The first half of February has been a relatively uneventful month for television. As the media obsesses over the Winter Olympics and the upcoming Oscars less focus is put on any show that might make an impact on the 2018 Emmy race. Still the Writers Guild Association had their annual awards ceremony (the last major guild group of the season) and all three major streaming services made announcements that will have an effect on the Emmys later on in the year.
The Writers Guild is the last major guild to make their picks for the best of 2017 and for the most part the writers basically echoed what the rest of the industry has been saying. The Handmaid’s Tale won the top drama award adding to its successful awards streak with PGA, DGA, ACE Eddie, and Golden Globe wins. On top of winning in the drama series category The Handmaid’s Tale also won an award for Outstanding New Series, further proving the popularity of Hulu’s most successful program.
Big Little Lies and Veep also continued their awards streak although their wins don’t say much for the upcoming Limited Series and Comedy categories at the Emmys since neither will be eligible. Emmy winners Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and SNL continued to rake in variety awards.
The one big shock of the night was that the Lifetime Movie Flint won in the Long Form – Original category over Feud: Bette and Joan. It was widely predicted that Feud would finally win a major award here after being completely forgotten throughout awards season in favor of Big Little Lies. Instead it showed that voters went out of their way to avoid Feud. It’s hard to tell exactly why voters rejected the story of classic Hollywood. Maybe they felt it was pure awards bait or maybe this is the beginning of Ryan Murphy fatigue.
The WGA Awards have unique awards for the best written single episodes in drama and comedy. The categories consistently include left field choices that don’t normally receive awards recognition including nominees this year for shows like Good Behavior, The OA, Trial & Error, and The Carmichael Show. This year’s winners were the “Chicanery” episode of Better Call Saul and “Rosario’s Quincenera” of Will & Grace. This is especially good news for the Will & Grace revival since every winner for the past 11 years has gone on to be a major Emmy player.
Overall WGA voters have simply affirmed that the show to watch later on in Emmy season is The Handmaid’s Tale and the real awards season to look forward to is 2019 with the return of Veep and Big Little Lies as well as sensations like Game of Thrones. Until then The Handmaid’s Tale is the show to beat and the comedy race is up for grabs with no real frontrunner.
Streaming Network Updates
No major new shows have premiered in the past couple weeks however all three streaming networks made major announcements that have the potential to shake up Emmy season.
Netflix threw a wrench into the Outstanding Comedy Series category at the Emmys by announcing that the upcoming fourth season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will not premiere until May 30, the second to last day of the Emmy eligibility period. On top of that Netflix also announced that the season will be split in half and only the first six episodes of the season will be eligible. The reasoning behind this is because producer Tina Fey has been caught up with her upcoming musical adaptation of Mean Girls.
Netflix is running the risk that enough Emmy voters won’t take the time to screen the first half of the fourth season especially as excitement around the comedy dwindles. For the first time the show has been completely shut out by every guild group most notably SAG and WGA members. Still, Netflix used a similar release strategy last year for House of Cards. The political drama was able to overcome unfortunate critical reviews and receive seven nominations by releasing the season at the last possible second.
Amazon announced that they are officially cutting ties with Jeffrey Tambor after sexual assault allegations were made against him on the set of his Emmy winning series Transparent. Tambor has been let go from the upcoming fifth season of Transparent but there has been no public decision on whether or not Amazon will submit him one last time at the Emmys for the fourth season that premiered last September (most likely they will not). The controversy associated with Tambor along with the mixed reviews of the fourth season will probably be enough to convince Emmy voters to move on from the series not only for Tambor but for the series as a whole including past supporting nominees like Judith Light and Gabby Hoffman.
Hulu officially announced that two-time Emmy winner (and five time nominee) Bradley Whitford has joined The Handmaid’s Tale as recurring character Commander Joseph Lawrence, the architect of Gilead’s economy. Whitford has become an Emmy favorite with wins for series like Transparent and The West Wing. This character sounds similar to his eerie and villainous role in Oscar nominee Get Out and if it lives up to the hype he might become the Emmy frontrunner in the Supporting Actor category.