What Will and Should Win at the 2022 Emmy Awards

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Apple TV+ and HBO Max

Let’s start the predictions for the 2022 Emmy Awards — to be broadcast Monday, September 12 on NBC — by being completely transparent. I was right about 16 out of 24 categories when I engaged in this exercise last year, getting a few acting winners wrong and whiffing completely when it comes to directing. But I was spot-on with regard to every outstanding series category.

I mention this to point out that even those of us who pay close attention to the Emmys can often be totally incorrect about how they will turn out. This awards show, which has recently bumped up the number of nominees in some categories and is decided by more than 20,000 industry professionals, is less predictable than it’s ever been. That doesn’t mean it’s completely unpredictable — the Outstanding Variety Talk series honor has gone to Last Week Tonight With John Oliver for the past six years and probably will again this year. But there are always some unexpected decisions that keep things at least somewhat fluid.

With all that said, here are my predictions for the 2022 Emmy Awards, which, hopefully, will include more than 16 accurate guesses this year.

Outstanding Comedy Series

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

Emmy voters have a history of finding a comedy they like, then giving it this prize over and over again. Veep won it three years in a row. Modern Family did it for five. In recent ceremonies, though, they’ve mixed it up a bit. Last year Ted Lasso was named best comedy, Schitt’s Creek the year before that, and Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel the two years prior. 

It’s possible this category could go in what seems like the most obvious direction, by landing in the lap of Ted Lasso for the second consecutive year. With 20 nods, it’s the most nominated comedy, although a few others — Hacks, Only Murders in the Building, and Barry — are right on its heels. I would not be surprised to see any of those three win come Monday.

But I also can’t ignore Abbott Elementary, one of the rare network sitcoms these days to become part of the cultural conversation, and at a time when teachers were in extra-acute need of feeling seen and appreciated. If Quinta Brunson’s mockumentary wins, it will be the first network comedy to do so since 2014, the year Modern Family earned its fifth Emmy. Given all the upheaval on the streaming side of things this year, there may be an increased desire to reward something from the more traditional side of broadcasting.

I think I’d be slightly more convinced of that if Abbott had more overall nominations, though, so I’m sticking with Ted as my prediction.

Will win: Ted Lasso.

Should win: Barry, which delivered an exceptional third season, or What We Do in the Shadows, which may be the most consistently comedic entry here, but also may be too oddball and niche for some voters to embrace.

Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul
Squid Game
Stranger Things

Succession is the only drama here that has previously won in this category, and I am perfectly prepared to watch it do that again. The third season was completely Emmy worthy, and if a story about wealthy elitist people arguing about their own power and status isn’t relatable to people in Hollywood, who is it relatable to, right?

That said, it’s possible a newer series could win. Squid Game was one of the most talked-about shows in 2021, and its compelling concept and global appeal are factors in its favor. Severance was also a talker, and is extremely well-made top to bottom; it could have a chance here, too. But given Emmy voters’ tendency to stick with the familiar and prestige-y, I suspect the Roy family will emerge triumphant for a second time.

Will Win: Succession.

Should Win: It is a high crime that Better Call Saul has zero Emmys. I don’t just mean in this category, where it’s been nominated for every single season of its existence, I mean total. No Emmys for one of the most miraculously great spinoffs in TV history! The second half of its sixth season is eligible for next year’s Emmys, so it has one more chance in 2023, but damn. Why doesn’t anyone ever vote for it?

Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series

The Dropout
Inventing Anna
Pam and Tommy
The White Lotus

If Inventing Anna wins this Emmy, I will demand an official investigation into what the Emmy voters were smoking when they cast their ballots. That series, while diverting in its way, should not be nominated in this category. Its spot should have gone to Station Eleven.

Fortunately, I don’t think Inventing Anna will win. This one comes down to Dopesick or The White Lotus, or possibly The Dropout as a spoiler. My gut is telling me it’ll be White Lotus, but I also would not be surprised if the opioid crisis-focus of Dopesick sways some voters.

Will Win: The White Lotus.

Should Win: The White Lotus. Out of all of these limited series, it’s the one that has left the most lasting impression, despite having been released all the way back in the summer of 2021.

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Late Night With Seth Meyers
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

I could write a long paragraph breaking down the viability of each contender, or I could save us all the time and tell you that Last Week Tonight With John Oliver is going to win its seventh Outstanding Variety Talk Series Emmy on Monday night.

