Emmys 2014: The Major Contenders

The nominees for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced early Thursday morning ahead of the August 25 ceremony set for broadcast on NBC.

After a season full of quality dramas, riotous comedies and scorching acting turns, anticipation is high for Thursday's big reveal. And with the recent Critic's Choice Awards showering kudos on newbies "Orange is the New Black," "True Detective" and "Fargo," look for some fresh names and titles mixed in with the stalwarts.

Taking into account recent award show victories, past Emmy wins, general buzz, and critical and fan reactions, here's a breakdown by network of which shows and actors are likely to be named when announcers Carson Daly and Mindy Kaling reveal the Emmy class of 2014.


The cable network has dominated the drama series category over the past five years thanks to "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad." Hot off a ratings-smashing series finale, juggernaut "Bad" will hard to beat in the category, as well as lead and supporting acting nods for Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul. The series and Paul took home Critic's Choice Awards last month. "Mad Men" will likely remain in the Emmy mix alongside AMC's other fan-favorite, "The Walking Dead."


"The Blacklist" had a strong debut with fans making it TV's highest-rated new drama, so a nod in the drama series category could be on the cards, as well as acting berths for stars James Spader and Megan Boone. Another recent ratings winner is the "Tonight Show" with new host Jimmy Fallon. It's strong showing should see it named to the variety series category. "Parks and Recreation," about to enter its seventh and final season, is likely earn a spot in the comedy series race. Other contenders from the peacock network include "Law & Order: SVU," "Hannibal" and "Parenthood.


"True Detective" only had a limited run on the premium cable channel but Matthew McConaughey took the Critic's Choice statuette for best acting in a drama series over "Breaking Bad's" Bryan Cranston. Other HBO front-runners include "Game of Thrones" (Peter Dinklage has continued buzz for supporting actor), "Boardwalk Empire," "True Blood" and "The Newsroom." Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a front-runner for best actress in a comedy series for her hilarious portrayal of fictional Vice President Selena Meyer, but don't rule out Lena Dunham's fearless onscreen presence in "Girls." New comedy "Silicon Valley" could be a fresh name in the mix and John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" may find itself the upstart in the variety category.


"The Big Bang Theory" is TV's highest-rated comedy and should find itself up for the series award as well as possible nods for stars Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Mayim Bialik. If nominated, Bialik would likely face network competition from Allison Janney, who tied for Critic's Choice best supporting actress in a comedy series for "Mom." Julianna Margulies and "The Good Wife" had viewers on the edge of their seats week after week, with supporting actress Christine Baranski also a contender for the drama categories.


New drama "Masters of Sex" proved dominant at the Critic's Choice with Allison Janney taking her second win for best guest performer. "Sex" leads Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen are also strong contenders for the Emmy drama acting categories along with Janney. Also in with a chance: "Ray Donovan," "Dexter" (coming off of the finale), "Shameless" and Emmy darling "Homeland." For laughs look to "Nurse Jackie," "House of Lies," "Californication" and "Episode" to possibly make the Emmy cut.


Kerry Washington and the "Scandal" crew had everyone talking in the spring and should land in the drama categories for ABC alongside stablemate "Grey's Anatomy." Comedy hit "Modern Family" will look to take home its fifth straight win for best series if "Orange Is the New Black" doesn't cause an upset. And if the Emmy plays to loyal fans, "The Goldbergs" and "The Middle" could also be named to the comedy categories.


The first season of "Orange is the New Black" was a comedy triumph for the streaming service, arriving on the dramatic heels of "House of Cards" (which should see drama nods for series,  and actors Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright). With "Orange" taking the Critic's Choice Award for best comedy series look for it to compete in the same Emmy category with possible acting noms going to stars Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew and Uzo Aduba.


Comedy newbie "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" quickly became a must-see event for many and Andre Braugher (Critic's Choice winner for best supporting comedy series actor) both, as well as lead Andy Samberg, should be Emmy starters. Kevin Bacon's offering "The Following" has just that, and could end up a drama contender.


Louis CK's "Louie" returned with a fourth series debut on May 5, just ahead of the Emmy eligibility cut-off date. It's the front-runner for the network for an Emmy comedy nomination. New drama "Fargo" received love at the Critic's Choice Awards, as did the Cold War-set "The Americans." Also listen for "American Horror Story: Coven," "Sons of Anarchy," "Justified" and "The Bridge" to make a showing.


Period dramas are always big contenders for PBS with "Downton Abbey" a constant Emmy presence over the last four years (Maggie Smith has been nominated three times for the series with two wins). Corseted running mates "Call the Midwife" and "Mr. Selfridge" could also bustle in on the noms this year. "Sherlock's" welcome return with a third season should result in Benedict Cumberbatch hearing his, and the show's, name announced in the mini-series (drama) category come July 10.


Two words: "Bates Motel." The reality-heavy network broke into scripted drama with the "Pscho"-based series starring Vera Farmiga as teenage Norman's emotionally complex mother Norma Bates. Farmiga's portrayal has earned critical praise and she'll likely find herself in the 2014 Emmy mix.

Watch the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards live on Monday, August 25 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on NBC

Contact Us