Editors' Picks: Who We Think Should Win at the 2011 Emmy Awards

Listen, we don't know who's actually going to walk away with a little gold man holding a whatever it is he's holding when the 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards go down this Sunday in a secret bunker in Hollywood. But that doesn't mean we can't talk about who should win.

We locked ourselves in a cage conference room to fight respectfully debate our picks for all the main categories, then put the spotlight on whoever yelled the loudest to defend his or her choice. Have a look-see, then let us know who you think should take home some new hardware this weekend.

Playing along at home? Put your picks into writing with our handy printable ballot.

Best Drama Series

And the nominees are...
Boardwalk Empire Friday Night Lights Game of Thrones
The Good Wife Mad Men Dexter

Game of Thrones

Spotlight: Game of Thrones

Many viewers who hadn't found the time to trudge through George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy novel series approached HBO's Game of Thrones with some hesitation. How would the network handle such dense genre material? As it turns out, shockingly well! Game of Thrones' first season moved at a breakneck pace (as compared to, say, Boardwalk Empire' slower clip) while still offering the exceptional character moments that make HBO series great. Oh, sure, Mad Men is solid, but Game of Thrones deserves recognition for elevating its genre and expanding television’s scope. It’s not TV: It’s Westeros. —Louis Peitzman

Our individual picks:

Jen: Game of Thrones Lily: Friday Night Lights Louis: Game of Thrones
Price: Friday Night Lights Seth: Mad Men Tim: Game of Thrones
Killian: Game of Thrones Walter: Game of Thrones

Best Comedy Series

And the nominees are...
30 Rock Modern Family The Big Bang Theory
Parks and Recreation Glee The Office

Parks and Recreation NBC

Spotlight: Parks and Recreation

Comedy isn't easy. That's why the average television lineup is basically an elephant graveyard of unfunny programs. On paper, there's no good reason why Parks and Recreation should have worked—it's a spiritual spin-off of an Americanized remake of a thirteen-episode British mockumentary. Fronted by Amy Poehler's endearingly naive Leslie Knope, Parks and Rec consistently marries sophisticated comments on governmental cynicism with ludicrous, broad humor that rarely feels cheap or negative. The best part is that this show manages to make you laugh your ass off while essentially being about characters who are really just trying to help people. —Price Peterson

Our individual picks:

Jen: Parks and Recreation Lily: Parks and Recreation Louis: Parks and Recreation
Price: Parks and Recreation Seth: Modern Family Tim: Modern Family
Killian: Glee Walter: Parks and Recreation

Best Actor in a Drama Series

And the nominees are...
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men Timothy Olyphant, Justified Hugh Laurie, House

Timothy Olyphant Justified

Spotlight: Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens on Justified

I probably shouldn't be voting based on how good an actor looks in a hat, but Timothy Olyphant IS Raylan Givens, the cornerstone of the our latest "Best Drama on TV" discussion. In Season 2, Olyphant really opened up Raylan, giving us many more looks than just "badass Marshal." It was a big leap for the show, and a huge step for Olyphant in the role he was born to play. This nomination is... Justified! He probably won't take home the Emmy, but a win would be a ride off into the sunset for this future A-lister. —Tim Surette

Our individual picks

Jen: Kyle Chandler Lily: Steve Buscemi Louis: Timothy Olyphant
Price: Kyle Chandler Seth: Timothy Olyphant Tim: Timothy Olyphant
Killian: Michael C. Hall Walter: Timothy Olyphant

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Kathy Bates, Harry's Law Mireille Enos, The Killing Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men Julianna Margulies, Good Wife Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights

Connie Britton Friday Night Lights

Spotlight: Connie Britton as Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights

Honestly, is there any TV mom you would rather have as your own than Connie Britton's Tami Taylor? No other character on TV manages to maintain her integrity and her sexy like the former principal of Dillon High. Connie's ease and chemistry with co-star Kyle Chandler and their heartfelt portrait of a working marriage deserves serious recognition. Plus, after five incredible seasons of Friday Night Lights, Connie Britton has developed a character of such depth and warmth and complexity that I'd follow her to Philadelphia any day. Connie has earned this win like no other actress nominated. —Lily Sparks

Our personal picks:

Jen: Connie Britton Lily: Connie Britton Louis: Julianna Margulies
Price: Connie Britton Seth: Elisabeth Moss Tim: Connie Britton
Killian: Connie Britton Walter: Connie Britton

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

And the nominees are...
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock Steve Carell, The Office Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Louis C.K., Louie Matt LeBlanc, Episodes Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory

Steve Carrell The Office

Spotlight: Steve Carrell as Michael Scott on The Office

This is Steve Carell’s sixth and final Emmy nomination for his work as Michael Scott on The Office, and would be his first win. (By comparison, Jeremy Piven has won three for Entourage. There’s something wrong with that math.) And never have Carell’s amazing strengths as an actor—playing a broad, comic buffoon who can emotionally disarm you when you’re least expecting it—been more on display than in this, his swan song season. Carell has done what every actor dreams of: He’s created a character who will long outlive him. There is no one more deserving. —Seth Abramovitch

Our individual picks:

