Emmys 2012: Rapid, Probably Premature Winner Predictions

Well, the Emmy nominations are out. Please, take time in the comments to make fun of me and my nomination predictions from earlier in the week. Based on my math, I correctly guessed 99 of the 151 picks I made, which is an okay 65 percent rate. In the major categories (series, lead, and supporting actor in comedy, drama, and miniseries/TV movie), I fared better, getting 59 of my 86 correct.

Suffice it to say, Downton Abbey screwed me. I underestimated its popularity with voters—and perhaps overestimated their allegiance to veteran performers in the acting races—and that’s something I’ll be taking into account right now. Because even though the Emmy winners aren’t announced for three months, it’s never too early to make predictions. You know, so I can look like a fool again.

Here we go, these are your 2012 Emmy winners, with some more detailed thoughts for the big 10 categories:


DRAMA

SERIES

Will win: Mad Men

Could win: Downton Abbey, Homeland

Calling this a three-show race is probably being too nice, and in the case of Abbey, too reactive to this week’s nominations. There was/is a lot of buzz for Homeland, buzz that was generally confirmed by the noms. The good news is that voters will be asked to watch more episodes before picking a winner, something that should, theoretically, benefit Homeland and perhaps discredit Abbey’s chances. Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter. If Mad Men loses this, it will be the biggest shock of the night.


LEAD ACTRESS

Will win: Claire Danes (Homeland)

Could win: Juliana Margulies (The Good Wife), Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law)

This race has felt over since the middle of Homeland’s first season. Yet, most of us thought that Julianna Margulies would run away with it after the first season of The Good Wife in 2010 and Kyra Sedgwick won, making Margulies wait a year. Maybe that happens here, but it feels even less likely this go-round. Danes already won for Temple Grandin, and she’s winning again.


LEAD ACTOR

Will win: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

Could win: Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Damian Lewis (Homeland), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey)

Interesting things afoot here. Buscemi won a Golden Globe for his Boardwalk performance, so he’s still a threat to take home the award. Damian Lewis and Hugh Bonneville could both be swept up in larger waves of support for their respective shows, so we can’t count them out either. And for the love of all things that are holy, Jon Hamm has been deserving of this award for at least three years. BUT, Cranston.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will win: Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Could win: Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)

Maggie Smith’s performance has the most generic buzz of all the Abbey cast and she won this award in the miniseries/TV movie race last year. There’s a swell of support for Christina Hendricks and she deserves it, but the academy has a weird resistance toward celebrating Mad Men performers. Conversely, the academy loves giving Breaking Bad actors awards, so it makes sense that now that Anna Gunn finally got nominated, she could win.


SUPPORTING ACTOR

Will win: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

Could win: Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)

UGH, this race. Choosing between the two Breaking Bad men is hard enough but with last year’s winner Dinklage, Jared Harris’s “dead guy” juice and the looming Downton Abbey dynasty, this is a tough crapshoot. Both Aaron Paul’s and Dinklage’s performances were more leading than supporting and the former’s was probably the best on all of television for this time period. In a perfect world, I’d say that Giancarlo Esposito would win in his last attempt, leaving Paul and Dinklage to fight it out for a few more years. But this is the Emmys, and the voters hate perfect worlds. Going with my gut here.


GUEST ACTRESS

Will win: Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy)

Could win: Jean Smart (Harry’s Law), Uma Thurman (Smash)


GUEST ACTOR

Will win: Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)

Could win: Michael J. Fox, Dylan Baker (The Good Wife)


WRITING

Will win: Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey)

Could win: Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner (Mad Men); Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff (Homeland)


DIRECTING

Will win: Michael Cuesta (Homeland)

Could win: Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire)



COMEDY

SERIES

Will win: Modern Family

Could win: LOL

Come on.


LEAD ACTRESS

Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Could win: Zooey Deschanel (The New Girl), Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly)

This race is competitive as hell. So competitive that the voters nominated an extra lady. I could picture at least six of these women winning and the one that I can’t is the one who deserves it most (sorry, Poehler). Fey, McCarthy, Falco, and Louis-Dreyfus are all former winners and Lena Dunham and Zooey D. are big, buzzy first-time noms. Fey and Falco are probably the least likely of those six to win, and it’s tough to picture Dunham winning here (she might take home an award elsewhere). That leaves McCarthy (last year’s surprise winner), Zooey, and Louis-Dreyfus as our front-runners. Veep feels like an Emmy show, and the voters love Julia, so I’m picking her, though the other two should have good tapes.


