This time last year when I wrote my Road to the Emmys piece examining the nominees for Outstanding Reality Competition Program, I was doubtful that CBS’s Amazing Race – which had claimed the prize seven out of seven possible times – would finally be knocked off its seemingly unshakable pedestal. I was happily proved wrong, however, when Bravo’s Top Chef – thanks to a stellar season that I personally thought was its best yet – was awarded Emmy gold.

Anyone could have predicted this year’s Reality Competition contenders, but selecting a winner won’t be as easy a feat. All six shows are deserving of their nominations, and each saw a stellar season with generally high ratings (some higher than others, of course).

One thing I can say with almost absolute certainty is that The Amazing Race has run its course. It will never stop being one of the best reality programs on television, but after seven wins, it’s time for other shows – like Top Chef last year – to be rewarded.

Fox’s ratings darling, American Idol, doesn’t stand a chance this year either. Why, after eight failed attempts to bring home an Emmy, would a show that has been nothing if not consistently formulaic suddenly snag a win now? Yes, it’s the highest-rated program of the bunch, but despite changes to the show – the return of Nigel Lythgoe and two new judges, for example – this season of American Idol was just as boring as the last and crowned a boring Idol to boot (sorry, Scotty). Oh, and of all the episodes producers had to choose from, they submitted the finale. The same episode that they’ve submitted for the past eight years. Why, American Idol, why?

You’ll never get a Dancing with the Stars endorsement out of me, simply because I’m not a fan and find the ABC show’s premise to be stale and uninteresting. I know that there are millions out there who disagree with me, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned during the relatively short history of this Emmy category, popular appeal holds no sway whatsoever over the voting committees.

I know I still have two more shows to dissect, but I’m going to go ahead and predict that Project Runway will win the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Program this year. Yes, it happens to be one of my favorite television shows ever, but that’s totally not why I’m putting my money on the only good thing that Lifetime has going for it. The episode that the producers of Project Runway submitted this year is particularly compelling: the designers create fabric patterns inspired by profound moments in their lives, a challenge that prompts one contestant to, in an incredibly emotional moment, reveal that he is HIV-positive. It’s a beautiful, touching episode, and I think that it may finally cause Emmy voters to realize that Project Runway is about so much more than just fashion.

Top Chef definitely has a shot at a second Emmy, but considering it won last year, I think we’d all be better off putting most of our eggs – if not all of them – in another basket. The episode submitted by the Top Chef creators this year is a fantastic one, though, featuring the chefs whipping up dishes based on their ancestry and cultural heritage.

I love So You Think You Can Dance (both Fox and Nigel Lythgoe’s second entry this year) and think that it’s one of the most dynamic shows on TV, given its focus on passionate, young dancers, the never-ending creativity of its team of choreographers, and the very nature of dance itself. However, I’m fairly convinced that Cat Deeley will win Outstanding Reality Host this year (she certainly deserves to), which will dramatically decrease SYTYCD’s odds.

 

Road to the Emmys Series

August 24: Miniseries/TV Movie Acting Roundup – Dantzler Smith

August 25: Outstanding Miniseries or TV Movie – Dantzler Smith

August 26: Outstanding Reality Competition Host – Erica Scandariato

August 29: Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series – Phil Wallace

August 30: Outstanding Reality Program – Erica Scandariato

August 31: Outstanding Reality Competition Program – Savanna New

September 1: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy – Dave Morris

September 2: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy – Kendra Beltran

September 6: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama – Angela Stern

September 7: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama – Adam Spunberg

September 8: Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series – Megan Lane

September 9: Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series – Megan Lane

September 12: Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series – Kit Bowen

September 13: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series – Andrew Payne

September 14: Outstanding Comedy Series – Rebecca Rose

September 15: Outstanding Drama Series – Andrew Payne

September 18: 63rd Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards