The strangest, longest, and, frankly, most questionable Emmys season in history has almost come to an end. 27,000+ members of the Television Academy have cast their final ballots and are now pondering more important questions such as: If movie theaters were even open in LA, should I go see “Tenet?” Will the Lakers or the Clippers make it to the NBA finals? Will the Dodgers finally win the World Series this year? Will MLB even make it to a World Series without a bubble? Why haven’t Breonna Taylor’s murderers been brought to justice? Will the nation make it to election day on Nov. 3 in one piece? Can anyone actually handle the stress of watching the debates…excuse me, what?
Oh, sorry, I digress, I forgot this was about the Emmys.
And after some massive surprises following a nomination phase where more voters had free time to watch television content than in decades, many are wondering if any a tiny trickle of “traditional” campaigning in phase two worked.
Over the past month, LA’s billboards came alive again with ads for Netflix, Amazon, HBO, FX, and Viacom network contenders (but, don’t you worry, “A Quiet Place II” ads from March are still easy to find). ABC and Disney put on a series of Drive-In events for nominated programs such as “Little Fires Everywhere,” “The Mandalorian” and “Black-ish.” And nominees hit the circuit of nightly talk shows like years gone by even if this time around they logged into a zoom from the nicest part of their homes. There were even Q&As, again Q&As of the virtual variety, but did they break through the election, social justice, and “California is literally on fire” news clutter? The good news is we’ll find out in less than three weeks.
Of course, keeping all that in mind, we’ve got some questions about this year’s Emmys that have been distracting us from fixating on LA’s still too high COVID numbers.
Should other networks beware the Netflix bump?
In case you missed it, Netflix scored 160 Emmy nominations this year. More than any other streamer or network and breaking a record HBO set last year. Netflix so dominated the field there are categories where four out of the five nominees are from the streamer. Every major series or movie category has at least two Netflix nominees. And yet, most awards pundits seem to think they won’t win most of those categories. Perhaps we’re taking a jump here, but that seems slightly shortsighted. One way we’ll know if that’s the case? The Creative Arts Emmys…
Will the Creative Arts Emmys tell the tale?
Spread out over five nights, this year’s not allowed on prime time players have a number of categories that may show demonstrate how strong the Netflix love is with voters this season. On the final night, Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program finds “Nailed It’s” Nicole Byer and the “Queer Eye” quintet in the mix for the first time. If either knocks off four-time winner RuPaul Charles it’s beyond noteworthy. Moreover, the biggest indicator may be Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction series where two critically acclaimed projects, ESPN’s “The Last Dance” (Netflix had international), Hulu’s “Hillary,” are battling Netflix’s pop culture phenomenon “Tiger King” in one of the closest races this season. If “Tiger King” triumphs? Look for more Netflix surprises when the Primetime Emmys are revealed the following night.
Can the Primetime Emmys be as slick but more “live” than the VMAs?
The most impressive aspect of Sunday’s 2020 MTV Video Music Awards is it was unclear if anything viewers were watching was actually broadcast live or if the entire thing was taped. Most of it appeared taped and for the musical numbers, that worked. How the Primetime Emmys, which will be handed out either at Staples Center or the Microsoft Theater in DTLA, will stay that polished remains to be seen. Nominees were not a part of the VMAs outside of clip packages and a few taped and “in-person” acceptance speeches. The Emmys don’t seem to be going in that staged direction. Nominees have been offered the opportunity to set up a live zoom feed from their homes and/or tape an acceptance speech. Other nominees have reportedly been told they can wait outside of Staples and if they win accept their statue in person (or, at worst give a speech there). Again, that’s been reported, but it’s unclear whether that’s still an option at publication. In any event, the Emmys are going to include musical numbers (we’ll guess prerecorded) and hand out the honors on a live broadcast. Can the telecast’s production crew make it work without seeming awkward or messy? It is TV’s biggest night and they do this all for a living, but we’re a wee bit concerned.
Watch out for…”The Mandalorian?”
“Succession,” “Ozark” and “The Crown” are the three shows that are the undisputed favorites to take the Drama Series trophy. But can we talk about that other nominee? Disney Plus’ “The Mandalorian?” Sure, it didn’t earn any writing or directing nominations, but it did land an editing nomination and an acting nod, Giancarlo Esposito in the Guest Actor in a Drama Series category. Nominations that were part of 15 overall and the Mouse House barely spent to campaign it in the first place. Or, to be more polite, even in the COVID affected phase one where budgets were reduced, it’s presence was noticeably quiet. And, somehow it still managed to crack the category pushing past last year’s nominee “Pose” and Apple TV+’s hyped “The Morning Show.” Oh, and did you know that independent tracking groups noted it was the most in-demand series in the world when it aired? We’re not saying “The Mandalorian” is the next “Game of Thrones” when it comes to Emmys love, but we’re not not saying it isn’t either.
Are people sleeping on Billy Porter?
Can a defending Emmy winner get a little respect? Most media covering this year’s Lead Actor in a Drama Series race have it as a three-way play between “Succession’s” Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong along with “Ozark’s” Jason Bateman. Meanwhile, “Pose’s” Billy Porter, who triumphed last year, is being considered an afterthought. Not so fast, there was a definite backlash to “Pose” being snubbed in the Drama Series category after making the cut last year. In a tight race, don’t discount that frustration to potentially help Porter cut through the rest of the competition.
Updated predictions for the following major categories can be found on the individual prediction pages below.
The Creative Arts Emmys begin on Monday, September 14. The Primetime Emmys will be handed out in some manner on Sunday, Sept. 20 on ABC at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET.