Some things old, some things new, something international and groundbreaking, and a good deal of real-life-inspired drama.
This year’s Emmy Awards nominations juggled two seemingly impossible tasks: they tried to identify standout new series, like “Only Murders in the Building” and “Abbott Elementary,” while acknowledging older ones that were in or about to enter their final seasons. Add to that an increasingly international flavor to the television landscape, with Netflix’s South Korean sensation “Squid Game” securing a best-drama nomination — the first non-English-language show to achieve that feat — and you have a solid prescription for what an overwhelming task this has become. How overwhelming? Well, for starters, the Television Academy dispensed with decades of tradition and didn’t bother to break down the nominations by network because it’s too much of a headache now that streaming platforms exist.
In a change from last year, HBO has widened its lead over Netflix in nominations for the Golden Globes. The premium cable channel earned 140 nominations, including 25 for drama favorite “Succession,” followed by “The White Lotus” (20), “Hacks” (17), “Euphoria” (16) and “Barry” (14). Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” (20) was again the most-nominated comedy.
The more often\] evolving patterns created by the season’s longer breaks have resulted in long breaks between 2019 awards, shortening some shows’ running times, with FX’s “Atlanta” missing out for a good number of years, for example, on more than half of the BAFTA races this year.
Another reason the Emmys have become so messy is the explosion of the limited series category, which has perhaps eclipsed higher-profile contenders for drama and comedy series. The limited category has five slots for nominations, compared with eight in the regular categories. This might explain why Colin Firth and Toni Collette were nominated for HBO Max’s “The Staircase,” but the program itself wasn’t. Notably, HBO’s vacation-from-hell “The White Lotus” (which actually premiered a little over a year ago, missing the deadline for last year’s awards) stands out as the only original concept in the limited-series field. It is joined by a quartet of fact-based productions: Netflix’s “Inventing Anna” and a trio of Hulu productions in “Dopesick,” “The Dropout” and “Pam & Tommy.”
The maximum popularity of series is often viewed as between nostalgic memory and the terrific excitement of newness, which is likewise evident in streaming, which saw a limited selection of series offerings and dominated the comedy and drama series genre.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s nominations for the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards highlighted the diminished role of traditional broadcast networks in the current television landscape. ABC’s new comedy “Abbott Elementary” was the only new show from a major network to be nominated, while freshman hit “Ghosts” failed to make the cut and NBC’s popular tear-jerker “This Is Us” received only one nomination for best original song. The evidence that academy voters were feeling sentimental about shows that have signed off, or are about to, was decidedly mixed: While “Ozark” amassed 13 nominations and “Better Call Saul” nabbed seven, Issa Rae’s nomination marked the only major recognition for the final season of HBO’s Insecure; joined by Killing Eve stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer—a series whose last stand generated a largely negative response.
Last year’s Emmy nominations included several prominent shows from Disney+ such as “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision,” which might have contributed to a rebound in the ratings after record-low numbers in 2020. Despite making a major splash with last year’s awards thanks to “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision,” however, Disney+ hovered back down to Earth this year. The service’s Marvel and “Star Wars” shows amassed a fair number of nods in technical areas—including eight for “Moon Knight,” a half-dozen for “Loki,” and four for “The Book of Boba Fett”—but there was no major recognition for any of them. Star Oscar Isaac did receive a nomination for best actor in a limited series for HBO’s remake of Scenes from a Marriage, but lost out to winner Daniel Bruhl for his performance in Netflix’s rebooted version of The Bridge on the River Kwai.”
Whether that will determine whether the audience is pleased with the show this year remains to be seen. Perhaps the best thing the Emmys have going for them is the wide array of tastes to pique different appetites, in what has gotten a very competitive ecosystem of television shows.