Will Win: The trend here is Modern Family, and unfortunately, for a category with so many ambitious shows, it might go that way again this year. Emmy voters just like it so much. It's won since 2010. That said, perhaps voters might remember all they love they once gave to 30 Rock.
Should Win: There are definitely cases to be made for Girls and Louie, dark shows that push the boundaries of what we think of as television comedy. Still, we have to say we'd be very happy if 30 Rock got it for going out so so strong and making us realize just how much we're going to miss this show.
Actress - Comedy
Will Win: If the night's in 30 Rock's favor, give this one to Fey, but remember the Emmys love to repeat themselves and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the reigning winner for Veep. Ultimately, we'd say buzz for Veep will edge out lasting 30 Rock love, especially given Louis-Dreyfus' Selina Meyer is the flashier role.
Should Win: Strong cases can be made for both Laura Dern of Enlightened and Amy Poehler of Parks and Recreation. Dern performance is the complicated, critically acclaimed one on the beloved, yet canceled show. Poehler is just past due for an award—over the course of the show balancing Leslie's manic excitement with true heart—and that enough deserves a prize. Ultimately, we say give it to Poehler.
Actor - Comedy
Will Win: This is probably Louis C.K.'s to lose unless for some reason the Academy wants to award Jim Parsons again for The Big Bang Theory. That said, if there's a 30 Rock wave of love we could see Baldwin getting a last hurrah. At least Jon Cryer's not nominated.
Should Win: Yeah, Louis gets it. If the show doesn't win the top prize, the award will also stand as recognition of the remarkable work he does crafting this show basically entirely on his own.
Supporting Actress - Comedy
Will Win: The Emmys love to give these awards to Julie Bowen for her work on Modern Family. She has now won twice. With a shrug we say she'll probably take it again.
Should Win: Jane Krakowski has never won for her insane and insanely funny Jenna Maroney. As a body of work, Krakowski's nutty, vain, sociopathic actress deserves the award for being the perfect foil to Liz Lemon for all these years. Plus, she submitted the finale with her fantastic performance of "Rural Juror."
Supporting Actor - Comedy
Will Win: Uh, someone from Modern Family? (Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are all nominees.) Once again, it's a trend.
Should Win: We'd honestly be happy with anyone other than the Modern Family crew. We'll hear arguments for Veep's Tony Hale or even for Bill Hader for the simple fact that he served as SNL's backbone for so many seasons. But who can forget Adam Driver taking his weirdo character on Girls from creepy to sweet to creepy to sweet again? He added pathos where we never thought there would be any.
Will Win: Given the crazy momentum it's had this summer, it's hard to imagine that Breaking Bad won't take its first-ever Outstanding Drama Series award. (It's won for acting a lot, but never the big tomato.) That said, it's got some stiff competition. House of Cards has a lot of cool-new-thing buzz surrounding it and is the most likely upset, but of course perennial favorite Mad Men should not be discounted.
Should Win: Perhaps for the Red Wedding episode alone, HBO's lauded but in an odd way under-respected Game of Thrones should take the top prize. What other show on television tells such a sprawling, intricate story with such grace, artistry, and inventiveness?
Actor - Drama
Will Win: Again, Breaking Bad is set to be the belle of the ball here, so Bryan Cranston is the one to beat. But Kevin Spacey is a big flashy movie star who stooped to television in House of Cards, and he did a marvelous job. It's tough to see Cranston losing, but if he has any competition, it's Spacey.
Should Win: You know what? Let's give Jon Hamm one, shall we? This is his second-, no, sorry, third-to-last chance to win the damn Emmy he's deserved since season one of Mad Men. This may not have been everyone's most favorite season of the show, but the guy still deserves some recognition. Cranston's got a bunch of Emmys, Spacey has an Oscar, and all Hamm's got is a lousy Golden Globe.
Actress - Drama
Will Win: Why break with convention? Claire Danes will likely pick up her second trophy for spazzing out on Homeland, even though season two was sort of a mess. There are some rumblings about Kerry Washington eking out a win for Scandal, which would be exciting to see, but the Emmys rarely pull surprising moves like that.
Should Win: Danes is great, no doubt. Robin Wright was a cool, calculating customer and the most beguiling thing on House of Cards. But Vera Farmiga's totally bonkers, out-to-lunch stuff on Bates Motel took an otherwise mediocre show and brought it to the level of high-camp art. Hers was maybe the ballsiest TV performance of the year, oscillating sometimes mid-word between calm and crazy, nasty and nurturing. She was one of the most exhilaratingly unpredictable things on TV this year, so give her an award for that.
Supporting Actor - Drama
Will Win: Most people are thinking it'll be Mandy Patinkin, who does such good weary, avuncular work on Homeland. That does seem likely, but Breaking Bad mania could propel Aaron Paul to another win.
Should Win: He's not even nominated, but Corey Stoll was so sad, pained, and ultimately sympathetic on House of Cards that he deserves some big, flashy reward.
Supporting Actress - Drama
Will Win: Maggie Smith keeps winning this damn thing for expertly delivering one-liners on Downton Abbey, so it's a good bet she'll collect again in absentia. Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn is also a contender, though we think the show is more likely to be rewarded elsewhere.
Should Win: Again, she's not nominated, but Michelle Fairley made such a lasting impression in a few scenes of Game of Thrones this season that it seems absurd that we're even talking about anyone else.
Miniseries or Made for TV Movie
Will Win: It seems completely impossible that a film directed by a major director featuring a performance adored by everyone will not win, so let's go ahead and call this for HBO's Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra. Really, who is its competition? Political Animals? Please.
Should Win: Top of the Lake, Jane Campion's spare, haunting meditation on crime, legacy, gender, and memory was gorgeous and strange. Featuring quietly powerful performances by Elisabeth Moss, Holly Hunter, et al, it was the rare detective mystery that really was about more than just a missing girl.
Actor - Miniseries/Movie
Will Win: Michael Douglas as Liberace. No question.
Should Win: Michael Douglas as Liberace. No question.
Actress - Miniseries/Movie
Will Win: Though Jessica Lange's dark, bizarre turn on the second season of American Horror Story poses a considerable threat, we think perpetual Mad Men nominee Elisabeth Moss will be rewarded for Top of the Lake. If enough voters saw it, that is.
Should Win: Yeah, that seems about right.
Supporting Actor - Miniseries/Movie
Will Win: Um... James Cromwell for American Horror Story: Asylum? People seem to be saying James Cromwell, so let's just agree with them.
Should Win: Peter Mullan was both fatherly and feral, in perfectly creepy combo, as the ostensible villain of Top of the Lake.
Supporting Actress - Miniseries/Movie
Will Win: Sarah Paulson, who really was a lead on this season of American Horror Story, seems the likely bet.
Should Win: Paulson is a good choice, though where the heck is Holly Hunter? Not even a nomination? Preposterous!
Will Win: The Amazing Race. Because it almost always does.
Should Win: We don't really have a horse in this race, so mostly we're rooting against The Amazing Race. Dancing With The Stars is struggling so that's out. Should it go to So You Think You Can Dance or Project Runway or Top Chef for chugging along? To The Voice for being a lone bright light for NBC?
Will Win: No question it goes to the The Daily Show. It's won this since 2003.
Should Win: Colbert has been always a bridesmaid never a bride in this category, so he should probably take it, but we wouldn't mind if upstarts Kimmel or Fallon started staking their claim to initiate a new era of late night wars.