September 22, 2020

THE 2020 EMMYS: HOW THE SHOW WENT ON AND SCHITT’S CREEK TOOK IT ALL

Were the Emmys 2020 a bit lackluster? Sure! There was no larger-than-life stage set. There weren’t any elaborate sketches, musical numbers, or any kinds of performances (except for the ‘in memoriam’ segment). There was no orchestra, and there were very few presenters, as the host presented many of the categories himself. However, the biggest absence was, obviously, a live audience. 

That might have stung the most, especially so during Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue. The stitching together of audience reactions from footage of past shows and events was a simple but effective way to start the show, and also served as a stark reminder of how much our world has changed this year. It was quite funny, almost in a dark way, but the moment Kimmel ‘saw himself’ in the audience, and was snapped back into reality, it suddenly seemed darker still. He made a joke about it being like his prom where he was also alone, but even as a joke, his melancholic acceptance of being alone was almost disturbing. It was something that we’ve all felt at some point or another, during this pandemic, through the various versions of lockdowns and quarantine periods we’ve all experienced. It felt like a confrontation with reality amidst this ‘new normal’ that we’re all adjusting to. Yet, there is a sense of hope, an instinct for survival that makes us feel like we need to weather this storm, which isn’t going to pass anytime soon, rather than get blown away by it. It was hence refreshing in a way to see that the show was still going on, as it best could.

All things considered…
In fact, the show was more than I was expecting. What I had in mind was a mega-sized Zoom conference call, not unlike what we’ve been seeing in the lockdown editions of shows such as Kimmel’s own Jimmy Kimmel Live. Instead, there actually was a small set, with a giant Emmy statuette, live video feeds from all over the place, and just a bunch of people who took turns to present award categories and introduce other presenters. A few of the presentations might have fallen a little flat—such as Anthony Anderson’s, or Jason Sudeikis getting ‘tested’ for COVID-19, but I wouldn’t entirely blame them. Sometimes you need a live audience for these things to work. I guess that’s why comedians ‘opening’ for musicians or even other comedians is such a thing. Performers and presenters feed off of the energy of a crowd, and it’s a vibe that one can somehow feel even while watching from our homes. And I’m sure when presenting live, anyone, but especially the host, might leave the door open for a bit of improvisation based on how the material’s being received. In fact, the absence of an audible reaction from the audience seemed almost jarring to me, so it was not at all a bad effort on the host’s and presenters’ part to deliver what they did, even if all it did was illicit a few smiles.

Viewing party!
Yet, a remote audience lent its own charm to the proceedings. It was extremely endearing to see how the cast and creators and crew of various shows huddled in living rooms or hotel suites and so on, having their own ‘viewing parties’ while also playing a considerably active part in the virtual event. Award winners definitely responded more to the reactions of the people around them. Especially EUPHORIA’s Zendaya comes to mind. Her unrestrained reaction to not just being named ‘outstanding lead actress in a drama’, but also to the people cheering her on, was extremely adorable. Another one was SUCCESSION’s Jesse Armstrong, who made a mark with his acceptance speeches amidst his own ‘viewing party’ in London. He ‘un-thanked’ the corona virus and President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson, and other such ‘quasi-nationalist’ world leaders and media moguls (like the Murdochs who have loosely inspired his own show), who keep them in power. It became quite a talked-about acceptance speech, owing to his offbeat way of making a political statement.


Almost everyone did make a political statement though, especially urging America to vote. Mark Ruffalo made his point well, tying it in with the theme of his limited series I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE—about showing up and ‘taking care’ of ‘our most vulnerable’ people. There was also SCHITT’S CREEK’s Daniel Levy, who did so in one of his million acceptance speeches, speaking about how their show was about the ‘transformational effects of love and acceptance’, and that voting was the only way America would have some love and acceptance. However, his best one was when he accepted the ‘supporting actor’ Emmy, wherein he thanked fellow Emmy winners, his dad Eugene Levy, and on-screen mom Catherine O’Hara. He thanked the two ‘brilliant comedic masterminds’ for giving him and others “The safety and security to do what we want and to try and to experiment and to grow.” And each time SCHITT’S CREEK won, we caught a glimpse of the cutest little viewing party of all! It was such a celebration there at that gathering in Canada, with the cast and others from SCHITT’S, cheering each other on and reveling in the overwhelming love that the Television Academy showed them.


Win-win!

SCHITT’S CREEK became the first series ever to win Emmys for all seven major categories in comedy (outstanding series, directing, writing, lead actress and actor, and supporting actress and actor), and the gem of a show deserved every win. I predicted it would be a clean sweep, and it was. Several other categories were quite predictable as well, but it was amazing that the brilliant SUCCESSION and the evocative WATCHMEN got their due, for outstanding drama and limited series obviously, but especially the Emmys for Jeremy Strong and Regina King. Zendaya’s win was a pleasant surprise, as she, 24, broke the record for the youngest ever to win lead actress drama, after it was broken just last year by KILLING EVE’s Jodie Comer, 26.


