The Buzzmeter returns! Experts pick the buzziest Emmy contenders

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Ladies leading the way: Catherine O'Hara in "Schitt's Creek," Pamela Adlon in "Better Things," Rachel Brosnahan in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," Christina Applegate in "Dead to Me."
Ladies leading the way: Catherine O'Hara in "Schitt's Creek," Pamela Adlon in "Better Things," Rachel Brosnahan in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," Christina Applegate in "Dead to Me." (Pop TV, FX, Amazon, Netflix)

The Buzzmeter never sleeps! The Envelope's crack squad of five veteran entertainment writers watches just about everything so you don't have to. And now these almost-all-seeing stalwarts have submitted their picks for Round 1: the "buzziest" shows and performers eligible for the current Emmy window. Mind you, these selections aren't just the contenders they think are most likely to get awards love but some they think should get awards love.

The 2020 Emmy Buzzmeter panelists are Lorraine Ali, Glenn Whipp, Kristen Baldwin, Tom O'Neil and Matt Roush.
Your 2020 Emmy Buzzmeter panel (clockwise from top left): Lorraine Ali (Los Angeles Times), Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times), Matt Roush (TV Guide), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Kristen Baldwin (Entertainment Weekly).

This week, the focus is on the tightest race in the first round, lead actress in a comedy, with five strong contenders running neck-and-neck in the panel's voting. Do you agree with them? Care to make your own calls? You can vote for your own slate using the poll accompanying the featured category.

Two of us: Linda Cardellini, left, and Christina Applegate are highly acclaimed co-leads in Netflix's "Dead to Me."
Two of us: Linda Cardellini, left, and Christina Applegate are highly acclaimed co-leads in Netflix's "Dead to Me." (Universal Pictures)

This is currently the closest of the races, with a dead heat at the top, five contenders within seven points of No. 1 and several others not far behind. The names are an interesting mix of storied veterans and newer talent from a range of shows.

1. (tie) Christina Applegate, "Dead to Me"

1. (tie) Pamela Adlon, "Better Things"

3. Catherine O'Hara, "Schitt's Creek"

4. Rachel Brosnahan, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

5. Issa Rae, "Insecure"

6. Merritt Wever, "Run"

7. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, "Never Have I Ever"

8. Zoe Kravitz, "High Fidelity"

9. Hailee Steinfeld, "Dickinson"

10. Linda Cardellini, "Dead to Me"

Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk in "Better Call Saul"
"Game" over: With a certain juggernaut out of the way, "Better Call Saul" (starring Jonathan Banks, left, and Bob Odenkirk) may finally be in line for Emmy gold. (Andrew Cooper / Sony Pictures)

You'll win nothing, Jon Snow: With "Game of Thrones" fading into the mist, the highly respected "Better Call Saul" may finally be in line for its first Emmy for drama series. Heck, maybe it's in line for its first Emmy of any kind — the show has garnered 32 nominations and zero wins thus far.

Among the newcomers for consideration: "The Morning Show," "The Boys" and "Perpetual Grace, LTD."

1. "Better Call Saul"

2. "Succession"

3. "The Morning Show"

4. "The Crown"

5. "Ozark"

6. "The Handmaid's Tale"

7. "The Boys"

8. "Big Little Lies"

9. "Perpetual Grace, LTD"

10. "Stranger Things"

Jennifer Aniston hugs Steve Carell in "The Morning Show."
Hug it out: Jennifer Aniston embraces Steve Carell in "The Morning Show." (Apple TV+)

Right now, it's a showdown between SAG and Emmy winner Jennifer Aniston ("The Morning Show") and SAG and Oscar winner Olivia Colman ("The Crown").

1. Jennifer Aniston, "The Morning Show"

2. Olivia Colman, "The Crown"

3. Jodie Comer, "Killing Eve"

4. Laura Linney, "Ozark"

5. Nicole Kidman, "Big Little Lies"

6. Elisabeth Moss, "The Handmaid's Tale"

7. Margherita Mazzuco, "My Brilliant Friend"

8. Viola Davis, "How to Get Away With Murder"

9. (tie) Sandra Oh, "Killing Eve"

9. (tie) Erin Moriarty, "The Boys"

Bob Odenkirk in "Better Call Saul"
Turn that frown upside down: Bob Odenkirk in "Better Call Saul." (Lewis Jacobs / AMC)

Perennial nominee Bob Odenkirk is way out in front in Round 1.

1. Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"

2. Brian Cox, "Succession"

3. Billy Porter, "Pose"

4. (tie) Jason Bateman, "Ozark"

4. (tie) Jeremy Strong, "Succession"

6. Tobias Menzies, "The Crown"

7. Steve Carell, "The Morning Show"

8. Jimmi Simpson, "Perpetual Grace, LTD"

9. Forest Whitaker, "Godfather of Harlem"

10. Ben Mendelsohn, "The Outsider"

Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret in "The Crown"
Not game for the throne: Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret in "The Crown" (Sophie Mutevelian / Netflix)

All these categories are loaded, but at the top of this one is a tight three-way race among Helena Bonham Carter, Rhea Seehorn and Meryl Streep. Lurking behind them are reigning champ Garner, recent Oscar double nominee Cynthia Erivo and current Oscar title holder Laura Dern.

1. Helena Bonham Carter, "The Crown"

2. (tie) Rhea Seehorn, "Better Call Saul"

2. (tie) Meryl Streep, "Big Little Lies"

4. (tie) Julia Garner, "Ozark"

4. (tie) Cynthia Erivo, "The Outsider"

6. Laura Dern, "Big Little Lies"

7. Ann Dowd, "The Handmaid's Tale"

8. (tie) Thandie Newton, "Westworld"

8. (tie) Sarah Snook, "Succession"

10. Cush Jumbo, "The Good Fight"

Keiran Culkin in "Succession."
Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do? Keiran Culkin in "Succession." (HBO)

The "Succession" boys are in a virtual dead heat and run the risk of cancelling out each other's votes. Behind them are Jonathan Banks, a longtime favorite in the role, and Billy Crudup, with his delightfully unpredictable work in "The Morning Show." Just making the list are some outstanding character performances in new shows: Chris Conrad in "Perpetual Grace, LTD" and Mark Duplass, Crudup's "Morning Show" costar.

1. Keiran Culkin, "Succession"

2. Matthew Macfadyen, "Succession"

3. Jonathan Banks, "Better Call Saul"

4. Billy Crudup, "The Morning Show"

5. Josh O'Connor, "The Crown"

6. Tom Pelphrey, "Ozark"

7. David Harbour, "Stranger Things"

8. Giancarlo Esposito, "Better Call Saul"

9. Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland"

10. (tie) Chris Conrad, "Perpetual Grace, LTD"

10. (tie) Mark Duplass, "The Morning Show"

Kristen Bell in "The Good Place."
An Emmy in the afterlife? "The Good Place" finished its run with a bold final season - and has yet to earn a single Emmy. Is it headed for its sweet reward? (Justin Lubin/NBC)

"The Good Place" bowed out with one of the bolder network seasons in recent memory, while "Schitt's Creek" departed quite fondly as well. Could this be the year the respected "Better Things" breaks through? Could upstarts "Ramy," "Never Have I Ever" and "Breeders" make their mark? Note: "Good Place" has received only seven nominations so far, with no wins.

1. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

2. "The Good Place"

3. "Better Things"

4. (tie) "Ramy"

4. (tie) "Schitt's Creek"

6. "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

7. (tie) "Dead to Me"

7. (tie) "Never Have I Ever"

9. "The Kominsky Method"

10. "Breeders"

Ramy Youssef in "Ramy"
Upstart Ramy Youssef ("Ramy") faces some tough competition in the Emmy race for lead actor in a comedy. (Hulu)

Longtime favorites Ted Danson and Eugene Levy, in the final seasons of their beloved shows, go up against surprise Golden Globe winner Ramy Youssef.

