AP Emmy pundits call a win for 'Succession,' split on comedy

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This image released by ABC shows Quinta Brunson in a scene from "Abbott Elementary." (Ser Baffo/ABC via AP)

So many TV shows, so few nominees who will end up clutching trophies at the Primetime Emmy Awards.

A total of 25 awards will be presented during the Sept. 12 ceremony, including in the glamour categories of acting and best comedy, drama and limited series. Past winners Jean Smart ("Hacks") and Bill Hader ("Barry") are among the contenders.

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The overall field is highly competitive, with an unprecedented twist: Netflix’s South Korean phenomenon “Squid Game” is the first non–English language drama to be nominated for an Emmy.

While predicting victors this year is like one of those daunting “Squid Game” contests, Associated Press Television Writer Lynn Elber and AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy foolishly soldier on.


Nominees: “Better Call Saul”; “Euphoria”; “Ozark”; “Severance”; “Squid Game”; “Stranger Things”; “Succession”; “Yellowjackets.”


Should win: “Severance,” the vicious satire of office culture could not have asked for better timing, just as many white-collar workers were making their first tentative steps back — and questioning why. It is just brilliant, unpredictable and haunting.

Will win: Although both my innie and my outie think it should be “Severance,” the winner will be “Succession.” Not a bad step, just an easy one.


Should win: “Severance” captures the zeitgeist of worker discontent, but let’s consider “Squid Game” and its take on soul-destroying poverty. It's wholly original and, yes, gruesome. That didn't hurt four-time winner “Game of Thrones.”

Will win: “Succession” won the last time it competed, in 2020, and the antics of the rich and scheming Roy family are as engrossing a peep show as ever.


Nominees: “Abbott Elementary”; “Barry”; “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; “Hacks”; “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; “Only Murders in the Building”; “Ted Lasso”; “What We Do in the Shadows.”


Should win: The mockumentary “Abbott Elementary,″ a true workplace comedy in the vein of “The Office” or “Superstore.” How it is so specific to a group of underfunded teachers in Philadelphia and yet universal is the magic.

Will win: “Only Murders in the Building,” an uncontroversial and uninspired choice, as safe as an Upper West Side doorman building. Who can look at Martin Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez and tell them they get no Emmy?


Should win: Raise your hand if you know the answer. “Abbott Elementary” is the rare sitcom that clicked from the start, with its characters, stories and heart all in the right place.

Will win: “Abbott Elementary,” despite the odds against an old-school network entry winning against flashier cable and streaming rivals. It hasn't happened since “Modern Family” won in 2014.


Nominees: Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”; Laura Linney, “Ozark”; Melanie Lynskey, “Yellowjackets”; Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”; Reese Witherspoon, “The Morning Show”; Zendaya, “Euphoria.”


Should win: Linney hasn’t won for “Ozark” and she deserves it for going from dutiful wife to a cunning mastermind over the four seasons.

Will win: Oh, who richly deserves her first Emmy after four years of “Killing Eve.” Comer and Zendaya have their statuettes; TV academy voters will bid Oh goodbye with one, too.


Should win and will win: Versatile, long-admired actor Lynskey gets her first Emmy for her role as Shauna, who has umm, meaty secrets. Zendaya's second win for her gutsy work in “Euphoria” is deserved, but voters favor change in this category.


Nominees: Jason Bateman, “Ozark”; Brian Cox, “Succession”; Lee Jung-jae, “Squid Game”; Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”; Adam Scott, “Severance”; Jeremy Strong, “Succession.”


Should win: Scott for playing two roles on “Severance,” a worker bee and a grieving widow. The former “Parks and Recreation” star is here an everyman, just sputtering through his day, with damage lurking beneath the suit and tie.

Will win: Odenkirk, never nominated for “Breaking Bad,” should have at least one Emmy at home for “Better Call Saul.” Or Cox, who had a rip-roaring season on “Succession.”