Will Win: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Should Win: Truthfully, probably Last Week Tonight, but a win for Late Night With Seth Meyers would be a refreshing change of pace.

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

A Black Lady Sketch Show
Saturday Night Live

This is not a knock on A Black Lady Sketch Show, but SNL has taken this one for the past five years, including in 2021, when it also was competing solely against A Black Lady Sketch Show. Hard to conceive of it not winning again.

Will Win: Saturday Night Live.

Should Win: Saturday Night Live. Every week, the cast and crew perform a miracle by getting each episode on the air, but this season, the Christmas episode ended up having to roll live with barely any cast members and no audience due to the Omicron wave. And they still basically pulled it off.

Outstanding Competition Series

The Amazing Race
Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Girls
Nailed It!
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Top Chef
The Voice

Ah, yet another category in which the same shows keep winning. Since this category’s inception in 2003, Amazing Race has won ten times, The Voice four, and RuPaul’s Drag Race has dominated for the past four years running. I feel confident it will do so for a fifth.

Will Win: RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Should Win: Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Girls — we need some novelty in this category!

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

The frontrunners in this category are both Saturday Night Live veterans who have won before: Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader. The second season of Ted Lasso required Sudeikis to go to more emotional places and the same could be said of Hader’s work in Barry. This could easily go to either of them, but there also could be a surge of support for Steve Martin or Martin Short, whose charms have been introduced to a whole new generation via Only Murders in the Building. What if there were somehow a tie and Martin and Short both won? Unlikely, but that would be fun to see!

Will Win: Jason Sudeikis. Again, I am betting on the Emmy community’s love for Ted Lasso.

Should Win: Bill Hader, who  absolutely gave himself over to the intensity required to play Barry Berkman at his lowest (so far).

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

There is a chance Quinta Brunson could win this, but I think Jean Smart is more likely to prevail in this category for the second consecutive year. I will add that Brunson submitted the pilot of Abbott Elementary for consideration in this category, and I think her work, and the show in general, is much stronger in the episodes that followed.

Will Win: Jean Smart.

Should Win: It sure would be nice to see Issa Rae get something for five seasons of outstanding work as star (and co-creator) of Insecure. But I doubt it will happen.

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

This is a tough category to call because a case could be made for several of these nominees. Conventional wisdom suggests one of the Succession men will win, possibly Brian Cox since Jeremy Strong won two years ago. (Last year’s victor was Josh O’Connor, who, as I understand it, is now the King of England.) But Strong did his most devastating work in season three of Succession, so I would not count him out.

I also would not count out Lee Jung-jae, the face of Squid Game whose performance was one of the big reasons viewers became so invested in that dystopian story. Jason Bateman, who has an Emmy for directing but not acting, could be a strong contender here, too, since this was Ozark’s last season. Then there’s Bob Odenkirk, who nearly died of a heart attack while shooting the final season of Better Call Saul but came back to finish the job. There was an outpouring of love for Odenkirk during his recovery and that love could also translate into Emmy votes — I repeat, Better Call Saul has no Emmys! — unless people plan to reserve their appreciation until next year, when Saul will compete for the last time. As for Adam Scott, he’s terrific in Severance, but I think he has the least chance of winning purely because of who he’s up against.

So who’s going to take the trophy? [Wrings hands nervously before typing a prediction …]

Will Win: I have a feeling Bob Odenkirk could pull off a deserved upset and make one of the more touching acceptance speeches of the night. I can truly see this happening inside my brain. But my brain sometimes gets its signals crossed, which is why, if Saul Goodman loses, I think the award will go to either Jeremy Strong or Lee Jung-Jae.

Should Win: Give Bob Odenkirk that Emmy, he cheated death!

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

In my view, this category comes down to three women: Laura Linney, Melanie Lynskey, and Zendaya. This is Linney’s third nomination for her role as Wendy Byrde and her last year to win, something she hasn’t done yet. As the most consistently great part of Ozark, she is deserving. But so is Melanie Lynskey, who authentically inhabits the dark, troubled Shauna on Yellowjackets, and makes us love her in spite of her many transgressions. And then there’s Zendaya, who won this award two years ago. She gives such an all-in performance in the Euphoria episode “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird,” which, quite rightly, is the one she submitted in this category, that it felt like her second Emmy had just gotten sewn up right in front of our eyes.

It may very well have. Unless one of those other two ladies — or a surprise upset — says otherwise.

