With a handful of major premieres, May has finalized many of the upcoming Emmy races. With the premieres of I Know This Much Is True and The Eddy, we’ve now seen a majority of the big limited series while other ones, like Hulu’s Normal People, are gaining momentum in the conversation. Meanwhile, the second season of Netflix’s Dead to Me has become a massive streaming success capitalizing off of last year’s nomination for Christina Applegate and turning the dark comedy into a major contender across the board.
I Know This Much Is True
HBO has produced some of the most popular limited series in recent Emmy history from Chernobyl to Big Little Lies giving a sense of prestige to anything the network distributes. This year, premiering in their coveted May premiere slot, is the prestigious adaptation of the Wally Lamb novel I Know This Much Is True.
The limited series focuses on the Birdsey twins, played by Mark Ruffalo with a performance that has endlessly been described as a tour-de-force. It’s the type of dual role that seems pre-destined for many awards, and Ruffalo would be very deserving of the Emmy especially after being snubbed for his performance in The Normal Heart. The story follows the brothers through their deep family trauma that influences decades of life events.
Derek Cianfrance has consistently been one of our most interesting filmmakers of the past ten years, but for whatever reason, awards groups have always been resistant to his work. His material tends to be heavy in a way that prevents a popular consensus. I Know This Much Is True is no different as an impeccably crafted story that will potentially scare voters away. For a little bit of insight, the first episode opens with Ruffalo’s Thomas sacrificing one of his limbs in the name of God in a very crowded library.
Right now, I Know This Much Is True is sitting well across our Emmy tracker. The limited series lands in fifth place beating out shows like Hollywood and Little Fires Everywhere. Interestingly, the race for lead actor is more competitive than one would think with Mark Ruffalo tied with Hugh Jackman. Both actors have been getting some of the best reviews of their career, and it is anyone’s guess which way the Television Academy will go.
The race for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series is a different story. The limited series is filled with Emmy-friendly names that could all find themselves nominated from Rosie O’Donnell to Archie Panjabi to Kathryn Hahn (not to mention smaller roles from Melissa Leo, Juliette Lewis, and Imogen Poots). The problem is that none of them stand out over the other, risking that they all are forgotten next to the massive Mrs. America ensemble.
Dead to Me
When the first season of Dead to Me, no one knew what to make of it. The Netflix series employed a bizarre dramedy-like tone that we haven’t quite seen since Desperate Housewives. Then audiences devoured its edge of your seat cliffhanger structure. Critics hailed it as an actor vehicle and were unanimous that it featured Christina Applegate’s best work to date in a career that we’ve all followed since the 90s. Just about every awards group agreed with Applegate receiving Emmy, SAG, Golden Globe, and Critics’ Choice nominations.
This year, the second season was one of the most anticipated shows of the Spring, and audiences can’t get enough. For the past week, it’s topped the Netflix charts, capitalizing on a spiraling premise that has managed to captivate audiences without ever becoming dull.
What is different about the second season is that it has the opportunity to expand from being a showcase for Christina Applegate into a major Emmy player. With a wide-open comedy field, the show’s popularity is in its favor. We have the show comfortable in fifth place in our Emmy tracker while Christina Applegate is sitting in third place for lead actress on the verge of landing in second. Clarence is even going out on a limb and predicting Applegate to win the whole thing, hinting that the lead actress race might be wildly more competitive than any of us initially thought.
Even Linda Cardellini is sitting in fourth place in our lead actress ranking. But where does that popularity stop? Could we see nominations for writing (it earned two WGA nominations), editing (it was nominated at the ACE awards), or even directing?
The only element of Dead to Me that might get in its way is its tone. There has been a lot of discussion of whether the show is really a comedy. It’s a show that deals with death, grief, PTSD, and paranoia. It features less laughs than any comedy that has ever been in the comedy series lineup. In the show’s defense throughout the second season, the entire creative team has really zeroed in on that fine line between comedy and drama producing some truly hilarious moments that could only ever stem from trauma in the first place. It’s a critique that I think is unfair, and in the end I don’t think voters will care.
We’ve talked quite a bit about how the upcoming Emmy season has the potential to look very different without the outside influence of traditional campaigning. There’s a chance that we’ll see some major surprises pushed through off of the mere fact that voters loved them. That’s why we should be keeping an eye on Normal People.
The BBC/Hulu adaptation of the beloved Sally Rooney novel has captured audiences by storm on both sides of the Atlantic. Hulu hasn’t released any American numbers, but it’s broken records over on BBC Three with it doubling the previous records set by Killing Eve. It’s a well-craft YA love story, it’s easy to consume, and it’s the type of story sincere romance that we don’t see in television and film as much as we used to. That sincere romanticism might be what voters need right now especially in a world that raises so many uncertainties.
British television has a long and interesting history at the Emmys especially in the limited series categories. Shows like Sherlock, Luther, Black Mirror, The Hour, and most recently A Very English Scandal have all done incredibly well. This year the limited series categories are far too crowded but Normal People shouldn’t be counted out entirely – especially in the writing category.
So much new content has come out in the past couple of weeks, and writers have spent countless hours writing think piece after think piece on Hollywood, that the premiere of The Eddy came and went without the attention it deserved. A show helmed by Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle with a cast that includes Andre Holland, Amandla Stenberg, Joanna Kulig, and Tahar Rahim should have every cinephile salivating. Instead, the streaming network that is used to high-turnout and trending Twitter moments struggled to get people talking about it.
In terms of its Emmy chance right now, it risks being forgotten in favor of shows that have commanded attention for better or worse. A show like The Eddy is going to have a hard time becoming a contender in a category that is long overdue to expand to seven slots. The ADTV team isn’t united in their predictions either. Some of us have it sitting in seventh while others don’t even have it cracking the top ten. Right now, we have the limited series sitting in tenth place.
If The Eddy is nominated by the Television Academy look for it in other spaces. A thin lead actor field could see Andre Holland sneaking in. With names on the ballot, Damien Chazelle could very well see himself in the director lineup. Then there are the much-deserved craft categories that it could rake up including cinematography, sound mixing, music direction, music supervision, and original music and lyrics.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Netflix also premiered the final chapter of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This time instead of releasing a full-length season, the show experimented with the streaming service’s new interactive model that allows audiences to participate in the narrative as if it was a choose-your-own-adventure novel.
The final six episodes of the original run failed to gain any traction at the Emmys with voters even moving on from fan-favorite Tituss Burgess. Under normal circumstances, a gimmick like an interactive special wouldn’t have much swaying power, but the fact that it’s now competing as a TV movie gives it one last chance of another Emmy nomination. Last year, Black Mirror won the category with their own interactive special, and this year the ADTV team is predicting that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will at least be nominated with it currently ranking in fourth place.
The only actor that the ADTV team thinks has a chance at being nominated one last time is Tituss Burgess. His breakout role as Titus Andromedon earned him four consecutive Emmy nominations and in all honesty, he deserves the most credit for the show’s success. He’s currently sitting at ninth place in our rankings, and without any clear supporting actor frontrunner, he could very well earn a fifth and final nomination for the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt franchise.