A more-than-satisfying set of results and a few very endearing moments, especially among the recipients, will leave me complaining about very little. It may not have been the most thrilling Emmys or the most engaging, but I will give the host and the team behind the scenes their due for putting together a nice show, that celebrated television. I think that’s particularly important during such times when it might feel like there isn’t all that much to celebrate. As Kimmel said in his opening monologue: “[Through the dark tunnel of the lockdown and quarantine, we’ve had one friend,] who’s there for us 24 hours a day—our old pal television… Through the good times and the breaking bads, television is there for you!”


Here’s a list of Emmy winners in the major categories:


DRAMA

Drama Series

BETTER CALL SAUL
THE CROWN
THE HANDMAID’S TALE
KILLING EVE
THE MANDALORIAN
OZARK
STRANGER THINGS
SUCCESSION
  

Lead Actress, Drama
Jennifer Aniston, THE MORNING SHOW
Olivia Colman, THE CROWN
Jodie Comer, KILLING EVE
Laura Linney, OZARK
Sandra Oh, KILLING EVE
Zendaya, EUPHORIA
 

Lead Actor, Drama
Jason Bateman, OZARK
Sterling K. Brown, THIS IS US
Steve Carell, THE MORNING SHOW
Brian Cox, SUCCESSION
Billy Porter, POSE
Jeremy Strong, SUCCESSION

Supporting Actress, Drama
Helena Bonham Carter, THE CROWN
Laura Dern, BIG LITTLE LIES
Julia Garner, OZARK
Thandie Newton, WESTWORLD
Fiona Shaw, KILLING EVE
Sarah Snook, SUCCESSION
Meryl Streep, BIG LITTLE LIES
Samira Wiley, THE HANDMAID’S TALE

Supporting Actor, Drama
Nicholas Braun, SUCCESSION
Billy Crudup, THE MORNING SHOW
Kieran Culkin, SUCCESSION
Mark Duplass, THE MORNING SHOW
Giancarlo Esposito, BETTER CALL SAUL
Matthew Macfadyen, SUCCESSION
Bradley Whitford, THE HANDMAID’S TALE
Jeffrey Wright, WESTWORLD
 

Directing For A Drama Series
THE CROWN (Episode: ‘Aberfan’), Directed by Benjamin Caron 
THE CROWN (Episode: ‘Cri de coeur’), Directed by Jessica Hobbs 
HOMELAND (Episode: ‘Prisoners of war’), Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter 
THE MORNING SHOW (Episode: ‘The interview"), Directed by Mimi Leder 
OZARK (Episode: ‘Fire pink’), Directed by Alik Sakharov
OZARK (Episode: ‘Su casa es mi casa’), Directed by Ben Semanoff 
SUCCESSION (Episode: ‘Hunting’), Directed by Andrij Parekh
SUCCESSION (Episode: ‘This is not for tears’), Directed by Mark Mylod

Writing For A Drama Series
BETTER CALL SAUL (Episode: ‘Bad choice road’), Written by Thomas Schnauz
BETTER CALL SAUL (Episode: ‘Bagman’), Written by Gordon Smith 
THE CROWN (Episode: ‘Aberfan’), Written by Peter Morgan 
OZARK (Episode: ‘All in’), Written by Chris Mundy 
OZARK (Episode: ‘Boss fight’), Written by John Shiban 
OZARK (Episode: ‘Fire pink’), Written by Miki Johnson 
SUCCESSION (Episode: ‘This is not for tears’), Written by Jesse Armstrong


COMEDY

Comedy Series
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
DEAD TO ME
THE GOOD PLACE
INSECURE
THE KOMINSKY METHOD
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
SCHITT’S CREEK
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

Lead Actress, Comedy
Christina Applegate, DEAD TO ME
Rachel Brosnahan, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
Linda Cardellini, DEAD TO ME
Catherine O’Hara, SCHITT’S CREEK
Issa Rae, INSECURE
Tracee Ellis Ross, BLACK-ISH

Lead Actor, Comedy
Anthony Anderson, BLACK-ISH
Don Cheadle, BLACK MONDAY
Ted Danson, THE GOOD PLACE
Michael Douglas, THE KOMINSKY METHOD
Eugene Levy, SCHITT’S CREEK
Ramy Youssef, RAMY

Supporting Actress, Comedy
Alex Borstein, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
D’Arcy Carden, THE GOOD PLACE
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Marin Hinkle, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
Kate McKinnon, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Annie Murphy, SCHITT’S CREEK
Yvonne Orji, INSECURE
Cecily Strong, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Supporting Actor, Comedy
Mahershala Ali, RAMY
Alan Arkin, THE KOMINSKY METHOD
Andre Braugher, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Sterling K. Brown, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
William Jackson Harper, THE GOOD PLACE
Daniel Levy, SCHITT’S CREEK
Tony Shalhoub, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
Kenan Thompson, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
THE GREAT (Episode: ‘The great’), Directed by Matt Shakman 
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (Episode: ‘It's comedy or cabbage’), Directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (Episode: ‘Marvelous radio’), Directed by Daniel Palladino 
MODERN FAMILY (Episode: ‘Finale, part 2’), Directed by Gail Mancuso 
RAMY (Episode: ‘Miakhalifa.mov’), Directed by Ramy Youssef 
SCHITT'S CREEK (Episode: ‘Happy ending’), Directed by Andrew Cividino and Dan Levy
WILL & GRACE (Episode: ‘We love Lucy’), Directed by James Burrows

