Friday, September 18, 2020

What I’m Watching: Orange is the New Black (Series Finale)

Orange is the New Black: Season 7, Episode 13 “Here’s Where We Get Off”

Ninety-one episodes is not a short run for any show, but I still can’t help feeling that there’s still so much story here left to tell. While I wasn’t overly fond of the post-riot season, I thought the rest of this show was spectacular, deftly balancing drama and comedy to create a totally watchable and compelling universe, one that wasn’t always pleasant and certainly never straightforward. A ninety-minute finale was a great opportunity to close some of the arcs and revisit past characters without completely ending everything, since, as this show’s theme says, there’s always a second time around and things could be different. Featuring a tribute to Pennsatucky was powerful, especially with Dixon’s participation, and I’m glad that the character got a full makeover as the show went on. It was also affirming to see Taystee realize that she can do something positive with her life, and all she needed to do in order to make her program deals a reality was to get through to Judy King. Cindy figured out what she needed and how she could make the most of her situation too, and it was good to see that. Red seems happy in Florida even if her memory is fading, and Nicky has the chance to take care of young people who remind her of herself. It was most exciting to see Flaca determined to continue Gloria’s work, and finally Luschek took the blame for something, which in turn enabled Gloria to be released. Tamika getting fired by Linda and replaced by Hellman was not a positive development, but not everything works out, which I think is one of the messages of this show. Fig and Caputo found someone they thought could be the perfect child for them to adopt, but we don’t know what will happen with that. I also like that, after Larry gave Piper his take on things, she went to see Alex and they broke up, but the final shot was them seeing each other and smiling. The focus on immigration detention this center was powerful, and even though Blanca was freed and reunited with Diablo, they won’t be able to make the life they had in America. This show has been great entertainment and great drama, and I’ll appreciate the opportunity to recommend it to others in the future.

Series finale: B+
Series grade: A-
Season MVP: Taryn Manning as Pennsatucky
Season grade: A-
Series MVP: Danielle Brooks as Taystee
Best Season: Season 3 Best Episode: “We Have Manners. We’re Polite

What I’m Watching: Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Diamond Dogs” (B+)

I will say that I’m disappointed that Ted didn’t get to meet the Milk sisters and unload his carton of puns on them, but he did a masterful job of sticking up for his friend Rebecca. I actually though that he didn’t seem to be doing much at first, letting Rupert show off his new girlfriend and the dastardly way in which he had managed to secure partial ownership even though he wasn’t allowed to do that. But, as usual, Ted’s charming sensibilities come out in the best possible ways, and not only did he manage to effortlessly destroy Rupert after baiting him into a game of darts, he also expressed that people were never curious and as a result wouldn’t have, for instance, engaged him in conversation about whether he had ever played darts. Rebecca has a difficult job ahead of her now that Higgins has quit because he can’t handle her continued desire to bring down the team just to get back at Rupert, and Keeley has given her an ultimatum regarding her obvious attempted sabotage of Ted that went awry a few episodes earlier. Roy grabbing the photographer’s memory card and giving it to Keeley as a memento of their first date was a clever way for Keeley to learn what really happened, and I didn’t see that coming. Keeley was very adorable jumping from seat to seat to ask Roy questions, and he responded well enough, even admitting later that he does yoga with a group of sixty-something women who don’t know who he is. Jamie’s return was also perfectly brief, and I like that as a coda for his character. It’s hardly serious, but I like the Diamond Dogs and the way that they’re all on pretty much the same page and operate as an effective team to dole out love advice to those who want it and those who don’t.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for the brand new website Awards Radar this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

What I’m Watching: Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves: Season 1, Episode 7 “Faces” (C+)

I’m becoming less and less convinced that this show is headed somewhere interesting, which makes the prospect of a second season, which this show was renewed for today, not all that appealing. We knew that both Mother and Father had been reprogrammed so that they would function as parents, and now, after that, attempts are being made to once again change their prime directives. That worked immediately on Father, who Campion was devastated to see wasn’t the same ally he had always been able to rely on, while Mother was able to resist and even shared some damaging information about Marcus that should have completely outed him as an impostor. It’s hard to believe that Lucius, faithful servant that he might be, would be so blind to every clear sign that Marcus isn’t a true believer, and hearing explicitly from Mother that he is an atheist posing as the man he sees before him should have been the last straw that convinced him to take charge. Sue doesn’t even want to pretend anymore, and her love for Paul is likely to going to result in her sharing the truth with him, which I have a feeling won’t go well. Campion is not happy to conform and accept the religion that’s being pushed on him, and given Mother’s resilience even while she no longer had her eyes or anything resembling the upper hand, I think this temporary settlement is very much at risk of collapsing. It would be worthwhile to see Marcus consider using Mother to his advantage and reframing what remains of society on this planet in a way that aligns more closely to his actual worldview, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

What I’m Watching: Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves: Season 1, Episode 6 “Lost Paradise” (B-)

There’s something that has confused me about the programming of the androids since the very first episode, when Mother left Marcus alive. Shooting guns at the Mithraic soldiers (in Father’s case) and exploding them with her voice (in Mother’s) seem like they would run counter to their instincts unless they truly believe, or have been programmed to believe, that they can better take care of the children than their own human parents. Maybe it’s that they’re so evolved and can sense that even the two who feel a bond with their child aren’t actually biologically connected to Paul at all. I am continually intrigued by how the androids are affected by whatever force it is on this planet that haunts them with reminders of Tally, and Marcus experienced his own inexplicable barrier when he was unable to finish the job and kill Mother. Trapping her in a simulation loop was a smart plan, though her strength, even while she was distracted and seduced by Campion, was formidable, shattering that energy-draining mirror and lifting rocks with more precision that Yoda or Luke Skywalker ever could. I do realize now where I know the older Campion from – actor Cosmo Jarvis delivered a memorable turn in the film “The Evening Hour,” which I saw at Sundance. Hunter didn’t hesitate to broadcast Father’s location and get him shot, showing firmly which side he’s on. I’m not sure exactly where things go from here with both androids seemingly subdued, but we do have four episodes left in the season.