Will Win: Zendaya is just completely go-for-broke in Euphoria, and that’s exactly the kind of performance that appeals most to those deciding the Emmys.

Should Win: I am partial to Zendaya, but truly would be thrilled for Lynskey or Linney if they won.

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

Practically every expert on the Gold Derby predictions website is convinced Michael Keaton is the winner here. I am, too. Dopesick has some flaws as a series, but Keaton gives one of the best and most layered performances of his career in it. Keaton also does not have an Emmy, and this provides the perfect opportunity to finally give him one.

Will Win: Michael Keaton.

Should Win: Keaton or Himesh Patel, who was note-perfect in Station Eleven.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

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

There are several strong performances here, but I believe this award is Amanda Seyfried’s to lose. Seyfried elevates what could have easily been a wink-wink satirical portrayal of Elizabeth Holmes into something much richer and sobering to witness. In a category in which every actress is playing an actual, non-fictional person, the challenges Seyfried faced stand out, as does her capacity to overcome them.

Will Win: Amanda Seyfried.

Should Win: Amanda Seyfried.

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

In a category overrun by nominees from Barry and Ted Lasso, I am inclined to believe an actor from one of those shows will prevail. Brett Goldstein won last year, a thing I did not predict — “I think the smart money this year is on Kenan Thompson,” is a sentence I wrote confidently at the time. He could win again, although I feel like Jimoh, as the unexpected love interest, and Mohammed, as the unexpected villain, popped more in season two. But I also think the two nominated Barry performances have better chances — again, I say this as someone who was dead wrong in this category last year. Winkler, the nicest man in Hollywood, played Gene Cousineau this season as someone far more haunted than he’s ever been, and was just terrific. So here’s what I’m thinking:

Will Win: Henry Winkler.

Should Win: Anthony Carrigan. Listen, I have no problem with Winkler winning this award. Give him every trophy, every fish in the sea, everything he wants and more — he deserves it. But Carrigan has taken the Noho Hank character to places the Barry creators never envisioned, and this season in particular managed to lay bare the ridiculous and sublime qualities of the character, often in the very same moment.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

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

Abbott Elementary and Ted Lasso cast members run the table here and, unless voters decide to give Kate McKinnon a swan song (and third) Emmy, I feel like one of the women from those shows is best positioned to win. Hannah Waddingham, who won last year, could do it again. But my Supporting Actress Sense — a real and legitimate phenomenon — suggests that voters may veer toward Janelle James of Abbott Elementary, who was thoroughly hilarious as the principal who does not give a fuck. And if I’m right, I look forward to hearing her acceptance speech.

Will Win: Janelle James.

Should Win: Once again, Janelle James.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

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

None of the gentlemen from Succession has ever won in this category, and that pushes them to the front of the pack, with the caveat that national treasure John Turturro and veteran actor Oh Yeong-su also could very much win here, too.

Of the Succession trio, Macfadyen and Culkin had the most dramatic material to play with this season. Given what happens in the season finale and Tom’s ratcheting anxiety throughout season three, I can see the Emmy voters leaning toward Macdadyen. Which is completely valid. But in my eyes, Culkin was the MVP of the season. Do I need to make you re-watch the spectrum of emotions that play out on Culkin’s face in this scene? Because I will!

Will Win: I still think the voters will go with Matthew MacFadyen.

Should Win: But they should go with Kieran Culkin.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

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

Julia Garner already has two Emmys for playing Ruth Langhorne on Ozark. I think she’ll win a third as long as Emmy voters don’t lean in favor of Jung Ho-yeon’s moving work in Squid Game, the so-far unawarded Sarah Snook in Succession, or the long, long overdue Rhea Seehorn for Better Call Saul.

Will Win: Julia Garner. I believe voters won’t be able to resist this.

Should Win: I’m so glad Seehorn finally got nominated, but she needs an Emmy for her portrayal of Kim Wexler like, yesterday.

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

My instinct tells me that Murray Bartlett has the best shot at winning for his unforgettable performance in The White Lotus. The Gold Derby crew seems to agree, so I’m sticking with it.

Will Win: Murray Bartlett.

Should Win: Murray Bartlett — the man pretend-shat in a suitcase for this!

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

First let me state that it is wild that this entire category consists of performances from only two shows when so many limited series exist. (Was no one aware of how phenomenal Matilda Lawler was in Station Eleven?) That said, it’s hard to imagine Jennifer Coolidge not winning given how good she was in The White Lotus and how much buzz that performance generated.

