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Emmy Ballots Revealed: Producers and Writers Secretly Share The Reasons Behind Their Picks

Now that Emmy voting is over, a few anonymous TV creatives give their takes on who should win — and it's not always the expected choices.

Emmys

Elisabeth Moss, Donald Glover

Hulu/FX

ConsiderThis

This may be the most unpredictable Emmy race in years, particularly on the drama side. “Stranger Things” and “Veep” lead the Emmy odds according to the prognosticators at Gold Derby, but don’t count out shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Black-ish” and “Atlanta.” At least, that’s the takeaway from a handful of writers, producers and directors who agreed to anonymously share their Emmy ballots with IndieWire.

Not that this year’s picks were easy to make. “I watch a lot of TV,” said one writer. “And yet there is not a single category where I have seen every nominee. Seems impossible to judge — and crazy to think a winner is actually the best, rather than just the best of what most people have seen.”

That’s the high-class problem of Peak TV, and why outlets like HBO and Netflix spend handsomely on For Your Consideration campaigns. That’s also why broadcast TV continues to be left out in the cold (with a few notable exceptions, like “This Is Us”). “I just don’t see how they will ever be able to compete again,” the writer said. “Maybe we need a new award show for just broadcast. The ‘Broadcast Ace Awards’?”

Now that phase two voting is over, IndieWire can share those secret Emmy votes.  Here’s the first batch of respondents (and a vague identifier), with more to come:

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul _ Season 3, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

“Better Call Saul”

Michele K. Short / Courtesy of S

Drama Producer

Outstanding Drama Series: “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“This is the best, most nuanced show on television.” (Adding, for “The Crown”: “Zzzzzzzzz.”)

Outstanding Comedy Series: “Black-ish” (ABC)
“This show is crazy funny and surprising in the way I wish all shows could be.”

Outstanding Limited Series: “Fargo” (FX)
“I’m sorry, ‘Fargo’ is a GREAT show, but it’s kind of a lie to call it a limited series! That said, I must vote for it.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Tie between Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”) and Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)
Wood “acted the HELL out of that role” and Wright “is an unparalleled ice queen and I will watch her icily walk down a hall, open a file folder, glance dismissively at a cell phone… whatever. She’s the greatest. Everyone else just go home.”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
“So good it doesn’t even look like acting.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: No pick

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: John Turturro (“The Night Of”)
“He is deeply watchable, pained in his role.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”)
“She has EARNED this. She kills this role.”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
“He is ‘punch-you-in-the-face’ funny.” (She adds for Jeffrey Tambor in “Transparent”: “We’re calling this a comedy?!?”)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”)
“Yes. Him. All the way. The saddest eyes in the world.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
“Show me an actress who did work under as difficult conditions (she was naked ALL THE TIME) and turned in as subtle, grounded and emotional work.”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Tony Hale (“Veep”)
“Evergreen. Better every season. Win.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Anna Chlumsky (“Veep”)
“Unsung hero of this show. Her timing = impeccable.”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Alfred Molina (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
“This is the only performance that stands out in this list. Also I love him.”

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy: Hugh Laurie (“Veep”)
“Yes. Him.”

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama: B.D. Wong (“Mr. Robot”)
“Yes. Him.”

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy: Carrie Fisher (“Catastrophe”)
“Yes. Her. RIP.”

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama: Ann Dowd (“The Leftovers”)
“She is running away with this under her arm already. Come on.”

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program: “American Ninja Warrior” (NBC)
“The ninja takes it.”

Outstanding Variety Talk Series: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS)
“The Bee takes it.”

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series: “Portlandia” (IFC)
“This show remains the funniest documentary on television. I know this because my husband is from Portland.”

Outstanding Television Movie: “Black Mirror: San Junipero” (Netflix) with an asterisk
“I would have voted for this if they picked a different episode. This episode was meh.”

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy: Mike Judge (“Silicon Valley”)
“Let’s acknowledge that this man knows that he’s doing.”

Outstanding Directing for a Drama: Reed Morano (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
“WHO is a better photographer working? This cinematographer/director is unbelievable. Gold statue for her.”

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, TV Movie or Dramatic Special: Ryan Murphy (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
“I didn’t care for this series much BUT it sure looked beautiful. For the color palette along I would vote for it.”

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy: No pick

Outstanding Writing for a Drama: Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (“Westworld”)
“Creating a bizarro-world and making it real — that’s killer writing.”

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, TV Movie or Dramatic Special: Richard Price and Steven Zaillian (“The Night Of”)
“This had the best writing in my option.”

The Night Of Season 1 Finale John Turturro & Riz Ahmed

“The Night Of”

Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Comedy Writer

Outstanding Drama Series: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“‘House of Cards’ – shouldn’t be here. ‘Westworld’ – just because it’s expensive and on HBO doesn’t mean it’s good. LOVED ‘Stranger Things’ – was a close second. Also love ‘This is Us.'”

