It’s probably the most common refrain you’ll hear about TV in 2022 and the problem is glaringly obvious in even the most elite circles.
The Emmys are the US’s premiere awards for the art of TV storytelling. It’s supposed to reflect the very best of (mostly) American TV in the 12 months to the end of May.
But the wild list of nominations revealed this morning confirms what we all know to be true – there really is too much TV. It’s everything that’s wrong with TV today.
How many times have you struggled to make it through even a fifth of your watchlist in any given month? How can you commit to even one series about morally corrupt tech founders when there are three out at the same time (The Dropout, super-pumped and WeCrashed)?
What if you love true crime? How are you supposed to binge all the shows when there are about five new murders being investigated on every streaming platform? Are you supposed to watch Andrew Garfield sleuth about in Under the Banner of Heaven or witness Colin Firth act squirrelly and suspicious on The Staircase?
It must be a relatable problem because even the Emmy voters couldn’t make their way through most of what’s on offer.
When you start thinking about the numerous snubs and relatively few eyebrow-raising inclusions, you realize there really is too much TV for even the most dedicated viewer with oodles of time on their hands. Or, you know, a professional TV watcher.
It almost seems churlish to complain about all the lazy nominations in this year’s awards as well as the eons of superb shows and performers who missed out because there really is too much TV.
And we’re all guilty of being a bit of a sloth when it comes to falling back on old habits, either rewatching a favorite or just automatically playing the new season of a show you’re used to even if you’re not necessarily in love with it anymore.
The Emmy nominations are emblematic of this exact problem. You can see it in the weird choices and, more glaringly, the omissions.
It’s a list that reflects a voting audience that reaches for shows they know, or overly reward the few shows they paid attention to, instead of finding the time (yeah, yeah, there’s not enough of it) to discover new and maybe unusual gems, titles they wouldn’t normally go for.
Surprise: Reese Witherspoon’s nomination as a lead actress in the drama category for Morning Wars (AppleTV+). Witherspoon is talented in many productions but not here. It’s universally acknowledged that Witherspoon is the weakest link in Morning Wars, in a role for which she was, and remains, miscast. Aniston was locked out this year, which is about right, while Billy Crudup was nominated again after winning in 2020. Crudup was great in season two but Mark Duplass, who wasn’t nominated, was even better.
Surprise:Inventing Anna (Netflix) wasn’t a good show. It just wasn’t. Tonally wrong and messy, the Shonda Rhimes-produced true crime series about a conwoman who scammed New York’s elite, Inventing Anna squandered the promise of its great story. Julia Garner was fine and her nomination (one of two, the other was for Ozarks) is unobjectionable. But the show shouldn’t have been nominated in Limited Series, especially at the expense of actually great miniseries which were overlooked.
Snub: The splashy political drama Gaslit (Stan), starring Julia Roberts and Sean Penn, didn’t manage to nab any main nods, setting instead for four craft categories. Compelling, well-composed and superbly performed, Gaslit should’ve grabbed a series nomination at the very least, and a lead actress one for Roberts too.
Snub:maid (Netflix) is another show that should’ve made it into the limited series category instead of Inventing Anna. And it was definitely a more deserving nominee than the uneven Pam & Tommy (Disney+). But Netflix’s quiet drama about a young mother escaping an abusive relationship and finding autonomy for herself and her daughter de ella did n’t have the same glittery showiness, even though enough voters had seen it to throw a nomination at lead star Margaret Qualley.
Snub:We Own This City (Binge/Foxtel*) is another limited series that could’ve easily slotted in instead of some of the nominees that did – and it ended its run one day before the eligibility window closed. Whatever it is that the Emmys have against Baltimore-set crime dramas from David Simon seems to have carried over from TheWireone of TV history’s best shows and yet was never nominated for drama series.
Surprise:Yellowjackets’ (Paramount+) ascendancy is a lovely surprise for a show that on paper seemed a little pulpy and samey. But prominent nods in best drama, plus acting nods for Melanie Lynskey and Christina Ricci as well as two writing nominations and a directing one for Karyn Kusama, makes yellowjackets one of the few freshman shows that broke big.
