Who deserves to win an Emmy this year?

Clockwise, from left: Jeremy Strong (Photo: Peter Kramer/HBO), BoJack Horseman (Image: Courtesy of Netflix), D’Arcy Carden (Photo: Colleen Hayes/NBC), Yvonne Orji (Photo: Merie W. Wallace/HBO), and Eddie Murphy (Photo: Will Heath/NBC)
Clockwise, from left: Jeremy Strong (Photo: Peter Kramer/HBO), BoJack Horseman (Image: Courtesy of Netflix), D’Arcy Carden (Photo: Colleen Hayes/NBC), Yvonne Orji (Photo: Merie W. Wallace/HBO), and Eddie Murphy (Photo: Will Heath/NBC)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples
AVQ&AWelcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences.

The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards are Sunday, with Watchmen and Succession leading all shows with 11 and 10 nominations, respectively. In anticipation of the ceremony, we’re asking:

Of the nominees, who deserves to win an Emmy this year?

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2 / 11

Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek—Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek—Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

It’s almost guaranteed that the Schitt’s Creek team will have a good Emmys night, but oddsmakers say Annie Murphy is the least likely to win out of the Canadian comedy’s four acting nominees. Sure, Catherine O’Hara chews up the scenery like no other, and the Levys are cementing a comedy dynasty, but no Schitt’s character evolved as much as Murphy’s Alexis. While the actress is technically nominated for the final season of the series, it’s a reasonable bet that many voters discovered Schitt’s within the past year and tracked Alexis’ journey from vapid social media addict to career-minded entrepreneur from beginning to end. It would have been easy to make Alexis a caricature, but Murphy gave us a complex, nuanced woman who found herself even as her world crumbled around her more than once. Plus, I’m really hoping for “A Little Bit Alexis” will be played by the invisible orchestra on Sunday. [Patrick Gomez]

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3 / 11

Carmen Cuba, Mrs. America—Outstanding Casting For A Limited Series, Movie, Or Special

Carmen Cuba, Mrs. America—Outstanding Casting For A Limited Series, Movie, Or Special

I’ve already shared my Emmy predictions and hopes elsewhere on the site, but I wasn’t really able to get into the Creative Arts categories. So I’ll use this opportunity to stump for Carmen Cuba, the casting legend who brought together the star-studded ensemble of FX on Hulu’s Mrs. America. As hard as it is to watch Mrs. America’s depiction of this setback in the women’s rights movement, the performances of Cate Blanchett—who, as Phyllis Schlafly, makes our blood run cold—and her castmates Uzo Aduba, Rose Byrne, Tracey Ullman, Ari Graynor, and esteemed character actress Margo Martindale ground us in this tumultuous period in history. And Cuba played a huge role in bringing their chemistry to the small screen. [Danette Chavez]

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4 / 11

Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live—Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live—Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Kenan Thompson already won an Emmy in 2018 for that “Come Back Barack” sketch with Chance The Rapper, and while that was fairly well-deserved, he also deserves one of those make-up awards that shows like the Emmys and the Oscars give out for people whose actual best work wasn’t properly recognized when it happened—and by “best work” in this case I am obviously referring to the classic Nickelodeon teen sitcom Kenan & Kel. I’m not saying Thompson doesn’t deserve to be honored for his work on SNL this year, which he certainly does (they finally brought back “What Up With That?” during an at-home episode in April, so they deserve as many awards as we can give them), I’m just saying that he should win Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series this year and that we should all agree to count it as a retroactive win for his work on Kenan & Kel. [Sam Barsanti]

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5 / 11

Jeremy Strong, Succession—Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series

Jeremy Strong, Succession—Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series

Succession’s incredible ensemble was shunned by the Emmys last year and the squares are making up for it by nominating the entire goddamned Roy family (sans Connor; we love you, Connor). A bit of an overcorrection? Perhaps, but each and every one of them—from Brian Cox to Sarah Snook to Nicholas Braun—deserves it for making the world’s worst people so damn fun to watch. If I’ve gotta hand it to anyone, though, it’s Jeremy Strong, who, as would-be usurper Kendall, spent the second season reconciling a withering sense of grief with a renewed closeness with his father, the very thing he’s been craving. His journey toward the finale’s shocking cliffhanger is a complex one, fraught with despair, self-flagellation, and reinvention, but Strong navigates each beat with care—few actors can earn a smile quite like he can. Plus, he gave us 2019’s best song. How is that not nominated, by the way? [Randall Colburn]

