Week 1: Outstanding Drama
Last year, as though of you who are loyal followers to my reviews may recall, I attempted to alter my usual way of trying to predict the Emmys. Combining an methodology from Entertainment Weekly and the predictions of the website Gold Derby, I decided to try and combine my thoughts with the odds of the show actually winning. It may have actually been a greater influence that last time. My predictions were generally more accurate than they’ve been for the previous several years.
So, to see if I have the same luck as last time, I’m going to try and duplicate it. For the next three weeks, I will go category by category through all of the major candidates for the Drama, Comedy and Limited Series awards. Considering the scattershot matter I did it before, and the fact that Game of Thrones and Veep are gone, there could some major shifts in how things go. Assuming of course, the Emmys actually happens.
Like last year, I’ll start with the Dramas
Better Call Saul: 8–1
As Jimmy finally began to embrace the destiny that will lead to Heisenberg and then to Omaha, Saul became a series nearly as good as Breaking Bad. With Jimmy finally realize how much in the dirt he’ll have to get, the question is not just which characters who aren’t part of the sequel will end up — especially Kim and Nacho. Pro: This is the fifth season of Saul, and as Emmy historians know, it was in Season 5 that Breaking Bad finally broke through and won for Best Drama. The fact that the series managed to finally get writing and directing nods would seem to indicate the Emmys are taking it more seriously. But then again…Con: Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks inexplicably were left out of the nominations after being there for the last four years. Throw in the fact that El Camino got shut out in a similar trajectory, and it may be this isn’t the year to honor Bad and its tangents.
The Crown: 13–2
As the series moved into its new cast and England moves into the sixties and seventies, The Crown actually began to take on more of a broader scope than just Elizabeth. For the first time, we got a much closer look at the men and the family, and many of the finest moments of the drama came when we saw Philip accept his aging, and Charles begin to fight his place in the world. Pro: Considering that the series shifted to an entirely new cast and remained as brilliant as ever, one could make the argument that this is the time The Crown officially entered the pantheon of great drama. The fact that it took the top prize from the SAG awards would be a sign of that. Con: For all of the awards it has managed to win in its first two seasons, the show has never quite been able to cross into the bigger prizes at the Emmys. It just may not have the maneuvering for it.
The Handmaid’s Tale: 9–1
The battle for Gilead took on new levels as June led her charge aided by the architect of Gilead, who like so many other things turned out to be the opposite of what was predicted. Other soldiers readied on both sides. Pro: This is still, sad to say, a very relevant series, and the fact that Margaret Atwood chose to write another book to wrap it up shows that it still has pulling power. Con: Maybe it’s just the world we live in now, but I think a lot of people are getting tired of dystopia. Handmaid’s fatigue was setting in long before our current crisis, and I think the Emmys went to old habits to nominate it.
The series about the hunt between a psychopathic assassin and her beleaguered MI-5 tracker — and the erotic attraction that leads them to hunt, kill and try to screw each other, often in the same few minutes — has become one of the biggest hits across the globe. Pro: This is still one of the most superbly acted, and female led shows on any platform. Comer and Oh are two of the best actresses working today, and their domination of the Actress awards last year was one of the biggest joys. Con: Even the most dedicated fans of the series thought that Eve flagged a lot last year, and its renomination for Best Drama came as something of a shock. Something tells me that’s all they’ll get.
The Mandalorian: 8–1
Set in the world of Star Wars — though when and where is anybody’s guess — the series deals with the title character giving up his sense of loyalty to try and protect a child who may be the key to the future of the galaxy. Pro: This was one of the biggest hits of the 2019–2020 season, and it definitely put Disney+ on the map. It’s nomination for Best Drama was one of the biggest shocks of the Emmy season, and who knows how many Star Wars fans are out there? Con: This is a show on a network that just came into existence, and sci-fi (unless it hides it origin, like Lost) has never scored well with the Emmys. Throw in the fact that there were no acting, directing or writing nods, and I don’t think the show has much of a chance.
As the schemes grew deeper for the Byrde family, the more they began to war with each other. Marty and Wendy found that their worst foes were not the Langmores or the Snells but rather each other. As the series grew to its conclusion, there’s no telling who will survive. Pros: Ozark has become one of the major sleeper hits for Netflix over the last year. As good as I think it is, not even I thought it would tie for the lead in nominations for a Drama and dominate the writing category. There could be pull for it. Cons: For all its strengths no one seriously considers the series one of Netflix’s signature series. That could definitely work against it.
Stranger Things: 19–2
The world of Hawkins seemed to finally be normal… and then, Billy the lifeguard disappeared. The Russians came to rival them, the party had a new enemy to fight, and this time the costs may have higher than we’ve ever seen. Yet it was still a fun ride most of the way. Pro: This may be the most imaginative and fun series the Emmys has nominated in years and an argument could be made that it is really due. The fact that the Peabodys as well as the People’s Choice chose to consider it one of the best series of the year would seem to argue that it has pull even now. Con: Hard as it may be to consider Stranger Things old hat, it did seem to pull a little less love than usual. The fact that none of its nominations were for acting or writing is not a great sign for it.
As Roman’s attempt at the coup backfired and Logan tried to build up the company to be to big to fail, the battle for power at the company took on new levels as MeToo caught up with then and began to undermine them across the country and in DC. It ended with Logan finally deciding to sacrifice his oldest — and then he turned the tables. This is one of the most gripping dramas of our time, and we need it now more than ever. Pro: Everything points to this being the year of Succession. It triumphed at the Golden Globes and the Broadcast Critics, it received 18 nominations, tying for the lead, and it certainly has the forward momentum. Con: With everything we hear about the Murdoch family, is the Hollywood establishment really ready to recognize a series, however loosely based on them, for Best Drama?
Prediction: Much as I’d like to think that it will finally be the year the Emmys call for Saul, the signs are leaning far more towards Succession, especially after the last ten minutes of Season 2.