Like I said before, this is SCHITT’s year. They’re winning this for their excellent finale, which was equal parts funny and emotional, in execution and tone, without being too indulgent or unnecessarily mushy.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
THE GOOD PLACE (Episode: ‘Whenever you're ready’), Written by Michael Schur (NBC)
THE GREAT (Episode: ‘The great’), Written by Tony McNamara (Hulu)
SCHITT'S CREEK (Episode: ‘Happy ending’), Written by Dan Levy (Pop TV)
SCHITT'S CREEK (Episode: ‘The presidential suite’), Written by David West Read (Pop TV)
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Episode: ‘Collaboration’), Written by Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil (FX)
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Episode: ‘Ghosts’), Written by Paul Simms (FX)
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Episode: ‘On the run’), Written by Stefani Robinson (FX)


LIMITED SERIES AND TV MOVIE

Limited Series
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

MRS. AMERICA
UNBELIEVABLE
UNORTHODOX
WATCHMEN

TV Movie
American Son
Bad Education
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend
 

Lead Actress, Limited Series Or TV Movie
Cate Blanchett, MRS. AMERICA
Shira Haas, UNORTHODOX
Regina King, WATCHMEN
Octavia Spencer, Self Made
Kerry Washington, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

Lead Actor, Limited Series Or TV Movie
Jeremy Irons, WATCHMEN
Hugh Jackman, Bad Education
Paul Mescal, NORMAL PEOPLE
Jeremy Pope, HOLLYWOOD
Mark Ruffalo, I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE

Supporting Actress, Limited Series Or TV Movie
Uzo Aduba, MRS. AMERICA
Toni Collette, UNBELIEVABLE
Margo Martindale, MRS. AMERICA
Jean Smart, WATCHMEN
Holland Taylor, HOLLYWOOD
Tracey Ullman, MRS. AMERICA

Supporting Actor, Limited Series Or TV Movie
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, WATCHMEN
Jovan Adepo, WATCHMEN
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend
Louis Gossett Jr., WATCHMEN
Dylan McDermott, HOLLYWOOD
Jim Parsons, HOLLYWOOD

Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series, Movie, Or Dramatic Special
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE (Episode: ‘Find a way’), Directed by Lynn Shelton
NORMAL PEOPLE (Episode: ‘Episode 5’), Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
UNORTHODOX, Directed by Maria Schrader
WATCHMEN (Episode: ‘It's summer and we're running out of ice’), Directed by Nicole Kassell 
WATCHMEN (Episode: ‘Little fear of lightning’), Directed by Steph Green 
WATCHMEN (Episode: ‘This extraordinary being’), Directed by Stephen Williams
 

Outstanding Writing For A Limited Series, Movie, Or Dramatic Special
MRS. AMERICA (Episode: ‘Shirley’), Written by Tanya Barfield 
NORMAL PEOPLE (Episode: ‘Episode 3’), Written by Sally Rooney and Alice Birch 
UNBELIEVABLE (Episode: ‘Episode 1’), Written by Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman
UNORTHODOX (Episode: ‘Part 1’), Written by Anna Winger 
WATCHMEN (Episode: ‘This extraordinary being’), Written by Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson

September 17, 2020

THE 2020 EMMY PREDICTIONS: ‘SUCCESSION’, ‘SCHITT’S CREEK’ AND ‘WATCHMEN’ WILL WIN THE TOP PRIZES

The presentation at this year’s online Emmys will be very different, and so will the results, considering that past Emmy favorites such as GAME OF THRONES and VEEP are out of the running. A few wins are almost a given though. Let’s take a look. The categories are… 


DRAMA


Drama Series

BETTER CALL SAUL
THE CROWN
THE HANDMAID’S TALE
KILLING EVE
THE MANDALORIAN
OZARK
STRANGER THINGS
SUCCESSION

This is SUCCESSION’s year. It’s been the general sentiment that HBO was not going to let go of the drama race even after GAME OF THRONES ended last year, and that SUCCESSION was going to be successor to THRONES. The absolutely brilliant series deserves this every bit, even though I’m a huge fan of THE CROWN, and I would like to see the royal drama win at some point later.  

Lead Actress, Drama
Jennifer Aniston, THE MORNING SHOW
Olivia Colman, THE CROWN
Jodie Comer, KILLING EVE
Laura Linney, OZARK
Sandra Oh, KILLING EVE
Zendaya, EUPHORIA

I would have liked for Olivia Colman—who won this award at the Golden Globes—to win this one, for her amazing restraint in playing the queen, constantly dealing with an internal struggle between what she feels and what she must present as the sovreign. I believe Laura Linney has been generating some serious buzz for season three of OZARK. However, I think the Academy will go with the popular favorite Jennifer Aniston, whose work in THE MORNING SHOW has been exceptional and the most acclaimed part of that the series, and she also did win the SAG Award for it. 