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6 / 11

Yvonne Orji, Insecure—Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

Yvonne Orji, Insecure—Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

As Patrick’s answer reminds me, this year’s Best Supporting Actress In A Comedy category is a competitive one: It’s stacked, with half the group receiving their (long-overdue) first-ever nominations. But the win I’d be happiest to see is Yvonne Orji’s, a deserved recognition for her years of stellar work on Insecure that has, unfortunately, been so good that some fans of the show seem to forget where Orji begins and where her character Molly ends. In its best-yet fourth season, Insecure explored the possibility that long-time best friends Issa and Molly may have outgrown one another; the nuanced arc really let Orji’s work shine, projecting Molly’s steadfast, polished exterior while often revealing a mountain of anxieties with just the right panicked look in her eyes. Hopefully the Television Academy (and the show’s vocal anti-Molly fan base) saw Orji’s hilarious Instagram video where she has a “conversation” with Molly—it’s a brilliant reminder of the character she’s brought to life, one who’s admittedly harder to like than the warm, talented actor who plays her. [Cameron Scheetz]

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7 / 11

Eddie Murphy, Saturday Night Live—Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series

Eddie Murphy, Saturday Night Live—Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series

The Emmy for Guest Actor In A Comedy has one clear answer in my eyes, and his name is Eddie Murphy. Watching his stint as host from the past year of Saturday Night Live (finally, after all this time!) was nothing if not a reminder of his perpetual MVP status for that long-running institution. Whether reprising beloved old characters or delivering wildly insincere homilies to the holidays, Murphy demonstrated that his talent for live-wire charisma in the world of TV sketch comedy is apparently an endlessly renewable resource. Seriously, there’s no one better to deliver the horrifying news of a polar bear breaking into Santa’s workshop and brutally devouring some elves. [Alex McLevy]

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8 / 11

BoJack Horseman—Outstanding Animated Program

BoJack Horseman—Outstanding Animated Program

Not to beat a horse currently trapped in the middle of a dinner party argument about whether he should be alive or dead, but the idea that BoJack Horseman, one of the best TV shows of the last decade, might end its six-season run without a single Emmy win is tremendously depressing to me. Especially when the episode it’s nominated for, “The View From Halfway Down,” is such a perfect encapsulation of the misery, comedy, and weird Hollywood riffing that defined BoJack throughout its tenure. Assembling a rogue’s gallery (Stanley Tucci, Wendie Malick, Kristen Schaal) of the show’s best guest talent to talk through what might possibly be BoJack’s dying dream, the episode is touching, funny, and sometimes terrifying. Best of all, it never flinches from the dark realities of death—one of the key hallmarks of what made BoJack so great. [William Hughes]

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9 / 11

D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place—Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place—Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

From the department of fond farewells: D’Arcy Carden delivered layered, award-worthy work throughout The Good Place’s run, and her performance in the final season was no exception. She submitted a particularly flashy episode for the academy’s consideration—the many-Janets-make-light-work-and-one-Timothy-Olyphant caper “You’ve Changed, Man”— but a win for Carden would also honor four seasons of impeccable punchline delivery, her role as the emotional anchor of the series finale, and the unfailing charm with which she fulfilled the gambit of staking the show’s richest character arc to a corporeal Siri. Not a girl, not a robot, but hopefully an Emmy winner. [Erik Adams]

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10 / 11

Insecure—Outstanding Comedy Series

Insecure—Outstanding Comedy Series

If I’ve sounded like a broken record when it comes to extolling the virtues of Insecure’s stellar fourth season, it’s because I cannot overstate just how big of a risk the HBO comedy took by significantly shaking up its core friendship. Issa and Molly’s dynamic (whether they are totally gelling or in the throes of temporary drama) drives so much of the show’s success. Issa Rae, showrunner Prentice Penny, and their creative team understood as much and still gave audiences one of the realest platonic breakups we’ve seen in television—a storyline that propelled well-rounded, Academy-recognized performances from both Rae and, as Cameron rightly discussed, Yvonne Orji. The Outstanding Comedy Series category might be stacked with a few of my favorites, but big swings that work this well should be properly rewarded. [Shannon Miller]

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11 / 11