What I’m Watching: Dead Pixels

Dead Pixels: Season 1, Episode 5 “Patricide” (B+)

We haven’t seen these characters interact too much with the outside world aside from their uncomfortable conversations with Alison and the occasional presence of Russell’s mom. It makes sense that Nicky would have developed a complex when his father continually expresses that he doesn’t think much of him and instead talks incessantly of his brother’s accomplishments. Yes, doing something (I’m really not still quite sure what) in a video game with only bananas may be impressive to some, but Nicky’s dad didn’t even think he was capable of carving up some meat. Nicky did take that resentment to heart a bit too much when he kept murdering his father in the game, something he rightfully expressed wasn’t at all enjoyable. Russell was also far too excited about his new discovery, and it’s interesting that Meg is so into the notion of them having sex in the game but then didn’t even want to talk to him in real life, sending an extremely mixed message to the eternally confused and now exhausted Russell. As usual, Alison nailed it when she told Nicky that she knows he’s in love with Meg and that he really should tell her at some point, though of course he won’t. Bringing home a date of her own didn’t go too well thanks to Meg’s unwillingness to leave the living room when directly asked, and somehow them having (admittedly loud) sex was seen as yet another affront to Meg, who could probably manage to connect with either of the two main men in her life if she actually tried to experience the real world for a few minutes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for the brand new website Awards Radar this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for the brand new website Awards Radar this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for The Film Experience this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for The Film Experience this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for The Film Experience this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for The Film Experience this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for The Film Experience this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for The Film Experience this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pilot Review: We Are Who We Are

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Pilot Review: The Third Day

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: We Hunt Together (Season Finale)

We Hunt Together: Season 1, Episode 6 (B+)

This show’s title feels like a bit of a misnomer now that one of the two killers is dead, although maybe it always referred to Jackson and Lola instead of Freddy and Baba, since they were the ones hunting the killers. Baba’s death, however, represents his sacrifice to save Freddy, mainly because there was never any way that he was going to get out of there alive. I fully expected Jackson to walk in with no concerns about escaping with his life, but he also knew that Baba wasn’t the one with the murderous spirit since, all along, it’s been Freddy more than ready to pull the trigger and continue doing what she’s been doing since she pushed her best friend into the lake as a child. Jackson did seem more concerned with making Baba’s demands happen quickly than his colleagues who were stalling, though it all ended up being for nothing because Baba walked out ready to be shot dead. Freddy had the perfect setup to bring up the tears and pretend that she was a victim in all this, something she portrayed convincingly for all those watching who didn’t have a sense of who she really is. Giving Jackson and Lola the finger on her way out when she passed them was all the encouragement Lola needed to continue looking into her, and she was very gratified when she found proof that Freddy was the architect of all this and not Baba’s helpless assistant. I have no idea if a second season of this will ever happen, but I’d return to see these characters again, even if we’re just down to three of them.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Hermione Corfield as Freddy

What I’m Watching: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country: Season 1, Episode 5 “Strange Case” (B-)

While a continuous narrative does exist on this show, it’s not consistent in who it’s focused on and what threads it embellishes in each hour. There’s something new and supernatural in every installment, and that barely touches on anything we’ve learned before that. For instance, Montrose killed Yahima at the end of the previous episode, and all that happened here was that Atticus showed up to give his father a beating and then made it clear to Letitia later that he hadn’t simply let her go. We did learn more about Montrose and the lifestyle that he leads, which indicates mainly that he’s not open and honest with his family in the way that he can be with his secret community. With Atticus and Letitia given minimal screen time, Ruby got to be in the spotlight as she experienced perhaps the trippiest of all unexplainable occurrences yet. Waking up one day to discover that her skin was white gave her immediate insight to the way that white people pass in the world – both hers and ours – and how easily she was able to get hired to an assistant manager position at the department store when the Black employee who had told her that she “applied on a whim” evidently didn’t have nearly the same technical qualifications as she did. Much of this episode was uncomfortable to watch, both thematically and visually, with the transformation process including disturbing sights and sounds. Getting her revenge on the manager was reminiscent of a similar scene from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” though this was assisted by the bloody rebirth she experienced as she returned to her real skin. The biggest reveal of the episode was that William doesn’t actually exist but has been Christina the entire time. That’s an intriguing development that at least shows that she goes to tremendous effort to accomplish what she wants, putting on a skin that she knows will serve her better than her own even if it’s not her race that has put her at a disadvantage. I will credit this show and Ruby with explicitly confirming the twist that had just unfolded so that I don’t need to go pouring through recaps to understand what transpired.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Live Emmy Panel Tuesday Night!

I'm thrilled to be hosting a live video panel of writers who have been covering the Emmy Awards for The Film Experience this season! Tune in at this Tuesday, September 15th at 6:30pm PT/9:30pm ET for a conversation with Juan Carlos Ojano, Chris James, Cláudio Alves, and me. If you have a question or topic you'd like us to answer or discuss, leave it in the comments on this post or in the chat during the livestream!

What I’m Watching: Coastal Elites

Coastal Elites (B+)

I’ve been watching a lot of HBO lately and so I had seen short trailers for this special a number of times. At first, I thought it was a new comedy series, but now I understand that it’s merely the latest “special event” put together during this new existence of ours. There’s absolutely something gratifying about hearing people on TV talk about things like social distancing and wearing masks since so much of the content airing these days features people behaving normally and doing crazy stuff like hugging and kissing each other! I didn’t expect there to be quite as much of a focus on Trump, but his presidency has had just as much of an impact on what the United States has gone through over the course of the past year as the outbreak of coronavirus. This special was unapologetically political, with each of its characters boldly and unambiguously conveying their liberal beliefs (even the last formerly independent speaker). I would presume these five people do represent, to a degree, most of progressive Hollywood, all firmly on board with coronavirus protocols and riled up, for the most part, with everything that Trump is doing. I predicted all five of the actors featured here to be up for Emmy Awards next week, but Sarah Paulson and Kaitlyn Dever didn’t end up making the cut for “Mrs. America” and “Unbelievable,” respectively. Opening with Bette Midler, most recently seen in “The Politician,” as a very strong-willed and energetic Jewish New Yorker was entertaining, and Dan Levy, most famous for “Schitt’s Creek,” was well-cast as the actor who was overly typecast and not typecast enough for supergay roles. Issa Rae from “Insecure” is always fantastic, and playing a former acquaintance of Ivanka’s who wasn’t having any of her tokenizing or clueless attempts at a relationship was superb. Paulson was the most visible presence in the trailers, and the arc of her monologue was actually the most involving, aside from Dever’s closing more serious bit, which references Midler’s Miriam and brought it all to an emphatic close. As I’ve said with reunion specials that have aired recently, I’m all for this kind of programming while in-person shooting isn’t nearly as possible or safe at the moment. Bring on more like this!

