Throughout April, we’ve seen a string of high-profile premieres that will influence the Emmy race. After the second season broke into the drama series race and Jodie Comer won the lead actress Emmy, Killing Eve is back with a third season. FX premiered their newest prestige limited series Mrs. America with one of the most awards-friendly ensembles we have ever seen. HBO debuted their newest comedy Run as well as the fourth season of Insecure just in time to shake up the lackluster comedy lineup. What kind of an effect will these premieres have on the Emmy race?
‘Mrs. America’ Becomes The New Limited Series Frontrunner
Possibly the biggest premiere of the month so far has been the release of FX on Hulu’s Mrs. America. This highly anticipated limited series details the pursuit for the Equal Rights Amendment, following prominent figures on both sides of the aisle and featuring one of the strongest ensembles in recent memory.
Mrs. America has felt like a preordained Emmy contender since it was first greenlit. FX has had enormous success using standout ensembles in recent period dramas, covering everyone from OJ Simpson to Gwen Verdon. Its successful premiere has only solidified its frontrunner status, as it immediately jumps to the top of our Emmy Tracker. On top of that, Mrs. America is definitely a contender for directing, writing, and countless craft awards, including Outstanding Main Title Design.
FX has produced some of the biggest limited series in recent years leading to some of the best Emmy winners of the decade from Jessica Lange to Sarah Paulson to Michelle Williams. This year will be no exception, with Mrs. America showcasing one of the strongest and best reviewed ensembles in a very long time. Cate Blanchett has already jumped to the top of our Emmy Tracker with all but one of us already predicting her to win. John Slattery, who plays Phyllis Schlafly’s husband, has already jumped to second place in our Tracker. Slattery is also a four-time nominee without ever winning—could this be the nomination that gets him his first win?
Then there is the confounding dilemma in the supporting actress lineup. The ensemble highlights one of the most Emmy-friendly casts in recent memory, and they could easily fill the entire category of just themselves. Rose Byrne’s portrayal of Gloria Steinem has already jumped to second place, while perennial Emmy nominee Margo Martindale is safely in third. Then there’s 26-time Emmy nominee Tracey Ullman in sixth place, while beloved actress Uzo Aduba is on the cusp of a nomination in seventh. That’s not even mentioning the rest of the ensemble of past nominees who could easily surprise based off of popularity alone, like Sarah Paulson, Elizabeth Banks, Niecy Nash, and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
On top of Mrs. America solidifying its name in the Emmy conversation, its success also seems to signify good things to come from the partnership between FX and Hulu. The collaboration called FX on Hulu has led to a lot of Emmy Award-winning programming to be easily available to stream online, and now with shows like Mrs. America, they are bypassing traditional airing models on the network itself and being released directly to Hulu. The success of something like Mrs. America and its ability to stay in the cultural conversation is proof that FX can adapt to a changing landscape and it will be interesting to see if other networks do similar things in the future.
Sunday Night Premieres
Sunday night has become a major night for potential Emmy contenders. Last week we saw the premiere of three shows hoping to make an impact on the upcoming Emmy race, from HBO’s Insecure and Run to BBC America’s Killing Eve.
It feels like just yesterday when Killing Eve came out of nowhere, catching everyone by surprise to become one of the greatest pop culture phenomenons of the year. Since then Jodie Comer pulled off one of the biggest surprises in Emmy history, and the show as a whole has been nominated for multiple awards across the board. Now, three seasons in, and the spy thriller remains a fan favorite. The third season premiered to strong ratings and is one of the only major dramas to actually improve on its live+same-day ratings. Even though critics feel like it hasn’t lived up to its original magic, audiences are still captivated and that’s all that really matters.
With all that excitement in mind, the consensus at ADTV is that the show will be welcomed back into the drama series lineup. In our combined rankings, Killing Eve safely sits in sixth place above contenders like The Morning Show, Stranger Things, and Westworld. Emmy winner Jodie Comer is also sitting safely in fifth place. Unfortunately, as the lead actress race becomes more and more competitive, Sandra Oh is the one in danger of not even being nominated. For the past two seasons, Oh has gained a lot of goodwill and momentum leading up to what should finally be her first Emmy, but now she’s on the verge of not even being nominated.
After an 18-month hiatus, Insecure is finally back for a fourth season. The show has never been a major Emmy contender, and its only two nominations (Issa Rae and cinematography) were for its second season, only to be completely forgotten the next year. Still, this is a show that continues to be one that captivates audiences and dominated Twitter, while Issa Rae’s star power only continues to rise, so we shouldn’t count her out of the Emmy conversation just yet. We have her on the cusp of a nomination and if viewers continue to tune in week after week, there’s a chance she is welcomed back into the race, especially since we know that voters increasingly gravitate towards auteur-style comedy.
That same night HBO also premiered their new comedy Run. Created by Vicky Jones (director of the original Fleabag stage production), Run features plenty of Emmy talent in front of and behind the camera, including star Merritt Wever, a supporting performance from Archie Panjabi, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who both executive produces and appears in the first season. So far the show has received mixed reactions from audiences and critics, but most viewers have found the show to be fun in a time where we are all in need of a distraction. It’s an escapist comedy that defies genre at times, feeling like a comedy and then a drama and even part mystery.
The comedy categories are embarrassingly barren this year, which only boosts the chances of a show like Run. We currently have the show in sixth place and Merritt Wever safely debuting in fourth place. We also have Domhnall Gleeson just missing out on being nominated for his first Emmy, but if the comedy continues to build momentum, he can easily move up.
Two New TV Movies
The newest Lifetime Movie, The Clark Sisters, may not seem like an obvious Emmy contender. We rarely see any films from the once dominant network nominated. However, The Clark Sisters deserves a second look. Last weekend it became the most watched film for the network in over four years. It became a trending topic on Twitter, and it seemed like everyone was talking about it. Even Emmy winner Lena Waithe was posting about how it deserves to be an awards contender. There aren’t a lot of contenders in the conversation this year, so maybe something like The Clark Sisters will excite enough voters to actually pay attention.
We’ve also added the Amazon Prime movie Blow The Man Down into our Emmy Tracker. Originally premiering at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, the film has since been picked up by Amazon for distribution and premiered on the service last month. Throughout 2020, Amazon Prime has shaken up their distribution model and has brought multiple indie darlings into the TV Movie conversation. This has brought fresh, innovative storytelling into one of the most comatose categories. Fingers crossed that voters will start paying attention.
As the season progresses, the networks have made strategic decisions in solidifying their category submission decisions. Recently we’ve seen multiple decisions happen that have impacted our Emmy Tracker from On Becoming a God in Central Florida being forced into the drama series race to Apple TV+ deciding to run Little America as a comedy.
This week we’ve confirmed that Amazon has decided to go a similar route and run last fall’s Modern Love as a comedy series instead of going through the limited series route. It’s interesting to see these episodic anthologies compete as comedies instead of limited series where they belong and it’s hard to tell how exactly that will play out for them in the long run. Currently we don’t have either even breaking into the Top 10 in an incredibly weak year for comedies.
A couple of actors have also gone from lead to supporting since we first set up the tracker. We’ve learned that Viola Davis will compete as a supporting actress for the Amazon Prime original film Troop Zero. She currently is sitting in eighth place in our tracker, but as we’ve learned over the years, the beloved Oscar winner should never be counted out. Regina Hall will also be submitted as a supporting actress in the comedy category for her performance on Black Monday.
Readers, did you tune in to any of these premieres? Who from the ‘Mrs. America’ ensemble will stand out to Emmy voters? Sound off in the comments below!