Written by Chris Walker (@cwlkr20)
It’s my favorite time of the year — the 2018 Emmy nominations have been dropped off like a gift under the Christmas tree. Now, we wait for September 17th to find out the winners. There have been snubs, surprises, and usual suspects (except Veep), as always, so like last year, I’ve collected a quick viewing list to refresh and introduce some of the Primetime and Creative Arts candidates for one of television’s highest honors.
An Emmy for Megan — All of It
What can’t get nominated for an Emmy? Do you just need a camera, a witty script, and the blatant balls to just go for it? Seriously, if just not making a low budget, 5-minute show is all that’s holding back my chances at an EGOT campaign, the likes the world hasn’t seen since Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock, then shit, I needed to get started yesterday. That’s the basic premise behind the web series, An Emmy for Megan by Megan Amram. She literally just wanted an Emmy, so the The Good Place writer and producer made a meta show that was so blatantly an awards grab that she never hides. Amram goes for it, going through the short form web series category, bringing along guest appearances by fellow nominee Ted Danson and noted director JJ Abrams. She’s not hiding anything, constantly reminding you of her ambition. Seriously, I salute that. Now, to figure out how to replicate it and improve it for my own nomination.
Nominated For — Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series
Honest Trailers — The Incredibles
The main core of satire is that it has a built-in dose of the truth. All satires are shining a bombastic light, making fun of the more ridiculous, sometimes with love. That’s the basic premise of Honest Trailers — they love movies, but they’re completely aware of how ridiculous films can be at times, just for the happy ending. From movie & television-focused YouTube channel Screen Junkies, HT skewers the finer points of good movies, bad movies, and everything in between. The entire thing got its start making fun of the 3D re-release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which deserves ridicule for its many issues. Their Incredibles run-down is poignant and fun, more complementary of the movie than anything. It does one important thing though — it flat out admits that a good Fantastic Four movie technically exists, sans Fox.
Nominated For — Outstanding Short Form Variety Series
Killing Eve — Nice Face
Spy thrillers rarely allow the combatants to both be women. It’s rare to have two women go spy vs spy, chasing each other in a battle of intelligence and wits. That is what Killing Evebrings to the table. The BBC show, about an Asian-American MI5 desk-bound assistant (Sandra Oh) chasing a psychopathic female assassin (Jodie Comer), and the two women becoming obsessed with one another. Oh’s Eva Polastri is entranced by how Comer’s Viillanelle has such a high and efficient body count. Villainelle is fixated on the woman tasked with tracking her, who is actually on to her. The show never feels like it is dragging, because it makes all the details matter. Developed for television by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the first episode sets the two women on their journey toward one another. The show delivers on the thriller premise through the sheer body count, but expectedly, you laugh a good deal. The British wit is on full display, with a lot of biting insults thrown around but also a good deal of general situational and workplace humor, that never breaks the tension but adds to it.
Nominated For — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Sandra Oh; Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Nice Face)
Saturday Night Live — Donald Glover/Childish Gambino
Listen, I’m not gonna explain this episode or this show. I’ve talked enough about how smart Glover is and the SNL reinvention as a whole. Today is for Kenan Thompson who, in another world, is a Black Ron Howard. They’re both former child stars who have come through the other side relatively alright. One of them is an Oscar-winning director, while the other is SNL’s current long-standing cast member. I doubt Thompson is upset with where he is, but it’s fun to think of him creating a Black version of Arrested Development. The All Thatand Good Burger star was always creative and funny, but has matured into SNL’s utility player, skilled at making you laugh in any situation. When he gets to be the focal point, be it playing a singing, ready-to-die lobster or the host of Black Jeopardy, it feels like Thompson is guiding and directing the hilarity that ensues. It’s wild he just got his first nomination, but better late than another Modern Family cast member. Honestly, he’s probably the funniest part of the “Friendos” skit, for his take on often forgotten Migos member, Takeoff. See below if you don’t believe.
Nominated For — Outstanding Variety Sketch Series; Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Aidy Bryant, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon; Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Alec Baldwin and Kenan Thompson; Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Donald Glover and Bill Hader; Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Tina Fey and Tiffany Haddish; Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for Chance Bennett, Eli Brueggemann, Chris Redd, and Kenan Thompson
4 others to re-watch
— Game of Thrones — The Queen’s Justice: Diana Rigg is a badass. Need I say more?
— Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown — Season 8: Honestly, just really great travel TV that will age well, and educate the future on how to thoughtfully interact when traveling.
— Drunk History — Hamilton: Alia Shawkat as Alexander Hamilton and Aubrey Plaza as Aaron Burr, in a story narrated by an inebriated Lin-Manuel Miranda. I hope I don’t need to sell anyone more on this one. That’s just gold.
— Star Wars Rebels — The Entire Final Season: This show deserved a better audience than it got, for thoughtfully expanding the range of the Star Wars universe.
Snubs: Jane The Virgin
I can give you a mountain of shows that deserved more recognition in this year’s nominations: One Day At a Time is amazing; The Good Place is television’s smartest comedy; who said “No” to surprise hit The Good Doctor? I will probably give the world a nice twitter rant, soon, but I digress.
I found the most egregious oversight by the Television Academy was the continued shunning of The CW’s Jane The Virgin. The show builds off the wild concept of a young Latin woman getting accidentally artificially inseminated. From there, it gets wilder — from face-swapping psychopaths to telenovela antics, Jane knows how to play the ridiculous for laughs and for heart. I could honestly go on and on about the diversity in front of and behind the camera, the narrator, the stories they tell of family dynamics and grief. The strongest part of the show is clearly the performance of Gina Rodriguez, whose portrayal of Jane Gloriana Villanueva is the heart of the show. Her ability to find emotional depth and filling comedy at every turn is brilliant, while also trendsetting for the show.
Jane has been put through a ringer in the past, with a child kidnapping, a dead husband, etc., so this past season took it easy on her. Seeing Jane open up her heart once again was light, but wonderful because of how the show wrote out the characters’ worries, from parenting to just being let down by someone else. I’m not one for spoilers but I’ll say this — on television, nothing is forever. Hopefully, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences opens its eyes by next year, since this fall will be the show’s last run. Come on, figure it out before it’s too late.