Take Three: Pure

Pure: Season 1, Episode 3 (B+)

This show continues to be an immensely watchable and constantly surprising delight. Marnie really isn’t a sex addict but instead someone with thoughts that provoke and torment her rather than prompt her into action. Benji the barista was flirting off the charts with her, trying to convince her that she would like his coffee when that wasn’t actually was she was into, and it didn’t take long for them to get together. What she requested of him while they were having sex wasn’t particularly out there, but he did latch on to one throwaway comment she made that immediately indicated how he was taking what they had together far too seriously. He looked completely different as a beardless man, and wanting to spend the next night together wasn’t nearly as problematic as the way he acted towards her while she was at work. I know I was rooting for Marnie to succeed in her internship, especially after she came in early to set up after her one-night stand only to find out that she wasn’t needed at that hour after all. That went very quickly downhill, however, after she was confronted about her drinking and exploded with confessions about her sexual thoughts and interactions. It’s always possible that Amber will be open to having her back since she does have a soft spot for her, but that’s unlikely. Maybe Marnie can finally value her extraordinarily generous roommate and take a moment to appreciate the friendship she can offer. I like that we’re getting a focus on Charlie’s personal life independent of Marnie too and seeing that she’s not the only one whose particular problem can’t just be cured by finding the right partner.

Pilot Review: The Duchess

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Intelligence (Season Finale)

Intelligence: Season 1, Episode 6 (B-)

This show was apparently renewed for a second season by its original network, Sky, back in February, but it’s hard to know whether any series is safe from potential cancellation by the continuing pandemic. This finale wasn’t terribly satisfactory, with Chris taking action to defend Jerry solely as a way of frustrating the FBI after Clint repeatedly insulted GCHQ and tried to poach her for their operations. She hasn’t been a fan of him all along, and I’m not sure why giving him up would have been a bad thing given how much of a drain he is on her authority. Staging a wedding to Joseph was an entirely absurd affair, highlighted by Tuva’s unexpectedly haunting singing that went on for much too long. Joseph seemed fine with the idea of it because he values Jerry’s friendship, no matter how one-sided it is, and even though he doesn’t support what Jerry did and told him that when he went through his not-so-hypothetical situation, he has no desire to see him end up in prison or whatever fate would be in store for him. I recognized Joey Slotnick from “Alias” and “Nip/Tuck” right away as Clint, who initially seemed to be a nice guy just trying to break unfortunate news to his best friend but turned out to be something far more despicable and sinister. Saying that he had slept with Melissa eight or nine hundred times wasn’t exactly helpful, and while Jerry is undeniably a jerk, I don’t think he needed to hear that. Finding out that Mary is the mole who has been pretending to take care of her mom is an intriguing twist, and one I’d be more interested in seeing play out in season two. This show was sort of fun but not all that great, and I’d recommend that anyone who likes supporting actor and creator Nick Mohammed, who plays Joseph, should check out his better performance in Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso.”

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Nick Mohammed

Saturday, September 12, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Capture (Season Finale)

The Capture: Season 1, Episode 6 “Correction” (B+)

This was a strong finish and one that sets up an exciting second season, which was ordered by BBC One back in June before this show premiered on Peacock. Much of its choreography was expected, with Frank setting Shaun up to trade himself in for his daughter and Rachel getting prepared to leak the real footage if the truth wasn’t exposed. But the way in which it played out and the nuances of the conversations made it all very worthwhile. Shaun was all for bacon and eggs until he saw footage of his daughter being taken by him on TV, and then he was out the door and fully aware of the cameras that might pick him up on the way to his intended destination. That turned out to be Charlie’s office, where he took out all his fury on him before Gemma showed up to take him to his daughter. Frank gave a respectable presentation to break down Shaun’s fate, and he, like Gemma and Danny, do seem to believe that what they’re doing is right even if it involves not telling the truth. Rachel wasn’t willing to accept any of it, showing up to Frank’s safehouse and demanding to be heard. The notion of recruiting her is a fascinating one since she absolutely is moral and wouldn’t want any of this to happen but does understand the overall benefit of securing a conviction when the evidence simply isn’t admissible. Telling them that she was in was a formidable ending, and I’m very eager to see what happens next. The arrival of Famke Janssen’s high-ranking American supervisor also means that Frank isn’t nearly as in control of this as he thinks he is, linking the American president and his “alternative facts” to this project as a way not to prove something he did but to make what he definitely did do entirely questionable. There’s a lot to unpack there, which I imagine will be explored in season two. This first season has been constantly enthralling, and I’ll continue to recommend it to anyone looking for the next great TV thriller.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Holliday Grainger as Rachel

What I’m Watching: Hitmen (Season Finale)

Hitmen: Season 1, Episode 6 “Nikhil” (B+)

Now this was a better episode, not quite the same level as the first two but far more focused and effective than the past three. Jamie is definitely the more distractible and seemingly dim-witted of the duo, but Fran also misses plenty of cues and rarely seems willing to put in the effort that Jamie sometimes can. It’s a wonder they’ve been kept around this long, and having a new partner assigned so that Mr. K could evaluate whether he wants them killed or kept on the payroll was probably an inevitability, especially on a very dark comedy series like this one. I hadn’t realized that they had never met Mr. K in person, and he was about as intimidating as I might have expected, not physically threatening but capable of a controlled anger that represents the best way to put fear into underlings. Nikhil was the opposite of Jamie, entirely business-oriented and not even eager to listen to the same music in the car. It’s a good thing that Fran decided to focus on her best friend, and I liked that the two of them were able to communicate in the car by singing different words to the song that Fran was blasting. Finding out that Nikhil was actually British and just putting on an accent to seem like someone else only further emphasized that Fran made the right choice in saving Jamie. It made sense that the eternally duplicitous Liz was working for Mr. K to track down his two wayward ex-employees, but she also doesn’t quite have his ear the way she wants. I’d be up for watching another six episodes of this show whenever season two gets released, though I hope we get good guest stars like Jason Watkins, Nick Mohammed and Sian Clifford along with the entertaining main cast.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Sue Perkins as Fran

What I’m Watching: Five Bedrooms

Five Bedrooms: Season 1, Episode 4 “Zero Dollars” (B+)

You’d think that, especially after everything that happened with Ben and his unexpected medical prognosis, these housemates would think twice about rushing to conclusions without having all the facts first. Liz has always been the most distant of all of them, even more than Heather, unexcited about the possibility of turning this housing necessity into anything more than that. It would have helped if she had been a bit more open since the news of her bankruptcy caught everyone by surprise, and she should have imagined that she wouldn’t be able to keep four people from realizing that someone was coming to assess the house that was going to need to be sold from under them. Having to tell her employers that she was bankrupt was another huge blow, particularly because they feigned understanding and then told her that they would have to let her go immediately. Ainsley asking her to move out on the phone was brutal, and it’s a good thing that they rescinded that demand as soon as they found her drunk and trespassing on someone else’s property. Harry really is a good friend to Liz, and he even managed to enjoy a night out with a man who might be perfect for him. Ben and Heather’s progressing relationship with the giant sunglasses, the beer hat, and the motel was extremely entertaining, and of course Colin would have to call at exactly the worst moment to kill the vibe and compel Heather to come back into his life.

