2020 Emmy Predictions for Comedy Series & Acting: Matt Roush’s Picks

Emmys Comedy predictions
Amazon Prime Video; Pop TV; HBO

Things are changing at the 2020 Emmy Awards ceremony, airing September 20 on ABC. But even without the ongoing global pandemic, the races remain fierce on TV’s biggest night, with so many more platforms and so much talent vying for recognition.

Below, critic Matt Roush analyzes the categories, suggesting which nominees are most likely to — and should — win. And after having scoured the official ballot, he also points out contenders he wishes had made the cut.

Scroll down to see Matt’s picks in the categories of Comedy Series, Lead Comedy Actor and Actress, Supporting Comedy Actor and Actress, and Guest Comedy Actor and Actress.

72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Sunday, September 20, 8/7c, ABC

What We Do in the Shadows Sesason 2
Russ Martin/FX

Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO

Dead to Me, Netflix

The Good Place, NBC

Insecure, HBO

The Kominsky Method, Netflix

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon Prime Video

Schitt’s Creek, Pop TV

What We Do in the Shadows, FX

the good place cast season 4
Colleen Hayes/NBC

I couldn’t be happier to see wonderful sleepers like The Good Place (for its final season) and What We Do in the Shadows making the cut in a very competitive year. Any of the eight nominees deserves to win, and the buzz around the twisty Dead to Me is also considerable, but the horse race comes down to a delightful past winner (Mrs. Maisel) and a beloved cult underdog (Schitt’s Creek) that ended on a high. Emmys don’t often honor the newly departed, but this year, they’re likely to make an exception.

schitt's creek cast season 6
Pop TV

Most Likely to Win

Schitt’s Creek

the marvelous mrs maisel season 3
Amazon Prime Video

Should Win

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (though I’d probably have voted for the hilarious Shadows)

never have i ever season 1 ben devi

Wish They'd Been Nominated

After Life, Better Things, Mom, Never Have I Ever, One Day at a Time, Upload

black-ish - Anthony Anderson
ABC/Ali Goldstein

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, black-ish

Don Cheadle, Black Monday

Ted Danson, The Good Place

Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Ramy Youssef, Ramy

ramy season 2 hulu ramy youssef

In a year when inclusion and diversity are so prevalent, Ramy Youssef‘s boldly distinctive — and, yes, funny — portrayal of a flawed Muslim may triumph, as he did at the Golden Globes, against much better known competition. However, Eugene Levy could ride a Creek wave, and representing another terrific final season, The Good Place‘s Ted Danson is indisputably a living legend in the role of an afterlife-time.

Schitt's Creek Eugene Levy Season 6
Pop TV

Most Likely to Win

Ramy Youssef or Eugene Levy

The Good Place Season 4 Ted Danson
Colleen Hayes/NBC

Should Win

Ted Danson

Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry David HBO

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Hank Azaria, Brockmire; Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm; Ricky Gervais, After Life; Walton Goggins, The Unicorn; Kayvan Novak, What We Do in the Shadows; Paul Rudd, Living with Yourself

Dead to Me, Season 2 - Lina Cardellini

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate, Dead to Me

Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me

Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

Issa Rae, Insecure

Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish

Rachel Brosnahan The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 3
Amazon Prime Video

Another tough toss-up between Maisel and Creek, between its leading ladies, both tremendous stars: the veteran Catherine O’Hara as the delusional Moira, and past winner Rachel Brosnahan as the irrepressible Midge. I’d be OK with either, but a win for O’Hara — whose last Emmy was in 1983 as part of the fabled SCTV crew — would truly be delicious.

Catherine Ohara Schitt's Creek Season 6
Pop TV

Most Likely to Win, Should Win

Catherine O’Hara, with Rachel Brosnahan a close second

Insecure Issa Rae HBO

Possible Spoiler

Issa Rae, Insecure (long overdue)

Better Things Season 4 Pamela Adlon
Suzanne Tenner/FX

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Pamela Adlon, Better Things (c’mon, Emmys!); Kristen Bell, The Good Place; Aidy Bryant, Shrill; Natasia Demetriou, What We Do in the Shadows; Sara Gilbert, The Conners; Allison Janney, Mom; Jane Levy, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist; Justina Machado, One Day at a Time; Amy Sedaris, At Home with Amy Sedaris

Mahershala Ali Ramy Season 2 Hulu

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Mahershala Ali, Ramy

Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

William Jackson Harper, The Good Place

Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 3 Tony Shalhoub
Amazon Prime Video

If prior awards cred were the issue, four-time Emmy winner (including last year) Tony Shalhoub and two-time Oscar champ Mahershala Ali would be favored. And yet Dan Levy was the creative and emotional heart and soul of Schitt’s Creek, and I can’t see anyone else taking this one home. (Sterling K. Brown was terrific in Mrs. Maisel, but might have been better suited in the guest category.)

