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Who should win and who will win in the Emmys drama races

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in "The Crown."
Emma Corrin plays Princess Diana in Season 4 of “The Crown.”
(Des Willie / Netflix)

Emmy voters can never have enough reminders that a nominated show A) exists and B) that they liked it ... they really, really liked it! On the comedy side this year, new episodes of “Ted Lasso” are dropping weekly just as Television Academy members are filling out their ballots. Some people never stopped watching the show’s first season, replaying it repeatedly in hopes that the title character’s relentless optimism would blunt the never-ending parade of bad news looping through this past year and a half. To them, the fresh episodes felt like manna from heaven. (Too dramatic? How about fresh-baked biscuits?)

On the drama side, the latest season of “The Crown” premiered Nov. 15, which feels like a couple of lifetimes ago. But it too will have a refresher of sorts with the arrival of the new movie “Spencer,” Pablo Larraín’s look at Princess Diana’s decision to split from Prince Charles, starring Kristen Stewart in the title role. “Spencer” will premiere in a couple of weeks at the Venice Film Festival. Yes, that’s after Emmy voting ends, but there’s already a healthy debate, based on the trailer alone (which is always a good idea) about who plays Di better — Stewart or “The Crown’s” Emma Corrin. And look at that ... we’re thinking about “The Crown” again!

But, really, with this year’s emaciated Emmy drama series field, “The Crown” won’t need much in the way of reminders or heated arguments to prevail, as you’ll see as you pour yourself a cuppa and peruse this early look at the drama category races.

DRAMA SERIES

“The Boys”
“Bridgerton”
“The Crown”
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Lovecraft Country”
“The Mandalorian”
“Pose”
“This Is Us”

Should win: “The Crown”
Will win: “The Crown”

Do we need to put an asterisk by “The Crown’s” inevitable win because the pandemic delayed the new seasons of “Stranger Things,” “Better Call Saul,” “Ozark,” “Killing Eve” and reigning Emmy drama series champ “Succession”? Nah. And I say that not just because I love the Dodgers and Lakers and believe their 2020 championships were legit, shortened seasons notwithstanding. Peter Morgan’s sumptuous soap opera about a family of insufferable, self-absorbed monsters (the shy Diana excepted) just enjoyed its best season and, in its own way, is just as rewatchable as “Ted Lasso.” How else could we ever possibly learn the ins and outs of royal protocol and that you can’t possibly survive a weekend retreat at a Scottish castle wearing smart suits and high heels? (Poor Margaret Thatcher. Wait ... did I just write that???) Anyway, fire up the gun salute and ... when does Season 3 of “Succession” premiere again?

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DRAMA ACTRESS

Uzo Aduba, “In Treatment”
Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
Emma Corrin, “The Crown”
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Mj Rodriguez, “Pose”
Jurnee Smollett, “Lovecraft Country”

Should win: Corrin
Will win: Corrin

This is Corrin’s one and only season playing Diana; the 6-foot-3-inch Elizabeth Debicki, another gifted actress, will portray her in Season 5. Debicki (and Stewart and whoever may be cast as the Princess of Wales in future projects) will have a tough act to follow as Corrin’s delicate, assured performance went way beyond the uncanny way she captured Diana’s shy head tilt. Of course, the Diana we’ll see next on “The Crown” is almost a completely different woman, more assured and ready to assert herself. Early 2022 Emmy prediction ... Debicki for the win? (I know, I know. Too soon.)

DRAMA ACTOR

Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Jonathan Majors, “Lovecraft Country”
Josh O’Connor, “The Crown”
Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgerton”
Billy Porter, “Pose”
Matthew Rhys, “Perry Mason”

Should win: Porter
Will win: Porter

O’Connor is nearly as good as Corrin, but c’mon. We’re not going to give an Emmy to an actor playing that guy, are we? I suspect that voters will do what Diana should have done — run ... run like the wind ... away from (the actor playing) Charles and, in the case of this race, into the ever-loving arms of Porter for his healing work on the groundbreaking “Pose.”

DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Gillian Anderson, “The Crown”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown”
Madeline Brewer, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Aunjanue Ellis, “Lovecraft Country”
Emerald Fennell, “The Crown”
Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Should win: Anderson
Will win: Anderson

“The Handmaid’s Tale” received what was probably the quietest set of 21 nominations in the history of the Emmys. Only “The Crown,” “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision” earned more nods; the latter two shows picking up most of their haul in below-the-line categories. Here, a quartet of “Handmaid’s Tale” women were nominated, including two — Dowd and Wiley — who have previously won. But “The Crown” has all the heat this year, with new additions Fennell and Anderson joining Bonham Carter, who, in a bit of an upset, lost to “Ozark’s” Julia Garner in 2020. Fennell nailed Camilla’s confidence, but this Emmy belongs to Anderson, brilliant as the starched British Prime Minister Thatcher.

DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTOR

Giancarlo Esposito, “The Mandalorian”
O-T Fagbenle, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
John Lithgow, “Perry Mason”
Tobias Menzies, “The Crown”
Max Minghella, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Chris Sullivan, “This Is Us”
Bradley Whitford, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Michael K. Williams, “Lovecraft Country”

Should win: Williams
Will win: Williams

There must be a surprise somewhere in these drama races, an Emmy that goes to a performance outside the critical consensus ... right? This could be the spot. At some point, five-time nominee Esposito should win an Emmy. But he probably didn’t have enough to do in this past season of “The Mandalorian” for voters to take notice. If there’s a “Crown” sweep, perhaps Menzies will win, though he wasn’t nominated for the show’s fourth season, indicating voters might be a bit blasé about his Philip. Which brings us to Williams, another overdue actor from a show that earned a whopping 18 nominations, even though HBO canceled it after one season. Like Esposito, Williams has five nominations — and not one of them was for “The Wire.” It’s high time to right that wrong.


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