What I’m Watching: Brave New World

Brave New World: Season 1, Episode 8 “Monogamy and Futility: Part 2” (B-)

The notion of someone having feelings drained is really monumental, mainly because it misses the entire idea of what emotions are for and how they work in those who have had the opportunity to develop them. We’ve seen time and time again that Bernard in particular doesn’t understand the concepts that so fascinate him about savage life, though it’s possible he did capture the wrong side of what dating is like, interpreting the man as the more aggressive one who, like so many in our society, refuse to take no for an answer from a woman. The assertion that Indra manipulated events so that John could come in and disrupt this stable experiment adds considerable depth to what’s at play here, but it seems simple enough that Bernard was eager to experience this other life and merely got jealous that Lenina was more interested in John than in him. After breaking down Gary’s will, Bernard set his sights on John to convince him that he had slept with Lenina and it worked perfectly, leading to John treating her terribly and forcing her to lie about what happened with him. Frannie’s perspective was the most interesting, since she was clearly scared for Lenina because of the risk of her being banished and her outright rejection of conditioning, which Lenina pointed out is such an evolution of itself that its roots can’t even really be traced. I hope for some more emphatic resolution in the finale, which may be the last episode this show produces.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Netflix with Abe: Orange is the New Black (Penultimate Episode)

Orange is the New Black: Season 7, Episode 12 “The Big House” (B+)

In many ways, this episode didn’t feel like the second-to-last experience we’ll ever have with this show. What’s so wonderful about it is that there are so many characters, and it’s difficult to argue that any one of them are truly leads at this point. Originally, this was Piper’s story, and while she’s the only released inmate to get a consistent plotline, that has more to do with the fact that her relationship with Alex relies so much on her being in prison and that serving as an intensely complicating factor. I expected McCullough to put her name into consideration for the head guard position once she heard it was open, but it turns out Alex’s rejection really did get to her. Daya has prioritized crushing her mother since she ended up back inside, and her latest act of getting Hopper caught with his pants down and fired is going to have serious implications for her family that she may not have considered. Gloria claiming ownership of the phone with nine days left on her sentence is heartbreaking, and maybe Tamika will realize that it’s not worth sharing that particular detail, especially if she knows it won’t happen again given her impending release. The party with the fast food everyone loved was a nice opportunity for heartfelt exchanges between Beth and Caputo and an opportunity for Taystee to see the good that’s come from all of it, and it didn’t end with her taking her own life, which she’s been talking about for a long time now. Instead, Pennsatucky, one of the best examples of a redeemed character, appears to have overdosed after she legitimately applied herself only to find that Luschek’s laziness resulted in her not getting the extra time she needed during the test. That and an unexpected scene with Poussey made this episode end on a resounding note, and I’m holding off slightly on watching the finale to savor a bit more time with this show.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Limited Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by show. Beware of minor spoilers for listed series.

Little Fires Everywhere aired eight episodes between March and April 2020 on Hulu. The adaptation of Celeste Ng’s novel is a powerful exploration of the racial divide between two families in a suburban Ohio neighborhood. It earned four additional nominations, for directing, music competition, music and lyrics, and star Kerry Washington’s performance.

Mrs. America aired eight episodes between April and May 2020 on Hulu as a production of FX. This original series charts opposing camps working to advocate for and against the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s with an entertaining approach and a terrific ensemble. It earned nine additional nominations, for casting, costumes, music composition, and picture editing, as well as acting bids for stars Cate Blanchett, Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, and Tracey Ullman.

Unbelievable premiered eight episodes in September 2019 on Netflix. This harrowing series is based on an article by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong and features a young woman convinced by authorities that the rape she endured is a fiction of her imagination and two female detectives tracking a series of sexual assaults. It earned three additional nominations, for writing, casting, and star Toni Collette (though Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever also should have been recognized).

Unorthodox premiered four episodes in March 2020 on Netflix. Based on Deborah Feldman’s book “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” this series, which is primarily in Yiddish, follows a woman who escapes her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn to discover herself in Berlin. It earned seven additional nominations, for casting, costumes, music composition, main title theme music, writing, directing, and star Shira Haas.

Watchmen aired nine episodes between October and December 2019 on HBO. Based on the comic book, this drama series, which was later redefined as a limited series, is set in an alternate present where police officers in Oklahoma must wear masks to protect themselves against a violent white supremacist group. It is the overall nominations leader at the Emmys this year, with twenty-six total bids, including for six of its actors and three nominations in directing.

HBO has won this award ten times since 1998, including five of the last eight years. FX has won every other year since 2014 for a total of three wins. Netflix is a relative newcomer to this category, earning its third nomination, and Hulu is here for the first time. In 2017, the first season of “Big Little Lies” defeated “Feud: Bette and Joan,” which had more nominations.

What should win: This is really a terrific list. “Unorthodox” would be my choice, but “Watchmen” is excellent too. It’s hard to argue that the other three aren’t just as deserving.
What will win: There could be a swell of support for “Unorthodox,” but I don’t see anything but Watchmen winning this.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best TV Movie

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Beware of minor spoilers for each movie.

American Son premiered on Netflix on September 12th, 2019. It is adapted from the Broadway play of the same name and features the same four cast members. Its star Kerry Washington is nominated this year for her performance in the limited series “Little Fires Everywhere.” Its exploration of the police and profiling through the harrowing experiences of an interracial couple awaiting news of their son at a police station feels even more relevant now than when this film was released. This is the film’s only Emmy nomination.

Bad Education premiered on HBO on April 25th, 2020. It’s an entertaining and captivating look at corruption in a school district that takes an often humorous path on the road to the public revelation of its events. Star Hugh Jackman is nominated for his performance.

El Camino premiered on Netflix on October 7th, 2019. It’s considered a sequel to the highly successful “Breaking Bad,” which was nominated for 58 Emmy Awards and won 16 of them during its initial run. This film, which chronicles the life of former drug cook Jesse Pinkman as he’s on the run from his past, scored additional nominations for picture editing, sound mixing, and sound editing. Despite having won three Emmy Awards for his performance in the original show, star Aaron Paul is not nominated this year.

These Old Bones premiered on Netflix on November 22nd, 2019. It is technically the eighth and final episode of the series “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings,” but qualified here due to its runtime. Its tale of a woman who lives in the mountains and the lawyer sent home to evict her is sentimental and endearing, if admittedly a bit campy. This is the episode’s only nomination.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend premiered on Netflix on May 12th, 2020. The interactive special, which offers viewers choices throughout its narrative, serves as an epilogue of sorts to the original series that concluded in January 2019 after 51 episodes and 18 Emmy nominations, none of which it won. Supporting actor Tituss Burgess is nominated for his performance, his fifth bid overall for the role.

