Dear Voter Emmy: I have some suggestions
In case you need any help, I’m here for you, to point you to some of the lesser-known series and performances that helped make this year hell, in which so many people have turned to. television for entertainment, into something almost bearable. I watched it very closely, as you can imagine.
Most likely, you’ll want to revisit past nominees, which is your habit – and that’s not always a bad thing, when we talk about Sterling K. Brown on NBC’s “This Is Us” or Olivia Colman on Netflix’s. Netflix’s “The Crown” or “The Kominsky Method”. Many of them have gone on to earn, especially “The Crown” which has had its most engaging season so far in November, supported by new cast members Gillian Anderson, Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin. .
But this year, many of your automatic go-tos won’t be eligible, due to production delays linked to a pandemic. You won’t be able to lazily fall back on “The Wonderful Mrs. Maisel”, “Killing Eve”, “Stranger Things” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to fill in the categories; none of them ran during the eligibility period. The big winner of last year’s drama, the dryly humorous “Succession” and its excellent cast, won’t be there for you either. And last year’s big comedy winner “Schitt’s Creek” won’t be in the mix either, but not because of the pandemic; it’s over for good, or at least until someone starts throwing a lot of money on the cast to make a revival.
This will make room for a lot of new names and faces. I suspect you will give “Ted Lasso” a lot of love; the Apple TV + series was instantly popular when it premiered last August, and rightly so. It’s a warm comedy, and Jason Sudeikis directs it with just the right amount of silliness and wisdom. At this early stage, I bet he will win. But hey, what about the recognition of a different Apple TV + comedy as well? You skipped the first season of “Dickinson,” the daring period play about the life of poet Emily Dickinson, but now you can rectify that by giving her some nods, for best comedy, and to Hailee Steinfeld for the best actress.
While we’re on the subject of comedy, I’d like to draw your attention to Hulu’s “PEN15”, a bittersweet coming-of-age series in which 30s Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play 13-year-old teens. It might sound like a “Saturday Night Live” skit, but it’s much better and more enduring than that. At times, as girls go through all the heartache and social trauma of their age, “PEN15” is as poignant as any television portrayal of adolescence I’ve seen. You nominated the first season for an Emmy for writing, but it’s time to pay tribute to it for its outstanding second season and two remarkable stars.
I have no doubt that you will recognize HBO Max’s “Hacks”, not only as a nominee for Best Comedy, but for its extraordinary lead performance by Jean Smart (who will likely also get a nod for his supporting work in the limited series “Mare of Easttown”). The show feels like an Emmy favorite, and that’s okay too. Apple TV +’s “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” and HBO Max’s “Made for Love” don’t feel like Emmy favorites, but I recommend you check out F. Murray Abraham in the first and Ray Romano in the second. They should be prime contenders in the comedy supporting actor category – especially Romano, who plays a grieving father in love with a life-size sex doll and makes it work wonderfully.
Also belonging to the supporting comedy categories: Paul Reiser and Kathleen Turner, the two highlights of the third and final season of Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method” and Renée Elise Goldsberry, who leaves with Peacock’s “Girls5eva” as Wickie narcissistic.
As far as drama goes, I suspect you’re going to go for Netflix’s “Bridgerton” and Regé-Jean Page, largely because they were both sensations. It doesn’t matter, I guess. I gobbled up “Bridgerton” like everyone else, but I don’t see it as a series of awards. Most likely, you’ll also go for HBO’s “Perry Mason” and helm Matthew Rhys, both of whom are pleasant but flawed. Ditto with “The Mosquito Coast” from Apple TV + and Justin Theroux. But promise me, Emmy-voting type person, you’ll also consider Starz’s “P-Valley,” a mind-boggling look at the life of a group of strippers working at a Mississippi Delta club. He’s a Southern Gothic with a number of strong performances including by Brandee Evans as a pole dance veteran and by Nicco Annan as a gender nonconforming boss named Uncle Clifford who is tough and astute.
Also promise to take a look at Jonathan Majors, the frontman of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country”. He is a revelation as Korean War veteran Atticus Freeman. And at Uzo Aduba as a therapist in “In Treatment”. And John Benjamin Hickey as his explosive client. And Judy Davis as the only good thing in Netflix’s “Ratched”.
The limited series categories have been some of the most exciting in recent years as the format has grown in popularity. Each year brings a new batch of suitors, and this year’s group is particularly strong, with Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” and HBO’s “I May Destroy You” and “Mare of Easttown”. I suspect you’ll name these titles, but I hope you won’t forget Showtime’s “The Good Lord Bird”, as well as Ethan Hawke’s turn as John Brown. This excellent miniseries is an under-recognized treat. Also be sure to watch Amazon’s “The Underground Railroad”; it’s masterful, and the lead actress Thuso Mbedu is magical.
So here we are, Emmy-voting type folks. I guess you will take all my advice.