as the stand-out star of Showtime's ensemble Yellowjackets, and she won this prize at the Critics' Choice Awards. That certainly doesn't guarantee an Emmy win, but Lynskey did give a memorable speech there that Academy voters might have appreciated. She's also been quite visible throughout the lead-up to the Emmys in general, participating in multiple events and interviews and opening up about issues like the body shaming she's experienced in her career. It's hard not to root for her, especially as an actress who's been regularly working for nearly 30 years but has arguably never gotten her due until now. Lynskey could also essentially be the representative for Yellowjackets, a show the Academy liked enough to nominate for Outstanding Drama Series but that probably won't win anything else. 

She'd be a deserving winner, even if we can't help but still view this as the "where's Mandy Moore?" category. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nicholas Braun (Succession)
Billy Crudup (The Morning Show
)
Kieran Culkin (Succession
)
Matthew Macfadyen (Succession
)
O Yeong-su (Squid Game
)
Park Hae-soo (Squid Game)
John Turturro (Severance
)
Christopher Walken (Severance
)

Will win: Kieran Culkin (Succession)
Might win: Matthew Macfadyen (Succession)

Billy Crudup previously won this award, but he seems unlikely to do so again considering how much the buzz for The Morning Show fell off a cliff in its second season (no pun intended). With that in mind, the category looks like a battle between two Succession stars, Kieran Culkin and Matthew Macfadyen, who probably aren't in as much danger of splitting the vote considering most of the nominees are also going up against one of their own co-stars. 

So who will win, Roman or Tom? It could truly go either way, but we give a slight edge to Culkin, if only because he was one of the nominees at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, while Macfadyen wasn't. Besides, voters are probably still thinking about some of Culkin's reaction shots during one of the most uncomfortable accidental text storylines in TV history. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Patricia Arquette (Severance)
Julia Garner (Ozark
)
Jung Ho-yeon (Squid Game)
Christina Ricci (Yellowjackes
)
Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul
)
J. Smith-Cameron (Succession
)
Sarah Snook (Succession
)
Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria
)

Will win: Julia Garner (Ozark)
Might win: Jung Ho-yeon (Squid Game)

Rhea Seehorn is finally nominated for Better Call Saul after being consistently snubbed in the past. So could the momentum that earned her a nomination also lead to a victory? It's certainly possible. But it's again worth noting Better Call Saul is also eligible next year, and the second half of its final season is where Seehorn really had her meatiest material. So perhaps she'll follow the trajectory of Tatiana Maslany, who was snubbed for Orphan Black early on, only to finally get nominated and lose … and then win next time. 

We're also keeping a close eye on Jung Ho-yeon from Squid Game, who surprised with a win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Keep in mind, the SAG Awards don't have a supporting actor category for television, meaning she beat all the other actresses, including leads. Still, we're predicting Lee Jung-jae for best actor, and is the Squid Game momentum really strong enough for two acting awards? Succession's Sarah Snook is also a possibility, especially considering she hasn't won yet, though she did lose to Jung Ho-yeon at the SAG Awards. 

It's a tough call, but we're going with Julia Garner for Ozark. Voters clearly adore her performance as Ruth, given she's already won in this category not once but twice, and a final season bump for the Netflix series could earn her one last win. 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Bill Hader (Barry
)
Nicholas Hoult (The Great
)
Steve Martin (Only Murders in the Building
)
Martin Short (Only Murders in the Building
)
Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso
)

Will win: Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
Might win: Bill Hader (Barry)

What do we make of a category consisting of not one, but three past winners? Bill Hader, Donald Glover, and Jason Sudeikis have all won this award before, Sudeikis most recently. Will any of them do so again, or could Steve Martin or Martin Short defeat them? 

Martin and Short are both comedy legends who the Academy may want to honor, and the fact that Nathan Lane won Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series at the Creative Arts Emmys is a good sign for Only Murders in the Building. But then again, Only Murders is all about the trio, so will voters have a difficult time choosing which of Martin and Short to rally behind? That could give one of the past winners an advantage, and it probably won't be Glover. Atlanta itself was snubbed for Outstanding Comedy Series, whereas it was nominated the year he won. 

So we're leaning toward another Sudeikis win. The Academy clearly still loves Ted Lasso, and if voters are going for Abbott in Outstanding Comedy Series, they might want to ensure Ted Lasso goes home with some major awards, too. Besides, Sudeikis won again at the SAG Awards, beating Martin and Short. 

Still, don't completely count out Hader winning for a third time — especially if any voters were ticked off by that whole Olivia Wilde CinemaCon incident

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary
)
Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant)
Elle Fanning (The Great
)
Issa Rae (Insecure)
Jean Smart (Hacks
)

Will win: Jean Smart (Hacks)
Might win: Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary)

It's never smart to bet against Jean. The legendary actress continues to crush it as stand-up comedian Deborah Vance on Hacks, and after winning this award last year, it's once again hers to lose. 

That being said, if it really turns out to be Abbott Elementary's night, it's not impossible to imagine Quinta Brunson winning. She doesn't only play the main character of Abbott Elementary but also created the show and writes it, so the Academy may be particularly impressed by that. On the other hand, Brunson is also nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, so voters could honor both women by giving Smart an award for acting and Brunson an award for writing. 