Despite some buzz for a “Bad Education” and “El Camino,” neither performed all that well, meaning that all five nominees in this category earned just ten total nominations, none for directing or writing and only two for acting. HBO typically dominates this category, winning twenty times between 1993 and 2015. Netflix has won this award three years running for “Black Mirror,” which is now considered a drama series. It’s not as if that narrows things down either since Netflix makes up 80% of this category.

What should win: These are all decent choices, but “Bad Education” is my clear favorite.
What will win: I’m not sure it’s all that far ahead, but I still think Bad Education will take it.

What I’m Watching: Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso: Season 1, Episode 7 “Make Rebecca Great Again” (B+)

It’s alarming to see Ted out of sorts like this, not the happy-go-lucky presence we’ve known thus far. It was especially jarring to see him snap at Nate, and it’s good that Rebecca, even while she was dealing with her own problems, went after him to make sure that he was okay. Signing the divorce papers was an important step, and he even got an unexpected visitor in the form of a very determined Sassy who had designs on his American mustache. It was a surprise to see Nate put his thoughts to paper and then be forced by Ted to deliver them to the team himself, prompting some angry reactions, including one from a particularly enraged Roy, who put that all to good use after ripping out a bench from the ground. That was quite the recovery after he got trapped in the luggage compartment under the bus at the start of the episode and nearly had to endure the entire ride there. It was entertaining to see Keeley so startled at the sight – and sound – of herself on the TV in the hotel, and she was completely baffled when Roy passionately kissed her and then just said good night. Keeley and Rebecca really are becoming good friends, and the sudden return of Sassy didn’t derail that but instead reinforced that whichever Rebecca this is could use both of them in her life. It wasn’t fair that Rebecca punished Higgins by making him stay home, but he seemed to make the most of it and enjoy the event from afar with his family.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

What I’m Watching: Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves: Season 1, Episode 5 “Infected Memory” (B)

It might not be a great indicator of how I perceive this show that I value the flashback scenes most, but I think that’s mainly because I’m always interested in how societies changed and are undone by catastrophic events, sometimes more than the post-apocalyptic reality that sets in after the damage happens. There’s also the factor of Mother using a simulator that is specifically designed for humans and therefore might be altering her perception of what she’s seeing, but I think all that means is that she’s able to eject herself from it if, say, she suddenly becomes aware that her child is in danger. Learning that Campion was the name of the hacker who saved and reprogrammed her is enlightening, and perhaps prescient because his namesake would be the only one to survive. She killed the baby that was an android and presumably didn’t kill him when he gave her back her eyes, and seeing all this play out may help her have a more lenient attitude towards the Mithraic search party that’s absolutely ready to take her out to rescue the children in her care. It’s unclear how she is hallucinating just like Father, and I don’t think she’ll be able to realize that his earlier distraction isn’t just a limitation in his processing power but a threat that’s somehow able to influence androids along with humans. With Lucius’ help, Marcus made fast work of the next challenge to his leadership, and now he’s completely in charge. Sue’s concern with not forgetting their real identities seems misplaced since they’re never going to be able to be their true selves unless they plan on killing their Mithraic colleagues after the eventual retrieval of the children. The prisoner who claims that Saul commanded him to be fruitful earned a thought-provoking sentence from Marcus, one that does indeed put him in proximity to more he could hurt but assures his eventual sacrifice should they need to send someone ahead to the android who hates being called a necromancer.

What I’m Watching: Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves: Season 1, Episode 4 “Nature’s Course” (B)

This show is very much interested in exploring notions of good and evil, with no one person falling decisively in a particular camp. The only one who might is Campion, who wants to honor his mother, respect his father, and provide for his new siblings without taking the life on an animal. The religious notion that animals don’t go somewhere after they die but humans do is an intriguing one that evidently stuck with the children, and one of them even continues to adhere to the prohibition he has as a cleric against killing. Mother’s approach has become increasingly gentle since she is aware of how the children might rebel if she used intimidation and terror instead, but she also took the important step of removing the trackers from each of them so that the survivors of the ark wouldn’t be able to find them. Father wanted to make sure he was useful in providing food for the children, but he also sought to help them provide for themselves, fully aware in a way that Mother doesn’t seem to accept that they will eventually malfunction or expire. Sue made a mistake when she didn’t know a very popular Mithraic song, the last piece of confirmation needed to out both her and Marcus as imposters. Fortunately, Marcus found a way to viscerally and enduringly take care of Ambrose and make himself a more stable commander, and it seems that, even though he too was asked about the song, Lucius is going to trust and follow them.

Pilot Review: Woke

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Dead Pixels

Dead Pixels: Season 1, Episode 4 “Big Nose” (B+)

I’ve started to wonder why it is that Alison makes any efforts to engage her roommates when she knows that they have absolutely no interest in socializing with live human beings and they would probably bring down the mood of her party. But they’re also unpredictable and prone to disruptive behavior, especially if it in any way interferes with their ability to stay fully engaged in the game. Nicky took Big Nose’s death hard, gathering up all the leaves as his own sort of tribute and getting lost in the world of the game so that he didn’t have to confront his own mortality. Meg extracted a different message from his impressive legacy, and she was very much in denial about the ulterior motivations of most of the people who subscribed to her. She also got so excited about the five-hundred-pound contribution only to later learn that it was Russell who did it when his mother asked if she’d give it back. Nicky’s venture out to the party turned out to be a huge mistake, and in a supreme act of selflessness that just isn’t like her, Meg took credit for the abomination that was left floating in the toilet. That’s the truest sign of friendship, and even if this is one of the only times that it materializes in a non-digital world, it’s still affirming. What’s much more concerning, however, is that Usman’s real job is as a pilot, and he apparently plays the game while he’s flying and shouts about bears over the plane loudspeakers, sparking rightful confusion and panic from his passengers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Writing for a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by show. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Michael Schur, The Good Place (Whenever You’re Ready)
Tony McNamara, The Great (The Great)
Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek (Happy Ending)
David West Read, Schitt’s Creek (The Presidential Suite)
Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil, What We Do in the Shadows (Collaboration)
Paul Simms, What We Do in the Shadows (Ghosts)
Stefani Robinson, What We Do in the Shadows (On the Run)

This is Schur’s fourth nomination following previous bids for “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” Levy is also nominated for acting and directing this year. Simms has two previous bids for “The Larry Sanders Show,” and Robinson has one for “Atlanta.” Only “The Great” isn’t up for Best Comedy Series. That said, a few shows, including “My Name is Earl,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” and “Malcolm in the Middle,” have won this prize for their pilots without a nomination in the top category. A show with two nominations hasn’t won since 2013.

