This is the second in our 2016 Emmy Confidential series. Publishing this week, the Emmy Confidential series allows Emmy voters the opportunity to anonymously discuss what they voted for and why in four major Emmy categories.
Our second post comes from an Emmy-winning Producer whose career in the competitive reality series genre has garnered multiple Emmy wins. This Producer found the new voting rules (striking the preferential ballot) made the voting process easier but does miss the fun baked into preference ranking. The Producer also lamented Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s absence from the major categories and roots for Sarah Paulson to finally win an Emmy.
Drama Series – Mr. Robot
Overall, I actually watch all seven of these. Usually, at least something gets in that I don’t watch, so that’s kind of rare. Better Call Saul I respect more than like. I like this season better than the first, but it still doesn’t connect with me. I don’t know what I want this show to be, but I don’t love it. I have watched every season of Downton Abbey, but it was literally time to go about two seasons ago. It is entertaining, but if there’s one in this category that shouldn’t have been nominated this is it. I would have put in The Affair or Bates Motel. The writing was getting pretty thin, and the characters were sort of played out by this point. I’ve been a fan of Game of Thrones since the beginning. This season, it played a lot faster in a good way where, in previous seasons, it dragged a little for me. I love it. It’s like watching a big screen movie every week. It’s a fun show.
Homeland is one of those shows I’ve had a love/hate relationship with. I loved the first season but thought it went downhill after that. It’s definitely coming back, and I thought this was another really good season. I loved Miranda Otto and that character. It was a nice change of view moving it to Europe. I binged it within probably five or six days. I’ve seen enough of Carrie crying to last me a lifetime though. I still like the show, but not enough to ever vote for it again. House of Cards had a good season. The show is getting a little soapy, and it’s always stretched believability. Once [Frank Underwood] pushed Kate Mara in front of the train, it sort of lost credibility, but it’s always been fun. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are always just incredible. Especially Robin Wright. She had a great season, and I think she should win at least once for this role. I love seeing her direct in this too. It played really well in light of all the craziness going on with the primaries at the time this came out. It almost didn’t feel crazy when you saw Claire’s name put up for vice president at the convention.
I was blown away by Mr. Robot. For first seasons, I think it’s tough to get a feel of what your show is and what you’re doing. I think right from the beginning, Sam Esmail knew exactly what he wanted this to be. Rami Malek is sort of mesmerizing, and everything really worked for me. There was a lot with his psychology, but there was also lot of plot to keep things moving forward. I really loved it. Here’s the funny thing. I’ve read that shows benefit more from airing a new season during the voting window, but it doesn’t work in this case. I don’t get Season 2. I have a hard time watching it. I voted for Mr. Robot because I loved the first season, but I can’t imagine voting for it based on Season 2. I’m happy The Americans made it in. I loved the first half of this season, and I didn’t really love the second half. Once ***spoiler*** died, the wind kind of went out of its sails to me. I didn’t care quite as much about that biological weapon. The last few episodes didn’t work for me. I still love what Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys do, but I just couldn’t vote for it based on what I saw this season.
Comedy Series – Veep
I had never seen an episode of black-ish. I feel like a terrible Emmy voter. On the Emmy website, they give you six episodes to review, and you’re only obligated to watch one. I watched all six. I think it’s incredibly funny. It went from never seeing it to now being on my DVR. It feels like what Modern Family was about six years ago. I like what Aziz Ansari is doing with Master of None, but it’s not quite funny enough for me as a comedy. It feels more in the vein of Louie, which you appreciate more than laugh along with. I liked it but didn’t love it. I stopped watching Modern Family religiously after Season 4. It feels exactly like where I left it. I think the actors are great, but it feels a little phoned in at this point. Especially with black-ish in the category, it doesn’t feel fresh to me anymore. It’s still cute but not as funny as it used to be.
Silicon Valley I have loved from the beginning. During preferential voting, it was almost always number two on my ballot. This past season I felt was a step back. Somehow, the story didn’t quite click with me overall. I thought Transparent Season 2 was a step up overall. Loved it, but this is comedy series. It’s not funny enough to me. If this were in the drama category, it would probably be in my top three. It’s funny-ish. To me, a comedy series still needs to be funny for me to vote for it.
Let me say that I loved 30 Rock. I voted for it many times. I do not get Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I don’t think it’s funny. I don’t think the lead character as written is funny. I mostly find it annoying, and I love all the producers, actors, writers involved. It just doesn’t do it for me. I would have nominated Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in place of this. I voted for Veep. In another year, if Veep hadn’t been this good, I probably would have voted for black-ish. To me, this was an historic best season of comedy. In particular, the “Mother” episode where her mother is dying is like top 50 all-time comedy episodes to me. It’s one of the funniest, most well written, well acted episodes of comedy for the year.
Limited Series – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
I really liked American Crime. I still think Season 1 overall was better, but I think it’s great that this series airs on American television. I think the actors are all great, and the writing’s great. I’m a huge fan of this series, and I’m glad they’re bringing it back even though the ratings aren’t fantastic for it. In other years, I could see myself having voted for this. Fargo was incredible. When that was airing between October and December, I thought it was a lock. I didn’t think there was any way something could possibly beat this for Limited Series. Incredible acting. Incredible writing. I loved all of it. It’s ridiculous that there’s something else I voted for other than this. Roots I also loved. This is such a huge degree of difficultly because people ask, “Why bother remaking this classic?” That first 20-30 minutes when they were still in Africa looked incredible in HD. If there was no other reason to re-do this, it was just to see how far visually TV and filmmaking has come. I thought Forrest Whitaker gave a career-best performance. I thought it was all just really well done, and this was another that I could see myself voting for in another year.
The Night Manager is the only one I would have taken out of the category. I didn’t like it. I got through half of it when it was airing, and I just sort of lost interest. It’s well acted, looks great, but the story didn’t grab me. Honestly, in place of this, I would have put Show Me a Hero. I voted for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. This is another one with a huge degree of difficulty. I couldn’t have been more surprised at how well written it was, how sharp it was in terms of showing Los Angeles at the time of the case. You really, really understood how they came to that verdict. The acting was great, almost entirely. There were a few performances I didn’t love, but I was willing to let that go. It was an accomplishment because it was just so difficult to make this work properly. It could have been a complete disaster, but it wasn’t.
TV Movie – All the Way
For the last five-to-ten years, there have been some great, great winners in this category. I thought this was not the greatest year for TV movies at all. With A Very Murray Christmas, I kept seeing Bill Murray get nominated or the movie, and I’d never bothered to watch until it finally got nominated. I did sit and watch it, and I just didn’t get it. I didn’t really think it was funny. I didn’t like it. Sort of by default, I voted for All the Way. It was well made. The actors are great. It’s…. good. I guess if I hadn’t already seen Selma already… I liked it enough to vote for it, but I had to vote for something. I liked Confirmation, I just liked it a little less. Again, the performances were all good, but it just didn’t come together quite as well for me. I’m glad the story was told, but it didn’t really resonate with me. I have loved Sherlock as a series overall, but I didn’t like this one. I sort of didn’t like the jumping between present day and past. I was so excited to see this one that I watched it the night it premiered, but I was disappointed by it. Luther I liked quite a bit. I thought the case was good and creepy. If I were ranking these, I would put it third on my ballot.