Hey, ya’ll! The Emmy nominations came out for this 2020-2021 television season this past Tuesday and I have to say I have some thoughts. Some good, some bad, most apathetic. Maybe not all the thoughts I could have had because I didn’t see everything and with the absence of major players like Succession, Better Call Saul, Barry, What We Do in the Shadows, Euphoria proper, ect., it was certainly a lighter season.
10. I need to watch Ted Lasso apparently. Might pass on The Crown tho
Raking in an impressive 20 Emmy nominations including 7 acting nominations – 4 supporting actor nods – WTF?! — is Ted Lasso! I guess this isn’t just a Jason Sudeikis vehicle, but a powerhouse ensemble comedy. The Crown, as always, has earned a shit load of nominations with 23 this year, including 9 acting nominations. It seems like something tailor-made for happily married middle-class boomers but when I tried to watch it during its first season run, I found myself incredibly bored with the pacing and indifferent towards the material. However, the performances, by everyone from Claire Foy to John Lithgow (when he used to be on the show), were superb, and with show’s practically irresistible cast additions like Olivia Colman, Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher and my crush Helena Bonham Carter, it seems like something maybe I can get into. But I have literally 20 things on my list before it, so just being realistic, I’ll probably never get around to watching it. You should try to change my mind, though.
9. Snub for Pussy Valley, lead actress Brandee Evans and lead actor Nicco Annan
It really is hard out there for a STARZ original series, cause practically no one is watching your show. Mark my words, if this deliciously unique strip club soap opera twerk fest was on NETFLIX or HBO, it would have lead the nominations on Tuesday. Written and directed exclusively by women and featuring more or less an all-black cast, Pussy Valley (or P-Valley) is adapted from a 2015 Tennessee stage production and centers around a small but lucrative strip club, The Pynk, on the Mississippi Delta, as well as the lives of the dancers and management who work there. As a land developer and a crooked mayor loom in the wings, with plans to buy out and bulldoze the club in order to make room for a fancy new casino, the Pynk family must get creative to save their livelihood. Originating the role on stage, Nicco Annan returns as Uncle Clifford, the often compassionate but always calculating drag queen owner and operator of The Pynk, while Brandee Evans blows the fucking roof off the house, stepping into the role of Mercedes, a veteran dancer at The Pynk whose sister, one of the town’s gospel leaders, is extorting her.
8. Snub for I May Destroy You‘s Weruche Opia for Best Supporting Actress
Stoked Michaela Cole and Paapa Essiedu got nominated, but how could they overlook the third member of the I May Destroy You‘s holy trinity – Weruche Opia. As Terry Pratchard, Arabella’s best narcissistic actor friend, Opia created a fully realized human being that never seemed like a struggling actor character cliche. So why didn’t she get nominated in the Supporting Actress category when her show ran off with 9 nominations? Probably because fucking Hamilton crashed the party with nominations for Renee Elise Goldberry (which could be their way of being like “Sorry we didn’t nominate you for Girls5eva :(“) and Philippa Soo (Eliza is a lead, wtf?). Look, nothing against their fabulous stage performances but those were stage performances. Hamilton was a filmed version of the stage show, already showered with Tony’s and Grammy’s, which strikes me as odd they’d feel the need to nominate them once again for something they performed over half a decade ago. Goldberry won a Tony and Soo was nominated. It sucks that Hamilton Fever resulted in nomination slots being taken away from actors who haven’t been recognized for their work even once yet, namely, Weruche Opia.
7. It’s a Sin totally shut out
Apparently, the Academy hates both the sin and the sinner to honor Queer as Folk helmer Russel T. Davies‘ extraordinary and heartbreaking miniseries with a big fat nothing. It’s A Sin takes place in London between 1981 and 1991, and follows the journey of five friends (four gay, one straight, most involved in theater) as they navigate young adulthood amidst the dawn of the AIDS crisis and lose friends and family along the way. Featuring great, lived-in characters and a perfectly short 5 episode runtime, it’s over before you know it. Which is exactly what the show says about adolescence and life itself.
