Instant analysis is a slippery slope, but let’s face it: This year’s Primetime Emmy nominations offered few surprises.
This year’s menu of nominees — announced Tuesday morning by a raucous, overly enthusiastic Leslie Jones and presenters Josh Gad, Laverne Cox and Tatiana Maslany — includes an overabundance of “I’ll have the usual” nods. (Note to Leslie, for next time: “Ironside” was in a wheelchair, not “Perry Mason.”)
The line between broadcast, cable and streaming was erased some time ago, so that’s a nonissue, but for all the talk in 2020 about diversity and change in the TV industry, there was little in the way of shockers in this year’s crop of nominees. The terrific “Schitt’s Creek,” as expected, earned three well-deserved nods (for stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and the show itself). But “Killing Eve” co-stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer (Best Actress, Drama)? Enough already. That series ran out of steam long ago. Ditto for the cartoonish “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (which received nods for star Rachel Brosnahan and the series) and the knee-jerk nod for “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
It was gratifying to see FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows” snare a nomination for Best Comedy Series; it’s cleverly written with a cohesive — and very funny — ensemble cast featuring Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Kayvan Novak, Harvey Guillén and Mark Proksch. Kudos to the Television Academy members for that one. And Mark Ruffalo was terrific in “I Know This Much Is True,” so I was glad to see his work recognized (Lead Actor, Limited Series or Movie).
But those were few and far between. Did we really need nominations (Drama Series) for long-in-the-tooth “Better Call Saul” (which waited two years to drop new episodes), “The Crown,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Stranger Things”? And what about “The Morning Show” (same category), which didn’t exactly set the world on fire when it premiered last fall on Apple TV+? That series earned a nomination for star Jennifer Aniston (Best Actress, Drama). Laziness on the part of the TV Academy voters? Perhaps. Or maybe they’re distracted by everything else going on in the world right now.
However, it was nice to see Disney+’s big launch series, “The Mandalorian,” snare a Best Drama nomination, even if we’re still not sure if that’s really Pedro Pascal in the titular role. (His face was never seen.) Unlike “The Morning Show,” “The Mandalorian” was a talker upon its premiere (Baby Yoda sound familiar?) and gave the newly launched streaming service a huge boost as a franchise series. And the academy voters were spot on in giving Zendaya her first Emmy nomination for the HBO teen drama “Euphoria.” Good on ya.
There’s really not much to say about the Best Talk/Variety Series or Best Competition Program — the fields for both are slim, so those nominees aren’t surprising. Although it was nice to see “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” snare a nod.
When all is said and done, let’s just say this year’s crop of nominees does not bode particularly well for the Sept. 20 telecast on ABC, hosted (in some form or another) by Jimmy Kimmel. Last year’s Emmy broadcast dipped to a historically low 6.9 million viewers, continuing a years-long trend.
I don’t think this year’s crop of hopefuls will staunch the ratings hemorrhage.
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