This Year's Emmy Awards Burning Questions

TV Guide
Jon Hamm | Photo Credits: Frank Ockenfels/AMC
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Jon Hamm | Photo Credits: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Final Emmy ballots were due from TV Academy members on Aug. 31; since then, nominees have been sweating it out. The awards begin flowing this Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and then again on Sunday, Sept.r 23, when Jimmy Kimmel hosts the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast on ABC. Here are some of this year's races to watch.

Can Mad Men break the record and land a record fifth consecutive win? No drama has ever had more than four outstanding series wins in a row, and this year's best drama competition is fierce. Homeland is still a favorite to win, while Breaking Bad ended the first half of its fifth season right as voters were casting their ballots (not a bad time to make a lot of noise). But don't count out Mad Men just yet. "Over the past four years Mad Men has demonstrated that it has solid core support, so it's logical to assume that, even with significant erosion of that core, it can still win," says Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil. But should voters of hot cable dramas split their vote, the one broadcast nominee — PBS' Downton Abbey — could sneak in with a surprise win. "Downton Abbey could easily stage an upset," O'Neil says. "It was a ratings hit cheered by TV critics and, most important of all, it has huge snob appeal."

Are The Daily Show and The Amazing Race juggernauts unstoppable? Once Emmy voters find something they like, they stick with it. The Daily Show has won an unprecedented nine times, while Race has won eight times (losing just once since 2003, to Top Chef). "It's an incredible feather in your cap each time," says Race executive producer Bertram van Munster. How does Race keep winning? It may come down to competing against mostly stage-based shows. "Our scope is the world, and [other reality shows'] scope is the stage and personal talent," he says. "A beautifully lit stage with glorious lighting is a very different animal. The Academy sees what goes into something like this."

Will voters question American Horror Story's appearance in the miniseries category or Downton Abbey's shift to drama? "They found a loophole, and congratulations to them for finding a loophole," History's Nancy Dubuc said earlier this summer of Horror Story, which is going up against her Hatfields & McCoys. "I would be very surprised if the Academy allowed that next year." FX's John Landgraf defends the move, saying the TV Academy "determined that it was eligible as a miniseries. So we submitted it there."

With Jeff Probst out of the running, who will finally be the first non-Probst reality host winner? Probst is the only host to ever win this category, but he was strangely missing from this year's nominees. Betty White could play spoiler, as the Off Their Rockers host faces off with So You Think You Can Dance's Cat Deeley, Amazing Race's Phil Keoghan, American Idol's Ryan Seacrest and Dancing With the Stars' Tom Bergeron. "I'm a huge fan of Betty White. No doubt her older years really have been 'golden years,'" Keoghan says. "It's good to know we all still have the potential to have long careers in the business. Clearly without Probst the category is wide open, but I had to laugh when Bergeron joked that he'll still find a way to win."

Will Kathy Bates make history by winning as comedy guest star actress for playing Charlie Harper on Two and a Half Men? This represents the first time two different actors have been nominated for the same role. If Bates prevails, she will have one-upped Charlie Sheen, who was nominated four times — but never won — as Charlie Harper.

Could late Desperate Housewives star Kathryn Joosten win? Joosten, who earned a nod for supporting actress in a comedy, was an active TV Academy leader and previously won two guest actress Emmys for her role as Karen McCluskey. Her sons will be in attendance should she win. Previous posthumous Emmy wins include Raul Julia in 1995 and Ingrid Bergman in 1982.

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