We’ve been having some fun looking at the Oscar race these past few weeks. However, we’ve reached another important ceremony, and one that requires immediate attention: the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards. Yes, the Emmys are upon us, as we receive the nominations tomorrow, and I thought I’d kick things off with a little day-before predictions rundown. My full predictions are located here, but I thought I’d do a quick breakdown of the four main genres, just as a light read before tomorrow.
The art of the television comedy has really developed over the past twenty years. Sure, we may not see another Golden Age the way we did in the mid-nineties, when we had Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, Will and Grace, Mad About You, Cheers, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Larry Sanders Show, Home Improvement, Ally McBeal, 3rd Rock From the Sun and Sex and the City all within about six years of each other. However, we see comedies that are consistently pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a comedy, as well as what it means to exist in today’s society. Last year, we witnessed the inevitable fall of Modern Family (which, I would like to point out, is still an incredibly solid show six years into its run, even if it is starting to get a bit formulaic). This year’s batch of comedies involve race, immigration, the lives of LGBT citizens and abhorrent political actions. Again, these are comedies. Starting off the bat, I think Veep will once again take home the top prize of Best Comedy Series. That being said, it is going to have a tough fight getting there. First of all, its two reigning acting champions-Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Best Actress and Tony Hale for Best Supporting Actor-have stiff competition in their fields. Hale will most likely reign supreme, but he’ll face stiff competition from Andre Braugher, Keegan Michael Key, and especially Tituss Burgess, who may very well walk away with the prize. Louis-Dreyfus, meanwhile, is involved in one of the most heated races in Emmy history. Sure, Amy Poehler, Edie Falco and Lisa Kudrow aren’t around this year, but there are no less than ten major contenders, each with standout episodes that not only deserve a nomination, but a win. Two actresses I think will end up snubbed that desperately deserve to win this year are Aya Cash for You’re the Worst and Constance Wu for Fresh Off the Boat. I do think Louis-Dreyfus will win again, but look for an upset from Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, and especially Rachel Bloom for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (it’s on Netflix. Seriously, watch it).
Don’t expect much of a change for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actress, except for the appearance of Aziz Ansari for Master of None and maybe Gael García Bernal for Mozart in the Jungle. And with Best Guest Actor and Actress, look to Saturday Night Live, as always. Not only do we have Tracy Morgan’s triumphant return following his accident and Ariana Grande’s chameleon-esque tour-de-force, but Larry David put out several fantastic episodes as Bernie Sanders, each better than the last, culminating in his first hosting gig, which may have been one of the best SNL episodes in years. I still crack up at “Bern Your Enthusiasm” and “Kevin Roberts.” The other noteworthy nod will be Tina Fey’s simultaneously hilarious and sobering (no pun intended) as Kimmy Schmidt’s troubled alcoholic therapist.
Finally, we have the writing and directing categories. These will mostly be divided up between Veep, Master of None, and Silicon Valley; however, the one episode I think will truly stand out is the incomparable black-ish episode “Hope.” A nearly laugh-free episode, ABC’s family sitcom dedicated an entire half-hour to exploring the effects of police brutality on the African-American society. Never settling for easy answers, exploring both sides fairly well, and giving each actor a stand-out scene (Anthony Anderson particularly nails it), it was one of the best episodes of television all year, and I’m sure the Emmys will remember it in below-the-fold categories.
Other shows that deserve more attention than they will receive include It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, You’re the Worst, The Middle (Eden Sher is the ray of sunshine television needs), and more love for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
This field just seems naked now that Breaking Bad and especially Mad Men are no longer in play. I mean, where is AMC going to turn now? The Walking Dead? I don’t think so. Anyway, all this means is the field is clearing the path for the inevitable and well-deserved arrival of Daenerys’ army that is Game of Thrones. Go to Vegas right now and put all your money on one of the show’s strongest outings yet (sure, not every episode was solid, but the episodes that were great are instant classics). So expect the series, Dinklage, Headey, and Clarke all to receive another nomination. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Clarke or Headey snuck away with the prize.
As for the new kids on the block, I think there are four really worth mentioning. I’ll start with the acting contenders first. While I don’t know if it’s made enough of an impact to hit Best Drama Series, I anticipate Bloodline will receive a nomination for Kyle Chandler, and Ben Mendelsohn should make a push to upset Dinklage for Best Supporting Actor. Meanwhile, Lifetime should be making their first respectable push for awards with their hit series UnREAL. With television’s first true anti-heroine, this Bachelorette satire should get perennial bridesmaid Shiri Appleby a nomination, and could even sneak Constance Zimmer into the mix (doubtful, but not unlikely).
Meanwhile, with Don Draper and Walter White out of the way, perhaps the Emmys will embrace a newer, yet familiar, television antihero. After years of being a critic darling, I predict FX’s The Americans will finally graduate into the Academy’s upper echelon. Expect the show to receive a nomination, Keri Russell to finally break through, and the writing to receive a little love. Finally, lest I be hacked for forgetting it, we have Mr. Robot. Yes, the show that took America by storm as if to say “Wake Up, Sheeple” is going to receive numerous nominations across the board, including the series, the writing, the directing, Rami Malek, BD Wong, and, thankfully, Christian Slater. I’ve had multiple people tell me the show is remarkable, and I hope to get around to it sometime soon.
Everything else should play out normally, with House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Downton Abbey, Better Call Saul, The Good Wife, Viola Davis, and Taraji P. Henson all receiving nominations, but I would like to point out one last thing. I know I’ve already gone on and on about Game of Thrones, but I do want to make one more thing clear. “The Battle of the Bastards” is one of the greatest episodes of television ever, and I expect it to receive not only nominations, but also wins, for writing, directing, cinematography and editing. It’s a truly groundbreaking episode, and it will be rewarded for it.