Will Win: Jennifer Coolidge.

Should Win: Probably Coolidge, but I would not be at all mad if Kaitlyn Dever or Natasha Rothwell won.

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

Atlanta, “New Jazz,” Hiro Murai
Barry, “710N,” Bill Hader
Hacks, “There Will Be Blood,” Lucia Aniello
Only Murders in the Building, “The Boy From 6B,” Cherien Dabis
Only Murders in the Building, “True Crime,” Jamie Babbitt
Ted Lasso, “No Weddings and a Funeral,” MJ Delaney
The Ms. Pat Show, “Baby Daddy Groundhog Day,” Mary Lou Belli

Will Win: Barry’s “710N” and the Only Murders episode “The Boy From 6B” stand out from the pack for their experimentation and ambition. But I think the complexity and immediacy of the action sequences in “710N” give it the edge.

Should Win: Barry, “710N”

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

Ozark, “A Hard Way to Go,” Jason Bateman
Severance, “The We We Are,” Ben Stiller
Squid Game, “Red Light, Green Light,” Hwang Dong-Hyuk
Succession, “All the Bells Say,” Mark Mylod
Succession, “The Disruption,” Cathy Yan
Succession, “Too Much Birthday,” Lorene Scafaria
Yellowjackets, “Pilot,” Karyn Kusama

Will Win: Severance, “The We We Are.” Ben Stiller did a phenomenal job of threading various storyline threads through a single needle in this finale. If it doesn’t win, Squid Game’s first episode, “Red Light, Green Light” certainly will.

Should Win: Severance, “The We We Are.” By the way, did I mention that Better Call Saul, one of the most precisely directed shows on TV, got no nominations here, which is crazy? Oh, I did mention that, just now? Cool!

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Anthology or Movie

Dopesick, “The People vs Purdue Pharma,” Danny Strong
Maid, “Sky Blue,” John Wells
Station Eleven, “Wheel of Fire,” Hiro Murai
The Dropout, “Green Juice,” Michael Showalter
The Dropout, “Iron Sisters,” Francesca Gregorini
The White Lotus, Mike White

Will Win: Most likely The White Lotus, which Mike White carried entirely on his shoulders during a pandemic shoot, but I can’t totally rule out Dopesick.

Should Win: The White Lotus, or Hiro Murai’s beautiful first episode of Station Eleven.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Abbott Elementary, “Pilot,” Quinta Brunson
Barry, “710N,” Duffy Boudreau
Barry, “Starting Now,” Alec Berg and Bill Hader
Hacks, “The One the Only,” Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky
Only Murders in the Building, “True Crime,” Steve Martin and John Hoffman
Ted Lasso, “No Weddings and a Funeral,” Jane Becker
What We Do in the Shadows, “The Casino,” Sarah Naftalis
What We Do in the Shadows, “The Wellness Center,” Stefani Robinson

Will Win: Abbott Elementary has a really strong chance in my view, but so does the Only Murders in the Building finale. I’m leaning toward Only Murders, but I really think this could go either way.

Should Win: What We Do in the Shadows, “The Casino,” because no other show on TV dared to expose a vampire’s love for The Big Bang Theory. Bazinga!

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Better Call Saul, “Plan and Execution,” Thomas Schnauz
Ozark, “A Hard Way to Go,” Chris Mundy
Severance, “The We We Are,” Dan Erickson
Squid Game, “One Lucky Day,” Hwang Dong-hyuk
Succession, “All the Bells Say,” Jesse Armstrong
Yellowjackets, “F Sharp,” Jonathan Lisco, Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson
Yellowjackets, “Pilot,” Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson

Will Win: Jesse Armstrong has won twice for his Succession writing, and I think the Emmy voters will remain consistent and give him a third.

Should Win: Severance or Better Call Saul.

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Anthology or Movie

Dopesick, “The People vs Purdue Pharma,” Danny Strong
The Dropout, “I’m in a Hurry,” Elizabeth Meriwether
Maid, “Snaps,” Molly Smith Metzler
Impeachment: American Crime Story, “Man Handled,” Sarah Burgess
Station Eleven, “Unbroken Circle,” Patrick Somerville
The White Lotus, Mike White

Will Win: Mike White for The White Lotus. I’m hesitant to call anything a lock, but this might be a lock?

Should Win: Mike White for The White Lotus.

What Will and Should Win at the 2022 Emmy Awards