Lead Actor, Drama
Jason Bateman, OZARK
Sterling K. Brown, THIS IS US
Steve Carell, THE MORNING SHOW
Brian Cox, SUCCESSION
Billy Porter, POSE
Jeremy Strong, SUCCESSION

I think recent winners Sterling K. Brown and Billy Porter aren’t frontrunners here, despite Brown’s extremely believable portrayal of Randall’s descent into being an insufferable person in THIS IS US season 4. This one belongs to SUCCESSION. I think Jeremy Strong deserves it for bringing out vulnerability so well throughout, even while doing that infamous rap number, and being endearing and conflicted overall. However, I think the Academy will go with Brian Cox for his powerful restraint in portraying the unapologetically ruthless patriarch, especially on that boat in the finale!

Supporting Actress, Drama
Helena Bonham Carter, THE CROWN
Laura Dern, BIG LITTLE LIES
Julia Garner, OZARK
Thandie Newton, WESTWORLD
Fiona Shaw, KILLING EVE
Sarah Snook, SUCCESSION
Meryl Streep, BIG LITTLE LIES
Samira Wiley, THE HANDMAID’S TALE

Helena Bonham Carter was exquisite as Princess Margaret. She stole every scene she was in, especially the poignant moment between her and her sister the queen. It might be Snook sneaking in here for SUCCESSION or Garner repeating last year’s win for OZARK. But I really have a feeling it will be Bonham Carter.

Supporting Actor, Drama
Nicholas Braun, SUCCESSION
Billy Crudup, THE MORNING SHOW
Kieran Culkin, SUCCESSION
Mark Duplass, THE MORNING SHOW
Giancarlo Esposito, BETTER CALL SAUL
Matthew Macfadyen, SUCCESSION
Bradley Whitford, THE HANDMAID’S TALE
Jeffrey Wright, WESTWORLD

This category really celebrates the strong supporting casts of SUCCESSION and THE MORNING SHOW. It’s also refreshing to see so many new roles in the mix, with GAME OF THRONES out of contention this year, which also makes it difficult to predict. However, something tells me this one’s between Kieran Culkin and Billy Crudup. Both play amazing characters that they bring to life with such devious brilliance. I think Culkin deserves it, but it will go to Crudup. I believe the Academy will recognize the THE MORNING SHOW for its performances, especially since they’ve neglected to include the Apple TV+ launch vehicle in the ‘outstanding drama’ race. 

Directing For A Drama Series
THE CROWN (Episode: ‘Aberfan’), Directed by Benjamin Caron 
THE CROWN (Episode: ‘Cri de coeur’), Directed by Jessica Hobbs 
HOMELAND (Episode: ‘Prisoners of war’), Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter 
THE MORNING SHOW (Episode: ‘The interview"), Directed by Mimi Leder 
OZARK (Episode: ‘Fire pink’), Directed by Alik Sakharov
OZARK (Episode: ‘Su casa es mi casa’), Directed by Ben Semanoff 
SUCCESSION (Episode: ‘Hunting’), Directed by Andrij Parekh
SUCCESSION (Episode: ‘This is not for tears’), Directed by Mark Mylod

SUCCESSION could win for ‘This is not for tears’. It was an episode that best represented the underlying tension that is an essential character in all the drama that deliciously unravels on that show, and without impeccable directing, in order to bring out the best from the performers, the impact would be lost. A strong contender, however, is THE CROWN’s telling of the ‘Aberfan’ disaster, shown with such cinematic brilliance, yet capturing the tragedy with sensitivity that even connects us with characters that aren’t central to the series as a whole. The treatment was exemplary, and that’s why it will win. 

Writing For A Drama Series
BETTER CALL SAUL (Episode: ‘Bad choice road’), Written by Thomas Schnauz
BETTER CALL SAUL (Episode: ‘Bagman’), Written by Gordon Smith 
THE CROWN (Episode: ‘Aberfan’), Written by Peter Morgan 
OZARK (Episode: ‘All in’), Written by Chris Mundy 
OZARK (Episode: ‘Boss fight’), Written by John Shiban 
OZARK (Episode: ‘Fire pink’), Written by Miki Johnson 
SUCCESSION (Episode: ‘This is not for tears’), Written by Jesse Armstrong

The amazingly written ‘This is not for tears’ is an intricate character study and a brilliant execution of drama in a metaphorical confined space. It was the brilliant climax to a stellar season, and will deserve it’s Emmy for writing.  


COMEDY


Comedy Series
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
DEAD TO ME
THE GOOD PLACE
INSECURE
THE KOMINSKY METHOD
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
SCHITT’S CREEK
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

This year, SCHITT’S CREEK has blown up in popularity, suddenly generating wide appeal and becoming the topic of conversation across various social circles, albeit via Zoom calls. This seems to have been the year that the series went from being an endearing little comedy with a niche following, to becoming a popular favorite among a much larger audience. The show ended on a high, after becoming better every season, and I think the Television Academy will reward the series’ swansong for its fantastic six-year run.

Lead Actress, Comedy
Christina Applegate, DEAD TO ME
Rachel Brosnahan, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
Linda Cardellini, DEAD TO ME
Catherine O’Hara, SCHITT’S CREEK
Issa Rae, INSECURE
Tracee Ellis Ross, BLACK-ISH

If anyone other than Catherine O’Hara wins this, I’m going to be very disappointed. Her Moira Rose has been the one character who had me in splits season after season, more owing to her delivery than the content she delivered. She must win this as recognition of her terrific work in all six seasons of SCHITT’S CREEK.

Lead Actor, Comedy
Anthony Anderson, BLACK-ISH
Don Cheadle, BLACK MONDAY
Ted Danson, THE GOOD PLACE
Michael Douglas, THE KOMINSKY METHOD
Eugene Levy, SCHITT’S CREEK
Ramy Youssef, RAMY

It’s beginning to look like SCHITT’S CREEK really will sweep up the comedy categories, because I have a strong feeling that this one will go to Eugene Levy. Ted Danson is a strong contender, as is Ramy Youssefthe most recent Golden Globe winner of the equivalent awardbut I think it will be Levy at the Emmys.

Supporting Actress, Comedy
Alex Borstein, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
D’Arcy Carden, THE GOOD PLACE
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Marin Hinkle, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
Kate McKinnon, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Annie Murphy, SCHITT’S CREEK
Yvonne Orji, INSECURE
Cecily Strong, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Alex Borstein’s winning streak could continue, and the odds do appear to be in her favor. However, I’m going to place my bets on Annie Murphy. While the Academy have repeated winners in this category, they haven’t given it to the same nominee three years consecutively—not in over a decade at least.  

Supporting Actor, Comedy
Mahershala Ali, RAMY
Alan Arkin, THE KOMINSKY METHOD
Andre Braugher, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Sterling K. Brown, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
William Jackson Harper, THE GOOD PLACE
Daniel Levy, SCHITT’S CREEK
Tony Shalhoub, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
Kenan Thompson, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Last year’s winner Tony Shaloub could take this, since the Academy are known to repeat their wins, but I think SCHITT’S CREEK’s winning streak will continue with Dan Levy winning this one, especially since his David Rose is such a beloved character. 

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
THE GREAT (Episode: ‘The great’), Directed by Matt Shakman 
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (Episode: ‘It's comedy or cabbage’), Directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (Episode: ‘Marvelous radio’), Directed by Daniel Palladino 
MODERN FAMILY (Episode: ‘Finale, part 2’), Directed by Gail Mancuso 
RAMY (Episode: ‘Miakhalifa.mov’), Directed by Ramy Youssef 
SCHITT'S CREEK (Episode: ‘Happy ending’), Directed by Andrew Cividino and Dan Levy
WILL & GRACE (Episode: ‘We love Lucy’), Directed by James Burrows

Like I said before, this is SCHITT’s year. They’re winning this for their excellent finale, which was equal parts funny and emotional, in execution and tone, without being too indulgent or unnecessarily mushy.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
THE GOOD PLACE (Episode: ‘Whenever you're ready’), Written by Michael Schur (NBC)
THE GREAT (Episode: ‘The great’), Written by Tony McNamara (Hulu)
SCHITT'S CREEK (Episode: ‘Happy ending’), Written by Dan Levy (Pop TV)
SCHITT'S CREEK (Episode: ‘The presidential suite’), Written by David West Read (Pop TV)
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Episode: ‘Collaboration’), Written by Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil (FX)
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Episode: ‘Ghosts’), Written by Paul Simms (FX)
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Episode: ‘On the run’), Written by Stefani Robinson (FX)

SCHITT’S CREEK’s finale should win this one. And I think it will. I’ll say it once more time, this is SCHITT’s year, and I don’t think us fans will be disappointed.


LIMITED SERIES AND TV MOVIES


Limited Series
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
MRS. AMERICA
UNBELIEVABLE
UNORTHODOX
WATCHMEN

If these nominees were competing against each other in any other year, I think UNBELIEVABLE would be the most deserving. However, with the socio-political climate in America and the renewed push that the #BlackLivesMatter movement has got in recent months, WATCHMEN is more relevant and will win. It was good, and probably a close second to UNBELIEVABLE, so it wouldn’t be a disappointment for sure.

TV Movie
American Son
Bad Education
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend

American Son was definitely the best of these TV movies, so I would be happy for them to win this one, and it will. Whether the film wins for its social relevance or purely on merit, it doesn’t matter. It deserves the win all the same. 

