There is a deja vu aspect to the Emmy Awards, the annual television celebration that usually begins with a gimmicky musical number or comedy sketch and ends with "Mad Men" winning a best drama statuette.
The repetitiveness of the affair might have convinced some viewers that all the repeat nominees we see year after year already have at least one win to their credit. But a number do not. I call them the Almost Winners, the often nominated but (so far) never triumphant television stars. Ten have earned nods in major categories again this year. If you're seeking underdogs to root for during Sunday's big event, airing on ABC, these are the people to champion:
1. Jon Hamm
For all the hype about how "Mad Men" wins every year, it's worth noting that not a single one of its actors has captured an Emmy yet. And that includes the man who brings Don Draper to heavy-drinking, smooth-sales-pitching life; this year marks the fifth time he has been nominated.
2. Michael C. Hall
"Dexter's" serial killer, like Hamm, is going for his fifth attempt to win in best actor in a drama. He also lost in the same race back when he was playing a non-murderous undertaker on "Six Feet Under."
3. Elisabeth Moss
The actress who plays "Mad Men's" Peggy Olson has struck out on three occasions but will step up to the Emmy plate for a fourth time.
4. Christina Hendricks
Oh, look, another "Mad Men" star who hasn't won. Hendricks, a.k.a. the shapely and smart-as-a-whip silent partner Joan Holloway, is up for her third nomination as best supporting actress in a drama.
5. Amy Poehler
Poehler's Leslie Knope won an election on last season's "Parks and Recreation." So maybe she'll finally win the Emmy for best actress in a comedy on her third try? (For those keeping score, she also lost twice in the supporting actress category when she was on "Saturday Night Live.")
6. Ryan Seacrest
The ubiquitous media personality has been recognized for five years running in the best reality-show host category, for his work on "American Idol." With perennial winner Jeff Probst not nominated this time, maybe this will be his year. Unless . . .
7. Tom Bergeron
. . . it turns out to be the "Dancing With the Stars" emcee's year. Like Seacrest, he's landed in the reality host category annually since 2008, the year it was created.
8. Connie Britton
She was never nominated for "Spin City" and missed twice for her role as Tami Taylor on "Friday Night Lights." But Britton's a contender again, this time for lead actress in a miniseries for birthing a freaky baby on "American Horror Story."
9. Ed O'Neill
This is only the second time O'Neill has gotten a nod as crusty Jay Pritchett on "Modern Family." But given all his years on "Married With Children," some might think he has more nominations or wins under the belt that used to provide such an ideal resting place for his hand. He doesn't.
10. Larry David
Emmy voters have nominated David five times for his etiquette-less portrayal of himself on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but his name has never been the one read from the dais. He does, however, have two non-acting Emmys from his "Seinfeld" days. So if he loses again Sunday, you know, yadda yadda yadda.
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- A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities