Sunday, September 16, 2018

Diversity and speculative fiction in dramas at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards

"That's it for comedies.  Stay tuned for a similar post about dramas"  So I ended
Diversity and fantasy in comedy nominees at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards and so I shall continue today.  I begin with the nominees for Outstanding Drama Series.
The Americans (FX)
The Crown (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This Is Us (NBC)
Westworld (HBO)
As I've already reported in Diversity a winner at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, this is a record year for diverse performing nominees and "The Handmaid's Tale" has already earned an Emmy that recognized a performance by Samira Wiley, an LGBT African-American.  In addition, both "This Is Us" and "Westworld" have nominated actors that added to the diversity of nominees, all of whom I'll write about below.  It's also a better year than last year, when 'Westworld' led drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13 with "Game of Thrones" joining last year's top speculative fiction shows and tying "Saturday Night Live" at 22 nominations.*  I'm also sure that a speculative fiction series will win for the fourth time in a row, as I see this category as a contest between last year's winner "The Handmaid's Tale" and the year before's winner "Game of Thrones."  If all things were equal, I would say that "Game of Thrones" would win, but I'm not sure that they are.  If the anti-Trump zeitgeist that propelled "The Handmaid's Tale" to victory in this category as well as both actress categories plus directing and writing last last year is still as strong, then it will likely repeat.  Either way, it would be fantastic and futuristic politics and government for the win.

If one is looking for an upset, I expect it would be "The Americans," which won Program of the Year at the 2018 Television Critics Association Awards.  That would still be a program about politics and government, although it wouldn't be my choice.  I'm rooting for "Westworld," although I think I will be disappointed.

Now for the acting categories, beginning with Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde on Ozark (Episode: "The Toll") (Netflix)
Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson on This Is Us (Episode: "Number Three") (NBC)
Ed Harris as The Man in Black / William on Westworld (Episode: "Vanishing Point") (HBO)
Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings on The Americans (Episode: "START") (FX)
Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson on This Is Us (Episode: "The Car") (NBC)
Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe on Westworld (Episode: "The Passenger") (HBO)
Well, look at that, a rematch of Ed Harris versus Jeffrey Wright, who contended against each other for Best Supporting Actor on Television for these same roles at the 2017 Saturn Awards, a contest Ed Harris won.  I don't think that will happen here for two reasons.  First, Jeffrey Wright delivered the more nuanced and complex performance, which would be rewarded by the voters of the Television Academy, unlike the Saturn Award voters, who are not about subtle.  Second, Sterling K. Brown is the returning winner, so I expect he's favored.  Either would be a win for diversity as well as great acting.

My choice for an upset would be Jason Bateman.  My wife and I are in the middle of binge-watching "Ozark" and we are really impressed with Bateman's performance.  So might the Emmy voters.

Speculative fiction also has strong representation among the nominees for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown (Episode: "Dear Mrs. Kennedy") (Netflix)
Tatiana Maslany as Various Characters on Orphan Black (Episode: "To Right the Wrongs of Many") (BBC America)
Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne / Offred on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "The Last Ceremony") (Hulu)
Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri on Killing Eve (Episode: "I Have a Thing About Bathrooms") (BBC America)
Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans (Episode: "The Summit") (FX)
Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy on Westworld (Episode: "Reunion") (HBO)
While I'm rooting for Evan Rachel Wood, I doubt she'll win.  Instead, I think it's another contest between the past two winners, Tatiana Maslany, who won two years ago, and Elisabeth Moss, who won last year.  While neither would be a win for diversity — that would be Sandra Oh, who is the first actress of Asian ancestry to be nominated for this category — both would be wins for speculative fiction, which would make me happy.  Finally, my choice for an upset would be Keri Russell, who won Individual Achievement in Drama at the TCA Awards.  That would be a fitting send-off for the final season of the spy drama as well as a different way to make an anti-Trump and anti-Putin statement.

