Emmys 2020 Predictions: ‘Succession,’ ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ ‘Watchmen’ and Potential Spoilers (Column)

How long was this Emmy season? So long that when the online entry process began on Feb. 13, it was still a month before the COVID-19 pandemic started to shut things down. The biggest change to the Emmy race was going to be the lack of DVD screeners. Network and studio awards executives had already been allotted their dates in the Emmy For Your Consideration lottery, and plans were well underway for this year’s bigger-than-ever events and pop-up installations.

And then, of course, the world changed. But after a moment where some wondered whether the Emmys would happen at all (or wind up as merely a press release), creativity kicked into gear. And by summer, the networks, studios and all of us who cover these proceedings had pivoted hard to virtual campaigning that I’d say went better than anyone might have expected. It was a most unconventional awards season, but in the end, I don’t think we lost sight of what this whole damn exercise is all about: recognizing great storytelling, talented artists and the programming that keeps us entertained — especially during these brutally difficult times.

Without any events to really gauge audience reaction, it’s even more of a guess to predict this year’s victors. As they sit at home in their pajamas, waiting for their names to be called, who might be remotely celebrating at the COVID Emmys? Here are some educated guesses.

In the drama race, I continue to lean toward HBO’s “Succession,” last year’s TV obsession that probably would have been a shoo-in this year had the pandemic not delayed Season 3. That’s why “Ozark” may still have a shot. The Netflix drama received a bit of momentum after nominations day when it tied “Succession,” with 18 nods apiece.

The “Succession” trend should extend to the drama actor field, where star Jeremy Strong might have an edge over colleague Brian Cox (perhaps repeating Kendall Roy’s season-ending chess move over family patriarch Logan Roy). But Strong and Cox could also cancel each other out, opening the door for Jason Bateman of “Ozark,” or a repeat win for “Pose” star Billy Porter. “Ozark” at least is likely to get the drama actress win, for Laura Linney, even though “The Crown” star Olivia Colman could still be, well, crowned. Drama supporting actress is a tough one — Colman’s co-star Helena Bonham Carter could take the award, unless voters love “Succession” so much that Sarah Snook sneaks in. The show’s Kieran Culkin, after all, is likely to cop the hardware for supporting drama actor.

Best comedy comes down to the final season of Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek,” which became a pop cultural phenomenon in recent years (thanks in large part to its accessibility in repeats on Netflix). Don’t count out Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” particularly given the streamer’s aggressive campaigning for the critically acclaimed comedy, and the fact that “Maisel” is a previous winner (in 2018). Also on the rise is HBO’s “Insecure,” following a stellar season (and with star Issa Rae on a roll, having also executive produced variety sketch nominee “A Black Lady Sketch Show”).

That “Schitt’s Creek” sheen feels likely to extend to lead actress Catherine O’Hara and lead actor Eugene Levy, with co-creator Dan Levy landing supporting actor. That would upset Rachel Brosnahan in the actress race and Tony Shalhoub for supporting actor — both previous winners — but “Maisel” will at least be repped on the virtual podium by Alex Borstein, who figures to run her streak to three as supporting comedy actress.

Most likely shoo-ins on the night are in the limited series category, with the universal acclaim for HBO’s “Watchmen” and its timely take on systemic racism in America. That, of course, extends to star Regina King for TV movie/limited series actress — and I’d love to see Jean Smart and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II get the blue ribbon in the supporting categories. Mark Ruffalo, of HBO’s “I Know This Much Is True,” is the front-runner for movie/limited actor.

In the other main categories, old habits die hard: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (competition program), “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” (variety talk) and “Saturday Night Live” (variety sketch) will probably continue their streaks. It’s not exciting, but as I’ve mentioned many times, some of these categories have wound up in a bit of a rut because voters have their favorites — and those tastes don’t change overnight.

