Dan and I are continuing our Emmy picks for who should and will win in the major categories with a look at the fields for supporting actress in a comedy and a drama.
Looking at the funny ladies first:
Mayim Bialik, "The Big Bang Theory"
Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"
Kathryn Joosten, "Desperate Housewives"
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
Merritt Wever, "Nurse Jackie"
Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"
Alan's pick: I'm going to go with Bialik, both for the general improvement I feel she brought to "Big Bang Theory" by forcing the show to focus almost as much on the women as the men, and for her specific work in her submitted episode, "The Shiny Trinket Maneuver," whose "I'M A PRINCESS AND THIS IS MY TIARA!!!!" climax has been watched in my house approximately 500 times since the episode first aired and never fails to generate laughter.
Dan's pick: This is not my favorite category. It's a lot of performances I like-but-don't-love, mostly on shows that I like-but-don't-love. I really don't have a preference here, so I'm gonna say Merritt Wever, whose inclusion in this category makes me very happy, even if it's two or three years overdue.
Alan's pick: You can often win an Emmy based on one great scene, so I can see Bialik winning for the tiara bit. On the other hand, Joosten was beloved even before she passed away in June; I'd call a posthumous win (for a role that's already won her two other Emmys) the most likely outcome.
Dan's pick: You've got posthumous reverence for Kathryn Joosten -- and the chance to recognize "Desperate Housewives" one last time -- going against the juggernaut-y "Modern Family" clan. I think Emmy voters like to spread the wealth, so Sofia Vergara wins, though Julie Bowen's submission episode is probably better than what she won with last year. Regardless, I'm not getting overly invested in this category.
And now their more serious counterparts:
Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"
Joanne Froggatt, "Downton Abbey"
Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"
Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Archie Panjabi, "The Good Wife"
Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"
Alan's pick: Hendricks. I may not have loved how quickly "Mad Men" took Joan to the point where she did what she did in Hendricks' submitted episode, "The Other Woman," but her performance was stellar, and my favorite in a strong field.
Dan's pick: I'm glad to see Anna Gunn here, because it means that viewers will be able to recognize her for this past half-season, when she had winnable submission episodes. In this category, for this year, it comes down to whether you prefer Maggie Smith's relentlessly excellent quippery in "Downton Abbey," or the performance of Christina Hendricks' career in "The Other Woman" on "Mad Men." I'm taking Hendricks without hesitation.
Alan's pick: Did you know that "Mad Men" has yet to win a single acting Emmy? There are individual mitigating circumstances (Jon Hamm has, other than last year, had to go up against the Bryan Cranston buzzsaw), but it still feels odd. I would guess Hendricks has a better shot than her three nominated co-stars this year, but Maggie Smith (who won the comparable award last year when "Downton" was competing as a miniseries) is the favorite until proven otherwise. A scene-stealing role from a beloved/revered legend who also allows the Emmy voters to indulge their not-so-secret Anglophilia.
Dan's pick: As with my own preference, I assume that voter preferences will also come down to Smith versus Hendricks. I underestimated voter love for "Downton Abbey" when I predicted nominations and I've overestimated voter love for "Mad Men" performances in the past. That leads me to fear that while my heart says "Hendricks," my brain really ought to say Dame Maggie. So... Fine. "Dame Maggie." Picking Smith lets me assume that "Downton Abbey" won't have to win any subsequent awards, which is a relief.