Every nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series represents speculative fiction show or a series that examines politics and government with some examining both — more fantastic and futuristic politics and government!
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Spoils of War") (HBO)
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Dragon and the Wolf") (HBO)
Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "First Blood") (Hulu)
David Harbour as Jim Hopper on Stranger Things (Episode: "Chapter Four: Will the Wise") (Netflix)
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson on Homeland (Episode: "Species Jump") (Showtime)
Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on The Crown (Episode: "Mystery Man") (Netflix)
I asked what if the entertainment professionals voted on the television acting nominations at the Saturn Awards?  The answer for this category was that Peter Dinklage would replace Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a nominee.  It turns out that the Saturn Award nominating committee got Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's nomination right, just as they did for Adina Porter in "American Horror Story: Cult."  On the other hand, I was right to think that Peter Dinklage deserved a nomination as well.  Sorry, Kit Harington.  I also called that the professionals would pick David Harbour, who the Saturn Awards snubbed.  All of them, plus Joseph Fiennes from "The Handmaid's Tale," performed in series that potray fantastic and futuristic politics and government, so any of them winning would satisfy me.  As for who would win, I'm personally rooting for Harbour, who won a Critics' Choice Award, but I think the trophy will go to Dinklage, who is the only one of the nominees to win this category, which he did twice, most recently in 2015.  My hope for an upset would be Mandy Patinkin, but watch it be Matt Smith.  At least both have speculative fiction credentials, Patinkin for "The Princess Bride" and Smith for "Doctor Who."

By the way, this is the least diverse acting category, where the best one could do is point out how many of the nominees are European.  *Snort!*

All four top speculative fiction series have nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Alexis Bledel as Emily / Ofsteven on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "Unwomen") (Hulu)
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven on Stranger Things (Episode: "Chapter Three: The Pollywog") (Netflix)
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "June") (Hulu)
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Dragon and the Wolf") (HBO)
Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret on The Crown (Episode: "Beryl") (Netflix)
Thandie Newton as Maeve Millay on Westworld (Episode: "Akane no Mai") (HBO)
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "Women's Work") (Hulu)
My personal favorite is Thandie Newton, who I liked better than Evan Rachel Wood in this season of "Westworld," followed by Millie Bobby Brown.  Unfortunately, I don't think either will win.  Instead, this category features a match-up between two of last year's winners, Ann Dowd, who won this award last year, and Alexis Bledel, who won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for the same role last year.  Between the two of them, I think Dowd has the inside track.  My choice for upset would be either Newton or Vanessa Kirby.  The first would at least be a win for diversity as well as great acting, while the latter would be an example of a great role elevating a performance.

"Westworld" has no nominations in the next two categories, which is why I think it will not win Outstanding Drama Series.  On the other hand, "Game of Thrones," "The Handmaid's Tale," and "Stranger Things" do, so all of them have a shot, the first two especially so.

Here are the nominees for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.
The Crown (Episode: "Paterfamilias"), directed by Stephen Daldry (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (Episode: "Beyond the Wall"), directed by Alan Taylor (HBO)
Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Dragon and the Wolf"), directed by Jeremy Podeswa (HBO)
The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "After"), directed by Kari Skogland (Hulu)
Ozark (Episode: "The Toll"), directed by Jason Bateman (Netflix)
Ozark (Episode: "Tonight We Improvise"), directed by Daniel Sackheim (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Episode: "Chapter Nine: The Gate"), directed by the Duffer Brothers (Netflix)
This is the strongest category for "Ozark," so I think this is the category in which it has the best shot for a win.  Even so, I would consider it an upset, as "The Handmaid's Tale" won last year and "Game of Thrones" the two years before that.  Between the two, I give the advantage to "The Handmaid's Tale" based on its win at the DGA Awards.

The same is true for my opinion of the nominees for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
The Americans (Episode: "START"), written by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg (FX)
The Crown (Episode: "Mystery Man"), written by Peter Morgan (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Dragon and the Wolf"), written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (HBO)
The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "June"), written by Bruce Miller (Hulu)
Killing Eve (Episode: "Nice Face"), written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (BBC America)
Stranger Things (Episode: "Chapter Nine: The Gate"), written by the Duffer Brothers (Netflix)
Again, "The Handmaid's Tale" won last year and "Game of Thrones" the two years before that, so I think the contest is between them with the advantage going to "The Handmaid's Tale" based on its win at the WGA Awards.  I give a slim chance of an upset to "The Americans" for its final season.

I conclude with Season 2 Opening Credits for "Westworld," which earned a nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design.

Chaos takes control. Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright and James Marsden.
It did not win, but I was pleased to see it nominated anyway.

I plan on returning with posts about the winners on Tuesday.  In the meantime, stay tuned for an entry about the People's Choice Awards nominees.

*While "Game of Thrones" had the most overall Emmy Awards as of two years ago, the title now belongs to SNL with 54.

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