Should win and will win: A category of heavyweights for sure, with all the above worthy. But Cox triumphs as the wily magnate scrabbling to control his empire and out-maneuver his equally venal brood.


Nominees: 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.”


Should win: Brunson's idealistic young schoolteacher is endearing and, as she begins to learn how to survive bureaucracy, growing before our eyes. Plus, teachers deserve respect.

Will win: Smart. Back-to-back wins have become rare in the age of peak TV (read: unending stream of shows), but her portrayal of a veteran comedian refusing to say uncle reached new levels of vulnerability and grit.


Should win and will win: Smart, her character vicious in anger, driven in her career, but this season also sowing a maternal and soft side. Besides, her other Emmy for “Hacks” is lonely.


Nominees: Donald Glover, “Atlanta”; Bill Hader, “Barry”; Nicholas Hoult, “The Great”; Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”; Steve Martin, “Only Murders in the Building”; Martin Short, “Only Murders in the Building.”


Should win: Can we get a twofer for Martin and Short, whose chemistry and playfulness makes the series? (With a nod to co-star Selena Gomez; her droll tolerance of the pair adds the perfect note.)

Will win: Hader's portrayal of a hitman-turned-actor who can't escape his past is the core of a viciously satirical, addictive brew. A third Emmy is his reward.


Should win: Hoult, playing a vain, unpredictable, glass-breaking, headbutting and unethical Peter III of Russia in “The Great,” sucking the oxygen from every scene. It's a frat-boy role but hard to nail like Hoult. “Let us hope my seed has found purchase,” he says after an encounter with the queen, and I agree.

Will win: Hader. Everyone loves Hader.


Nominees: “Dopesick”; “The Dropout”; “Inventing Anna”; “The White Lotus”; “Pam & Tommy.”


Should win: “Dopesick” is a granular dissection of the roots of America's devastating opioid crisis focused on both its victims and villains. Television at its relevant best.

Will win: “The Dropout." Let's face it: Seeing a Silicon Valley's high-flier brought down a peg or further is a guilty pleasure, and the story of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' spectacular fall is punchily told.


Should win: “The Dropout,” agreed, a rise and fall — as well as a trip back to her teenage years — so well told that viewers could almost feel sorry for Holmes, or at least understand how her fraud could happen.

Will win: “The White Lotus,” a satire of wealth, entitlement and privilege was this cycle's lite “Big Little Lies,” and it was the splashiest show about rich white people being horrible, which weirdly all the nominees this time had elements of.


Nominees: 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.”


Should win and will win: Michael Keaton, for his restrained portrayal of a small-town doctor who's ensnared by opioids at incalculable cost, to him and his patients. The Oscar-winning star is a gift to the small screen.


Should win: Isaac, who in “Scenes from a Marriage” whipsaws from being tightly controlled to impulsive, a little befuddled, liable to snap and always human as his heart broke.

Will win: Keaton, who always it seems is an underestimated talent, shining in a role perfectly suited to him: a sweet local doctor gradually understanding the horror he has helped create. A little too perfect, but, hey.


Nominees: Toni Collette, “The Staircase”; Julia Garner, “Inventing Anna”; Lily James, “Pam & Tommy”; Sarah Paulson, “Impeachment: American Crime Story”; Margaret Qualley, “Maid”; Amanda Seyfried, “The Dropout.”


Should win: Qualley did justice to a rarely seen screen character — a struggling, blue-collar single mom — with a nuanced, breakout performance in “Maid.”

Will win: Seyfried, whose portrayal of an ill-fated Silicon Valley whiz kid in “The Dropout” was a pull-out-the-stops barn burner.


Should win and will win: We’ll no doubt see all these actors again at the Emmys, but this year it is all about Seyfried, who played a fraudster with a Yoda-loving, Mandarin-speaking, munching-on-a-scorpion and dancing poorly essence.


For more on this year's Emmy Awards, visit: www.apnews.com/EmmyAwards