The key question now, of course, is what the Emmy telecast will actually look like. In such a challenging year for the country and the world, it’s nice to have something to look forward to — and I can say that this is the most eagerly I’ve anticipated an Emmy ceremony in quite some time.

Below, here are my final predictions for this year’s major categories, followed by  what many of my colleagues are predicting will win this year — as first posted in this week’s edition of my AWARDS HQ newsletter. So far we’re all mostly on the same page with the major awards (it’s probably going to be a good night for “Succession,” “Schitt’s Creek” and “Watchmen”), but check out a few daring predictions below!

Michael Schneider

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO)
Comedy Series: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Laura Linney (“Ozark”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Sarah Snook (“Succession”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Jean Smart (“Watchmen”)
Reality Competition: “The Masked Singer” (Fox)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

Dan Holloway

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO)
Comedy Series: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Zendaya (“Euphoria”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Hugh Jackman (“Bad Education”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Sarah Snook (“Succession”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Toni Collette (“Unbelievable”)
Reality Competition: “The Masked Singer” (Fox)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Variety Talk Series: “Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)

Danielle Turchiano

The 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Award nominations proved that buzzy series on social media and with critics alike would rise to the top with voters. A handful of shows dominating the major categories meant that co-stars are sharing the same ballots, which limits the number of trophies those shows can take home overall but doesn’t necessarily cancel out all votes to see shut outs. “Succession,” “Schitt’s Creek” and “Watchmen” all dominated headlines for months on end and should still score a number of statues on Sept. 20. This is what I think WILL win not what I WANT to win, per your email but I’d be happy to do another “picks” any day.

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO)
Comedy Series: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Laura Linney (“Ozark”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Jean Smart (“Watchmen”)
Reality Competition: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

Jazz Tangcay

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO)
Comedy Series: “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Brian Cox (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Jeremy Irons (“Watchmen”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Billy Crudup (“The Morning Show”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Jim Parsons (“Hollywood”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Jean Smart (“Watchmen”)
Reality Competition: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

Daniel D’Addario

It feels like it’ll be a big night for “Succession,” the heir to “Game of Thrones’s” status as the big HBO drama with a strangehold on top prizes, and for “Schitt’s Creek,” the little Canadian show whose earnestness and big heart made a sudden emergence over the past two Emmy seasons. I also expect “Watchmen” to steamroll in most categories in which it’s nominated — except, perhaps, for lead actor in a limited series, where voters have lately shown a fondness for young men experiencing a breakout moment. Paul Mescal might just provide the hit of nervy energy an unusual Emmy broadcast needs.

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO)
Comedy Series: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Brian Cox (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Paul Mescal (“Normal People”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Sarah Snook (“Succession”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Jean Smart (“Watchmen”)
Reality Competition: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

Caroline Framke

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO)
Comedy Series: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Brian Cox (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Issa Rae (“Insecure”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Billy Crudup (“The Morning Show”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Sterling K. Brown (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Uzo Aduba (“Mrs. America”)
Reality Competition: “The Masked Singer” (Fox)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

Joe Otterson

I expect to see “Schitt’s Creek” and “Succession” do well in the comedy and drama categories, respectively. “Schitt’s Creek” has built up such a grassroots following that some statuettes seem like a fitting sendoff for its final season. “Succession” has proven very popular within the industry and its likely to pick up multiple wins as well. And when it comes to the limited series category, I don’t think anyone will be able to hold a candle to “Watchmen.”