What should win: I loved “The Great” but don’t consider its pilot anywhere near its strongest episode. This is an easy choice for me – the series finale of “The Good Place.”
What will win: I think that Schitt’s Creek is beloved enough after its impressive performance this year that its series finale takes this.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Directing for a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by show. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Matt Shakman, The Great (The Great)
Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (It’s Comedy or Cabbage)
Daniel Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Marvelous Radio)
Gail Mancuso, Modern Family (Finale, Part 2)
Ramy Youssef, Ramy (
Andrew Cividino and Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek (Happy Ending)
James Burrows, Will and Grace (We Love Lucy

Sherman-Palladino won this award two years ago for her show’s pilot, and both she and Palladino were nominated last year. Mancuso has three previous nominations for “Modern Family,” and she won this prize in 2013 and 2014. Youssef is also nominated as a performer, as is Levy, who also contends for writing. Burrows is the most-nominated and most-honored director in this category, with twenty-five career bids, six of which were for “Will and Grace,” and five wins, most recently for “Frasier” in 1994. Shows with multiple nominations sometimes win this category, but it hasn’t happened since 2012. Only “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Schitt’s Creek” are nominated for Best Comedy Series, a very unusual occurrence.

What should win: I’d go with “Ramy” or either of the “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” episodes.
What will win: It’s possible that departing shows and past Best Comedy Series winners “Modern Family” or “Will and Grace” could win their fifth and first trophies in this race, respectively, for their series finale, but I’m betting on another series finale that’s nominated for a number of other prizes this year: Schitt’s Creek.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Writing for a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by show. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Thomas Schnauz, Better Call Saul (Bad Choice Road)
Gordon Smith, Better Call Saul (Bagman)
Peter Morgan, The Crown (Aberfan)
Chris Mundy, Ozark (All In)
John Shiban, Ozark (Boss Fight)
Miki Johnson, Ozark (Fire Pink)
Jesse Armstrong, Succession (This Is Not for Tears)

Schnauz and Smith each have two previous nominations in this category for their same show and, in Schnauz’s case, for “Breaking Bad” also. Morgan has two previous nominations, both for “The Crown.” Shiban was nominated back in 1997 for “The X-Files.” Armstrong is the defending champion in this category, winning last year. Shows with multiple nominations in this category do tend to win frequently, which happened most recently in 2014.

What should win: I think I would choose “Bad Choice Road” but I’m a fan of all of these except for “All In” and “Boss Fight.”
What will win: There’s no reason to expect that Succession won’t repeat here.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Directing for a Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by show. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Benjamin Caron, The Crown (Aberfan)
Jessica Hobbs, The Crown (Cri de Coeur)
Lesli Linka Glatter, Homeland (Prisoners of War)
Mimi Leder, The Morning Show (The Interview)
Alik Sakharov, Ozark (Fire Pink)
Ben Semanoff, Ozark (Su Casa Es Mi Casa)
Andrij Parekh, Succession (Hunting)
Mark Mylod, Succession (This Is Not for Tears)

Both Glatter and Leder have five previous nominations in this category. Glatter, who contends for the Homeland series finale, has been nominated four times in the past for that show, most recently in 2017, and once for “Mad Men.” Leder has contended for “China Beach,” “ER” (winning in 1995), and “The West Wing.” “Ozark” won this award last year, and “The Crown” triumphed the year before that. The only freshman series in the running is “The Morning Show,” and it, along with “Homeland,” is not up for Best Drama Series. Double bids for a show aren’t a disqualifier – several series have won with multiple installments nominated.

What should win: “Aberfan” wowed me most out of all of these, but I’d be fine with “The Morning Show,” either “Ozark” episode, or the “Succession” season finale.
What will win: It’s a competitive category and I’m not sure whether to back “Aberfan” or predict that Homeland takes it. It could also very easily be “Succession.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm, Mrs. America (Shirley)
Aduba won two Emmys for “Orange is the New Black,” in 2014 and 2015, and was nominated again in 2017. Now she’s contended for playing the first Black member of Congress, who also made history both as a Black and female candidate for president. In her episode, which gives her the spotlight, she has to contend against conflicting priorities from the Black caucus and the feminist movement. Aduba may not be the standout from her series but she does well in this episode, which also earned a writing nomination, which could help her chances.

Toni Collette as Detective Grace Rasmussen, Unbelievable (Episode 6)
Collette was nominated twice for “United States of Tara,” winning in 2009, and also contended in 2007 for “Tsunami: The Aftermath.” Inexplicably, she’s the only performer nominated from her show despite excellent turns from Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever. The quality of her work here shouldn’t be minimized, however, since she’s formidable, hilarious, and unforgettable as a detective more than willing to insert herself into dangerous situations. A better showing for her series might have helped, but she’s won before without much other support for her projects.

Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug, Mrs. America (Bella)
This is Martindale’s sixth Emmy nomination. She won for “Justified” and then twice out of four bids for “The Americans.” She plays the famed Congresswoman and feminist who has a number of moments to shine throughout Hulu’s limited series. Like her nominated costars, she gets her own episode, and she does excellently, going beyond imitation of her real-life character and tapping into her passion and attitude. Martindale has won before for mere minutes of work, so this more substantial showcase could easily catapult her to a fourth Emmy.

Jean Smart as Agent Laurie Blake, Watchmen (She Was Killed by Space Junk)
This is Smart’s ninth Emmy nomination. She won in 2000 and 2001 for guest-starring on “Frasier” and again in 2008 for “Samantha Who?” Her last nomination was in this category for “Fargo” in 2016. She plays a mesmerizing character on this year’s most-nominated program, clinging to a superhero past and exploring a miserable, bureaucratic present. Smart is always superb, and this layered, sarcastic turn is no exception. Her show is wildly popular, and she could easily ride that to a deserved win.

Holland Taylor as Ellen Kincaid, Hollywood (Jump)
This is Taylor’s eighth Emmy nomination. She won on her first try in 1999 for “The Practice” and last received four bids between 2005 and 2010 for “Two and a Half Men.” Her role in Netflix’s limited series is relatively minor and usually in the background, but she delivers strongly when she is featured as a studio executive well aware of what she wants and how to get it. She’s not nearly as prominent in her episode as any of these other women, so her winning would be a surprise.

Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, Mrs. America (Betty)
Ullman has ten previous performance nominations, with wins in 1999 for “Ally McBeal,” 1994 for “Tracey Takes on New York,” and in 1993 for “Love and War.” She plays the opinionated and often controversial feminist who frequently clashes with Gloria Steinem in Hulu’s miniseries. In her episode, she is indeed unforgettable, with one particular scene standing out as a potential Emmy clip. I wouldn’t have pegged her as the one from her show to win but she may just be able to do it.