Dan Levy - Schitt's Creek - Season 6
Pop TV

Most Likely to Win, Should Win

Dan Levy

Sterling K Brown The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Season 3
Amazon Prime Video

Possible Spoilers

Tony Shalhoub, Mahershala Ali, Sterling K. Brown

Harvey Guillen What We Do in the Shadows
Russ Martin/FX

Wish They'd Been Nominated

William Fichtner, Mom; Peter Gallagher, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist; Harvey Guillén, What We Do in the Shadows; Manny Jacinto, The Good Place; John Malkovich, Space Force; Marc Maron, GLOW; Alex Newell, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist; Zach Woods, Silicon Valley and/or Avenue 5

the good place d'arcy carden season 4
Colleen Hayes/NBC

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place

Betty Gilpin, GLOW

Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek

Yvonne Orji, Insecure

Cecily Strong, Saturday Night Live

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Alex Borstein
Amazon Prime Video

There are those scene-stealing roles that just keep reaping Emmys year after year. Alex Borstein‘s hilarious performance as Mrs. Maisel‘s loyal and gruff manager, Susie, gets richer by the season, and it’s hard (though not impossible) to imagine anyone else winning. Yet.

Most Likely to Win, Should Win

Alex Borstein

Schitt's Creek Annie Murphy Season 6
Pop TV

Possible Spoilers

Annie Murphy (if there’s a Schitt’s Creek sweep), Kate McKinnon (for sustained brilliance)

Modern Love - Anne Hathaway
Amazon Prime Video

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time (now and forever); Hiam Abbass, Ramy; Jane Alexander, Modern Love; Anne Hathaway, Modern Love; Ashley Jensen, After Life; Kristen Johnston, Mom; Michaela Watkins, The Unicorn; Penelope Wilton, After Life

Saturday Night Live Season 45 Adam Driver
Rosalind O'Connor/NBC

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver, Saturday Night Live

Luke Kirby, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Eddie Murphy, Saturday Night Live

Dev Patel, Modern Love

Brad Pitt, Saturday Night Live

Fred Willard, Modern Family

Saturday Night Live Eddie Murphy Season 45
Will Heath/NBC

Eddie Murphy‘s long-awaited (and worth the wait) return to the showplace that made him famous is a bit of TV history that the Emmys are unlikely to ignore. Although a chance to honor the late Fred Willard will also be difficult to pass up.

Most Likely to Win

Eddie Murphy

Fred Willard Modern Family
ABC/Richard Cartwright

Should Win

Murphy or Fred Willard

What We do in the shadows season 2 mark hamill
Russ Martin/FX

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Diedrich Bader, Better Things; Pete Buttigieg, Jimmy Kimmel Live guest host; Mark Hamill, What We Do in the Shadows; John Mulaney, Saturday Night Live; J.K. Simmons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

the good place season 4 maya rudolph
Colleen Hayes/NBC

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Angela Bassett, A Black Lady Sketch Show

Bette Midler, The Politician

Maya Rudolph, The Good Place

Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live

Wanda Sykes, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Saturday Night Live

phoebe-waller-bridge snl season 45
Will Heath/NBC

A lot of formidable talent in this category, but I’ll go with what becomes a comedy legend most: Wanda Sykes‘ brief but memorable turn on Mrs. Maisel as the great comic Moms Mabley. This win could go any number of ways, but Sykes’ performance defines what this category should represent.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Amazon Prime Video

Most Likely to Win, Should Win

Wanda Sykes

the politician season 2 bette midler

Possible Spoilers

Take your pick

Modern Love - Cristin Milioti
Amazon Prime Video

Wish They'd Been Nominated

Vanessa Bayer, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Cristin Milioti, Modern Love

Drunk History Comedy Central
Comedy Central

Variety Sketch Series

A Black Lady Sketch Show, HBO

Drunk History, Comedy Central

Saturday Night Live, NBC

The king of this category, which scrambled to produce at-home versions after the pandemic darkened New York City’s stages, is almost impossible to beat. Saturday Night Live is likely to make it four in a row, although HBO’s raucous showcase for hilarious Black ladies is even more of the moment.

Saturday Night Live John Mulaney
Will Heath/NBC

Most Likely to Win

Saturday Night Live

a black lady sketch show hbo

Should Win, Possible Spoiler

A Black Lady Sketch Show

Sherman's Showcase
Michael Moriatis/IFC

Wish They'd Been Nominated

At Home with Amy Sedaris; Sherman’s Showcase

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Comedy Central

Variety Talk Series

Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Comedy Central

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, TBS

Jimmy Kimmel Live, ABC

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, HBO

Late Show with Stephen Colbert, CBS

Now John Oliver knows how Jon Stewart felt, dominating this category with an unbroken string of wins — for good reason. The odds of a fifth consecutive win for Last Week Tonight are high, but if the industry’s awakening to racial equality swings the pendulum back to The Daily Show, few would complain.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Most Likely to Win

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Timothy Kuratek/CBS

Should Win

Daily Show with Trevor Noah or Late Show with Stephen Colbert (for some variety; check the name of the category)

The Daily Show
Comedy Central

Possible Spoiler

Daily Show

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

Wish It Had Been Nominated

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

Bob's Burgers
2020 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Animated Program

Big Mouth, Netflix

Bob’s Burgers, Fox

BoJack Horseman, Netflix

Rick and Morty, Adult Swim

The Simpsons, Fox

What better reward as Bojack Horseman rides away forever than to get the Emmy this unsparing satire has so long deserved. If ignominiously ignored again, Bojack will just have to trot back.

bojack horseman season 6 netflix

Most Likely to Win, Should Win

BoJack Horseman

Central Park Apple TV+
Apple TV+

Wish It Had Been Nominated

Central Park