Limited and TV Movies
Ah, the arthouse scene. Where real Hollywood stars and directors come to be “a part of something.” This is the category that gives us such famous pieces as Angels in America, Mildred Pierce, Roots and Band of Brothers. And this year’s no different, with a wide variety to choose from, including the abhorrent second season of True Detective to the bombast of LBJ, and even the most absurdly fantastic miniseries I’ve ever seen. More on that below.
First, let’s focus on TV Movies. Ranging from HBO to the BBC, there are several different themes to choose from here. However, for the widest range, I would say Sherlock, All The Way, and the deeply flawed Confirmation stand the best chance of a nomination in multiple fields. Look for Cranston, Cumberbatch, Washington, Pierce, Mackie and Leo to be announced as nominees. As well, look for Tony darling Audra McDonald to receive a nomination for her performance as Billie Holliday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. And don’t be surprised if Vanessa Hudgens gets a nomination for her stunning turn as Rizzo on Grease: Live (I don’t currently have her nominated, but I’d love to see it happen).
While we’re on the subject of TV Movies, considering he is eligible, I would love to see Johnny Depp’s bizarre turn in Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie. It’s such a bizarre, brilliant little turn, with Depp combining his own idiosyncrasies with Trump’s, and throwing in more than a little Charles Foster Kane, creating a unique viewing experience that had me laughing for days afterwards. Depp desperately deserves a nomination tomorrow morning.
The Limited Series categories are a lot more challenging. We have so many great contenders this year, it’s going to be hard to whittle it down. Let me start off by naming the trilogy of “American” stories: American Crime, American Horror Story, and American Crime Story (The People vs. OJ Simpson). Each of these three should receive multiple nominations across the board. American Crime was a smash hit when it premiered last year, and season two’s portrayal of the investigation of a black boy raping his white teammate, is poised to receive multiple nominations, specifically for Felicity Huffman, Regina King, and series breakout Conner Jessup. Meanwhile, American Horror Story is coming off one of its best seasons in years, and seems ready to receive nominations for the series’ breakout star Lady Gaga, as well as the usual favorites Denis O’Hare, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and Sarah Paulson. And speaking of Paulson in a Ryan Murphy production, her performance as Marcia Clark in The People Vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story is one of the best of the year, and should finally earn her an Emmy. Other nominees from the surprise smash (I was shocked when my guilty pleasure turned out to be good) should be the incredible Courtney B. Vance and Sterling K. Brown. I also wouldn’t be shocked if I saw Cuba Gooding Jr., Nathan Lane and especially David Schwimmer’s names announced tomorrow morning. The fact that Schwimmer made a role as ridiculous as Rob Kardashian the empathetic Banquo in OJ’s sympathetic tragedy is really a testament to his talent (even if he is best known for screaming “Pivot” and “We were on a break”).
Then you have the other three massive miniseries to observe (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). You have the Dickens-esque Show Me a Hero, which should earn Oscar Isaac an Emmy nod for Best Actor; you have the recent British breakout The Night Manager, which should net a nom for Tom Hiddelston (Loki in The Avengers, Current Male Lead in Taylor Swift’s Love Life) and could potentially earn Hugh Laurie another nomination for the first time since House ended; and you have Fargo, the little television adaptation that could, which proves itself to be a fine homage to the Coen Brothers each and every week. Patrick Wilson stands a good chance at being nominated for Best Actor, but if you want the safe bets, Kirsten Dunst will be nominated for Best Actress, Jean Smart will be nominated for Supporting Actress, and Jesse Plemons is the most likely supporting actor to be nominated out of a crop that includes Bokeem Woodbine, Nick Offerman and Ted Danson.
Ah, the Variety categories. Where the most viral hits serve the best chance of a nomination. This is nowhere more prevalent than the fact that The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon will receive yet another nomination. However, something important has happened this year that we haven’t seen any other year: for the first time in about fifteen years, Jon Stewart is not going to be in the race. The Daily Show has won eleven Variety awards, ten of those consecutively, and has been considered a staple of the Emmys this entire time. But Trevor Noah…how do I put this? His show is terrible. And with his most talented correspondents jumping ship, it seems that The Daily Show’s reign is finally over. Instead, look for Lord John Oliver to take over for his brilliant HBO series Last Week Tonight, especially after his Trump piece broke the internet (expect a lot of Trump bashing coming from the Emmy theater). I would also expect the Late Night Series regulars to make another appearance. Finally, while I’d love to see Seth Meyers make an appearance here, Samantha Bee has been putting out some solid work, and considering she was one of the reasons Stewart was so strong, and there’s a need for a Stewart-esque voice of reason in these troubling times, Bee will end up taking that sixth spot amongst the Talk nominees.
As for sketches, expect Saturday Night Live, Inside Amy Schumer, and the now-defunct Key and Peele to receive nominations. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. I think the new and fantastic Documentary Now will be too weird for the Emmys, so expect the safer-yet-still-funny Drunk History to take its spot. Finally, based on Netflix’s power grip, as well as their own genius abilities, expect W/Bob and David to receive the Emmy nomination that Mr. Show never got to have.
Oh, and two more details to note-I predict Animation will be one of the strongest fields ever, with Bob’s Burgers, BoJack Horseman and South Park each competing for one of their best seasons yet, and Best Music and Lyrics will most likely give Lady Gaga the win she deserved at the Oscars (because The Hunting Ground also appeared on TV, she is eligible for the song Til It Happens To You, the best song of last year), but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will put up a fight. I anticipate at least four songs being nominated (which I found an incredible struggle to do), namely West Covina, Settle For Me, Heavy Boobs and One Indescribable Instant.
Tune in tomorrow morning for the full list of nominees!