Who should win: Collette
Who will win: All six of these women have won Emmys, which isn’t all that common. I’m not sure which of the “Mrs. America” women will be most popular, and so I’ll stick with my choice here, Collette, with the caveat that it could really be any of them except for Taylor.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Calvin Abar, Watchmen (A God Walks into Abar)
This is the first Emmy nomination for Abdul-Mateen, who plays a relatively unimportant background character in the first few episodes of his show before taking on a starring role in the penultimate episode. To describe anything about it would be considered a spoiler, but his work is exceptional and completely captivating. Acting with Regina King as a scene partner is no easy feat, but he shines and could very well win this.

Jovan Adepo as Will Reeves, Watchmen (This Extraordinary Being)
This is the first Emmy nomination for Adepo, who appears in just three episodes of his series as the younger version of Louis Gossett Jr.’s character. In the first of those installments, which serves as his submission, he gets to take center stage in flashback memories experienced by Regina King’s Angela. It’s a reserved performance but one that portrays the birth of a hero. Adepo is good, but I think it’s unlikely he can eclipse either of his nominated costars.

Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend
Burgess received four consecutive nominations for playing this character but missed out for its final season last year. Now, he’s back, both as the lone actor from a TV movie in this category and its lone nomination aside from that top category bid. While he has a longer showcase than the other actors in this race, he’s also in an interactive special and therefore his performance will have been experienced differently by viewers. As the only comedic turn here and the only actor not nominated against a costar, Burgess is an interesting specimen – he could finally win if voters can’t choose which dramatic performances they liked best.

Louis Gossett Jr. as Will Reeves, Watchmen (See How They Fly)
This is Gossett’s eighth career Emmy nomination. He won on his first bid for “Roots” way back in 1977, and was last nominated for his guest turn on “Touched by an Angel” in 1997. Gossett is actually eighty-four years old but plays a centenarian, one who exhibits great power despite his age and apparent frailty. I think he would have done better to submit an earlier episode rather than the finale, but his performance is still impressive and noticeable, even in a busy hour.

Dylan McDermott as Ernie West, Hollywood (Meg)
McDermott has one previous nomination, for “The Practice” in 1999. I remember McDermott fondly in the first episode of this show, confidently running a gas station with benefits in 1940s Los Angeles. I probably would have picked that episode for him to submit, but he’s also strong and endearing in its penultimate hour, which finds him getting to be part of the ritzy fun he was always denied in his career. I’m not sure he can beat Parsons, but I would choose him.

Jim Parsons as Henry Wilson, Hollywood (Outlaws)
This is the ninth career acting nomination for Parsons, who won four times for his leading role on “The Big Bang Theory.” This is a completely different role, one that finds him in a predatory position as an agent who ensures that all of his clients deliver, even if it’s not on stage. I didn’t find Parsons to be anywhere near the best part of his show, but Emmy voters may appreciate his about-face. His submitted episode – the show’s third – was when I started to doubt its quality, in part because of his plotline, but it’s the best showcase of what he’s doing on it.

Who should win: Abdul-Mateen or Burgess
Who will win: I’m really not sure, but I’ll predict Abdul-Mateen to edge out Parsons with very minimal confidence.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Performers in this category don’t submit specific episodes, but I’ve watched the entirety of their shows to best assess their chances.

Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veldt, Watchmen
Irons has won three out of four of his past Emmy bids, in 2014 for narrating “Big Cat Week,” in 2006 for “Elizabeth I,” and in 1997 for voice-over performance in “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.” He’s in contention now for playing a man desperate for omniscience and obsessed with his own power. Irons is definitely chewing scenery, but I’m not sure that he’s really a lead. His show is the nominations leader, however, and he shouldn’t be counted out if it ends up sweeping all its categories.

Hugh Jackman as Frank Tassone, Bad Education
Jackman won an Emmy for hosting the Tony Awards in 2005 and was nominated again the next year, and has contended twice as a special class program nominee when he hosted the Oscars and the Tonys. He’s the lone representative in this category from a TV movie, one that was expected to do very well but earned only one other nomination. He fully immerses himself in the role of a friendly school superintendent with plenty of secrets. It’s a great performance, but he’d have a better shot if his film had performed better overall.

Paul Mescal as Connell Waldron, Normal People
This is Mescal’s first Emmy nomination. His limited series missed the top category but earned bids for directing, writing, and casting. Mescal, who is just twenty-four years old, delivers an incredibly layered and accessible performance opposite the equally terrific Daisy Edgar-Jones. This category has skewed very young the past few years with wins for Jharrel Jerome, Darren Criss, and Riz Ahmed, and there is plenty of affinity for Mescal and his series that could help an internationally unknown Irish actor win eclipse much better-known stars to win this award.

Jeremy Pope as Archie Coleman, Hollywood
Pope earns his first Emmy nomination for his TV debut after dual Tony bids last year. He demonstrates a truly hopeful spirit as a gay Black writer trying to make it in 1940s Hollywood, determined to make his mark even when everyone tells him he can’t. I would have nominated his costar David Corenswet in this category instead, but Pope is definitely doing good work. A win seems unlikely given his show’s prominent absence from top categories.

Mark Ruffalo as Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, I Know This Much Is True
Ruffalo was nominated in 2014 for starring in “The Normal Heart” and won an Emmy as a producer on the TV movie. Ruffalo’s work as twin brothers who experience deep heartbreak over the course of their lives is undeniably strong, but his series is incredibly miserable and hard to watch. The fact that it earned zero other nominations means that voters have to be wowed enough by his performance(s) – which they should be – to pick him when it’s honestly difficult to endure viewing it.

Who should win: Mescal, Ruffalo, or Jackman
Who will win: It could be Ruffalo or Jackman, but I’m going to go with Mescal pulling it off.

Monday, September 7, 2020

What I’m Watching: We Hunt Together

We Hunt Together: Season 1, Episode 5 (B+)

There’s something that would have been very satisfying and easy about Freddy deciding to kill Fitzgerald, knowing that she had gotten revenge on the man whose malicious actions had resulted in the death of her best friend. It’s far more interesting, if unnerving, to learn that Freddy may have, purposely or unconsciously, changed events in her mind that warped the truth of what happened. From the flashes we saw towards the end of the episode, she misunderstood the sight of Fitzgerald reading to the real Freddy in her room and experienced jealousy that, by the looks it, compelled her to push her best friend to her death. Baba wasn’t happy to learn that there was more to the story than Freddy had communicated, and his comparison of what they were about to do to his own traumatic past pushed Freddy to act impulsively in a way that couldn’t possibly be passed off as suicide or even self-defense. The ending of this episode was sharp and intense, with Freddy realizing that she can’t always just trick someone into doing what she wants and get away with it. Lola is ready to go to whatever lengths she needs in order to track down Freddy and Baba, who they now know are together, including putting up roadblocks herself even if she doesn’t have the authorization to get someone else to do it. Hearing Jackson curse on the phone was unexpected, but it makes sense that he’d need some sort of outlet after keeping calm all the time. I’m curious to see how things play out in the finale and whether there’s any resolution or just a new setup for a potential second season.

