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Emmy Contenders: Breaking Down Our Favorites

Variety logo Variety 5/31/2017 Debra Birnbaum
© Provided by Variety

Emmy voters, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

This season has been one of the best in recent memory (I know I probably say that every year). The surge in series production has led to a veritable feast for TV fans. No matter what genre you prefer, there’s a show or three to suit your tastes — and some that defy any classification. Format, length, perspective — if there’s a rule, it was broken this season in the hands of the talented creatives behind and in front of the camera. And we loved every minute of it.

Years past may have heralded the anti-hero — and while, of course, there were plenty of those on offer — this season we had heroines aplenty.

We traveled from “Atlanta” to “One Mississippi,” from “Fargo” to “Silicon Valley,” and made dozens of friends: “Saul,” “Victoria,” “Jane,” “Bosch,” “Ray Donovan,” “Grace & Frankie,” “Kimmy Schmidt,” “Sneaky Pete” and reunited with those “Gilmore Girls.”

But if you’re feeling “Insecure” about Emmy season and worried that you’ve got “Billions” of choices, we’ve got “Great News” for you. We’ve got it all covered, from A(ziz) to “Z: The Beginning of Everything.” We don’t want to cause a “Feud,” but we can help you decide which shows and stars you want to “Crown.” Trust us, “Better” and even “Stranger Things” have happened, and it will all end up in a “Good Place.” We’re going to make everything completely “Transparent,” we promise. Have we left you “Speechless”?

Variety’s team of TV experts has been diligently sifting through all the contenders, and has prepared a series of in-depth special issues that examine all the key races. Starting with this week’s issue, which takes a deep drive into the actor category, we’ll tell you everything you need to know before you cast your vote for the nominees.

As with every season, the centerpiece of these issues is our “Actors on Actors” series, which we’re proud to say has won a few Emmys of its own. We pair top contenders for conversations about their craft — we’ve learned that no one can get an actor to open up like a colleague. Their funny and frank Q&As will air on PBS starting June 13; we’ll also feature excerpts in these issues.

We reunited “Footloose” stars John Lithgow and Kevin Bacon, who reveal that they’re both still learning on the set, while Millie Bobby Brown and Evan Rachel Wood share lessons of being a child star. Minnie Driver and Christine Baranski talk about the challenges of stepping into number one on the call sheet, and Freida Pinto and Milo Ventimiglia admit that the roles they’ve played this season have changed them profoundly.

We also borrow that format to talk to the showrunners behind some of the season’s buzziest new series — pairing Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy from “Westworld” with the Duffer brothers from “Stranger Things,” for example. But we’re also interested in where they work as well, so we invited ourselves into their offices for our “Writer’s Room” series. In each issue, you’ll get a peek inside a different TV producer’s office. Let’s be honest: That’s where they spend most of their time, so what do they choose to surround themselves with, and what does it say about them? And just how many snacks (and toys) are on hand?

Every year, we also invite the top acting contenders into our photo studios on both coasts — and this year’s portraits are a breathtaking collection, courtesy of photographer Shayan Asgharnia. The acting class of 2017 opened themselves up to his camera, and he captured truly honest moments.

Variety has also made an ongoing editorial commitment to cover the skilled artisans who work below the line, and we’re proud to continue that in these pages. Ever wonder how they pulled of that moment that had everyone talking? We’ll find out in Anatomy of a Scene, by talking to the key craftspeople — from production design to cinematographer to costume — who made the magic happen.

And then we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty — analyzing all the key races, from the can’t-miss nominees to the dark horses who deserve a second look.

So now, I’ve got just one question for you: What’s your favorite show on TV?

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