Lead Actress, Limited Series Or TV Movie
Cate Blanchett, MRS. AMERICA
Shira Haas, UNORTHODOX
Regina King, WATCHMEN
Octavia Spencer, Self Made
Kerry Washington, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

Regina King was the one to beat in this category all along, until Cate Blanchett became the anti-feminist we grew to love to hate in MRS. AMERICA. Any other year, this would be a tough one to predict, but given the WATCHMEN’s theme, this one’s going to King, and she’ll deserve it every single bit.  

Lead Actor, Limited Series Or TV Movie
Jeremy Irons, WATCHMEN
Hugh Jackman, Bad Education
Paul Mescal, NORMAL PEOPLE
Jeremy Pope, HOLLYWOOD
Mark Ruffalo, I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE

Though everyone here did a brilliant job, Mark Ruffalo’s raw and gut-wrenching delivery should win him this one. I doubt anyone else is a frontrunner here. 

Supporting Actress, Limited Series Or TV Movie
Uzo Aduba, MRS. AMERICA
Toni Collette, UNBELIEVABLE
Margo Martindale, MRS. AMERICA
Jean Smart, WATCHMEN
Holland Taylor, HOLLYWOOD
Tracey Ullman, MRS. AMERICA

I’d have a tough choice picking from this set of nominees. Still, I’d probably give it to Toni Collette or Margo Martindale. However, Jean Smart has been generating buzz for this role since she appeared on the show, and I think it will see her all the way to a statuette. 

Supporting Actor, Limited Series Or TV Movie
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, WATCHMEN
Jovan Adepo, WATCHMEN
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend
Louis Gossett Jr., WATCHMEN
Dylan McDermott, HOLLYWOOD
Jim Parsons, HOLLYWOOD

Dylan McDermott should win this one for his tremendous restraint, but Jim Parsons seems to be the popular favorite here, and he’d deserve it for his delivery of talent agent Henry Wilson's devious-yet-awkward disposition and devil-may-care attitude. 

Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series, Movie, Or Dramatic Special
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE (Episode: ‘Find a way’), Directed by Lynn Shelton
NORMAL PEOPLE (Episode: ‘Episode 5’), Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
UNORTHODOX, Directed by Maria Schrader
WATCHMEN (Episode: ‘It's summer and we're running out of ice’), Directed by Nicole Kassell 
WATCHMEN (Episode: ‘Little fear of lightning’), Directed by Steph Green 
WATCHMEN (Episode: ‘This extraordinary being’), Directed by Stephen Williams

WATCHMEN is winning this one. I think it should be ‘Little fear of lightning’, for the big events it handled with flair as it shed crucial light on the series as a whole. However, even ‘This extraordinary being’ would be deserving. 

Outstanding Writing For A Limited Series, Movie, Or Dramatic Special
MRS. AMERICA (Episode: ‘Shirley’), Written by Tanya Barfield 
NORMAL PEOPLE (Episode: ‘Episode 3’), Written by Sally Rooney and Alice Birch 
UNBELIEVABLE (Episode: ‘Episode 1’), Written by Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman
UNORTHODOX (Episode: ‘Part 1’), Written by Anna Winger 
WATCHMEN (Episode: ‘This extraordinary being’), Written by Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson

WATCHMEN’s ‘This extraordinary being’ will win this one, for its genre-fitting spin on the exposition, its poignant coverage a important part of black history, as well as the compressed yet impactful narration of backstory. 


July 29, 2020

THE FIVE BIGGEST SURPRISES AMONG THE 2020 PRIMETIME EMMY NOMINATIONS

The 2020 Emmy nominations were announced yesterday, with a lot of buzz surrounding the record number of minority nominees and so on. While that was expected, considering the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement and the slow-but-sure awakening, there were a lot of other interesting things to note about the Emmy nominations this year. For one, this is the first year of the Primetime Emmy Awards after the end of GAME OF THRONES and VEEP—both of which won the big awards multiple times. More significantly, with these series out of the running, a lot of nominee slots opened up, particularly in the supporting acting (drama) categories.

Emmy Nominations 2020

Moreover, with up to eight nominees per category, there was so much Emmys love to go around. And that’s why we’ve seeing not just two, but up to three nominations for a series within a category. For example, there’s SUCCESSION with three and THE MORNING SHOW with two nominations in supporting actor, drama; there’s BIG LITTLE LIES with two supporting actress, drama, nominations; and THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL with two nominations each in supporting actress and actor, comedy. And with THRONES and VEEP out, there’s also a wave of first-time contenders for outstanding series, especially in comedy, including DEAD TO ME, INSECURE, THE KOMINSKY METHOD, and WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (THE MANDALORIAN is the only first-timer in drama).

One can talk endlessly about the shows and performances that were snubbed, especially since there are up to eight nominees in several categories this year. But with the number of series that are produced in this day and age, it’s impossible to do justice to everything, even for a Television Academy full of people. Yet, I do want to talk about the five biggest surprises, for me, among the main categories:

1. STRANGER THINGS for outstanding drama series:

Emmy Nominations 2020

STRANGER THINGS was a thrilling and exciting series, with endearing doses of friendship and camaraderie. While the latter has been true for the series through all three seasons, it’s still not been enough to hold up the quality of the show. The mystery, action and so on have actually become increasingly campy and ridiculous since the first season. While it’s still engaging, I’d say it’s as much of a popcorn entertainer as, say, a slasher film is, and certainly doesn’t qualify as high-quality, compelling television. It’s definitely not something that deserves to be rubbing shoulders with the likes of THE CROWN and SUCCESSION.