Given how beloved Smart is, in fact, we could easily see her going on a winning streak for years to come, e.g. Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Carrigan (Barry)
Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso
)
Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso)
Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso
)
Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
)
Tyler James Williams (Abbott Elementary
)
Henry Winkler (Barry
)
Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live
)

Will win: Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)
Might win: Henry Winkler (Barry)

This is another category that will likely come down to two past winners: Brett Goldstein for Ted Lasso and Henry Winkler for Barry

Goldstein won most recently for his role as Roy Kent, while Winkler won for Barry in 2018. So who will get a second statue? Winkler is the kind of TV legend who's been around for so long that voters could easily take him for granted, and though he won for Barry's first season, he lost for season two. We give the edge to the show the Academy seems to have more warmly embraced overall: Ted Lasso

Sure, there are three Ted Lasso nominees to pick from, but that shouldn't be an issue when it's quite clear who the stand-out star is, and there were four nominees from the show when Goldstein won last year. And hey, in terms of staying on top of voters' minds, Goldstein's Thor cameo may not have necessarily hurt. He really is here, he's there, he's everywhere. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Hannah Einbinder (Hacks
)
Janelle James (Abbott Elementary
)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live
)
Sarah Niles (Ted Lasso
)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary
)
Juno Temple (Ted Lasso
)
Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso
)

Will win: Janelle James (Abbott Elementary)
Might win: Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)

Hannah Waddingham would be the obvious pick in this category. She won last year and arguably had an even stronger season on Ted Lasso, especially with that funeral scene that she managed to make both hilarious and emotional. There's also precedent for back-to-back winners in this category, as in recent years, Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon, and Alex Borstein all won twice in a row. 

But is Abbott Elementary really going to win Outstanding Comedy Series without coming home with a single acting statue? This is the category where we think the show has the best shot thanks to Janelle James, who in her role as the principal, Ava, is arguably the funniest performer among the entire cast. If she isn't recognized, see us after class, Academy.  

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Colin Firth (The Staircase)
Andrew Garfield (Under the Banner of Heaven
)
Oscar Isaac (Scenes from a Marriage
)
Michael Keaton (Dopesick
)
Himesh Patel (Station Eleven)
Sebastian Stan (Pam & Tommy
)

Will win: Michael Keaton (Dopesick)
Might win: Sebastian Stan (Pam & Tommy)

This is one of the few truly obvious, slam dunk winners of the night: Michael Keaton will certainly win for Dopesick. He's a beloved actor primarily known for movies giving an acclaimed performance on television, and he's already earned wins at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. At the latter ceremony, Keaton delivered a tear-jerking speech where he choked up while dedicating the award to his nephew, who died of a drug overdose. Voters will surely have that in mind when filling out their ballots. 

Given how much transformations into real people tend to get awards attention, Sebastian Stan would maybe be in second place for Pam & Tommy. But really, it's almost impossible to imagine Keaton losing this one. Holy "I'd like to thank the Academy," Batman! 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Toni Collette (The Staircase)
Julia Garner (Inventing Anna
)
Lily James (Pam & Tommy
)
Sarah Paulson (Impeachment: American Crime Story
)
Margaret Qualley (Maid
)
Amanda Seyfried (The Dropout
)

Will win: Amanda Seyfried (The Dropout)
Might win: Lily James (Pam & Tommy)

This one is another easy call: Amanda Seyfried should win for her transformative performance as Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout. It's one the best performances of her career to date, and the entire series is built around it. 

Granted, Seyfried could be slightly vulnerable if only because The Dropout didn't perform quite as well in the nominations as some expected, picking up six but missing out for Naveen Andrews. Is it possible voters were more lukewarm on the show than we think? On the other hand, the Academy clearly liked Pam & Tommy given it received 10 nominations, including a surprise one for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. For that reason, keep an eye out for a surprise by Lily James, who also delivered a transformative performance as Pamela Anderson.

Then again, the criticism that Pam & Tommy is an exploitative version of Anderson's story made without her approval could sway some voters against her, and The Dropout received stronger reviews overall. Just please don't give your acceptance speech in that voice, Amanda. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus)
Jake Lacy (The White Lotus
)
Will Poulter (Dopesick
)
Seth Rogen (Pam & Tommy
)
Peter Sarsgaard (Dopesick
)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Dopesick
)
Steve Zahn (The White Lotus
)

Will win: Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus)
Might win: Seth Rogen (Pam & Tommy)

This one looks like Murray Bartlett's to lose. He crushed it as hotel manager Armond on the HBO limited series, and among the White Lotus stars nominated here, he was the only one to also earn a SAG nomination. Besides, more than a year after the finale aired, viewers are still struggling to get one particular image of Bartlett out of their minds. So hey, that means they haven't stopped thinking about him since, and that can only be a good thing!

We're still keeping an eye on Seth Rogen if only because Pam & Tommy over-performed in the nominations, as previously mentioned, and he has a key role in it. But Bartlett should easily check out with this award. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Connie Britton (The White Lotus)
Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus
)
Alexandra Daddario (The White Lotus
)
Kaitlyn Dever (Dopesick)
Natasha Rothwell (The White Lotus
)
Sydney Sweeney (The White Lotus
)
Mare Winningham (Dopesick
)

Will win: Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus)
Might win: Kaitlyn Dever (Dopesick)

That's right, more than half of this category consists of the cast of The White Lotus. Are you getting the sense the Academy liked this show? Normally, we might float the idea that this could result in some vote splitting and leave an opening for someone like Kaitlyn Dever to surprise. 

But that shouldn't be an issue here because it's so clear which White Lotus nominee to vote for: Jennifer Coolidge, arguably the show's break-out star, who once again was the sole SAG nominee from this White Lotus gang. She delivers one of the season's most memorable performances, she's a beloved actress, and she's the only cast member returning for season two. 

Congratulations in advance to Coolidge, the only person whose Emmy campaign season could bring us headlines like "Jennifer Coolidge: I slept with 200 people thanks to American Pie MILF role." Good for her. 

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