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO)
Comedy Series: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Meryl Streep (“Big Little Lies”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Jean Smart (“Watchmen”)
Reality Competition: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

Will Thorne

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO) (My gut says “Better Call Saul” or maybe “Killing Eve” could upset.)
Comedy Series: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV) (Would love a “What We Do In the Shadows” suprise!)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Brian Cox (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”) (Arguably the hardest category to predict IMO, could easily see Christina Applegate winning, Issa Rae is certainly deserving, as is Tracee Ellis Ross.)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Paul Mescal (“Normal People”) ((I think he might have charmed his way into a surprise win here.)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”) (obvi.)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Julia Garner (“Ozark”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Mahershala Ali (“Ramy”) (Tricky one, but Mahershala does so much with what he’s given, and he’s still an awards powerhouse in the same stratosphere as Olivia.)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: D’Arcy Carden (“The Good Place”) (I have a sneaking suspicion there might be some “Good Place” love in there somewhere, if I had to guess, it’s here.)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Uzo Aduba (“Mrs. America”)
Reality Competition: “The Masked Singer” (Fox) (I’m going for the upset! It’s a fascinating battle of spectacle with RuPaul.)
Variety Sketch Series: “A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)
Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

Brian Steinberg

Drama Series: “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Comedy Series: “The Good Place” (NBC)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Zendaya (“Euphoria”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Hugh Jackman (“Bad Education”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Jovan Adepo (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Jean Smart (“Watchmen”)
Reality Competition: “The Masked Singer” (Fox)
Variety Sketch Series: “A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)
Variety Talk Series: “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)

Adam B. Vary

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO) (This feels like the biggest no-brainer to me this year.)
Comedy Series: “Insecure” (HBO) (It feels like the right winner, both in quality and in capturing the current moment.)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO) (Another no brainer, and when it wins, it will be a historic moment for comic book adaptations.)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Brian Cox (“Succession”) (Cox and Strong could cancel each other out, but I think this category is the best shot for “Succession” for an acting winner, and Cox felt a biiiiit more of a lead in Season 2 than Strong did.)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”) (It could go to Colman for the “Aberfan” episode, but I think giving an Emmy to Aniston is too irresistible for voters.)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Ted Danson (“The Good Place”) (I want this show to win ONE major Emmy award, so I’m willing this to happen.)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”) (Sorry to these nominees, but Moira Rose deserves her Emmy.)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”) (Not sure how many people watched this? But I think the degree of difficulty edges this win to Ruffalo.)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”) (This is a wonderfully tough category to call, but I think King will edge out everyone else.)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”) (With “Succession” taking all the top wins, I think this will be where voters honor “Better Caul Saul.”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Julia Garner (“Ozark”) (I HAVE NO IDEA WHO WILL WIN THIS ONE SO I AM PUNTING TO THE PREVIOUS WINNER.)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) (Several of these nominees are deserving, but I just have a hunch that Levy will pull out a win here.)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) (The Emmys always have at least one “that person again?” winner, and Borstein seems to loathe the experience so powerfully that I think fate will bring another Emmy to her door.)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”) (This is another supremely tough category. I could see Parsons and McDermott winning for performances well out of their usual wheelhouses, and what Adepo does in Episode 6 of “Watchmen” is absolutely astonishing. But I think Abdul-Mateen’s high-wire dual performance in “Watchmen” will give him the edge.)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Tracey Ullman (“Mrs. America”) (Ullman’s performance as Betty Friedan shows a dramatic side of her we’ve never quite seen before.)
Reality Competition: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1) (Season 12 was one of the very best seasons in “Drag Race” herstory, and the show should sashay away with its third Emmy win here.)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) (Duh.)
Variety Talk Series: “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central) (John Oliver has dominated this category, but I think Noah’s had the most successful pivot in the COVID era and could be a bit of an upset here.)

Angelique Jackson

Drama Series: “Succession” (HBO)
Comedy Series: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Limited Series: “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Brian Cox (“Succession”) OR Jeremy Strong (“Succession)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”) OR Zendaya (“Euphoria”)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) OR Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) OR Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) OR Yvonne Orji (“Insecure”)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie: Jim Parsons (“Hollywood”) OR Louis Gossett Jr. (“Watchmen”)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie: Toni Collette (“Unbelievable”)
Reality Competition: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1) OR “The Voice” (NBC)
Variety Sketch Series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC) OR “A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)
Variety Talk Series: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO) OR “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC)

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