Editors' Picks: Who WE Think Should Win at the 2012 Emmy Awards

Somewhere, some meathead in a black suit and sunglasses has a suitcase handcuffed to his wrist. In that case are the envelopes containing the names of the shows and actors who will win gold statues at this Sunday's 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. He's willing to give his life and take the lives of others to protect the secrets attached to his person at all costs, lest the Gods of Television strike him down. But to heck with that guy! We're opening up OUR secret suitcase with OUR Emmy winners today!

We cracked the whip on the editorial staff and forced them at gunpoint held their Fringe and Community DVDs hostage until they revealed their opinions on the most deserving Emmy winners among this year's nominees. The shows and actors spotlighted below may or may not win, but in our minds, they're the ones who SHOULD.

Playing along at home? Make your own picks with our interactive Emmy ballot.

Best Drama Series

And the nominees are...

Boardwalk Empire


Game of Thrones

Downton Abbey

Mad Men

Breaking Bad

Last year's winner: Mad Men


Spotlight: Homeland

You think YOU'RE surprised I chose Homeland over Breaking Bad? Not as shocked as I am. We all knew Breaking Bad's fourth season would be awesome (and it was), but Showtime's clever examination of paranoia was more relevant, scary, and powerful than any other series on television last year. Homeland didn't just give us something to think about, it burrowed under our skin and made us dig it out with our fingernails. Combined with Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, this is one of the best crops of Best Drama nominees we've seen in a long time. —Tim Surette

Our individual picks:

Jen: Breaking Bad

MaryAnn: Mad Men

Anngie: Breaking Bad

Price: Breaking Bad

Lily: Game of Thrones

Tim: Homeland

Killian: Homeland

Walter: Homeland

Best Comedy Series

And the nominees are...

30 Rock

Modern Family

The Big Bang Theory



Curb Your Enthusiasm

Last year's winner: Modern Family

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Spotlight: Curb Your Enthusiasm

This year's Best Comedy category is straight-up maddening. As a ticketholder on the Modern Family backlash train (the show is good, but Season 3 was its weakest yet), I'm sad to see it taking a spot that in my mind could've gone to Louie, Parks and Recreation, or Archer. Same goes for repeat nominees 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory. While I watch and (usually) enjoy all three series, I think others are more deserving of recognition these days. But as my momma always said, "The Emmys aren't fair and at this point, crying over spilt nominees won't help." Girls and Veep both did some great things in their first seasons, but for me, Curb Your Enthusiasm is the clear winner here. Larry David's uncomfortable comedy is brilliant, and Season 8 was outstanding—particularly the "Palestinian Chicken" and "Larry vs. Michael J. Fox" episodes. —Jen Trolio

Our individual picks:

Jen: Curb Your Enthusiasm

MaryAnn: Modern Family

Anngie: Modern Family

Price: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Lily: Veep

Tim: Veep

Killian: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Walter: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Best Actor in a Drama Series

And the nominees are...

Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Michael C. Hall, Dexter

Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey

Damian Lewis, Homeland

Last year's winner: Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights

Spotlight: Bryan Cranston as Walter White on Breaking Bad

It may not be particularly exciting or brave to pick frequent Emmy favorite Bryan Cranston in this category, but it was the one category our entire staff agreed on: Give this man another trophy. Season 4 of Breaking Bad found Walter White scrambling: He didn't like his workplace; his wife was onto his double life; he'd turned his protege into a cold-blooded murderer (and enemy); and the clock was ticking until Gus Fring replaced and/or murdered him. That's a lot for one man to deal with and Cranston made us feel every grimace, every twitch, and every cold, calculated stare that transformed Walter White more than ever into his mythological counterpart Heisenberg. It was a thrilling performance in an ongoing transformation that's truly one for the annals of great TV performances. This is the easiest decision of the year: Bryan Cranston for the win. — Price Peterson

Our individual picks:

Jen: Bryan Cranston

MaryAnn: Bryan Cranston

Anngie: Bryan Cranston

Price: Bryan Cranston

Lily: Bryan Cranston

Tim: Bryan Cranston

Killian: Bryan Cranston

Walter: Bryan Cranston

Best Actress in a Drama Series

And the nominees are...

Kathy Bates, Harry's Law

Claire Danes, Homeland

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey

Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

Julianna Margulies, Good Wife

Glenn Close, Damages

Last year's winner: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Spotlight: Claire Danes as Carrie Matheson on Homeland

The other five ladies on this ballot were just thrown in because they had to be. This is a lock for Danes, who may still look like Angela Chase but has grown considerably as an actress. Carrie Matheson is a complicated character who does things all the way, and it took an actress willing to completely submerge herself in the role to pull it off. Plus, those crazy eyes! —Tim

Our individual picks:

Jen: Claire Danes

MaryAnn: Elisabeth Moss

Anngie: Claire Danes

Price: Claire Danes

Lily: Claire Danes

Tim: Claire Danes

Killian: Claire Danes

Walter: Claire Danes

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

And the nominees are...

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Louis C.K., Louie

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Don Cheadle, House of Lies

Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men

Last year's winner: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Spotlight: Louis C.K. as Louie on Louie

First, let's make it clear that it is RIDICULOUS that Louie isn't nominated for Best Comedy. I've chosen C.K. here more as a lifetime achievement award than for his acting skills, which consist mostly of exasperated looks. But he often adds something to his performance that the other nominees don't: a sense of aching humanity. The others may be well-oiled, bombastic, punchline-reading robots (except for you, Larry David, you're cool), but C.K. has the ability to make his character seem like a real person. —Tim

Our individual picks:

Jen: Louis C.K.

