The 63rd annual Emmy Awards ceremony—those magical three-plus hours of television during which you stop watching regular TV shows to watch people who appear on TV shows looking nervous while wearing industrial-strength Spanx—airs on Sunday, and I couldn’t be more excited. Sure, they’re not as loose as the Golden Globes, where stars get visibly drunk, or as fancy as the Oscars, where high-concept dance numbers go to die. But for the TV-obsessed, the Emmys can’t be beat. The best part about watching them in Vegas? Gambling, of course. No, Vegas casinos aren’t offering bets, but who’s going to stop you from making a friendly wager with your girlfriend? So whether you’re well-versed in boob-tube trivia or just jonesing to bet on Betty White, here’s a handy handicap of this year’s marquee categories:
Outstanding Drama Series
Mad Men has walked away with this title—essentially the Best Picture of the Emmys—for three years running, but back in January HBO’s Boardwalk Empire nabbed top honors at the Golden Globes. Emmy voters like to change it up once in awhile, and Boardwalk’s great buzz heading into its second season makes it the show to beat.
Boardwalk Empire (2-to-1); Mad Men (3-to-1); Friday Night Lights (5-to-1); The Good Wife (10-to-1); Dexter (25-to-1); Game of Thrones (100-to-1)
Outstanding Comedy Series
Reigning champ Modern Family will likely repeat thanks to a solid second season, although the increasingly deft, daffy Parks and Recreation might surprise. (30 Rock is coasting and The Office sucks now, but not as much as Glee, which had a cringe-worthy sophomore season.)
Modern Family (2-to-1); Parks and Recreation (5-to-1); 30 Rock (10-to-1); The Office (25-to-1); Glee (50-to-1); The Big Bang Theory (100-to-1)
Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Connie Britton should win for her understated, underrated five-season turn as Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights, but Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) will likely pull off her second victory in a row.
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (3-to-1); Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights (5-to-1); Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men (10-to-1); Mireille Enos, The Killing (25-to-1); Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law (50-to-1); Mariska Hargitay, Law and Order: SVU (100-to-1)
Outstanding Actor in a Drama
Bryan Cranston, the meth-peddling thorn in Jon Hamm’s side for the past three years, is ineligible for a top drama nod thanks to Breaking Bad’s airdates. Emmy voters tend to reward patient actors, and Hamm has this coming to him for his consistently excellent performance as the dark, dapper Don Draper on Mad Men.
Jon Hamm, Mad Men (2-to-1); Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire (3-to-1); Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights (10-to-1); Hugh Laurie, House (25-to-1); Michael C. Hall, Dexter (100-to-1); Timothy Olyphant, Justified (1,000-to-1)
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
With respect to Tina Fey and Edie Falco, it’s time for some new blood in this category. Thanks to her hilarious turn as Parks Department deputy director Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler should take home the gold, unless voters decide to reward noted thespian and new dramedy star Laura Linney for her acclaimed turn as a cancer patient on The Big C.
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation (2-to-1); Laura Linney, The Big C (3-to-1); Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly (10-to-1); Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie (15-to-1); Tina Fey, 30 Rock (25-to-1); Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope (100-to-1)
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Steve Carrell out-Jon Hamms Jon Hamm in the “How long do I have to keep being awesome before I win a f**king Emmy?” category, and since 2011 marks his last year playing bumbling Office boss Michael Scott—a role he’s been nominated for five years running—he’s got this in the bag.
Steve Carrell, The Office (Even money); Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock (5-to-1); Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (10-to-1); Louis C.K., Louie (25-to-1); Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory (100-to-1); Matt LeBlanc, Episodes (Off the board)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Look for a newbie to take home the prize in this upset friendly category. Between Margo Martindale’s deliciously villainous Mags Bennett and Kelly Macdonald’s strong-willed widow Margaret Schroeder, I’ll give Martindale the edge.
Margo Martindale, Justified (2-to-1); Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire (3-to-1); Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife (5-to-1); Christine Baranski, The Good Wife (10-to-1); Christina Hendricks, Mad Men (25-to-1); Michelle Forbes, The Killing (100-to-1)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Game of Thrones has its best chance at a win with Peter Dinklage’s scene-stealing nobleman Tyrion Lannister. But Justified’s Walton Goggins has a showier role as bank-robbing white supremacist Boyd Crowder. This one’s a toss-up, but I’m going with The Dink.
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (3-to-1); Walton Goggins, Justified (5-to-1); Alan Cumming, The Good Wife (10-to-1); Josh Charles, The Good Wife (25-to-1); John Slattery, Mad Men (50-to-1); Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age (100-to-1)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
I love Jane Lynch as much as the next person, but I can’t hold my tongue any longer: I’m sick of Glee, and, yes, that includes Lynch’s sadistic Sue Sylvester, who is far and away the most entertaining thing about the show. That said, she’ll probably win.
Jane Lynch, Glee (2-to-1); Sofia Vergara, Modern Family (5-to-1) Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live (10-to-1); Julie Bowen, Modern Family (25-to-1); Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock (50-to-1); Betty White, Hot in Cleveland (100-to-1)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Modern Family has stacked the decks in this category, but despite Glee’s disappointing season, Chris Colfer continues to charm as Kurt, the most mainstream gay teen on TV since, well, ever. If ModFam does grab the trophy, it should go to Ty Burrell as disarmingly, doofy dad Phil Dunphy.
Chris Colfer, Glee (2-to-1); Ty Burrell, Modern Family (3-to-1); Eric Stonestreet Modern Family (5-to-1); Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family, (10-to-1); Ed O’Neill, Modern Family (25-to-1); Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men (100,000-to-1)