LEAD ACTOR

Will win: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

Could win: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Don Cheadle (House of Lies)

Jon Cryer’s the biggest dark horse here. He’s a nomination staple and former winner on the supporting side, so his move up to leading-man territory could result in a win. But it will be tough for him to push past even more popular nominees Parsons and Baldwin. I’m just working on the assumption that Jim Parsons wins this race until Big Bang ends in 10 years. He’s this decade’s Kelsey Grammer.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will win: Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)

Could win: Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)

Another tough one, particularly when you think bigger picture. Kathryn Joosten just passed away, which, for better or for worse, makes her a threat to win. This is the last time Kristen Wiig can be nominated in this category for her work on SNL (she’ll surely be nominated when she comes back to host the show in a year). Mayim Bialik’s work is well-regarded and voters will get a great taste of it while they’re watching episodes of Big Bang for other categories. And obviously, the Modern Family women are here too. Sorry, Merritt Weaver.

Joosten’s nomination will probably be as far as that goes. People thought Wiig was going to win last year because of Bridesmaids and we’ve seen recent long-time nominees lose yet again in final opportunities. But I’m struggling to pick between Bowen, Vergara, and Bialik. Bowen and Bialik should have better tapes and there’s bound to be a moderate surprise in these major categories, so let’s go with the Big Bang star.


SUPPORTING ACTOR

Will win: Ty Burrell (Modern Family)

Could win: Eric Stonestreet, Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)

Shocker, another Modern Family-centric race. Burrell is a strong incumbent and of the show’s performers, he’s the most worthy. But Stonestreet has another Fizbo episode and Ed O’Neill is Ed O’Neill. It’s surely going to be one of these three, though.


GUEST ACTRESS

Will win: Kathy Bates (Two and a Half Men)

Could win: Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live)


GUEST ACTOR

Will win: Jimmy Fallon (Saturday Night Live)

Could win: Michael J. Fox (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Greg Kinnear (Modern Family)


WRITING

Will win: Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation)

Could win: Louis C.K. (Louie), Lena Dunham (Girls)


DIRECTING

Will win: Louis C.K. (Louie)

Could win: Steve Levitan, Jason Winer (Modern Family)



MINISERIES/TV MOVIE

SERIES

Will win: Game Change

Could win: Hemingway & Gellhorn, Hatfields & McCoys


LEAD ACTRESS

Will win: Julianne Moore (Game Change)

Could win: Nicole Kidman (Hemingway & Gellhorn)


LEAD ACTOR

Will win: Woody Harrelson (Game Change)

Could win: Clive Owen (Hemingway & Gellhorn), Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys), Idris Elba (Luther)


SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will win: Jessica Lange (American Horror Story)

Could win: Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), Sarah Paulson (Game Change)


SUPPORTING ACTOR

Will win: Ed Harris (Game Change)

Could win: David Straithairn (Hemingway & Gellhorn)


WRITING

Will win: Danny Strong (Game Change)

Could win: Steven Moffat (Sherlock); Ted Mann, Ronald Parker, Bill Kirby (Hatfields & McCoys)


DIRECTING

Will win: Jay Roach (Game Change)

Could win: Phillip Kauffman (Hemingway & Gellhorn)



REALITY/VARIETY


REALITY COMPETITION SERIES

Will win: The Amazing Race

Could win: Top Chef, The Voice


REALITY HOST

Will win: Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race)

Could win: Betty White (Betty White’s Off Their Rockers), Tom Bergeron (Dancing With The Stars)


VARIETY SERIES

Will win: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Could win: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Colbert Report



Make your own winner predictions in the comments!



Cory Barker is a co-founder of This Was Television and the founder of TVSurveillance.com. Follow him on Twitter: @corybarker.

Comments (62)
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I predict that you will get some, but not all, of these picks correct.
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COMEDY - SERIES

Will win: Modern Family Could win: LOL - Come on.



That's funny

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Outstanding Special Class Programs:



Will win:

Herbie Hancock, Gustavo Dudamel And The LA Phil Celebrate Gershwin (Great Performances) PBS A production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET, BFMI, WDR in cooperation with ARTE, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and C Major



Could win:

Louis C.K. Live At The Beacon Theatre FX Networks Pig Newton, Inc. in association with FX Productions



(selfish self-honoring prediction here)
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The title of this article should also include the adjective, "Inaccurate."



How could Breaking Bad not win Best Series, let alone be left off the "could win" list? Don't get me wrong, I love Downton and it's indeed a trendy show. But a win for that series would be more about rewarding it for season one than anything since last year was great, but far from perfect.



Mad Men --meh, I've never understood the appeal.



Homeland -- Can't see them going for a show after one season.



But this past season of Breaking Bad? Superb. It made the transition from (arguably) a one-man show, focused on Walt, to an ensemble production that saw the characters of Hank, Skyler, and Jesse becoming almost more interesting. "I *am* the one who knocks!"



