No huge snubs, no huge surprises — although "Schitt's Creek" certainly qualifies as a medium-sized one — the 71st annual Emmy nominations announced Tuesday proved once again that if you predicted the predictable you wouldn't go wrong. As expected, riches went to the richest — "Game of Thrones," with 32 nods, an Emmy record — while the Emmy membership reaffirmed their judgment from past years ("Veep").
Meanwhile, there is indeed a sense that the world of television has changed, and with it, those awards that have long honored it. "Pose" — and its brilliant lead Billy Porter — had a huge day, and so did "Russian Doll" and its brilliant lead (Natasha Lyonne). Moreover, the one-and-done series, otherwise known as limited series, has emerged as the most exciting category in television, simply because it is honoring that genre — such as "When They See Us" and "Chernobyl" — that viewers are still talking about. (The Emmy Awards will be handed out Sept. 22 on Fox.)
Here's each major category, with some thoughts:
"Better Call Saul" (AMC)
"Game of Thrones" (HBO)
"Killing Eve" (BBC America)
"This Is Us" (NBC)
"Game of Thrones" will almost certainly win this, and a loss would amount to a major upset, bordering on shock. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will tune out all the negative snark that washed over this final season, and instead honor all that stuff that it's honored before. In a word, spectacular! The biggest TV battle scene in history! Dragons and more dragons! King's Landing laid to waste! How does "Pose" or "This is Us" stand a chance? In fact, both do — just not a great one. This nod is for "Pose's" first season, and the second is arguably the stronger of the two. The second season will likely be eligible for the 72nd Emmys when "GoT" will be a distant memory. It stands a better chance then.
"The Good Place" (NBC)
"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Amazon)
"Russian Doll" (Netflix)
"Schitt's Creek" (Pop)
Again, just to restate the obvious question, "Schitt's Creek"? Really? Otherwise, every show that is here was expected — almost ridiculously expected. Of this group, "Maisel" is easily the crowd favorite, "Fleabag" (or "Russian Doll") the critical one. But "Veep" still holds the strongest hand.
"Escape at Dannemora" (Showtime)
"Sharp Objects" (HBO)
"When They See Us" (Netflix)
This is the most exciting category, but nevertheless, this race is limited to three series: "Chernobyl," "Escape," and "When They See Us." "When" and "Chernobyl" would seem to have the edge.
LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA
Jason Bateman ("Ozark")
Sterling K. Brown ("This Is Us")
Kit Harington ("Game of Thrones")
Bob Odenkirk ("Better Call Saul")
Billy Porter ("Pose")
Milo Ventimiglia ("This Is Us")
Let's go out on a limb here, but a strong limb that is about to support the weight of my argument: Porter will win this one, and Porter should win this. A Tony winner (for "Kinky Boots"), his Pray Tell offers so much of what Porter does so well. Not only is he a peerless scene stealer, but also a first-rate stage actor who fully, memorably, occupies the stage he has here. Porter really is one of the most exciting actors on TV at the moment and it's hard to see how the academy won't realize this when the final votes are in.
LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA
Emilia Clarke ("Game of Thrones")
Jodie Comer ("Killing Eve")
Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder")
Laura Linney ("Ozark")
Mandy Moore ("This Is Us")
Sandra Oh ("Killing Eve")
Robin Wright ("House of Cards")
There's one outstanding question here: Will Comer cancel out Oh, or vice versa? And just to extend the logic here, will they then cancel each other out? Sometimes that happens, sometimes not, but a Comer victory would certainly be a shocker. Wright's nod feels almost obligatory — she had better seasons than this last one, arguably each of the other seasons. Meanwhile, let's talk Clarke: More people have talked about her character, Daenerys Targaryen, than just about any character in the history of television. Everyone has an opinion on her fate, everyone is still a little mad about that fate. She could be rewarded for the incessant buzz, but it seems like that will be a sentimental reward because (in truth) there were better seasons for Dany, and by association, for Clarke. The big surprise will be if Davis sneaks in for one more win.
LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY
Anthony Anderson ("black-ish")
Don Cheadle ("Black Monday")
Ted Danson ("The Good Place")
Michael Douglas ("The Kominsky Method")
Bill Hader ("Barry")
Eugene Levy ("Schitt's Creek")
The shocker here is Levy, and his show — both beloved by fans, but virtually unknown to a widespread TV audience mostly because of venue (Quick, where does this air? Wonder if even Academy voters know. It's Pop.) Hader won this last year, and should probably repeat, unless Danson and "The Good Place" finally get their recognition due. (During the 11-year run of "Cheers," he collected nine nominations and two wins, so he's not exactly Susan Lucci.).
LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY
Christina Applegate ("Dead to Me")
Rachel Brosnahan ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel")
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep")
Natasha Lyonne ("Russian Doll")
Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek")
Phoebe Waller-Bridge ("Fleabag")
Obviously Louis-Dreyfus is a favorite here. She's won for each season of "Veep," while this nod is for the final season — a particularly good one. Brosnahan won at the 70th Emmys, but a repeat seems unlikely. The one nominee who has a shot at history here is Lyonne. "Doll" was a tour de force, and she lead the way; without Louis-Dreyfus in this mix, she'd be a cinch to win. Could she upset? Sure, but unlikely.
LEAD ACTOR, LIMITED SERIES OR TV MOVIE
Mahershala Ali ("True Detective")
Benicio Del Toro ("Escape at Dannemora")
Hugh Grant ("A Very English Scandal")
Jared Harris ("Chernobyl")
Jharrel Jerome ("When They See Us")
Sam Rockwell ("Fosse/Verdon")
One of the most competitive categories, this one boasts six actors who could easily win, and a case could (easily) be made why each should. Grant, in his first major TV series? Del Toro proving once again why he's one of the greatest actors of his generation? Ali essentially carrying an entire (lackluster) season on his shoulders? But this one could surprise us all: Jerome — who played Korey Wise, one of the "Central Park 5" — could walk away with this if Harris doesn't first. This category is almost impossible to call.
LEAD ACTRESS, LIMITED SERIES OR TV MOVIE
Amy Adams ("Sharp Objects")
Patricia Arquette ("Escape at Dannemora")
Aunjanue Ellis ("When They See Us")
Joey King ("The Act")
Niecy Nash ("When They See Us")
Michelle Williams ("Fosse/Verdon")
The era of peak TV has offered more than just a lot of TV, most notably actors and actresses who made their careers on the big screen. Adams is one obvious example, and maybe the most notable. As great as Arquette was in "Escape," this battle is between Williams and Adams, both of whom dazzled in their respective series — series, by the way, that did not particularly dazzle themselves.