1. (tie) Ted Danson, "The Good Place"

1. (tie) Ramy Youssef, "Ramy"

3. Eugene Levy, "Schitt's Creek"

4. Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

5. Michael Douglas, "The Kominsky Method"

6. Paul Rudd, "Living With Yourself"

7. Anthony Anderson, "Black-ish"

8. Don Cheadle, "Black Monday"

9. Domnhall Gleeson, "Run"

10. Jim Carrey, "Kidding"

Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45)
She'll outwork you: Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45) (NBC)

Kate McKinnon's "SNL at Home" performances (especially as a workout-fiend Ruth Bader Ginsburg) have sustained the quality that has made her a perennial contender. Alex Borstein is the reigning champ of both best supporting actress in a comedy and best speech from the Emmy stage. Annie Murphy may finally be in line to get recognition in her show's final season. Voters have come to recognize Betty Gilpin's intelligent versatility. And how long has Jane Lynch been great?

1. Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"

2. Alex Borstein, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

3. Annie Murphy, "Schitt's Creek"

4. Betty Gilpin, "GLOW"

5. Jane Lynch, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

6. Marin Hinkle, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

7. (tie) Poorna Jagannathan, "Never Have I Ever"

7. (tie) Rita Moreno, "One Day at a Time"

9. D'Arcy Carden, "The Good Place"

10. Stephanie Beatriz, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45)
She'll outwork you: Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45) (NBC)

Dan Levy may well be in line for some warmth radiating from his show's fond farewell; his character's evolution over the series was a memorable one. Tony Shalhoub and Alan Arkin are old hands at this, but look out — also in the loaded category are the likes of two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, John Malkovich, Sterling K. Brown and Alec Baldwin.

1. Dan Levy, "Schitt's Creek"

2. Mahershala Ali, "Ramy"

3. Tony Shalhoub, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

4. Alan Arkin, "The Kominsky Method"

5. Kenan Thompson, "Saturday Night Live"

6. (tie) Sterling K. Brown, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

6. (tie) John Malkovich, "Space Force"

8. Louie Anderson, "Baskets"

9. Alec Baldwin, "Saturday Night Live"

10. Andre Braugher, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45)
She'll outwork you: Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45) (NBC)

That's quite a power trio at the top; three starkly different limited series, each receiving near-universal critical acclaim (each scoring 95 or above on Rotten Tomatoes). Four points separate the top three in Round 1. But watch out for the buzzy "Unorthodox," and for star Mark Ruffalo's performance to fuel support for "I Know This Much Is True."

1. “Watchmen"

2. "Mrs. America"

3. "Unbelievable"

4. "Unorthodox"

5. "Little Fires Everywhere"

6. "I Know This Much Is True"

7. "Normal People"

8. "Our Boys"

9. "Hollywood"

10. "The Eddy"

Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45)
She'll outwork you: Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45) (NBC)

HBO's triumph in the Toronto International Film Festival bidding war for "Bad Education" just might pay off.

1. “Bad Education"

2. "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie"

3. "American Son"

4. "Patsy and Loretta"

5. "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend"

6. (tie) "Togo"

6. (tie) "Transparent: Musicale Finale"

Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45)
She'll outwork you: Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45) (NBC)

A heavyweight duel at the top between Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Regina King, with the highly respected Merritt Wever right there with them. In all, six Oscar winners made the panel's Top 10 list for Round 1, plus one double nominee from this year (Cynthia Erivo).

1. Cate Blanchett, "Mrs. America"

2. Regina King, "Watchmen"

3. Merritt Wever, "Unbelievable"

4. Kerry Washington, "Little Fires Everywhere"

5. Allison Janney, "Bad Education"

6. Kaitlyn Dever, "Unbelievable"

7. Reese Witherspoon, "Little Fires Everywhere"

8. Octavia Spencer, "Self Made"

9. Helen Mirren, "Catherine the Great"

10. Shira Haas, "Unorthodox"

Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45)
She'll outwork you: Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg on "Saturday Night Live" (Season 45) (NBC)

Two Oscar nominees and two Oscar winners made the panel's Top 5 in Round 1.

1. (tie) Hugh Jackman, "Bad Education"

2. (tie) Mark Ruffalo, "I Know This Much Is True"

3. Jeremy Irons, "Watchmen"

4. Aaron Paul, "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie"

5. Russell Crowe, "The Loudest Voice"

6. Andre Holland, "The Eddy"

7. Darren Criss, "Hollywood"

8. Paul Mescal, "Normal People"

9. (tie) Idris Elba, "Luther"

9. (tie) Chris Evans, "Defending Jacob"