Surprise: Maybe it’s more of a surprise for Australian viewers because Abbott Elementary is a series that’s buried within Disney+ but the show has a much bigger following in the US where it is broadcast on American channel ABC. The nominations also make Abbott Elementary one of only two non-cable and non-streaming shows to make a big impact in the main categories (the other being Saturday night Live). The warm-hearted workplace comedy set at a high school scored nominations for comedy series and four acting nods for Quinton Brunsdon, Tyler James Williams, Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Snub: it seemed like PEN15 (Stan) finally broke through last year when it snapped up a best comedy series nomination alongside one for casting and another for writing, but it’s back into exile for Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle’s quirky and smart comedy about puberty and friendship, completely frozen out for its final season.
Snub:stranger things‘ (Netflix) resurgent fourth season just made the eligibility cut-off and triumphed with 13 nominations including for drama series, so it’s not as if the show was overlooked in general. But all the actors were shut out – most notably Sadie Sink who had a very good season as Max, marked with her Vecna’s curse and dealing with her mortality.
Surprise: It wasn’t a surprise The White Lotus (Binge/Foxtel) made a really strong showing considering the level of buzz enjoyed by the satirical series about terribly behaved rich people. What was surprising was the extent to which Emmys voters threw their love behind the whole cast instead of just standouts Murray Bartlett and Jennifer Coolidge. The onscreen talent nabbed eight nominations across two categories. Five of them are up against each other in supporting actress in a limited series, which will surely split the vote. Do not disrespect Steve Zahn or Alexandra Daddario but their performances weren’t in the same league as Bartlett or Coolidge and yet they’re right there alongside them, swept in the wave.
Surprise: Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning both nabbed nominations for their lead performances in The Great (Stan), a surprise plot twist that rewarded the actors for their bold, witty and playful performances. Huzzah!
Snub: The universally adored Reservation Dogs (Binge/Foxtel) was locked out despite recognition at a swag of other awards shows including at the Writers Guild. The freshman comedy series, set on a Native American reservation and centered on a group of young people, has been hailed as having a strong and authentic perspective about a community whose stories have been marginalized from mainstream culture. Its cast is charming, the writing is sharp and it’s not just another clone.
Surprise: You can tell that the voters seemed to have at least watched and considered ted lasso (Apple TV+) because they switched out Brendan Hunt and Jeremy Swift for Toheeb Jimoh and Nick Mohammed in the supporting actor comedy category, acknowledging that the latter two had much meatier arcs and performances in the second season.
Snub:Barry‘s (Binge/Foxtel) long-awaited third season smashed it with 14 nominations including for best comedy and acting nods for Bill Hader, Anthony Carrigan and Henry Winkler. But where’s the love for Sarah Goldberg, who had several pivotal moments this season?
Surprise: British actor Himesh Patel squeezed into a competitive best actor in a limited series category for his performance in the surprisingly upbeat dystopian pandemic drama Station Eleven (stan). The series nabbed an overall seven nominations but not for limited series or any of the other actors, most notably Mackenzie Davis.
Snub:Only Murders in the Building (Disney+) grabbed 17 nominations but despite lead actor nods for Steve Martin and Martin Short, Selena Gomez didn’t get a look in. A confusing decision considering the show is very much a triple-hander and that winning dynamic between the trio only works because of Gomez’s much drier persona than her. I’m weird.
Surprise: Do not disrespect to Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer who are both great thespians and did the best they could but that final season of killing eve (ABC iview) was widely, widely hated. It has no business being anywhere in this nomination list.
Surprise:Curb Your Enthusiasm was a groundbreaking, genre-breaking comedy, 22 years and 11 seasons ago. A perfect example of the Emmys just ticking the same old boxes because the voting body hasn’t been seen anywhere near enough of the output. Again, too, too much TV.
Snub: A remake of Ingmar Bergman’s classic, Scenes From a Marriage (Binge/Foxtel) was an emotionally bruising miniseries which would be far too triggering for anyone whose relationship was strained – or busted – during the pandemic. But it was an exquisitely performed work, which the voters acknowledged with a nomination for Oscar Isaac in the lead actor in a limited series category. But this was a two-person gig and Jessica Chastain absolutely brought it as well. Where’s her nomination of her?
Surprise: Marvelous Mrs Maisel had a fabulous first season, a pretty good second one and a passable third one. The fourth season? No. But it still managed 12 nominations because voters often find a show they like and just keep voting for it year after year even if it’s gone way off the boil.
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