Emmy voting begins this week, bringing to an end all the pop-up promo installations (if Netflix needs a place to stash that creepy robot doll, there’s room in my backyard) and restoring a measure of sanity to conscientious television academy members who have been diligently watching, watching and watching (and probably never quite finishing) the hundreds of eligible shows vying for their attention.
What series will emerge when Emmy nominations are announced July 12? Here’s how the races are shaping up at this critical juncture.
Drama series predictions
“Better Call Saul”
“This Is Us”
Nominated last year, ineligible this year: “The Boys,” “The Crown,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Mandalorian” eventually will be returning, but their new seasons arrive too late for the 2022 Emmys. “Lovecraft Country” was cancelled; “pose” ended.
Best new show that likely won’t be nominated: The headline accompanying LA Times television critic Robert Lloyd’s review of this profoundly moving drama read: “Apple’s stunning ‘Pachinko’ is so good it makes the competition look unworthy.” That about sums it up. The question, as always, but more so than ever in this splintered streaming era: Did enough voters watch it? If you started this sweeping, stunningly beautiful series, I can’t see how you wouldn’t see it through. There wasn’t a wasted moment in the storytelling. But I fear that its scope might have intimidated some voters. I hope I’m wrong.
Runner-up snub: Meanwhile, I know plenty of people who ventured into the dark forest of “Yellowjackets,” some of whom voted for the Emmys. Even five months after its finale, the show’s grainy opening-credits images still haunt my dreams and have pretty much put me off from camping for the rest of my life. Has there ever been a better show about teenage girldom? (Maybe the gone-too-soon “My So-Called Life”?) Is there a finer drama acting ensemble outside the group playing the adult and teen versions of these traumatized characters? (“Succession?” Sure. But outside of that … ) So, yes, “Yellowjackets” deserves a place at the table, but there’s probably too many name-brand series for there to be room for all the worthy newcomers. Again: I hope I’m wrong.
Best series send-off: Obviously, not the atrocious final hour of “Killing Eve,” which offended pretty much everyone, including author Luke Jennings, whose “Codename Villanelle” trilogy inspired the series. And not “Ozark,” though its brutal emptiness was very much in line with what has made this nihilistic show so off-putting the past few seasons. No, the honor goes to “This Is Us,” which will likely earn a farewell series nomination for the satisfying way it pulled its emotional roller coaster ride back into the station with a reflective ending that made us cry (of course) but also prompted us to take a private inventory of the “little moments” we collect during our lives.
Too big to ignore: “Yellowstone” has earned exactly one Emmy nomination for its first three seasons — production design for a narrative contemporary program. (It lost.) But like “Dallas,” another prime-time soap opera that was largely dismissed by voters until it became a phenomenon, “Yellowstone” has turned into an obsession for its older audience, generating a one-off prequel (” 1883″) and a sequel to that prequel (tentatively titled “1932”) that will star Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford. “Yellowstone’s” fourth season wasn’t its best. But it leaned into Kelly Reilly (who earns more than her own nomination), cementing Beth Dutton as a TV badass for the ages.
Comedy series predictions
“The After Party”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Only Murders in the Building”
Nominated last year, ineligible this year: Of the eight 2021 nominees, only “The Kominsky Method” has left the building.
Best new show that likely won’t be nominated: The dearly departed “PEN15” managed a series nomination, so why not another smart, kooky comedy from Hulu? The problem faced by the celebrated Taika Waititi-produced “Reservation Dogs” is that it premiered nearly a year ago and required a little patience to sink into its leisurely story of a quartet of Indigenous Oklahoma teens looking to leave the reservation for the dream of California . Bonus problem: It has been an exceptional year for television comedies, and the eight nomination slots aren’t nearly enough to honor all the worthy shows.
Runner-up snub: I realize not everyone has enjoyed the heady experience of playing Townsperson No. 3 in a community theater production of “The Music Man” (the critics said our chorus sang and danced with a “most peculiar fervour”), but that shouldn’t prevent anyone from rewarding Apple’s ebullient musical theater send-up “Schmigadoon!” (OK. It probably will. But we’ll always have “Corn Puddin.'”)
Best series send-off: “Black-ish” ended its groundbreaking eight-season run in April, and it’s probably going to come up short at the Emmys — bleakly fitting, given that the comedy has amassed 24 nominations, winning only once. (It did pick up an honorary award for its first-season episode on corporal punishment.) Likewise, “Insecure” has been overlooked, winning just once from 11 nominations … an absolute bounty compared with Pamela Adlon’s “Better Things,” which netted only two nominations for its star and creator. All three series delivered fine send-offs that left their devoted fan bases smiling. It’d be nice if the good feelings continue, in some form or another, when nominations are revealed next month.
Best return after an extended layoff: “Atlanta” resurfaced after four years between seasons. “Barry” was back after a three-year break. The shows approached their third seasons differently, with “Barry” taking a tightly plotted look at its title character’s attempt to atone for his past (Henry Winkler’s acting coach is seeking redemption too), and “Atlanta” embracing the surreal narrative detours that have characterized many of its best episodes. “Atlanta’s” new run could be confounding, but it was also just as often extraordinary. “Barry” leaned into its darkness and yet still produced some of the year’s funniest moments. (Please tell me Mitch the beignet bro actually exists. I need a sounding board!) Voters should welcome both shows back with open arms.
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