Breaking Bad wins best series and lead actor; Downton wins best actress. Mark it.
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so no one thinks that Breaking Bad MIGHT have a chance of winning best drama? are Emmy voters THAT blind?
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Who does the cast of modern family have to blow in order to get all those emmy nominations? I must know!
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Nothing new ! and the winners will be the same ...Geez ! at least give a nomination for the amazing direction of GOT's "BlackWater" episode , let "Homeland" win the best drama although i know "Mad Men" will get it again . It is so annoying that the same boring results for the same category "Don't get me wrong i like Homeland , GOT and Breaking Bad" but we need a change even if it is a bad one ....i will be more than happy if "Jersey Shore" win the best drama for this Year "i know it is reality and sucks :P"!
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Breaking Bad or Homeland will win best Drama - who isn't a bit tired of Mad Men by now...
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Mad Men has been getting better every year.
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I see Breaking Bad winning Best Drama and Peter Dinklage winning Supporting Actor.



Mad Men is a great show, but if they win 5 years in a row I would start asking how much AMC is paying the Emmys.
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I think most of your predictions are spot-on, but of course it is often easier to pick the Emmy winners than the nominees. The Emmys voters are not known for unpredictability.

Your comment about how since one actor won a Golden Globe for the role, they have a better shot at getting the Emmy made me laugh. Let's be honest here: the Golden Globes are the red-headed step child of the award circuit. They are even more of a popularity contest than the rest put together, and blatantly so.



I think that Giancarlo Esposito will win over Aaron Paul and Dinklage. I think Sherlock has a much better chance than you gave it to win the various miniseries categories.
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wow barely any love for sherlock? I mean not only the writing but everything else was top notch and i think its enough to get the emmy voters especially since the British TV industry is getting major props stateside. But who knows. fueding americana could win too.
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Agreed - Sherlock could win all three categories it is nominated for...
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I'm sorry I disagree I see Game of Thrones winning best drama and Peter Dinklage WILL WIN best supporting in a drama. HBO has only one good show and thats GoT
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Meh, big GoT fan here, but its storytelling is nothing compared to Breaking Bad. Fun show, but probably not even in the top 3 for consideration in that category.
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Sorry but Breaking Bad aint got nothing on GoT as far as the books go or the show!
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Any of you remember John Laroquette winning every year for Night Court? The Emmy's suck...
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If there was any sense in the Emmys, Community's "Remedial Chaos Theory" would win the writing Emmy. But of course quality and originality are not considered when ad executives are deciding who wins.
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You Community fanboys should get over it already...
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You should get over the fact that we're not going to.
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BOARDWALK WILL WIN THE EMMY FOR BEST DRAMA - GET READY FOR THE INEVITABLE !
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Is the Inevitable a new show - what channel is it on?
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In a perfect world, it would be breaking bad for best drama, curb your enthusiasm for best comedy (and community for best writing in a comedy :D) and sherlock for best miniseries
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Agreed and I reckon this year may be a perfect world at least for Breaking Bad and Sherlock... For comedy I can't guess as I don't watch any
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Not Breaking Bad for best show? So you people literally live up Matt Weiner's arse?
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Remember that the writer isn't picking who HE wants to win, but is predicting based on the Emmys trends who he thinks WILL win. You can't really predict against four years of MM taking home the prize no matter who it's gone up against.
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Sure you can -- those were wins for different seasons. This is a whole new year. Season Four of Breaking Bad is arguably the finest year of storytelling that television has ever seen. (Arguably being the keyword -- I know there are a lot of Wire, Sopranos, and West Wing fanboys that will be upset by that.)
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I notice you trust that the Emmy voters will be very faithful to earlier winners. But I guess that's how it's always has been.

If there is one category that has become boring, it's the "Variety Series" group. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has won ten times, nine of them in a row. If they win this year, it means they have won every single one for a decade. Not to mention that they have won a number of "Outstanding Writing for a Variety" too. Is Jon Stewart just that good, or are the others really bad?
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Yes, he is that good. But it's also that the format of his show is superior to the others, and that his researchers are incredibly good at finding the right clips.



Colbert comes close at times, and Maher is good too.
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I think most of these predictions are spot on. Gus will win for Fringe though, there is no doubt. And I have to say that the comment [Jim Parson]'s this decade's Kelsey Grammar is appalling.
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You meant Breaking Bad, right? ...



I'm a dick for pointing that out, aren't I?
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Nope!
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i thought we are over modern family already. and no best writing or directing for game of thrones???? really???
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I always wonder what directing fans do in their spare time...
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Agreed, how did episode 9, 'Blackwater', get omitted for directing?



