[As the Emmy nominating process draws closer, we’ll be revisiting programs that have completed their seasons to provide a snapshot of their strength and weaknesses as true contenders.]
After six seasons, “Girls” ended on a moving and unexpected note. The show faded out on a close up of Hannah (Lena Dunham) conveying a sense of relief and happiness after her baby has finally “latched” with her. It was another quiet, yet powerful moment in a season full of them. From Hannah’s heartbreaking non-verbal reaction to Adam’s proposal to help her raise her baby to the degrading humiliation Jesse (Jemima Kirke) conveyed after a bathroom sex tryst to Hannah’s multitude of emotions after her meeting with author Chuck Palmer (Matthew Rhys), the show seemed to hold on to these emotional moments more than ever before. The main creative team behind the series – Dunham and producer Jenni Konner – are moving onto new adventures, but for HBO the question is whether this “comeback” season is enough to convince members of the Television Academy to once again recognize this landmark series.
Emmy voters have had an unpredictable history with classic shows in their final seasons. Jon Hamm, for instance, didn’t win an Emmy until the final season of “Mad Men” (and, yes, you could argue it was because of a ton of competition). “Six Feet Under,” on the other hand, was left out of the Drama Series category mix was for its last season – a season which included one of the most memorable final episodes of all time. “Girls” started off strong with 10 nominations in its first two years including two Comedy Series and two Best Actress in a Comedy Series nods, but by season three the shine had started to wear off partially due to backlash over the show and Dunham herself.
Dunham and Konner found a way to make this final season a creative triumph however, and refused to wrap the series up with a conventional happy ending (although it was as close to as realistically happy an ending as you could get with Hannah landing a dream teaching job she’s not qualified for that pays her enough to live in the a large country home in upstate NY). The four BFF’s including Marnie (Allison Williams) and Shoshannah (Zosia Mamet) also begrudgingly realized that all of their friendships won’t last a lifetime and that the career plans you have when you get out of college are not usually where you end up as 30 approaches. And, in that context, the show has given HBO a number of great contenders to try to win over Emmy including:
Dunham at the top of her game as an actress, director and/or writer in episodes “American Bitch,” “All I Ever Wanted,” “Hostage Situation,” “What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” and “Latching.”
Andrew Rannells much deserved spotlight in “The Bounce,” among other episodes.
Matthew Rhys’ charismatic and layered turn as a guest actor in “American Bitch.”
Jesse Peretz’s expert direction in “What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” as well as Dunham and Judd Apatow’s screenplay for that episode.
Jemima Kirke and Allison Williams’ fantastic supporting performances across the entire season.
Will “Girls” finally say goodbye with an Emmys’ kiss? It’s a tough call in the era of Peak TV, but it’s got a shot.
Program: “Girls” (season 6)
Category: Comedy Series
Network or Streaming Service: HBO
Key creative forces: Lena Dunham (created by), Jenni Konner (producer), Judd Apataow (producer)
This season described in 140 characters or less: The girls realize their group friendship may not last forever as Hannah gets pregnant and decides to have a baby on her own.
Airdates: February 12 – April 16, 2017
Major Player: Lena Dunham. Always the creative and emotional center of “Girls,” Dunham arguably gave two of her finest performances in the episodes “What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” (which she co-wrote) and “American Bitch” (which she singularly wrote). Lead Actress in a Comedy Series is fiercely competitive and while a three-time nominee, she hasn’t been recognized since 2014. She’s also earned nominations in both the Writing and Directing categories in the past, but has been ignored by the Television Academy overall since 2014.
Major Concerns: The fact that “Girls” earned more critical kudos than the show has seen in some time should help, but the Television Academy has only embraced the series so much. The show has 15 Emmy nods, but 10 of those came during its first two seasons. “Girls” won a Peabody Award and the top comedy honors at the Golden Globes in 2013, but the only two Emmys its taken home have been for Casting (Jennifer Euston) and Guest Actor (Peter Scolari). Moreover, is the fact that the final episode was more of an epilogue (and a somewhat disappointing one for some fans) leaving a bad taste in voters mouths?
Categories and nominees currently in contention:
Outstanding Comedy Series
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series – Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner, Jessee Peretz, Nisha Ganatra, Richard Shepard*
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – Lena Dunham
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Allison Williams
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Jemima Kirke
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Zosia Mamet
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Adam Driver
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Andrew Rannells
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series – Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner, Judd Apatow**
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series – Becky Ann Baker
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – Matthew Rhys
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – Peter Scolari
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – Riz Amed
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series – Jennifer Euston
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) – Tim Ives
*All for individual episodes
**Includes episodes written by Dunham and Konner and by Dunham, Konner and Apatow