2. KILLING EVE for outstanding drama series:

Emmy Nominations 2020

Another series that had a stellar first season, KILLING EVE even lived up to the hype in its second season, as it interestingly unraveled facets of the characters that we knew existed but hadn’t seen on the surface. However, season three, which is in contention this year, was a sheer drag. Even over-exaggerated plotlines couldn’t excite enough, considering how they were too incoherent. They took whimsy to a level beyond the absurdity of heightened reality. It didn’t tie in together quite so well, and left me wanting it to end soon. There was some excitement in the finale, but it was too little too late. It was a wasted season, and definitely didn’t deserve to earn an outstanding series nomination like the show’s previous season had.

3. Steve Carell, THE MORNING SHOW, for outstanding lead actor in a drama series:

Emmy Nominations 2020

Yes, he’s an A-lister, he’s one of the three faces of the show and so on, but he’s far from being a protagonist, and hence it’s odd that he was entered as a lead actor. He was really good, and even made us despise Mitch Kessler, and would have been a shoo-in for a supporting actor win, considering he plays a supporting character with such a big impact and with such conviction. Perhaps they didn’t want to pitch him against costars Billy Crudup and Mark Duplass, who are both nominated for supporting actor, but Carell certainly isn’t one of the leads of the show. And that’s going to work against him. A win for him now would be a shocker for sure.

4. Kerry Washington, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie:

Emmy Nominations 2020

Now Kerry Washington can act. She’s done some really good work in the past. But she tends to overdo it at times, with the excessive facial acting—the extreme frowning and unnatural lip movements during dialogue delivery. These are things that emerged most prominently during her SCANDAL days, and they sure were in overdrive in LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, making several parts of the performance seem gimmicky. Still, I wouldn’t question the Television Academy’s subjective opinion of her performance, if it didn’t come at the cost of a nomination for Reese Witherspoon for the same show. Witherspoon was exceptional as Elena and overshadowed Washington without a doubt. So here is one snub I will hold against the Emmys.

5. Jeffrey Wright, WESTWORLD, for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series:

Emmy Nominations 2020

Jeffrey Wright may be a good performer. I don’t recall any of his other work that I’ve seen. However, in WESTWORLD, he’s an immense bore. Watching scenes featuring Bernard is like watching paint dry. Agreed, he’s a host, and expressionlessness works to his advantage at times, but most of the times, he just exists on-screen, with little or no presence. I would agree that that may be in the job description of this role, but does such a role and performance deserve a nomination for one of the top television honors? I think not.


April 29, 2020

THE ‘HOMELAND’ SERIES FINALE: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Spoiler alert: Please read on only if you’ve watched the series finale, or if you don’t mind spoilers

Last week’s series finale of HOMELAND didn’t exactly tie everything up in a neat bow, but it did give us closure and satisfaction. Here’s a take on how things went down, as the world discovered the truth about how that helicopter went down


When season seven of HOMELAND ended two years ago, it hinted at a poetic final season. It seemed as though the swansong might explore the idea of prisoner of war Carrie Mathison having turned and become a spy, just like prisoner of war Nicholas Brody was suspected of it in the original premise of the show. It was the perfect little teaser, leaving us to anticipate how things would go when Carrie would be the subject of suspicion after being released by the Russians. It was the idea of the show coming full circle in its final season that made its onset so thrilling.

In the beginning of the final season, there was suspicion from various ends, the most prominent form of it being from Mike and Jenna at the CIA station in Afghanistan. While their mistrust might not have been completely unfounded, we knew it wasn’t completely warranted either. Yet, Carrie seemed to be waving red flags all over the place, mainly owing to her questionable friendship with Yevgeny Gromov. Based on the time that Carrie lost when she was in Russia and the things about her that Yevgeny knew, it wasn’t unfathomable that she might have been recruited by him as an asset. Now, lucid and aware, Carrie was doubtful of it herself, but her intentions were clearas clear as the faith that Saul still had in her. She was hell-bent on doing what it took to prevent disaster, even if it meant going rogue, and against Saul’s cautionary instructions. She took it on herself to retrieve the one thing that it came down to—the flight recorder. She would do anything—perhaps even betray Saul. It wasn’t completely unimaginable. After all for years, we’ve been hearing her say it in the opening credits: “I missed something once before. I won’t…I can’t let that happen again.”

