The Emmys never go the way they're supposed to. No matter how promising the list of nominees is when it's released in mid-July, no matter how much pre-show buzz and analysis there is to get our hopes up, the actual ceremony in late September always ends in disappointment. Not the immediate disappointment of a devastating loss, like the death of a childhood pet. The Emmys won't reduce you to tears. This is more insidious. This Emmys disappointment is a dark, lingering disappointment: the thought that we can do better, we should do better. Every year it's the same because every year the shows and people that should win never do. It's what we get for laying our hopes down at the mercy of "The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences."
So this year, let's brace ourselves for the inevitable hopelessness we'll feel come 11:30 p.m. on September 22. It's time to identify which awards will be the source of the disappointment we know is coming. Here they are, ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Emmy nominees that should win, but won't.
1. Amy Poehler for Best Actress in a Comedy Series
I know what you're thinking; it's Tina Fey's last year as a nominee for playing Ms. Elizabeth Lemon, arguably the most important character on television in the last decade. It would be a crime not to give Fey an award for her last go-around on 30 Rock. You know what's an even bigger crime?
Amy Poehler has NEVER won for her portrayal of Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. Not once. She's been nominated a few times, and came up short each time, including the most enraging moment in recent Emmy history, when Melissa McCarthy won in 2011 under the guise of playing Molly on Mike and Molly, but was undeniably for her "breakout" role in Bridesmaids. So it's time to right the wrongs. Give Poehler, finally, an Emmy. And though she may have deserved it most two years ago, you can't deny her performance as the bride in the most feel-good wedding on television since, well, the last time Parks did a wedding episode.
Unfortunately, though, Poehler won't win. The Emmy will go to either Fey, because the Emmys love the Rock, or Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep, because the Emmys love awarding the same people over and over again. If, and this is a big if, the Emmy goes to Lena Dunham for Girls, the loss for Poehler will be a tad more tolerable.
2. Louis CK for Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Honestly, Louis CK should win the Emmy for both Comedy and Drama. Louie is a show that straddles both, and pulls off either of them better than nearly every other show on television. And the show is wholly his own. For all the talk of "showrunners" in television these days, none match the influence Louis CK has on his show. It's impossible to separate the actor from the series. His performance in season 3 went from heartwarming to heartbreaking and back without a misstep. And it'll be a longer wait than usual before we get to see more of Louie.
The Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy Series is almost too easy to predict. It'll go to either Alec Baldwin or Jim Parsons, who already have multiple wins under their respective belts, because, as mentioned above, the Emmys love the shows that feel familiar. The truly tragic thing about Louie is that it just might be too groundbreaking to win an Emmy.
3. Jane Krakowski for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
For all the love the Emmys has given 30 Rock over the years, none has gone Jane Krakowski's way for her portrayal of Jenna Maroney. She's been nominated three times before, but gone home empty handed each time, while she's watched her Modern Family counterparts clean house. This year will likely be the same, as we're going to watch Julie Bowen give yet another acceptance speech while Krakowski smiles politely in her seat. It's a shame, because what was a rebound final season for 30 Rock all the way around included a particular resurgence for Jenna, a character that'd grown into a tired one-note for much of the show's middle seasons. Krakowski deserves some Emmy bling for helping Rock stick its near-perfect landing.
4. Adam Driver for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
For once, not every adult male actor on Modern Family is nominated. We're spared this year, with only three earning nominations.
Still, you have to like the odds that one of them will be the winner (I'm betting Burrell, who remains the only tolerable thing about the show). This is unfortunate, because this year features two of the most deserving nominees in some time: Adam Driver for his role on Girls, and Bill Hader for everything amazing he does on Saturday Night Live. Driver's Adam somehow gives us both the hero and the villain in a second Girls season that takes everything the first did and does it better.
He's at his best when his character gets really, uncomfortably dark, and he has more than one opportunity to really flex his chops in season two. And while Hader is one of the all-time best on SNL, I'll take a full-fledged series over sketch comedy any day of the week.
5. Best Comedy Series
Anything except Modern Family. Please, I'm begging you.