Watchmen leads the pack of Emmy nominations in 2020
It’s interesting to observe how we have changed the way we consume “television” series over recent years; the evolution is starkly apparent with the announcement of 2020’s Emmy nominees, which are significantly skewed towards streaming and on-demand pay platforms.
The glory days of network are fading, as is perhaps the actual television, as we watch on laptops, tablets and phones; a sad 121 nominations across all categories for network productions could be the faint sound of a death knell.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), also colloquially known as the Television Academy, was founded in 1946, along with the Primetime Emmy Awards, which are dedicated to excellence in the industry.
The 2020 nominations include a record 160 for Netflix shows, and 107 for HBO series – which is no real surprise; Home Box Office has consistently delivered some of the best television in recent history, creating original programming since 1975. In South Africa, it first came to our attention with OZ (1997) then The Sopranos (1999), both excellent benchmarks for superior viewing.
Fast forward and its dystopian superhero drama series Watchmen is the leader of the pack with 26 nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series, and Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress for Jeremy Irons and Regina King respectively.
Actors of colour get a record number of nominations
On the note of King, Variety noted this year’s Emmys also reflect a record number of African American actors, and actors of colour like Ramy Youssef (Ramy) and Sandra Oh. “There were 102 acting nominees this year across lead, supporting and guest categories for drama, comedy and limited series/TV movie. Thirty-five of those slots went to Black actors,” it said.
Looking at the heavyweight categories of Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in comedy and drama series, joining King are Octavia Spencer (Self Made), Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Don Cheadle (Black Monday), Issa Rae (Insecure), Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish), Sterling K Brown (This Is Us), the incredible Billy Porter (Pose), and Zendaya in HBO’s Euphoria.
According to Reuters this was a “surprise” nomination but I dispute that statement: she was utterly gorgeous in the role, and supremely talented. I would not want to put my money on any of the nominees as, like the winner will say in their acceptance speech, they are “honoured to be included in such fine company” or words to that effect.
Nods for new players in the streaming space
Also interesting in 2020 is the inclusion of shows from the relatively new platforms, Apple TV and Disney +. Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian (Disney+) got an Outstanding Drama Series (plus 14 more) nomination, while The Morning Show has both its leads in the running: Steve Carell and Jennifer Aniston (out of a total of 8 nominations).
Again, I’m hedging my bets. The Morning Show (Apple TV) is classy viewing, as it tackles the topical issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. It begins benignly enough, even funny, but towards the end it takes a sickeningly serious turn.
HBO nominees to stream
Showmax is pretty much the home of HBO on the continent, with a meaty catalogue of previous multi-award winning series, including the aforementioned Sopranos, and Sex and the City – a classic if there ever was one.
In the present day, it hosts Emmy-nominated new seasons (and limited series) of Succession (18 nominations), Watchmen of course, The Handmaid’s Tale (5 nominations), What We Do In The Shadows (10 nominations), Insecure (8 nominations), Euphoria (just the one, but it’s a good one), Little Fires Everywhere (5 nominations), Ramy (2 nominations), I Know This Much Is True (one, for Mark Ruffalo, which I believe I called in a previous article), Westworld (2 nominations), Big Little Lies (5 nominations), and The Outsider (1 nomination, for Jason Bateman as Outstanding Guest Actor).
Previous seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm are available to stream ahead of the latest season (Outstanding Comedy Series 2020 nominee) scheduled for that magical time of January 2021 when we all hope the world will be less mad.
Season’s 1-6 of NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for which Andre Braugher is nominated as Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, is on Showmax, with Season 7 also coming in January 2021.
Other plucky picks to score nominations
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime continues its presence at the Emmys with 20 nominations, while the sleeper hit Schitt’s Creek scored a respectable 15. The Canadian comedy series has performed well in that country but America has largely ignored it for its six-season run. It’s not untypical for the Academy to recognise a series in its final season, or after it has concluded, and it will not surprise me if this hilarious show created by Eugene Levy and his son Dan (who play father and son) takes home a few statuettes.
The Good Place, also concluded, is in the running too, so we’ll have to wait and see where the sentiments of the voting members lie.
The 72nd Emmy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and broadcast on Sunday, 20 September 2020, with the Creative Arts Awards airing the night before. The format of the ceremony has not yet been announced and will depend largely on how the pandemic plays out.