Over the past few weeks, the Emmy landscape shifted in quite a few unexpected ways. The third season of Ozark premiered to its best reviews yet. The Television Academy deemed Showtime’s new comedy On Becoming a God In Central Florida a drama series even though the network spent a lot of time and energy marketing it as a black comedy. This week alone two beloved family sitcoms aired their series finales.
On top of all that, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have an effect on both the Emmy season and the industry as a whole. The Television Academy pushed this year’s calendar back by two weeks. Shows like Genius: Aretha and The Undoing have been postponed until later in the year. With everyone isolating at home, they’ve had no other choice than to stream The Tiger King and turn it into one of the most unlikely sensations in a very long time. With months to go and little campaigning that can be done, are we about to see more and more surprise phenomenon enter the Emmy conversation based only on pure popularity?
Is Ozark A New Emmy Frontrunner?
Over the past two weeks, Ozark developed into quite the phenomenon, captivating audiences and critics. Since it premiered, it remained the most streamed scripted program on Netflix only falling behind The Tiger King. The third season also won over critics earning an impressive 77 on Metacritic (compared to season two’s 59 and season one’s 66). On Rotten Tomatoes, it earned a 97 (compared to season two’s 76 and season one’s 70).
It’s also the drama series that voters are all devouring while locked in isolation. Last year’s Emmy wins for Bateman and Garner are proof that voters were already paying attention, and there’s a chance that this is the year it becomes a major Emmy contender. As the ADTV team catches up with the newest season, it already jumped up in our Emmy Tracker to third place below Succession and The Crown. A month ago no one was even talking about Laura Linney as a major contender to win but now she has jumped up in our tracker with both myself and Clarence even predicting her to win over early frontrunners Olivia Colman and Jennifer Aniston.
Jason Bateman won an Emmy last year for his work as a director, but this year he is quickly rising in the lead actor race. As the ADTV team updates their predictions, it’s clear that the race for Outstanding Lead Actor is split between Bateman and Brian Cox. Last year’s supporting actress winner Julia Garner is also back in the conversation ranking alongside Oscar winners like Meryl Streep and Laura Linney. Janet McTeer and Tom Pelphry have also entered the top ten in the supporting races, and as time goes on and more and more people watch the third season, Pelphry remains one to keep an eye on.
Only time will tell if Ozark will be able to hold on to its momentum, but right now, it looks like Outstanding Drama Series is now a three-way race with Succession and The Crown.
A Family Goodbye
After six perfect seasons, Schitt’s Creek said its final goodbyes with a season that has become quite the cultural phenomenon. Focusing on the highly anticipated wedding of David and Patrick, the series finale was one of the most satisfying in a very long time. It became one of the top trending topics on Twitter, and Moira’s Pope-chic look became an instant classic. The finale received the single best ratings for Pop TV in the history of the network with nearly 1.3 million live viewers across multiple networks. The final season on average netted one million viewers across delayed and multi-platform viewings.
The final season was met with such fanfare that it solidified its status as a frontrunner across the board in our Emmy Tracker. Schitt’s Creek is virtually tied with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Moira’s scene officiating her son’s wedding has tied her with Rachel Brosnahan for first place. With months until voting, it definitely feels like Schitt’s Creek is peaking at the best moment.
The very next night ABC aired the series finale for Modern Family – the once beloved family sitcom that won Outstanding Comedy Series five years in a row. Over the years, the comedy became culturally irrelevant, but in its final season there is a chance that voters feel a sense of nostalgia. The finale received with its best ratings in over three years, so we know that people are watching. Critics also reviewed the finale as the end of the broadcast sitcom era, which is the type of narrative that might inspire voters to rally behind it.
Don’t Count Out Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer
A couple of weeks ago, Netflix premiered their newest limited series Self Made, the first major project about the life of America’s first female self-made millionaire, Madame CJ Walker. Self Made was welcomed with a lot of excitement, and audiences continued to stream. However, its premiere was hurt by mixed reviews and frustrated fans who felt like Walker’s life wasn’t accurately portrayed.
If Self Made is remembered by voters in a couple of months, it will be for Octavia Spencer’s lead performance. The Oscar winner is beloved by her peers, but surprisingly she has never been nominated for an Emmy. With the lead actress race clearing up thanks to the industry shutting down, Spencer is the likeliest actress to benefit from that. As ADTV updates their predictions, it seems like she might be competing for the sixth spot among other Oscar winners like Reese Witherspoon and Helen Mirren.
On Becoming a God in Central Florida Becomes a Drama
Earlier this week the Television Academy announced that the new showtime series, On Becoming a God in Central Florida, would be forced to compete as a drama at the 2020 Emmys. This came as a major surprise since Showtime marketed the series as a comedy, and it even earned a handful of awards as a comedy. The decision is likely because of its running time with episodes clocking in at an average of 40 minutes.
How does this affect the Emmy race? As a new show, it was unclear how it would have performed at the Emmys, but Kirsten Dunst was considered a strong contender to be nominated in the lead actress race. Now the show’s chances at any sort of nomination are diminished after being thrown into the insanely crowded drama series race. On top of that the comedy categories are even thinner.
As the weeks go by the networks are also making calculated decisions on where to submit their shows. As the lineup for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series has thinned out, HBO made the decision to submit Jeremy Irons (Watchmen) as a lead actor. That becomes a welcome boost for Tim Blake Nelson in the supporting actor race where Irons was once the focus.
Over the past six months, we’ve been introduced to two new episodic anthology series with Apple TV+’s Little America and Amazon’s Modern Love. Because of their anthological structure, it was believed they would both compete as limited series since they’re episodes were too short to submit as TV movies. Instead Apple TV+ announced that Little America will compete as a comedy series with the ensemble submitting in the guest acting races.
Amazon is still deciding where to submit Modern Love, their star-filled anthology about love and romance in NYC. We’ve removed it from our Tracker for now, but it might end up in the comedy series lineup or back in limited series. Wherever it ends up, the performance to keep an eye on will be Anne Hathaway who has an outside chance of earning her first Emmy acting nomination.