So off she went, risking her life, relying on dubious people, throwing herself into risky situations, et al. It might have seemed reckless for most people, but not for Carrie. She’d earned the reputation of being unhinged, whether or not she was on her medication. She had even done the responsible thing by letting her stable sister raise her daughter. Yes, she was unhinged, but not without a cause. Over the seasons, she’d learnt to find method in her madness. She knew what she was doing and what she was risking for it, and she did it anyway. Saul saw that and relied on her to never do anything untoward, even if he didn’t agree with her methods. He had taught her too well to not compromise and to squeeze out all she could from an asset. She did this even if there was a chance that Yevgeny would turn on her the moment he had the chance to. It made sense. Turn on her he did, as he stole the flight recorder, and it was clear as day where the loyalties were. But it did leave her in a tight spot—eventually being arm-twisted into turning on Saul. Carrie did consider it, and knowing how unhinged she was known to be, I’m sure we all had our moments of doubt, thinking that she might actually do what it would take. It would be ‘the cost of doing business’.

In a way, it did all come down to whether Carrie would ‘turn’, but it wasn’t her country that she’d be turning against; it was her mentor. The show did come a full circle, but in a much bigger way. Right from the beginning, the one thing that formed the essence of the show was the relationship between Carrie and Saul. From the Brody seasons to the complete reinvention of the series in season four, it was essentially about these two and their formidable partnership. So it was fitting for the finale to upend all of it. Yet, since they had made a great team before, I was hoping that the finale would be about how they’d turn the tables on the Russians together, as they'd find a way to save Saul’s asset and get the flight recorder to prevent the mother of all wars. Still, the finale didn’t disappoint.


Without trying to create the most explosive scenarios we’ve seen, they did present to us the most explosive conflict that the show could give us. Carrie almost did betray Saul, even if she never had the intention to go all the way to killing him. The asset had to be sacrificed from a storytelling point of view, but it didn’t go that way without all efforts being made to avoid it. It gave us one of Mandy Patinkin’s most gut-wrenching performance moments, when he heard the gunshot that killed his asset and friend. Carrie had done the unforgivable, and we didn’t think he would begin to accept that the end justified the means anytime soon. It was devastating really to see the core relationship of the show destroyed. That’s why I found the epilogue to be the perfect ending. The only way Carrie could make up for what she had done was to at least give Saul a reliable asset, if not bring back his friend. And when it came to protecting America, the one person he could rely on, despite her betrayal was strangely Carrie herself. The moment we saw her in Moscow, I knew what she’d used those two years to do. She had built a network of sources to put together her ultimate gift to Saul—now packaged neatly in a book, addressed to Professor Rabinow. And when he opened the package and discovered what it was, those smiles on Saul’s and Carrie’s faces, thousands of miles apart, were everything.

Farewell Notes:
  • I wasn’t entirely sure of what the relationship between Carrie and Yevgeny was at the end. Of course, they seemed to be romantically involved. But we know that Yevgeny wouldn’t be a part of her network of sources. He had used her and thrown her under the bus, so there’s no way he would turn on his country and work for her, and it also made me wonder if and why Carrie even trusted him. And if the relationship was a farce—to what end could that have been? Also, could Yevgeny trust Carrie? I don’t believe that even two years would make them truly start trusting each other and be in a genuine relationship. I just think the show could have done without implying that the two of them ended up together. Carrie could have still been in Moscow, and as a spy even.
  • Carrie’s book about why she’d betrayed her country did however indicate that her alliance with the Russians and what she’d done had become public knowledge, and she was now a pariah for America. It explained why certain Russians would trust her, which might have helped her in developing her network of sources in Moscow.
  • I didn’t see the need for Carrie and Yevgeny to flee from Israel the way they did, once the asset was killed. I don’t believe Saul would have turned her in, despite what she’d done. And at that point, the authorities didn’t know what Carrie had done, only Saul did. Even without that bit, Carrie could have still ended up in Moscow two years later.
  • Speaking of the asset, it would have been far more impactful if they had sown the seeds of this secret asset over the last couple of seasons. It wasn’t unbelievable that Saul had had this extremely crucial asset for decades, but it did come up quite suddenly.
  • Similarly, John Zabel also appeared quite suddenly, and I wasn’t quite sure why he felt so stubbornly motivated to throw the country into war. A little background to the character might have helped. Also, I was hoping to see Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy share the screen, so I was disappointed that it didn’t happen. But I do understand that the narrative didn’t demand it.  
  • It was sad that Carrie didn’t reunite with Franny, but it was also very true to her character. She had done the right thing in letting Maggie raise her. Yet, I would have liked to see her at peace with Maggie, just like Saul was finally on good terms with his sister.
  • Jenna was a surprisingly interesting character this season. When she was disillusioned and ready to give up everything towards the end, I could almost see the makings of a spinoff—with Jenna being the new Carrie, as she might eventually come around to understanding the good that could come out of a job that otherwise made her feel miserable.
  • If there’s a reboot miniseries or TV movie, which has become de rigueur these days, I wouldn’t mind getting an explanation as to what the Carrie-Yevgeny relationship was, if and why they trust each other, and other things that went down for her to become the spy that she did.
  • RIP Max...It wasn't as devastating as Quinn, or even Brody, but it was heartbreaking still.