6. Emmys fail to nominate Netflix’s Too Hot to Handle for Best Reality Competition Show
If you like big-bootied butt massages, junior high-level heart to hearts and yoga bondage, Too Hot to Handle might be your War & Peace. Ten sex-crazed, commitment-phobic adult children from all over the world (but really just English speaking countries) are put together on a tropical island with the promise of unlimited fucking. The champagne and lube are flowing, and everyone is ready to start banging each other out, but just then a robot intercepts. Her name is Lana. Lana the Robot hates sex and thinks it’s a terrible way to start a relationship. Lana the Robot is very clear – NO SEX FOR A MONTH. PERIOD. No masturbation. No sensual touching. Hugs are ok and eating strawberries back and forth, from mouth to mouth is cool. If they break the rules, they get fined from the eventual $100,000 prize money. There’s not a single winner, they all just split the remaining cash between them, but some of them can also be eliminated? I’m only five episodes in and the rules are super unclear. It’s filmed on Turks & Caicos island, which is where I was abandoned in the middle of the ocean with my dad when I was 10.
For the Emmy voters, I guess it was just way…too…hot…to handle…
5. Thuso Mbedu and Joel Edgerton get snubbed for Lead Acting nominations for The Underground Railroad
The two best performances of the year came in the form of an escaped slave and her cold, calculated pursuer in Barry Jenkins‘ not nominated enough alternate history miniseries The Underground Railroad, based on the popular 2016 novel. Thuso Mbedu gives a wonderfully nuanced, quietly intense performance that had the supreme misfortune of being up for a nomination in the single most crowded Emmy category of the year. Joel Edgerton on the other hand was passed over for an acting performance by Lin Manuel Miranda. It’s a shame because what Edgerton achieves here is a real feat of acting, carefully portraying this human monster character as emotionally complex and authentic, without ever creating a sympathetic being out of him. Really both Edgerton and Mbedu give us the best facial expression acting of the year and in turn the best television performances of the year. But they didn’t write and act in a stage musical half a decade ago. So fuck them I guess.
4. Hamilton, a stage production performed for the stage, half decade ago, gets nominated for 11 Emmys
Look, I get the Disney+ filmed version of Lin Manuel Miranda‘s absolutely excellent stage musical was specifically performed to be filmed for this broadcast, but it didn’t offer us anything new other than an opportunity to see actually see it without going to Broadway. In a year where the limited series Emmy categories included so many risk-taking and refreshingly original new shows like Small Axe, The Underground Railroad, It’s A Sin or any of the two Euphoria TV movies, it seems almost cruel that something that has already received its moment, several times over, at countless other awards organization shows, and in every fucking facet of pop culture and life in the modern world as we know it, comes in and takes a big beefy dump on the competish. Dammmmmn.
3. Lin Manuel Miranda nominated for acting
Man, I’d like to be in the room where this happened. Hamilton took up two slots in the Leading Actor in a Limited Series category, with Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr. being honored. Odom‘s inclusion for a stage musical that was performed half a decade ago is definitely less annoying because he’s far and the away the best part of that filmed performance and you know, he can at least act. Miranda, especially in that filmed performance, just sucks the magic out of every spotlight moment he gets especially when its ping ponging off of Odom. But when the Emmys truly love something like they looooove Hamilton, they nominate it every way they can.
2. Paapa Essiedu somehow scores the most deserved acting nomination of the year
Somehow, as if some benevolent industry awards God heard my prayers, Paapa Essiedu got a nod for his powerfully understated performance as Kwame in Michaela Cole‘s brilliant and wholly unique sexual assault drama I May Destroy You. His character represented a different side to how the justice system often works for sexual assault cases when they’re between two men. It’s the type of low key masterclass performance that often gets snubbed in favor of the showier and shoutier work, but this time it actually worked out.
1. Small Axe gets axe punned
Lovers Rock, the second of Steve McQueen‘s series of five films, was my #1 film of 2020. But were these films or episodes? TV or Movies? Four of the “episodes” ran a little over an hour but one was almost two and half hours long. They felt like individual films, all set in the same neighborhood but in different time periods with different characters. There was a courtroom drama (Mangrove), a house party hangout movie (Lovers Rock), a political police drama (Red, White and Blue), a prison drama (Alex Wheatle) and segregated school system drama (Education). This is basically Steve McQueen‘s Dekalog, that jumps around in time, delivering an intensely layered, incredibly substantial labor of love that celebrates the history, culture and struggles of West Indian immigrants living in London between 1960 and 1980.
The fact it got shut out of the only major awards association that would take it while Hamilton, a filmed stage performance from years ago, got 11 nominations is kind of ridiculous. It must be nice, it must be nice, to have Disney on your side.