2022 Emmy Predictions for Drama Series & Performances: Matt Roush’s Picks

(L-R) Lee Jung-jae, Succesion cast, Zendaya

The Emmys are notoriously difficult to predict. Some winners keep winning year after year — until they don’t. You never know when a fresh newcomer will muscle their way into the winner’s circle or when a long overdue contender will finally get the recognition they’ve long deserved.

With that in mind, senior critic Matt Roush gives some educated guesses for this year’s drama categories, along with some personal picks and shout-outs to those who should have made the cut.

Scroll through this year’s nominees for Outstanding Drama Series and drama acting categories and Matt’s picks, below, ahead of the 2022 Emmy Awards.

2022 Emmy Awards, Monday, September 12, 8/7c, NBC and Peacock

Bob Odenkirk as Gene - Better Call Saul
Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul, AMC
, Apple TV+
Squid Game
, Netflix
Stranger Things
, Netflix
, Showtime

Succession - Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, Matthew Macfadyen

Most Likely to Win: Succession

A tough call between the 2020 Emmy winner and the South Korean thriller Squid Game, which many believe could pull off a Parasite-style upset in this very competitive category. Apple TV+’s Severance has great buzz, so does Showtime’s berserk Yellowjackets, and most everyone feels Better Call Saul deserves the sort of Emmy love that its predecessor Breaking Bad took for granted. But HBO’s dysfunctional family drama is the year’s most nominated scripted series of any type and seems to have the momentum.

Cast of Severance
Apple TV+

Should Win: Severance

For its mind-blowing originality, I’m rooting for the show that has stuck with me the longest. For sustained outrageous intensity, Squid Game. For exceeding expectations and for its legacy, Better Call Saul. Can’t go wrong with any of these picks, including the enthralling Succession.

Chrissy Metz as Kate, Justin Hartley as Kevin, Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Sterling K. Brown as Randall in This Is Us Season 6
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Should Have Been Nominated: This Is Us, NBC

It’s a shame and a travesty that the Emmy voters turned their collective backs on the final season of TV’s most heartfelt drama, making it the second time in three years that no drama from the broadcast arena has been recognized. It’s only likely to get worse, because ambitious and sophisticated dramatic storytelling of this type is getting harder to find on the legacy networks.

Brian Cox in Succession

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason BatemanOzark
Brian CoxSuccession
Lee Jung-jaeSquid Game
Bob OdenkirkBetter Call Saul
Adam ScottSeverance
Jeremy StrongSuccession

Lee Jung-jae in Squid Game

Most Likely to Win: Lee Jung-jae

Winner of the Screen Actors Guild award as Squid Game’s desperately harried hero, the fearless South Korean actor could make Emmy history upstaging his better-known competition. If the Succession stars cancel each other out, hard to imagine anyone else winning.

Lee Jung-jae in Squid Game

Should Win: Lee Jung-jae

Much as I’d like to see Bob Odenkirk finally get the recognition he deserves as the endearingly flawed Saul Goodman, ditto for  Jason Bateman as Ozark’s tightly wound anti-hero, Jung-jae’s intensely overwrought performance is so bold it can’t be dismissed.

Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This Is Us Season 6
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Should Have Been Nominated

This was pretty much the list I’d predicted, so no real argument with these excellent choices. I’d have been happy if This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown (for a victory lap) or Winning Time’s buoyant John C. Reilly had also made the cut, but you can’t have everything.

Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, Jodie Comer as Villanelle - Killing Eve _ Season 4
David Emery/BBCA

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Zendaya in Euphoria

Most Likely to Win: Zendaya

This is pure conjecture. Euphoria doesn’t speak to me, but Emmy history favors the repeat winner. There’s also serious buzz around the sly, subversive performances of Yellowjackets’ Melanie Lynskey and especially Laura Linney in her last tour of duty as Ozark’s cunning Lady Macbeth.

Jason Bateman as Martin 'Marty' Byrde, Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde in episode 401 of Ozark

Should Win: Laura Linney

Ozark owes much of its sustained allure to Linney’s calculating villainess, who even at her worst made you almost believe she was doing it all to protect her family.

Ron Cephas Jones as William, Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This Is Us Season 6
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Should Have Been Nominated: Mandy Moore, This Is Us

Doing double duty as the dying matriarch and beloved mom of memory in the wrenching final season of This Is Us, Mandy Moore earned a TCA (Television Critics Association) Award for dramatic achievement this year. How could the Emmy voters ignore her fine work? (And don’t get me started on Killing Eve’s train wreck of a final season. Love the stars, but those nominations are just lazy.)

Cast of Severance
Apple TV+

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nicholas BraunSuccession
Billy CrudupThe Morning Show
Kieran CulkinSuccession
Park Hae-soo, Squid Game
Matthew Macfadyen, Succession
John TurturroSeverance
Christopher Walken, Severance
O Yeong-suSquid Game

Matthew McFadyen in Succession

Most Likely to Win: Matthew Macfadyen

I’ll just keep predicting my favorite actor from the Succession ensemble until he finally wins. It’s possible if the many multiple co-stars from Succession, Severance and Squid Game cancel each other out, Billy Crudup could repeat in this tough category. But the most likely contenders are Kieran Culkin as the Roy family’s black sheep and Macfadyen as the long-suffering son-in-law.

Matthew Macfadyen in Succession

Should Win: Matthew Macfadyen

He cracks me up and makes me cringe in nearly every scene. He’s also way overdue.

David Harbour as Jim Hopper in STRANGER THINGS Season 4

Should Have Been Nominated: David Harbour, Stranger Things

This wasn’t my favorite season of the bloated horror homage, but as the sheriff imprisoned in a Soviet prison camp, David Harbour‘s Hopper suffered at least as extravagantly as all of those Squid Game contestants.

Christina Ricci as Misty in Yellowjackets
Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Patricia ArquetteSeverance
Julia GarnerOzark
Hoyeon Jung, Squid Game
Christina RicciYellowjackets
Rhea SeehornBetter Call Saul
J. SmithCameronSuccession
Sarah SnookSuccession
Sydney Sweeney, Euphoria

Julia Garner in OZARK

Most Likely to Win: Julia Garner

The profane spark plug who ignited all sorts of deadly mischief on Ozark, the role of Ruth Langmore put Garner on the map and has already earned her two Emmys. Don’t be surprised if she takes home a third for her swan song.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler - Better Call Saul
Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Should Win: Rhea Seehorn

As Kim Wexler, Better Call Saul’s partner in crime — up to a point — and voice-of-reason soulmate to the morally dubious love of her life, Seehorn has been underappreciated too long for her tricky, emotionally resonant and vividly entertaining work. The nomination was overdue. A win would be even more satisfying.

Youn Yuh-jung in Pachinko
Apple TV+

Should Have Been Nominated: Youn Yuh-jung, Pachinko

Youn Yuh-jung, Oscar winner for Minari, was just as luminous in this affecting Korean/Japanese saga as the older version of the main character Sunja, every poignant memory etched on her expressive face.