What I’m Watching: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country: Season 1, Episode 4 “A History of Violence” (B)

I’m really not sure how to describe this show, and each episode makes it harder to categorize. Parts of it felt like Indiana Jones combating supernatural forces with programmed safeguards against those looking to be seen as deities, but there’s a whole lot more to do with racism and birthrights mixed in there too. There wasn’t an opening title card like the one that described the house where three people went missing, and instead we picked up as all of the storylines started to unify the general plot of the show. Christina showed up at Leti’s door and seemed startled that she couldn’t just walk in, and Leti is on to her, determined not to be a pawn in the massive game she’s trying to play. And while Christina is encountering some resistance to her presence – and her prominence as a woman – she’s trying new angles, mainly in the form of having William seduce a dejected Ruby at a bar so that she’ll have another pathway into that family. On the subject of pathways, I know museums can feel like mazes sometimes, but I never have to think about whether I’m wearing clothing to swim, jump, and run for my life in when I go exploring, though I suppose I’m not trying to find ancient mythological secrets hidden in dark and terrifying places. Atticus’ ability to understand a different language almost without realizing it was intriguing, but not nearly as much as the fact that Montrose immediately went to kill their newly freed siren friend as soon as his son wasn’t looking. There a lot of nefarious elements here, all with separate aims to keep something secret from those closest to them.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Writing for a Limited Series or TV Movie

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by show. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Tanya Barfield, Mrs. America (Shirley)
Sally Rooney and Alice Birch, Normal People (Episode 3)
Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Unbelievable (Episode 1)
Anna Winger, Unorthodox (Part 1)
Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson, Watchmen (This Extraordinary Being)

Barfield, Grant, Chabon, Waldman, Winger, and Lindelof all contend as producers of their shows this year. Grant was a producing nominee back in 2016 for “Confirmation.” Lindelof has won one Emmy – for producing season one of “Lost” – a show for which he was nominated for writing five times. Only “Normal People” is not nominated for Best Limited Series.

What should win: While I would have chosen to nominate other installments of “Mrs. America” and “Normal People,” they’re both great episodes, and I’d be ecstatic if the latter won since that show really wowed me. I think my pick here would be “Unorthodox.”
What will win: I feel like this prize could actually go to Unorthodox over “Watchmen.”

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Directing for a Limited Series or TV Movie

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by show. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Lynn Shelton, Little Fires Everywhere (Find a Way)
Lenny Abrahamson, Normal People (Episode 5)
Maria Schrader, Unorthodox
Nicole Kassell, Watchmen (It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice)
Steph Green, Watchmen (Little Fear of Lightning)
Stephen Williams, Watchmen (This Extraordinary Being)

Shelton, who sadly passed away in May from leukemia, is also nominated this year as a producer of her series. Kassell is also a nominated producer, as is Williams, who previously contended twice as a producer of “Lost.” Only “Normal People” is not nominated for Best Limited Series. In the past decade, multiple nominations for one program are frequent but only one - “Fargo” – has ever managed to prevail.

What should win: This is a stellar list, even if it still doesn’t include the best episodes of “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Normal People,” or “Watchmen.” I loved the first episode of “Unorthodox” and that would be a great choice, but it’s hard to pick between that and the pilot episode of “Watchmen.”
What will win: Having three nominated episodes makes it a challenge, but I think that Watchmen does prevail for its pilot.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Angela Bassett as Mo, A Black Lady Sketch Show (Angela Bassett Is the Baddest Bitch)
Bassett has five previous nominations, including a bid in this category from 2017 for “Master of None,” and she also contends this year for narrating “The Imagineering Story.” Her guest spot in the pilot episode of the HBO variety series is brief, but its significance is clear from her name being in the title. I don’t think it compares to her previous work, but evidently she’s popular enough that even a few minutes in a short sketch is enough to merit a nomination.

Bette Midler as Hadassah Gold, The Politician (Vienna)
This is Midler’s fifth acting bid. She previously won trophies for performing in her “Diva Las Vegas” concert in 1997, an episode of “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” in 1992, and producing a music special in 1978. She was expected to be here along with costar Judith Light, who was snubbed, and Midler will definitely benefit from her one-episode appearance in season one leading into a regular role in season two, which debuted this June. Not having to compete with Light, whose campaign Midler’s Gold manages, she has a much better shot. It’s an energetic performance but it doesn’t help that her show didn’t earn any other major nominations.

Maya Rudolph as Judge Gen, The Good Place (You’ve Changed Man) and as Kamala Harris, Saturday Night Live (Host: Eddie Murphy)
Thanks to recent rule changes that made such things possible, Rudolph becomes the first performer ever to earn two separate nominations in a guest category. This is Rudolph’s third consecutive bid for “The Good Place” and her second for “Saturday Night Live.” She’s terrific in her submitted episode for NBC’s departed comedy series, humorously detailing her observations on (and plans for) humanity, but I don’t think that will compare to the incredible timing of her extended cameo as Kamala Harris being eligible for voting just days after she was announced as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Like guest actor nominee Brad Pitt, it’s not really substantial compared to other performers in this category – or even her role as the judge – but she does do a great job and I think it’s exactly what voters are looking for now.

Wanda Sykes as Moms Mabley, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (A Jewish Girl Walks Into the Apollo)

Sykes has been nominated in this category twice before, in 2017 and 2018, for “Black-ish.” She won as part of the writing staff for “The Chris Rock Show” in 1999 and contends this year both as a producer for “Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah” and her voice-over work for “Crank Yankers.” Sykes in nominated here for playing another famous and trailblazing comedienne, and she gets to deliver some of her material in the season finale of her show. This isn’t like much of Sykes’ past work and could very much impress voters.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Phoebe Waller-Bridge)
Waller-Bridge was a fixture of last year’s Emmy ceremony, claiming acting, writing, and producing prizes for “Fleabag.” This year, she’s back here and as a producer for “Killing Eve.” She does well enough as host, delivering a funny opening monologue and participating fully in sketches, but her work doesn’t hold a candle to what won her all those awards last year. I would have nominated her instead for her role on “Run.” Her nomination should be considered the product of residual enthusiasm and isn’t likely to result in a win.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): Midler or Rudolph for “The Good Place”
Who will win: I think Rudolph has it in the bag for her Kamala impression, though maybe Bassett or Sykes could win too.