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Emmy Upset Alert: The 7 Categories Where Almost Anything Can Happen

The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards are expected to be full of surprises.

Zazie Beetz, David Lynch, and Sandra Oh Atlanta, Killing Eve, Twin Peaks

Zazie Beetz, David Lynch, and Sandra Oh

FX / Showtime / BBC America

The 2018 Emmys are shaping up to be anyone’s game — which could mean, well, just about anything. Come Monday night, viewers could be stupefied by the volume of upsets, or they could be flabbergasted by how many Academy favorites just keep on winning. Or, really, it could be a mix of the two.

So on the precipice of another Primetime Emmy telecast, what do we know? Not much — and that’s exciting. With only a few clear locks (Rachel Brosnahan, prepare your speech) and a score of new nominees (Is “Will & Grace” a new nominee or a returning champ?), there are bound to be surprises at the 70th Annual ceremony — but who, what, and where remain a mystery.

There will be a new Best Comedy crowned, that much we know, but which show will prevail? Who will win in the Drama Actress race? What about the acting standoff between Sterling K. Brown and Matthew Rhys? And can Netflix win the most trophies after scoring a landmark number of nominations?

So many questions, so little time. Below, IndieWire has gathered the most pressing issues facing Emmy fans, nominees, and prognosticators. It’s bound to be a wild night — and not just because our hosts are already pushing buttons — so let’s get started.

There Are Four Actresses Who Can Win Best Actress in a Drama… Right?

OK, maybe there are five. Of the six nominees, only Evan Rachel Wood seems to be lacking a winning argument. Tatiana Maslany is a former champion who surprised some by snagging a nomination, despite “Orphan Black” being off the air for about a year; she’s still a long shot to win, but you can’t discount this never-say-never contender. Both Claire Foy and Keri Russell have even more momentum. Each of the “Crown” and “Americans” stars are in their last year of eligibility for their critically hailed series; one will have to go home empty-handed, but do both?

Sandra Oh could make it so, riding a wave of support for her lead role in “Killing Eve,” the dark horse contender that has made a strong impact on everyone who’s seen the show. Some thought the BBC America drama could’ve even snagged a drama series nod with all its momentum, so to count it out here would be a mistake. All that being said, the defending champ Elisabeth Moss won’t be easy to bump out of the race. Even those spotting more flaws in “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 2 had nothing derogatory to say about its star. She’s the favorite in the clubhouse, but the clubhouse is crowded.

THE HANDMAID'S TALE -- "The Word" -- Episode 213 -- Serena and the other Wives strive to make change. Emily learns more about her new Commander. Offred faces a difficult decision. Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski), shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)

Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”


There Are Seven Actresses Who Can Win Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

Seven nominees. Seven contenders. Though the number differs by category, that’s how it’s supposed to be across the board. Rarely is it the case come Emmys night, when the favorites have emerged after a long campaign, but there really is a strong case to be made for every actress in the supporting drama category.

Ann Dowd: last year’s winner
Alexis Bledel: last year’s winner in the supporting category
Yvonne Strahovski: critic’s pick from the presumed drama series favorite
Lena Headey: the favorite if “Game of Thrones” is actually the drama series favorite
Thandie Newton: the favorite if Emmy voters want to spread the love (or at least acknowledge “Westworld’s” 21 nominations)
Millie Bobby Brown: the alternate pick if Emmy voters want to spread the love (or really liked Eleven’s standalone episode)
Vanessa Kirby: her first nomination and last chance to win for “The Crown,” plus she’s been getting extra raves (during voting) for her “Mission: Impossible” performance

The Supporting Actress Comedy Race Isn’t Any Clearer

Sure, Kate McKinnon is the safe bet, but the two-time winner from “SNL” is far from a sure thing. For one, there are eight nominees in the category. For another, well, let’s go down the list: There’s a former winner (Alex Borstein) in the hottest new comedy contender (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”). There’s a newcomer (Zazie Beetz) starring in the presumed comedy favorite (“Atlanta”). Two more nominees from “SNL” (Leslie Jones and Aidy Bryant) could suck votes away from McKinnon. Laurie Metcalf is riding high from her Oscar nomination, plus voters might feel sorry for her considering a) her show got cancelled, and b) her character tried to steer things away from some out there right-wing opinions. Megan Mullally is another former winner, and Betty Gilpin is Betty Freaking Gilpin — she’s arguably the critic’s favorite and the people’s favorite, even if “GLOW” underperformed with the Academy overall. It’s anyone’s race.

What Emmys, If Any, Will ‘Twin Peaks’ Win?