MaryAnn: Jim Parsons

Anngie: Louis C.K.

Price: Louis C.K.

Lily: Louis C.K.

Tim: Louis C.K.

Killian: Alec Baldwin

Walter: Louis C.K.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

And the nominees are...

Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly

Zooey Deschanel, New Girl

Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Lena Dunham, Girls

Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie

Last year's winner: Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly

Spotlight: Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President Selena Meyer on Veep

Known for years as "Elaine," Julia Louis-Dreyfus never fully escaped the shadow of her iconic Seinfield character until Veep showed us a whole new side of the actress. Although she may get her office in hot water as often as Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope, Louis-Dreyfus's VP Selina Meyer transcends the "Liz Lemon" trope of a self-effacing lady in power in that she refuses to be self-effacing or take a fall. Meyer has a ruthlessness that gives actual stakes to her entourage's frantic fumblings and machinations. It's all thanks to Louis-Dreyfus's brilliant and consistent portrayal of an unyielding, savvy, powerful politician who still manages to believably, continually embarrass herself (just like politicians in real life!). —Lily Sparks

Our individual picks:

Jen: Amy Poehler

MaryAnn: Melissa McCarthy

Anngie: Tina Fey

Price: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Lily: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Tim: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Killian: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Walter: Amy Poehler

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

And the nominees are...

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad

Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey

Jim Carter, Downton Abbey

Jared Harris, Mad Men

Last year's winner: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Spotlight: Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo Fring on Breaking Bad

As part of a cast loaded with Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Anna Gunn, who would have predicted that journeyman actor Esposito would earn the most accolades in Breaking Bad's fourth season? He didn't just steal scenes from three-time Emmy-winner Cranston, he dominated them. When you think back on Season 4, you think of Gus, not Walter. That's all the argument you need. —Tim

Our individual picks:

Jen: Giancarlo Esposito

MaryAnn: Giancarlo Esposito

Anngie: Aaron Paul

Price: Giancarlo Esposito

Lily: Giancarlo Esposito

Tim: Giancarlo Esposito

Killian: Peter Dinklage

Walter: Giancarlo Esposito

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

And the nominees are...

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife

Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey

Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Last year's winner: Margo Martindale, Justified

Spotlight: Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris on Mad Men

Christina Hendricks is more than a gravity-defying body. For five seasons, her portrayal of sexy, confident, working woman Joan Harris has been a staple on AMC’s Mad Men, but this past season took Joan to new places both professionally and personally, and Hendricks seamlessly navigated the character through some major changes. From dutiful wife and office manager to determined single mother and SCDP’s newest partner, Hendricks let Joan’s insecurities and confidence mix perfectly to give us a pragmatist who does what she must to maintain her independence... but doesn’t always have to like it. “Mystery Date,” “Christmas Waltz,” and “The Other Women” all showed off Hendricks’ flair for presenting Joan as a character far more complicated than “the sexpot secretary” while also highlighting some delightful chemistry with Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm. —MaryAnn Sleasman

Our individual picks:

Jen: Christina Hendricks

MaryAnn: Christina Hendricks

Anngie: Anna Gunn

Price: Anna Gunn

Lily: Christina Hendricks

Tim: Anna Gunn

Killian: Anna Gunn

Walter: Christina Hendricks

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

And the nominees are...

Max Greenfield, New Girl

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family

Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

Ed O'Neill, Modern Family

Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Last year's winner: Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Spotlight: Max Greenfield as Schmidt on New Girl

While Fox's original marketing campaign for New Girl centered on the love-it-or-hate-it "adorkability" of star Zooey Deschanel, those who actually tuned in and watched the thing almost unanimously fell into the "love-him" category when it came to Max Greenfield's Schmidt character. Like most characters on the show, by season's end he'd been given a fleshed-out personality with as many nuances and surprises as a TV character could reasonably afford in a half-hour comedy. Greenfield's fearless performance ran the gamut from extremely dextrous line deliveries to some truly impressive physical humor, but it was his surprising romantic side (with Hannah Simone's Cece) that really sold us. You know someone deserves an Emmy when they steal a show out from under Zooey Deschanel, but Greenfield also deserves one for basically everything else he does as well. Great character; even better actor. — Price

Our individual picks:

Jen: Max Greenfield

MaryAnn: Bill Hader

Anngie: Ed O'Neill

Price: Max Greenfield

Lily: Max Greenfield

Tim: Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Killian: Bill Hader

Walter: Max Greenfield

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

And the nominees are...

Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie

Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives

Julie Bowen, Modern Family

Kristen Wiig, SNL

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory

Last year's winner: Julie Bowen, Modern Family

Spotlight: Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory

I was torn between Mayim Bialik and Kristen Wiig on this one, but I ultimately chose Bialik because even though I'm not a diehard fan of The Big Bang Theory, she did great things on the show last season. After first appearing as Amy Farrah Fowler in the Season 3 finale, in Season 5 she really found her footing in TBBT's ensemble cast. I almost view her as a Steve Urkel type of character who could easily have popped in for a few episodes and disappeared, but audiences (and Sheldon!) liked her so much that the writers couldn't help but keep her around. And while that may sound like kind of a backhanded compliment, when you think about how much life she's brought to TBBT—now entering its sixth season—it's no small feat. Blossom, you done good. — Jen

Our individual picks:

Jen: Mayim Bialik

MaryAnn: Kristen Wiig

Anngie: Kristen Wiig

Price: Kristen Wiig

Lily: Kristen Wiig

Tim: Sofia Vergara

Killian: Kristen Wiig

Walter: Sofia Vergara

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

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