Jen: Steve Carell Lily: Steve Carell Louis: Louis C.K.
Price: Louis C.K. Seth: Steve Carell Tim: Louis C.K.
Killian: Louis C.K. Walter: Louis C.K.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

And the nominees are...
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie Laura Linney, The Big C Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Tina Fey, 30 Rock Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope

Amy Poehler Parks and Recretion

Spotlight: Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation

Just as Parks and Recreation has evolved from cute sitcom to must-see TV, its hero Leslie Knope has come into her own. A lot of that is because of the writers, but with Poehler in the role, Leslie is both absurd and relatable, maddeningly frustrating but always sympathetic. Poehler’s timing is masterful, which helps her shine both in quieter moments and in broader ones. Perhaps the best Season 3 example of the latter comes from "Flu Season," which saw Leslie escaping from the hospital while high on flu medication. —Louis Peitzman

Our individual picks:

Jen: Tina Fey Lily: Amy Poehler Louis: Amy Poehler
Price: Amy Poehler Seth: Edie Falco Tim: Melissa McCarthy
Killian: Amy Poehler Walter: Amy Poehler

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

And the nominees are...
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones Josh Charles, The Good Wife Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Walton Goggins, Justified John Slattery, Mad Men Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age

John Slattery Mad Men

Spotlight: John Slattery as Roger Sterling on Mad Men

Jon Hamm’s Don Draper may get most of the attention, but it’s really John Slattery’s Roger Sterling who best encapsulates the Mad Men ethos. Season 4 gave us a humbled Roger, if that’s at all possible—on the one hand crushed by the loss of the all-important Lucky Strike account, on the other finally prepared to admit how deeply in love with Joan Holloway he really was. Selling it all is Slattery’s pitch-perfect performance. This is his fourth Emmy nomination for the part. Give the guy something to put in his memoirs, already. —Seth Abramovitch

Our individual picks

Jen: Peter Dinklage Lily: John Slattery Louis: Peter Dinklage
Price: Peter Dinklage Seth: John Slattery Tim: Peter Dinklage
Killian: Walton Goggins Walter: Peter Dinklage

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

And the nominees are...
Kelly MacDonald, Boardwalk Empire Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife Margo Martindale, Justified
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife Michelle Forbes, The Killing Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Margo Martindale Justified

Spotlight: Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett on Justified

Margo Martindale may be the newcomer in this category for her performance as the moonshine-swiggin' villain in Season 2 of Justified, but I think everyone else is playing for second place. Martindale turned Mags into a pitbull with a Southern drawl, layering charm over ruthlessness to create a hillbilly mom who left viewers feeling compassion and fear. At no time was this more evident than during her stirring town hall speech in "The Spoil." I could listen to her say "Toxic Trash!" over and over. —Tim Surette

Our personal picks:

Jen: Margo Martindale Lily: Michelle Forbes Louis: Archie Panjabi
Price: Michelle Forbes Seth: Margo Martindale Tim: Margo Martindale
Killian: Michelle Forbes Walter: Margo Martindale

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

And the nominees are...
Chris Colfer, Glee Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Ed O'Neill, Modern Family Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Ty Burrell Modern Family

Spotlight: Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family

Modern Family's second season was comedically elevated thanks to Phil Dun–I mean, Ty Burrell. Not that Phil wouldn't be a hilarious character without Ty's seamlessly improvised asides and phenomenal timing, but let's give credit where credit is due in the form of a shiny golden statuette. And with a major role across from Jennifer Garner in the hot new film Butter making the rounds at festivals, Mr. Burrell should seriously consider clearing some space on his mantle. —Lily Sparks

Our individual picks

Jen: Ty Burrell Lily: Ty Burrell Louis: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Price: Ty Burrell Seth: Ty Burrell Tim: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Killian: Ty Burrell Walter: Ty Burrell

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

And the nominees are...
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family Jane Lynch, Glee Betty White, Hot in Cleveland
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live Julie Bowen, Modern Family Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock

Kristen Wiig Saturday Night Live

Spotlight: Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live

Quick question: In what universe is Kristen Wiig merely a supporting player on SNL? Ensemble or not, this lady is the current undisputed star of Saturday Night Live, the Phil Hartman of 2011, basically. Whether it's her spot-on impersonations of Suze Orman, Nancy Pelosi or Kathie Lee Gifford or it's her menagerie of bizarre women, like Can't-Contain-Her-Excitement Sue, Malformed Lawrence Welk backup singer Dooneese or her incredible improvised performances as Kat (of Garth & Kat), Kristen Wiig is the most versatile, effortlessly hilarious performer at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. With the recent success of Bridesmaids it's unclear how many more seasons SNL will get out of her, so we should start giving Kristen Wiig awards now. All of the awards, starting with this one. – Price Peterson

Our personal picks:

Jen: Kristen Wiig Lily: Jane Lynch Louis: Julie Bowen
Price: Kristen Wiig Seth: Julie Bowen Tim: Sofia Vergara
Killian: Sofia Vergara Walter: Jane Krakowski

Who among the nominated shows and actors do you think should take home an Emmy this weekend?

+ Please Enjoy This Printable Ballot For All Your Emmy Party Needs

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