In the Way Too Much TV Era, it truly is an honor just to be nominated.
Imagine that you’re working on a television series, one of the many actors, writers and others who give daily thanks for the rise of cable and streaming that has led to gazillions — at least — of shows and growing employment opportunities. Then, besides the possibility of at least your mom spotting you in the vast video sea, you learn that your peers watched and, hallelujah, decreed you Emmy-worthy.
Who needs to win? Every nominee, of course, who would prefer to avoid being an also-ran smiling bravely for the cameras. There’s also the producers of Sunday’s Emmy Awards ceremony and Fox, the network airing it, with an event to sell.
“Game of Thrones,” ‘‘Veep” and “When They See Us” look like front-runners, but the outcome is anyone’s guess. Associated Press television writer Lynn Elber and entertainment writer Mark Kennedy offer theirs in the top categories:
“Better Call Saul,” “Bodyguard,” “Game of Thrones,” “Killing Eve,” “Ozark,” “Pose,” “Succession,” “This is Us”
Elber: “Pose.” An opulent, clear-eyed embrace of the late-20th-century LGBTQ ballroom scene deserves its due.
Kennedy: Agreed on “Pose,” a loving look at a world that has never been celebrated on TV before, starring the largest LGBTQ cast ever for a scripted series.
Elber: “Game of Thrones.” A landmark show that brought cinematic sweep to TV gets a big farewell, finale naysayers be damned.
Kennedy: “Pose” is up against the behemoth “Game of Thrones,” which triggered parodies and homages, memes and talk show publicity. Even the president tried to co-opt its tagline “Winter is Coming.” The Emmy is coming.
“Barry,” “Fleabag,” “The Good Place,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Russian Doll,” “Schitt’s Creek,” “Veep”
Elber: “Fleabag.” Such shocking sexual abandon and emotional dysfunction is downright un-American. Three cheers for this British invasion!
Kennedy: The second season of “Fleabag” — with a woman resisting her feelings for a priest — and the debut of “Russian Doll” — in which a New Yorker keeps reliving the night of her 36th birthday — were deeply worthy of wins for writing and originality.
Elber: “Veep.” A three-for-three winner won’t be defeated in its last hurrah, especially when politics are all the rage.
Kennedy: “Veep,” the safe and more popular choice. But Emmy voters may learn to regret this predictable decision.
ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES
Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us”), Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), Billy Porter (“Pose”), Milo Ventimiglia (“This is Us”)
Elber: Billy Porter. The Tony-winning actor’s performance, by turns brassy, tender and brave, anchors the sprawling drama.
Kennedy: Yes, yes, yes. Porter is always the best thing in whatever he’s in, and he’s truly fierce in “Pose.” But did enough people watch?
Elber: Billy Porter. He found the TV role he deserved and gets the award he earned.
Kennedy: Kit Harington, buffeted by the waves of “Game of Thrones” nostalgia, will give a knightly farewell to Jon Snow with a statuette.
ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES
Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”), Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”), Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”), Laura Linney (“Ozark”), Mandy Moore (“This is Us”), Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)
Elber: Sandra Oh. A tour-de-force performance of vulnerability and, to her character’s dismay, brutality.
Kennedy: The mouse to Oh’s cat — Jodie Comer. She has, criminally, not earned enough recognition for her special brand of killer.
Elber: Sandra Oh. Deserved, history-making recognition as she becomes the first actress of Asian descent to win a lead actress trophy. Also makes up for her five “Grey’s Anatomy” supporting nods without wins.
Kennedy: Oh. Especially since there’s no Claire Foy from “The Crown” to ruin her night.
ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson (“black-ish”), Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”), Ted Danson (“The Good Place”), Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”), Bill Hader (“Barry”), Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Elber: Bill Hader. His scarily winning portrayal of a hit man with a Hollywood dream was voted tops last year and remains deserving.
Kennedy: Hader already has his Emmy. Douglas won a Golden Globe for “The Kominsky Method.” The Emmy should go to Anthony Anderson, the beating heart of “black-ish,” who makes lovingly exasperated completely hysterical but has been overlooked too long.
Elber: Michael Douglas. The movie star’s inner comedian comes out and plays, wowing Emmy voters.
Kennedy: The award clearly will go to Eugene Levy, who is a comedic treasure and rightfully should be showered with awards. His last Emmy was in 1983. It’s time, people.
ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES
Christina Applegate (“Dead to Me”), Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”), Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”), Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”)
Elber: Catherine O’Hara. Consider it a lifetime achievement award, with her delectably self-absorbed, absurd Moira topping her inventive catalog of characters (and yes, I’m including the Christopher Guest films. Movies, TV — it’s all the same now).
Kennedy: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who in “Fleabag” needs only to look over her shoulder at us, lower her eyes and convey everything that’s churning in her complex mind.
Elber: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The queen of TV comedy (“Seinfeld,” ‘‘The New Adventures of Old Christine,” this) will add a record-setting ninth Emmy to her haul, breaking a tie with Cloris Leachman for most-honored performer ever.
Kennedy: Louis-Dreyfus. Who is silly enough to vote against her?
“Chernobyl,” “Escape at Dannemora,” “Fosse/Verdon,” “Sharp Objects,” “When They See Us”
Elber: “When They See Us.” The superb cast, the unsparing writing, the dismaying currency of a 20-year-old case’s implications for American justice and racial inequality demand an Emmy.
Kennedy: In many ways, this category represented the best of TV this season. Any is a worthy winner.
Elber: “When They See Us.” “Chernobyl” is a deeply worthy competitor, but Emmy voters put domestic concerns first.
Kennedy: “When They See Us,” perhaps the best of this exciting category. It had searing acting, harrowing circumstances and brilliant writing.
If you watch
What: 71st Primetime Emmy Awards
When: Sunday, 8 p.m.
Where: Airing live on Fox
More information: www.emmys.com