Just imagine if Ryan Murphy wins an award for directing when David Lynch is also in the running. Seriously. The fit thrown by film buffs, surrealist artists, and cats worldwide would be the equivalent of the nuclear bomb dropped in Lynch’s nominated episode, “Part 8.” But the cinephiles should prepare for the worst, because “Twin Peaks’” weak showing at the Creative Arts Emmys — going zero for seven, including losses in sound mixing and cinematography to “Genius” (“Genius!”) — doesn’t bode well for the Primetime Emmys. The Showtime revival is up for two more awards: Best Directing (Lynch) and Best Writing for a Limited Series, TV Movie, or Dramatic Special. In the latter category, it’s up against everything from “American Vandal” to “USS Callister,” as well as Murphy’s “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” and “Patrick Melrose.” Considering it’s already lost to two of its five opponents, “Twin Peaks” will be entering Monday night as a long shot. Directing is its best shot, and Murphy is Lynch’s main competition. Given the early love for “Versace,” “Peaks” fans should get ready to blow their tops.

THE AMERICANS -- "Urban Transport Planning" -- Season 6, Episode 3 (Airs Wednesday, April 11, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings. CR: Patrick Harbron/FX

Matthew Rhys in “The Americans”

Patrick Harbron/FX

What Emmys, If Any, Will “The Americans” Win?

With only four nominations — all in the Primetime Emmy categories — the long-running critic’s darling and otherwise under-appreciated FX drama is going to have to topple some giants if it wants to take home any gold. Outstanding Drama Series is a bit of a reach, considering “The Americans” has the lowest nomination count of any show in the category. We already went over Keri Russell’s chances above, which aren’t terrible, but also don’t make her a shoo-in. For the past four years, the Outstanding Writing category has lined up with the winner for Drama Series, and you have to go back to 2011 to find a winner that hadn’t won Drama Series at some point prior.

But here’s where “Americans” fans have hope: That 2011 victor was “Friday Night Lights,” a long-running critic’s darling and otherwise under-appreciated NBC drama. In its final season, Jason Katims won for writing and Kyle Chandler won for lead actor. While it would require Matthew Rhys to knock out the incumbent Sterling K. Brown, if Chandler can topple Jon Hamm, then “The Americans” can win, too. Clear eyes, full hearts…

Can Streaming Pull Off Landmark Wins in Limited Series or Comedy Series?

Last year, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” became the first streaming series to win Outstanding Drama Series. This year, two other networks of the future are looking to make history in the other two series categories: Netflix and Amazon.

Netflix has nominees in each field (“The Crown” and “Stranger Things” in Drama, as well as “GLOW” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in Comedy), but its best chance to win is in the Limited Series race. With would-be contenders like “The Looming Tower” and “Twin Peaks” out of the running entirely, the field is rather scant. “Godless” is second only to “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” in nominations (12 vs. 18, respectively), and while that may make it an underdog, Netflix put a massive campaign behind Jeff Daniels’ western. That with the sheer number of eyeballs Netflix earns for its originals could spell upset. (Though “Patrick Melrose” and its five nominations is the real dark horse here.)

As for Amazon, it’s looking to take the comedy series title with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Most prognosticators are torn between Amy Sherman-Palladino’s hourlong comedy and “Atlanta,” and each series has its pros and cons. “Maisel” is a perceived hit, but there’s really no telling how many voters watched it all the way through. (And they never really warmed to Sherman-Palladino’s former hit, “Gilmore Girls.”) But “Atlanta” averaged less linear viewers than “Pose” and “The Americans,” neither of which are exactly blockbusters for FX. It needs to be recognized as must-see TV by the Academy if it wants to take the top prize. (Some may not see either as a bonafide comedy, opening up the door for the dark but very funny “Barry” to pull off a win.)

Is “Game of Thrones” Returning to the Throne or Will “The Handmaid’s Tale” Continue the Uprising?

If either of these wins, there’s no upset here. “The Handmaid’s Tale” is the defending champion, and thus the frontrunner. “Game of Thrones” won two years in a row when last eligible, and returns this year after taking one Emmy season off. Their showdown has been buzzed about since Oprah shouted “The Handmaid’s Taaaaaale!” from the Emmy stage last year. Is it really a two-horse race? Probably. What could pull the upset? “The Americans.” But no matter what wins earlier in the night, the last award handed out will have everyone on the edge of their seats.

For more on the Emmys, make sure to listen to this week’s Very Good TV Podcast. IndieWire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers dissect the various aspects of the season and dig into all things Netflix.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Very Good TV Podcast via Soundcloud or iTunes. Make sure to follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your TV news. Plus, check out IndieWire’s other podcastsScreen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, the Filmmaker Toolkit Podcast with Chris O’Falt, as well as Michael Schneider’s podcast, Turn It On, which spotlights the most important TV each week.

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