My Reactions To This Year’s Emmy Nominations, Conclusion
Some of the Limited Series Nominees Shows Us How Limited The Emmys Perspective Is
I’m not quite as upset about the nominations for Limited Series as I am about the appalling selections for Drama, but it’s a near thing.
Let’s start with the fact that other organizations — like the Broadcast Critics and the HCA — allow six nominees for Limited Series (as we saw with the latter, that’s actually twelve) and that the Emmys is still, after the immense expansion in the Limited Series market over the past six years, still stuck on five. I knew that there some deserving series were going to be left out. Even allowing for that codicil, the selections this year are still very disappointing.
Don’t get me wrong: The White Lotus more than deserves the nominations it got (though perhaps they overdid it when it came to the acting awards). Dopesick more than earned the nominations it got, and having basically binged the first four episodes of The Dropout in a week and a half, I’m actually irked it got fewer nominations then it did. But the other two choices appall me.
I can’t for the life of me understand why the Emmys fundamentally chose to ignore Scenes from a Marriage or Landscapers — two far superior HBO dramas that told stories about a married couple — in favor of Inventing Anna a series that fundamentally was barely liked by many critics or audiences. This is a story that could have been told in far fewer parts and wasn’t well liked. The aura of Shondaland is frankly the only reason this series got nominated.
But that slight pales to the unconscionable decision to give eleven nominations including Best Limited Series to Pam and Tommy, a series that had no business for existing and who’s story could have been far better told in a two-hour movie. This decision becomes particularly appalling when you consider the options the Emmys had. I can understand in principle why Gaslit was overlooked — the Emmys seem incapable of acknowledging the existence of Starz. And while I thought Impeachment was a far superior series, I gave a full list as to why I expecting it to be shafted by the Emmys. (I’m actually kind of impressed the Emmy actually gave it some major nominations.)
But to give the nomination to Pam and Tommy over such a remarkable series as Maid appalls me to its core. Maid is exactly the kind of story that the Emmys love. Based on the nominations it has received from the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice and the HCA, it seemed an inevitability. And yet, for all intents and purposes, the heartfelt and realistic story it told was overshadowed by a comedy over a sex tape. This isn’t as nearly as horrific an omission as ignoring This is Us was, but it’s pretty hard to justify. I have not watched Pam and Tommy I will confess, but nothing I have heard about it makes it seem like it would be worth my time, and I’m not entirely sure I have the wherewithal to watch it even now. Just like the nominations for Euphoria, this is a case of the Emmys acknowledging the superficial over the substantive.
That said there are some things about the nominations I do like. To reiterate my opinions about Limited Series nominations would be superfluous, so let’s continue to acting.
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES
Michael Keaton and Oscar Isaac were among my favorites for this category. I expected Andrew Garfield to be nominated for Under the Banner of Heaven. I think I’ve made it clear that I’m kind of appalled at the nomination of Sebastian Stan for Pam and Tommy. I’m willing to give a certain amount of latitude involving Colin Firth because honestly there weren’t enough good series with male leads.
I’m honestly not sure why Himesh Patel was nominated for Station Eleven over Sean Penn for Gaslit. But trust me; I’ve got a bigger rant ahead of me.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Margaret Qualley and Amanda Seyfried I have absolutely no problem with. I honestly didn’t think Sarah Paulson had a chance in hell for getting nominated for her superb work as Linda Tripp on Impeachment.
The other three…no. Toni Collette is a great actress, but there’s no way her work is anywhere near the level of Michelle Pfeiffer or for that matter, Gillian Anderson or Viola Davis in The First Lady. Julia Garner is a major talent, but compared to Julia Roberts in Gaslit, not even in the same zip code. And any Emmy voter who saw Jessica Chastain’s work in Scenes from a Marriage and decided, no, I like Lily James better, needs their membership revoked immediately. Renee Zellweger would have been a better choice, but the Emmys didn’t like Pam apparently.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES
Now we have the issue of frontloading so many major series. I have absolutely no problem with Murray Bartlett for The White Lotus, or Steve Zahn, or, if I’m being totally honest, even Jake Lacy. Similarly, I’m thrilled that Michael Stuhlbarg was nominated for Dopesick as well as Peter Sarsgaard and Will Poulter. (Well, Poulter might be a bit much.) That being said, I would have been far happier if Poulter or Lacy had been left out for say, Naveen Andrews or William H. Macy for The Dropout or Nick Robinson for Maid or either Dan Stevens or Shea Whigham on Gaslit. It goes without saying how I feel about Seth Rogen’s presence. I admire his work, I really do, but he doesn’t belong here.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES
Now we seem to have overkill when it comes to The White Lotus. I’m perfectly fine with Connie Britton and Jennifer Coolidge being nominated. I honestly hoped that Natasha Rothwell would get nominated for something this year, and she did give one of the few utterly sincere performances in The White Lotus.
From then on, the credibility is thinner. Alexandra Daddario was interesting to watch at times, but she wasn’t that captivating and Sydney Sweeney did even less for me here than in Euphoria. Neither of them holds a candle to the work Andie MacDowell did on Maid, whose being ignored is nearly as appalling as giving James a nomination over Roberts or Chastain.
I honestly have no problem with either of the nominees for Dopesick. I gave a strong argument for Kaitlyn Dever and I would have made a push for Mare Winningham’s work had I not thought it far more likely that Rosario Dawson would be chosen instead. I just really think that, along with Supporting Actor, the Emmys seem to have forgotten there were more than two Limited Series.
As for TV Movie, I’m glad to see that Ray Donovan and Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas were nominated. Will they both probably end up losing to The Survivor? Maybe. But I do appreciate the fact that the Emmys were at least willing to honor them.
I am grateful that Maid did get nominations for Directing and Writing and Impeachment for the latter, which was more than I expected. The nominations Dopesick and The Dropout got were more than valid. And it is very telling that Pam and Tommy didn’t get a nomination in either category.
As for Nonfiction, I am glad to see David Letterman and Jon Stewart back in the ranks, and as for Variety Talk, I’m overjoyed that the Emmys finally saw the light and nominated Seth Meyers over Bill Maher. Of course, John Oliver will almost certainly win again, but I’ve watched all five nominees. None of them are bad choices. Now can you please find room for Desus and Mero next year?
Eventually, I’ll get to the predictions, but I’m saying upfront. I will be following the HCA awards in August with far more delight and anticipation. As is the case with so many past years, trying to predict the winners this September will be more like an obligation than a joy.