Emmy Award night: Promise and peril on the small screen

Crews set up the red carpet area outside Nokie Theatre at L.A. Live on August 22, 2014. The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards are scheduled for Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/MCT) Crews set up the red carpet area outside Nokie Theatre at L.A. Live on August 22, 2014. The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards are scheduled for Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

The 2013-14 television season was incredible as audiences said goodbye to Walter White, binged on entire seasons of Netflix shows like “House Of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black” and celebrated the death of one of the most hated television characters of all time on “Game Of Thrones.”

Powerhouse television shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” “Orange is the New Black,” “True Detective” and “House of Cards,” are competing for awards and creating stacked categories.

Here are some of the top categories and predictions for the 66th Emmy awards.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:


  • Bryan Cranston as Walter White in “Breaking Bad”
  • Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood in “House of Cards”
  • Jon Hamm as Don Draper in “Mad Men”
  • Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in “The Newsroom”
  • Woody Harrelson as Martin Hart in “True Detective”
  • Matthew McConaughey as Rust Cohle in “True Detective”

This is, or should be, Heisenberg’s year for the award. While Spacey and Daniels gave considerably moving performances this year, Cranston owned this category, ending the life of a character that America hated to love. McConaughey is rumored to be a frontrunner, coming off of his “Dallas Buyers Club” Oscar win, but Cranston’s realistic portrayal of a meth-cooking, cancer-ridden chemistry teacher on the edge of a total meltdown was perfection in the series finale.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:


  • Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in “Downton Abbey”
  • Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in “Homeland”
  • Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in “House of Cards”
  • Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in “Masters of Sex”
  • Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in “Scandal”
  • Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in “The Good Wife”

While all of the women in this category gave exceptional performances, Washington will probably steal the Emmy for her work in “Scandal.” Washington is all the rage in Hollywood, and her portrayal of the fierce "gladiator in a suit," Olivia Pope, will likely reward her with the win.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:



  • Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in “Breaking Bad”
  • Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in “Downton Abbey”
  • Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in “Game Of Thrones”
  • Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in “Homeland”
  • Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan in “Ray Donovan”
  • Josh Charles as Will Gardner in “The Good Wife”

This one is going to go down between Paul and Dinklage. Paul has given consistently amazing performances as Jesse Pinkman — even in his condensed role during the series finale — but Dinklage’s performance during the trial of Tyrion Lannister was utterly inspirational and moving, perhaps even more rewarding than the death of King Joffrey. It could go either way, with the odds stacked toward Dinklage.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:



  • Anna Gunn as Skylar White in “Breaking Bad”
  • Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates in “Downton Abbey”
  • Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess of Grantham/ Violet in “Downton Abbey”
  • Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in “Game Of Thrones”
  • Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris in “Mad Men”
  • Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart in “The Good Wife"

This category may be another “Game Of Thrones” vs. “Breaking Bad” showdown. Headey convincingly made audiences understand the incestuous, murderous, sibling-hating bag of rage that is Cersei Lannister, but Gunn beautifully portrayed a woman in family crises mode. Ultimately, it is likely Gunn will bring the Emmy home.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:



  • Ricky Gervais as "Derek in Derek"
  • Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc in "Episodes"
  • Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan in "House Of Lies"
  • Louis C.K. in "Louie"
  • William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher in "Shameless"
  • Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in "The Big Bang Theory"

While Cooper has been a consistent fan-favorite, and is no stranger to the Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy award, Louis C.K. might give him a run for his money.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:



  • Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in "Girls"
  • Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn in "Mike & Molly"
  • Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in "Nurse Jackie"
  • Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman in "Orange Is The New Black"
  • Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in "Parks And Recreation"
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer in "Veep"

This category is ridiculous to predict, as all of the women nominated were exceptional and gave performances deserving of the award. While it would be amazing to see Poehler finally walk away with the gold, it will likely come down to Shilling and Louis-Dreyfus, who both gave hilarious and heartfelt performances this season.

Outstanding Comedy Series:



  • “Louie”
  • “Modern Family"
  • "Orange Is The New Black"
  • "Silicon Valley”
  • ”The Big Bang Theory”
  • "Veep”

While newcomer, “Silicon Valley,” made a big splash this season, the award will likely go to Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black.” The series, created by “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan, had some seriously funny yet seriously touching moments and was a real standout this year.

Outstanding Drama Series:



  • “Breaking Bad”
  • "Downton Abbey"
  • "Game Of Thrones”
  • "House of Cards"
  • "Mad Men”
  • "True Detective.”

The only shows I can’t see winning this year are “Downton Abbey” and “Mad Men.” “Breaking Bad” had a phenomenal last season while “House of Cards,” and “Game Of Thrones” both delivered shocking and emotionally satisfying moments, worthy of an Emmy. “True Detective,” with powerhouse actors McConaughey and Harrelson, took the audience on a wild and strange ride with detectives Cohle and Hart. This is one category where the phrase, “it’s an honor just to be nominated,” rings true.

The 66th annual Emmy awards, hosted by “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Seth Myers, will air on NBC at 8 p.m. EST on Monday.


Reach the reporter at Samantha.Shotzbarger@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @SShotzbarger

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