The past few weeks offered many major changes to the 2020 Emmys. March has brought us premieres of past favorites like Westworld and the introduction of a handful of major limited series from Little Fires Everywhere to The Plot Against America to DEVS.
March has also been a chaotic and uncertain time as we’ve all braced for a global health crisis that has killed thousands of people and had a disastrous effect on our economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has also severely impacted the entertainment industry and because of that the Emmys. The industy has completely stopped with just about every production being postponed leading to thousands of people not working. Movie theatres have shut down for an uncertain amount of time. Emmy FYC events have been cancelled – an industry that while “unimportant” pumps money into the city’s economy and provides a lot of jobs.
With that being said these are the premieres from the past couple of weeks that have shifted the Emmy race. As people isolate at home and focus on these shows will they have an even bigger impact on the race than expected? Only time will tell.
Over the past couple of weeks the biggest shift in the race for Outstanding Drama Series has been the season three premiere of Westworld. With 43 nominations and 9 wins, the HBO sci-fi epic has been an Emmy favorite and because of that it immediately landed in the top seven contenders in our Emmy Tracker.
With a show this popular among Emmy voters in a category with a massive Game of Thrones sized hole one might ask why it only ended up in seventh place. Many of us at ADTV took its polarizing second season into consideration. Yes, the second season earned an impressive 21 nominations (and a surprise win for Thandie Newton), but as the dust settled on that season and fans were left largely disappointed it was completely forgotten by guild voters. Since then it seems to have dipped in popularity, and the third season has only earned a 63 on Metacritic. Is that good enough to stand out in one of the most crowded drama series lineups in recent memory?
The consensus among the ADTV team is also that the impressive Westworld ensemble is on the periphery in their respected categories. Two-time nominee Evan Rachel Wood is currently ranking at sixth while Jeffrey Wright is currently ranking at seventh now that he is believed to be upgraded to the lead actor race. Past winner Thandie Newton landed safely in fourth place and is by far the show’s best shot at a nomination.
The big question is how 3-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul will factor into the conversation. The beloved actor is a new face in the Westworld universe, and we don’t know exactly how big of a role he will play into the larger picture. Is he a lead? Is he supporting?
LIMITED SERIES CATEGORIES
The wide open race for Outstanding Limited Series saw an influx of interesting premieres over the past couple of weeks including HBO’s The Plot Against America, FX’s DEVS, Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere, and AMC’s Dispatches From Elsewhere.
This is the category that saw the most drastic changes with both The Plot Against America and Little Fires Everywhere jumping into the top five. Rounding out the top five (a ridiculous rule that only allows five nominees) are the three early frontrunners from 2019: Unbelievable, Watchmen, and The Loudest Voice.
If the Emmys were decided on today The Plot Against America would be in a very good position. While most of us are debating a race between Watchmen and Unbelievable, Clarence has declared the dystopian play on history the new frontrunner. On top of immediately landing in the series category both of its leads, Morgan Spector and Zoe Kazan landed in third in their respected categories as well as Winona Ryder in the supporting actress race. John Turturro became the clear frontrunner in the supporting actor race with six of us picking him to win. Anthony Boyle landed in fifth place in the supporting actor lineup as well.
Just as the entire country goes into isolation, Hulu dropped the first three episodes of the highly anticipated Little Fires Everywhere. After premiering to good but not great reviews, it safely landed in fourth place in our Emmy Tracker. But do reviews matter here? It’s based on one of the most popular novels of the past ten years and stars two of Hollywood’s biggest stars. This might be one of those shows that audiences and voters simply devour.
The lead actress race is an entirely different conversation, however. Right now the ADTV team has its two leading stars barely squeaking out nominations with Washington landing in fifth place and Witherspoon in sixth. In a category that is only going to get more crowded, these two women risk vote splitting between each other and even among themselves. Kerry Washington will be on the ballot twice both for Little Fires Everywhere and American Son. Reese Witherspoon only has one limited series in contention this year but will have two major dramas in contention as well. Will voters really vote for her for all three roles?
Right now there is a lot of fluidity happening in the limited series categories. HBO made a couple of major changes by declaring Watchmen a limited series while turning The Outsider into a drama series. We still have the episodic anthologies Little America and Modern Love in the limited series lineup but there are conversations happening that indicate both might end up in the comedy race. On top of that, three time Emmy-winner Jeremy Irons might leave the supporting actor race in favor of a barren lead actor race.
While the comedy lineup hasn’t changed that much there are a couple of premieres that might impact the comedy field. The fourth season of FX’s Better Things premiered, and with a wide open lead actress race, Pamela Adlon found herself jumping to third place in our rankings.
The other big premiere was the second season of Showtime’s Black Monday. Last year, Don Cheadle’s lead actor nomination provided the show’s sole nomination. Now that the comedy series race is wide open and voters have a lot of time to discover new shows, there might be an opportunity for the Wall Street comedy to reach a bigger audience.