My only thinking about the writing is that it's is shunned because a lot of it comes directly from the books it's based on....which is stupid
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I will be happy if Giancarlo Esposito (or Aaron Paul), and Amy Poehler win in their categories. Max Greenfield is the best part of New Girl so I would be happy if he took the award from the Modern Family cast. If Anna Gunn managed to win I think I would faint in shock and joy and I really hope Margolis wins, I love Hector and he is possibly the most terrifying character to never say a word. I disagree with nearly all the comedy nominations so I'm not even going to go there, because I just don't care anymore and who I want to win can't.
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Knope 2012!
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I will be so happy if Mayim Bialik pulls off the win.
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Lead and Supporting Actor in a Comedy series are the worst of the bunch (and that's saying something).



John Cryer receiving a nomination is a complete joke. Alec Baldwin has already won two Emmy's and is undeserving of a nomination this year. Jim Parsons has won the past two years ahead of more accomplished actors. I watched a few eps. of House of Lies and Don Cheadle wasn't THAT impressive. I have no problem with Louis C.K. and Larry David (I hope Louis wins this year).



H. Jon Benjamin (Archer) is hilarious and deserving of a nomination, but the fact Archer is animated turns off the old curmudgeons at the Academy. Joel McHale should also be included, but originality is also a no-no for those cantankerous bastards.



And what can I say about Supporting Actor in a Comedy series? No category exemplifies the irrelevancy of the Emmy's more than this one. Modern Family had its worst year, yet continues to embarrassingly (for the Emmy's) dominate this category.



Where's Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Nick Offerman, Jim Rash, or any of the guys from Happy Endings (except Zachary)?



Seriously, Emmy's, just fuck off.
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Wow, that was a pretty accurate description of my thoughts on the subject! Have you been reading my mind again?



+1 Thumbs up.
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I'been saying that for years...
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Downtown Abbey is downright boring!!!!!!!

Never, never vote for a show with a laugh track!!!!! Its NOT funny if you have to tell us when to laugh!!!!!
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Also, they Abbey is anything but "downtown." It's "Downton." One "W."
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Your use of 7, 5, and 5 exclamation marks, respectively, tells me all I need to know about your opinion. Downton is excellent, even if season two didn't live up to its promise (until the Christmas special, at least.)
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I don't get Modern Family. It's amusing, and I wouldn't say it's a bad show, but because of its ridiculous overratedness and its stealing of awards from more worthy shows, it may be my most hated show.
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Amy Poehler must win for Parks and Rec this season. She was amazing week after week for 20 odd episodes which is incomparable to Julia Louis-Dreyfus who only had 7 episodes. (I do watch and like Veep)
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I think nearly all of the nominations are terrible and there's were several-to-many better options than the nominees in every category, so I'm not going to try to pick which of the undeserving nominees will become the undeserving winner, I just have to point out the most awful one. Mayim Bialik shocked me as a nominee because she's awful, and quickly become the worst part of a show that already contained the Urkel of this generation. To entertain the idea that she would actual win, well, that's just to horrible and outlandish to conceive. I'd rather believe the monster under my bed is real, and he sticks my toothbrush up his butt each night while I sleep.
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I had a similar reaction. Amy Farrah Fowler is a bad character who makes the show worse. I was a bit torn between thinking that Mayim's nomination is completely bizarre because Amy sucks, or OK because Mayim is good at what she does. In the end I decided that it *is* bizarre, because a comedy actress' job isn't just to play a character well, but to play a *funny* character.



I don't mind Sheldon though, or Urkel. They are both good characters on shows that would be really boring without them.
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Get over it - Really...
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Get over what, exactly? The Emmys sucking? Mayim Bialik sucking? Jim Parsons being the Urkel of this generation? Be precise. You didn't really convey anything there.
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Jim Parsons as Urkel is kind of brilliant.
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Giancarlo Esposito should win as best supporting actor in drama. His acting was second to none in Breaking Bad.
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Yep though not harm if he was to share the glory with Aaron Paul (yo!)
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sigh those comedy nominations
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There's a swell for Christina Hendricks alright, but it's not "of support."
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Giancarlo Esposito! Steven Moffat!
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Almost no love for Sherlock?
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Sherlock is loved I assure you - just not by the idiotic Emmys...
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I predict that 2013 Kerry Washington will win best Lead Actress and Scandle will win Best Series!
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Could be...could be.
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Yeah, I seriously doubt that. The Emmys tend to ignore soaps and genre shows.
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Soaps have their own award show though. It's called the Daytime Emmys lol. They can't be nominated for Primetime Emmys since they play in the afternoon. Also, genre shows are ALSO nominated for Daytime Emmys lol.
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