All eyes will be on Jon Hamm Sunday night. It's his last chance to win an Emmy for playing the deeply conflicted ad man Don Draper on AMC's period drama Mad Men, even though he's been nominated seven times (and actually, he's 0-16 overall).
And to make his life even worse, he split from his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Westfeldt, earlier this month, following a stay in rehab earlier this year for alcohol addiction. So with whom will he be walking the 67th Emmy Awards red carpet? (Insert girl raising her hand emoji here.)
But it's not just him we'll be eyeing. In fact, no Mad Men actor or actress has ever won an individual Emmy. Since the series began in 2007, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jared Harris and January Jones have all been nominated in lead or supporting categories. This year, Moss is up against some lead actress heavy hitters, but Hendricks has a good chance to win for her supporting role.
The series itself is up for the big gold statue again. It won Outstanding Drama Series its first four years, and lost to Homeland and Breaking Bad the last three years.
Speaking of AMC's other hit, the Emmys love to reward departed shows. Breaking Bad won just about everything last year. But HBO's fantasy drama Game of Thrones leads the pack in nominations this time, so we'll see if Mad Men's satisfying swan song swayed enough votes this last time around.
In the comedy categories, ABC's Modern Family is the one to beat (and someone definitely should). It has won all five times it has been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, but the show lost its luster awhile ago. Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen, both past Emmy winners, are the only cast members up for individual supporting awards, but we hope 2015 is the year the Emmys reward funnier shows.
NBC's Parks and Recreation also ended this year, and Amy Poehler and company haven't taken home any Emmys, yet. (And even more disappointing: Nick Offerman has never even been nominated for playing our favorite moustached grump, Ron Swanson.)
Many stellar breakthrough performances are nominated, most notably by actors of color. Pressure has been building for years for award shows to reflect our diverse American culture, and this year, at least 18 people of color are nominated. A black actress has never won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress, and this year's top two contenders are Empire's Taraji P. Henson and Viola Davis in How To Get Away With Murder.
It'll be an interesting — and entertaining — night, that's for sure. Goofball bro (goof-bro?) Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is hosting the show on Fox. This is definitely the year we could see more surprise and fan-favorite wins as younger voters take advantage of a new online voting process.
Here's who this TV aficionado thinks will take home the gold in the big categories on Sunday night.
Nominees: Louie (FX), Modern Family (ABC), Parks and Recreation (NBC), Silicon Valley (HBO), Transparent (Amazon), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), Veep (HBO)
This award should go to the funniest, right? So, that's not Modern Family (see above). Louie (FX) and Transparent (Amazon) can be depressing, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) is just too weird for most people. I'll give this to Veep (HBO) or the gone-but-never-forgotten Parks and Recreation (NBC), though I'm hoping for the latter because they'll probably dedicate it to the late Harris Wittels (Parks and Rec writer and producer).
LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (Netflix); Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central); Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie (Showtime); Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation (NBC); Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback (HBO); Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won this category all three years she's been playing the clueless but hilarious politician Selina Meyer on Veep. If anyone is going to beat her, though, it's going to be an Amy. (Schumer or Poehler.) Schumer is having the best year ever so let's cap it off with an Emmy win, and a giant Tami Taylor trough of white wine.
LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Anthony Anderson, Black-ish (ABC); Matt LeBlanc, Episodes (Showtime); Don Cheadle, House of Lies (Showtime); Louis C.K., Louie (FX); William H. Macy, Shameless (Showtime); Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth (Fox); Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) is a shoo-in for his role as a trans woman (he won the Golden Globe) but, Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) made me laugh the hardest. Forte is such a weirdo, and I love him for it.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Niecy Nash, Getting On (HBO); Julie Bowen, Modern Family (ABC); Allison Janney, Mom (CBS); Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC); Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory (CBS); Gaby Hoffman, Transparent (Netflix); Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix); Anna Chlumsky, Veep (HBO)
Speaking of weirdos, this crowded list is full of them: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Gaby Hoffman (Transparent) and Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). They're all terrific, and Krakowski deserves an Emmy, but maybe not for this role. I'm counting on a surprise win for Niecy Nash (Getting On) or Veep's Anna Chlumsky. However, six-time Emmy winner Allison Janney (Mom) won last year and who doesn't want to award Janney with everything ever?
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox); Adam Driver, Girls (HBO); Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele (Comedy Central); Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC); Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix); Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)
I love a good doofus, and Ty Burrell (Modern Family) and Veep's Tony Hale (who have traded off this award the past few years) play the best ones on TV. Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is a great deadpan comedian, but I'm going to need Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) to win this one so we can get a performance of Peeno Noir during his acceptance speech.
Nominees: Better Call Saul (AMC), Downton Abbey (PBS), Game of Thrones (HBO), Homeland (Showtime), House of Cards (Netflix), Mad Men (AMC), Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
I'm not that excited about this category because the shows I think are truly deserving (Rectify and The Americans) aren't on the list. However, I'm giving this to Mad Men for its pitch-perfect final bow. Hopefully Emmy voters are Coke drinkers.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Claire Danes, Homeland (Showtime); Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (ABC); Taraji P. Henson, Empire (Fox); Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (BBC America); Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men (AMC); Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)
Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany blows me away, and she totally deserves the win. However, she's a long shot, so at least she's finally nominated this year. I'm actually going to throw this one to Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder). You have to admit that you can't take your eyes off this cutthroat attorney, and possible murderer. Plus, she's got two Oscar nods under her belt. But look out for Cookie. Taraji P. Henson (Empire) played the greatest new character on TV last season.
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Kyle Chandler, Bloodline (Netflix); Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom (HBO); Jon Hamm, Mad Men (AMC); Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC); Liev Schrieber, Ray Donovon (Showtime); Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)
By process of elimination — and the Emmys' past love for the Breaking Bad — I'm actually going to name Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) as winner here. It may be Jon Hamm's last chance to win for Mad Men, but that doesn't mean the voters are going to right their past wrongs. (Remember Steve Carell and The Office? He never won an Emmy for playing Michael Scott, and that is ludicrous.)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey (PBS); Lena Headey, Game of Thrones (HBO); Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones (HBO); Christina Hendricks, Mad Men (AMC); Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix); Christine Baranski, The Good Wife (CBS)
Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke stand out among this crowd, but the two Game of Thrones characters could split the vote and leave room for my pick: Christina Hendricks (Mad Men). The six-time Emmy nominee gave a superb final performance as Joan Harris, the fierce and headstrong businesswoman and single mom. But for some reason, Emmy voters still love Downton Abbey and Joanne Froggatt won the Golden Globe recently, so I wouldn't be surprised to see her walk up to the podium.
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC); Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline (Netflix); Jim Carter, Downton Abbey (PBS); Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO); Michael Kelly, House of Cards (Netflix); Alan Cumming, The Good Wife (CBS)
Ben Mendelsohn has always been that face I recognize but can never place. And then he stole every scene from his A-list co-stars on Netflix's family drama Bloodline. I'd love to see this Aussie actor get an Emmy-win career bump and become a household name. But don't forget about Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul), who totally deserves the win, too.
Contact Brittany Volk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @bevolk.