With DGA having announced their nominees this week, every major guild has now voiced their opinions on the best television of 2017. Although the Emmy eligibility period is only at the halfway mark, the guild awards are the only real concrete clue on what shows industry voters are obsessing over.
This year a consensus seems to have formed around a surprising amount of past nominees like Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, Veep, and even Silicon Valley while former contenders like Mr. Robot were completely shut out. With six months to go, this is what the guild groups are hinting at what will happen at the Emmys:
For whatever reason guild voters have always struggled to reward interesting new shows right when they premiere. This year voters have continued to go back to the familiar with Veep and Silicon Valley completely dominating the comedy categories with just about every guild group. The guild support for these HBO favorites won’t have a tremendous amount of impact on the upcoming Emmy awards. Veep is currently on hiatus while Julia Louis-Dreyfus battles cancer, and Silicon Valley’s upcoming season has yet to air making it harder to judge its chances. The second season of Master of None also did extremely well across all of the major guilds, but with no immediate plans for a third season, it leaves a major opening for new comedies to break into the category.
One of the most telling aspects of the various guild groups was the almost complete snub of network comedies. For the first time not a single broadcast sitcom was recognized by PGA, DGA, or WGA voters. Black-ish received a SAG nomination for its ensemble (and individual recognition for Anthony Anderson), but thats probably a sign that the show will probably only receive the same number of Emmy nominations it did last year. Modern Family has finally been forgotten by every major guild group which is a promising sign that Emmy voters will finally nominate newer comedies as well.
Only two new comedies have managed to breakthrough at the guild awards in major ways and surprisingly there is an interesting parallel between the two that might carry them all the way to the Emmys. Both GLOW and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are period comedies about women in the entertainment industry taking control of their own careers in unconventional ways. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel performed well with the directors and producers guilds, a combination that always leads to broad support with Emmy voters. On the opposite spectrum GLOW did very well with the writers and actors guilds while not showing up at the DGA and PGA. On top of the support from the major guilds, GLOW also raked in nominations from guilds representing art directors, costume designers, and editors proving there is broad support for the wresting comedy.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel didn’t have as much broad support with other guilds but that is probably accredited to the fact that it premiered at the last minute over Thanksgiving weekend. Instead the comedy received a major publicity boost from the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice which will lead to even bigger audiences.
Before the guilds made their choices for the best work of 2017 the consensus was that if any reboot is welcomed back into the awards conversation it would be Will & Grace. Then the beloved comedy was largely ignored with the exception of a couple of individual nominations for Sean Hayes and an episode nomination at the WGA. Instead the return of Curb Your Enthusiasm was welcomed with open arms by PGA, WGA, ACE, and SAG voters. The most telling nomination was the SAG ensemble nod, something the show has never been acknowledged with before. Unless there is an onslaught of breakout comedies in the spring Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm will be welcomed back to the Emmys with open arms while Will & Grace will be lucky to earn a nomination or two for the cast.
Last year’s Emmys welcomed an entirely new class of drama contenders resulting in one of the most exciting series races in years. Now it seems a consensus has formed around these shows and the guilds have only proved that. Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Stranger Things were nominated by every major guild group. The Crown isn’t as represented as some of the other shows, but it actually received more nominations than last year with new nominations from PGA and CSA voters signaling that the second season is well received.
The only major drama that should be worried heading into Emmy season is NBC’s This Is Us. Currently in the middle of its second season, This Is Us continued to do well with SAG voters but was completely left out by DGA, WGA, and PGA voters. The network drama is still a ratings hit, but the fact that guild voters mostly ignored This Is Us might be a hint that it is heading towards a sophomore slump at the Emmys.
After sweeping through the Emmys, The Handmaid’s Tale became the only new drama in 2017 to rake in various nominations at the guild awards. In fact it’s become such a huge sensation that it might be able to go head-to-head with Game of Thrones later this year. Other new dramas, although with no major nominations, were recognized in lesser ways. Both Jason Bateman and Laura Linney received individual nominations at the SAG awards showing that Ozark might become a sleeper hit at the Emmys if no other new drama catches the attention of voters later in the year.
The other new dramas that came out throughout the fall largely failed to be noticed at all. HBO’s NYC prestige drama The Deuce was only recognized for its cinematography and in the new series category at the WGA awards. Even more shocking is the extreme to which voters have ignored Mindhunter. The crime drama became a mini sensation last October and Netflix was hoping it might become a major Emmy player. Instead WGA, PGA, DGA, and SAG voters shunned Mindhunter completely and the only recognition it received was for its art direction and cinematography.
Unless a new show surprises everyone the upcoming drama race is likely to be between two previous winners, Game of Thrones and The Handmaid’s Tale. The guild awards showed however that the more interesting Emmy race will instead be in 2019 when The Handmaid’s Tale, the final season of Game of Thrones, and the return of Big Little Lies all compete against each other. No show has dominated every awards group in 2017 quite like Big Little Lies. After a re-vote it unsurprisingly made it into the drama series lineup with the other biggest shows of the year.
Critics’ Choice Awards
The Critics’ Choice Awards were held last night and for the second year in a row the Broadcast Television Journalists Association members are furthering the belief that they can’t think for themselves. Voters finalized their ballots two days ago immediately after the Golden Globes and last night’s results are a direct result of that. Voters echoed the choices made by the HFPA with the sole exception of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series where Ted Danson (The Good Place) upset Aziz Ansari (Master of None).
Unlike the Golden Globes BTJA voters differentiate supporting performances by genre. Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) and Walton Goggins (Vice Principals) were some of the biggest surprises of the evening. David Harbour (Stranger Things) and Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale) won in the drama categories. Harbour has slowly become one of the most beloved actors from the Stangers Thing ensemble after his SAG acceptance speech last year and with a wide open supporting actor race he might become the show’s first acting win at the Emmys.
Overall the Critics’ Choice Awards are in the middle of an identity crisis. After a mass exodus of major critics the film awards have become merely an attempt to predict the Oscars while the television categories simply echo choices made by Emmy and HFPA members. With an overwhelming amount of TV a critics group like the BTJA should be championing shows like they did with shocking wins for Walton Goggins and Ted Danson. Until then the awards group should probably stop being awarded the coverage it receives.