Outstanding Comedy Series: “Atlanta” (FX)
“‘Modern Family’ again??? Who has watched a single episode in the last 4 years? I thought ‘Silicon Valley’ and ‘Veep’ (have loved both) fell WAY off this year.”

Outstanding Limited Series: “The Night Of” (HBO)
“Loved every minute of it! So disappointed by one of my favorite shows – ‘Fargo’ – terrible this season. Sad!”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
“Hard to vote against Keri Russell who should have won last year – but this season ‘The Americans’ was not great.”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
“Spacey and Hopkins better not win.”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: John Turturro (“The Night Of”)
“Best performance of the year by anyone.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: No pick
“Strangely haven’t seen most of these and I can’t vote for Julia again. Not a great season.”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
“I have maybe seen two episodes of ‘Blackish,’ but he is always amazing. Aziz is not an actor – great show, but he is not a great actor. Glover – close, but he’s not the one who pops on that show. Bored by Galifinakis. ‘Transparent’ is not a comedy!”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: David Harbour (“Stranger Things”)
“I think everybody is going gaga over Jeffrey Wright, but I don’t get it. Mainly because that show sucked.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
“Only compelling character/performance in the show.”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Matt Walsh (“Veep”)
“Not sure anyone deserves this so I will say Matt Walsh because I really like him and he seems to always be in everyone’s shadow on that show.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Vanessa Bayer (“Saturday Night Live”)
“Love Kathryn Hahn but ‘Transparent’ is not a comedy.”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Bill Camp (“The Night Of”)

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy: Matthew Rhys (“Girls”)
“Never saw it, but I like Matthew Rhys.”

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama: Gerald McRaney (“This Is Us”)

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy: Melissa McCarthy (“Saturday Night Live”)

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama: Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program: “The Amazing Race” (CBS)
“For the record, ‘Survivor’ is still the best reality competition show on TV – crazy it’s never nominated.”

Outstanding Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series: “Portlandia” (IFC)

Outstanding Television Movie: “Sherlock: The Lying Detective – Masterpiece” (PBS)

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy: Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)

Outstanding Directing for a Drama: The Duffer Brothers (“Stranger Things”)

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, TV Movie or Dramatic Special: Steve Zaillian (“The Night Of”)

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy: Stephen Glover (“Atlanta”)

Outstanding Writing for a Drama: Bruce Miller (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, TV Movie or Dramatic Special: Richard Price and Steven Zaillian (“The Night Of”)

“Black-ish”

ABC

Drama Showrunner

Outstanding Drama Series: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“It’s so beautifully shot that you forget just how tragic the story is.”

Outstanding Comedy Series: “Black-ish” (ABC)
“This show is must-see for all families raising kids in today’s world. Smart, funny, poignant and grounded.”

Outstanding Limited Series: “The Night Of” (HBO)
“What a journey for the heroes and the audience. Brilliant.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
“I can’t stop watching her genius in all phases of this character’s journey.”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: John Turturro (“The Night Of”)
“He steals the show, which is not easy to do.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”)
“Smart, funny, vulnerable, all wrapped up into one delicious Rainbow.”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”)
“I mean, come on. He’s fantastic.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”)
“Such a great talent and a thrill to watch.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”)
“It’s like choosing a favorite between my kids, but her impressions kept me sane.”

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama: Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”)
“His performance makes every scene memorable.”

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama: Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
“It’s important to recognize roles and performances like this one.”

Outstanding Variety Talk Series: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS)
“She tackles everything and should be rewarded for it.”

Outstanding Directing for a Drama: Kate Dennis (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
“Images that just jump off the screen.”

Outstanding Writing for a Drama: Bruce Miller (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
“Hands down.”

Big Little Lies Reese Shailene Nicole

“Big Little Lies”

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle / HBO

Comedy Showrunner

Outstanding Drama Series: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“So incredibly eerily timely and beautifully executed.”

Outstanding Limited Series: “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
“Hands down my choice. So well acted, well written and well shot. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman were stand outs.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
“It’s her year with this performance.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Nicole Kidman (“Big Little Lies”)
“Her portrayal of a domestic abuse victim felt haunting and truthful.”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”)
“Pam for the win! I think this show should have been in the best comedy category as well but her portrayal brilliantly captured the humor and tragedy of being a woman, breadwinner, daughter, and mom.”

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy: Matthew Rhys (“Girls”)
“This was such a different role for him and I loved/hated seeing Kevin Walker be such a creep!”

Outstanding Variety Talk Series: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS)
“Smart smart smart smart smart smart smart.”

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, TV Movie or Dramatic Special: Jean-Marc Vallee (“Big Little Lies”)
“Epic! Cinematic! And just the intercutting alone deserves a statue.”

Outstanding Writing for a Drama: Bruce Miller (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
“It’s his year. This pilot was outstanding.”

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, TV Movie or Dramatic Special: David E. Kelley (“Big Little Lies”)
“It all starts with the writing and this show stood out from top to bottom.”

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