Another year, another Emmys season. Of course, this isn’t just any old year. No, 2020’s been a wild, scary, dangerous ride, filled with political division, a deadly pandemic, and, of course, the massive shift from movie theaters to our television screens. A COVID-addled world has wreaked havoc on the big and small screen alike, from blockbusters moving to streaming services to shows shutting down production to avoid the virus.
The Emmys will be no different. Like most events in America — as they should be right now — Sunday’s Emmy telecast on ABC will be done remotely, with nominees at home and host Jimmy Kimmel playing to an audience of none. Still, despite the remarkable production woes of the coronavirus, most of 2020’s shows had finished production before the country went into lockdown, leading to what has been by and large a normal TV season.
Strangely, it’s been one of the few bits of normalcy we in America can afford, particularly as the TV screen becomes our window to a world without masks, wildfires, and despotic, uncaring leadership. The nagging nihilism of 2020 aside, though, the Emmy field is surprisingly robust, with several acclaimed shows (Schitt’s Creek, The Good Place, GLOW) getting in some farewell nominations, all while exciting newcomers (Succession, What We Do in the Shadows, Watchmen) get some much-deserved recognition.
Who will win on the big night? And who actually deserves them? Read on to find out.
Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Killing Eve (BBC America/AMC)
The Mandalorian (Disney Plus)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
While Jesse Alexander’s endearingly caustic drama about an ultra-wealthy family reveling in their unabashed greed already had a stellar first season under its belt, it wasn’t until Season 2 of HBO’s Succession that the culture at large caught up with the show’s deadpan genius. It’s a show perfectly suited to an era where we’re forced to pay attention to the Jared Kushners of the world, and its writing and performances are sharper than ever. Saul had a killer Season 5, and Ozark usually has a shot at these things, but 2020 is the year of the Roys, by gum, and it’s time the Emmys engaged in some executive-level business.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Dead to Me (Netflix)
The Good Place (NBC)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime Video)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
What We Do in the Shadows (FX)
SHOULD: What We Do in the Shadows
WILL: Schitt’s Creek
Speaking of shows that built on the strengths of their first season, FX’s What We Do in the Shadows offers one of the highest laugh-per-minute ratios on the small screen now. “On the Run”, the episode that gave us the man and the legend, Jackie Daytona, is maybe the best single episode of television this year. But with Schitt’s Creek going out on a high note in a landscape that only caught on to its delightful, optimistic charms late in the show’s life, the Emmy will likely go to them as a parting gift.
Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
Mrs. America (Hulu)
The era of the limited series is back, baby, and there’s a lot to appreciate about Hulu’s melodramatic Little Fires Everywhere and complicated Mrs. America. But the Emmy belongs to HBO’s Watchmen, a stunning continuation of the acclaimed graphic novel that not only built lovingly on the comic book origins of the source material, but tied it to the legacy of white supremacy in America in staggeringly timely ways. Its ambition is matched only by its execution, and we’ll not see its like again soon.
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend
SHOULD: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
WILL: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
I feel for Bad Education, I really do — a darling at TIFF last year that became a refugee of the COVID landscape, moving from theatrical release to an HBO Original, thus robbing it of the rightful Oscar campaign it should be enjoying in a few months’ time. Still, as incisive and interesting as Cory Finley’s window into academic corruption is, we were blown away by El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Vince Gilligan’s intense epilogue to the story of Jesse Pinkman. We think it should win, and we’re guessing the Emmy voters will feel uncomfortable enough voting for a Real Movie(tm) to agree.
Read ahead for our predictions on leads in Comedy and Drama Series…