Whew. The final Emmy has been handed out after a weird year, they’re packing up the lonely stage Jimmy Kimmel stood on inside Staples Center and that’s it. Time to let the film folks try to figure out what promises to be an even more bizarre Oscar season! Sucks to be them, right?
Ha! You fools, TV awards season is never over! Emmy eligibility ended on May 31, and there have been a ton of new and returning series premieres since then — with a bunch more to come this fall, COVID-19 be damned. And that should make for an interesting new set of contenders for the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Critics Choice Awards and other guild kudos that will be happening in early 2021.
Not in the running will be programs such as “Succession” Season 2 and “Watchmen” — Emmy darlings from fall 2019 that got their Emmy due this week but already were eligible for this past winter’s other awards. (The Golden Globes somehow completely missed the “Watchmen” train, failing to nominate it at all last winter, and since there isn’t a Season 2, there are no do-overs, HFPA.)
That leaves room for some of this summer’s buzzy entries, as well as the most anticipated shows of fall — including a number of programs that would have been Emmy 2020 contenders but had to be pushed back due to COVID-19-related production delays.
Topping that list, of course, is the long-awaited return of FX’s “Fargo,” now in Season 4. It would have been a tough fight to beat HBO’s “Watchmen” at the Emmys, and now “Fargo” won’t face off with that show in any awards competition. Instead, it’s an early limited series front-runner for the Globes, SAG Awards and even next year’s Emmys. But that’s not all: Expect big things for star Chris Rock, in a revelatory turn as Kansas City crime boss Loy Cannon. Jessie Buckley, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw and Timothy Olyphant also could be contenders.
Could Showtime’s “The Comey Rule” also be a top challenger? It might depend how people are feeling after the November election — either so relieved they’ll celebrate the two-part series or so disgusted they won’t even want to think about it. Either way, however, Jeff Daniels as former FBI director James Comey and Brendan Gleeson as Donald Trump could be in the mix.
Another fall limited series entry, Nicole Kidman and David E. Kelley’s “The Undoing” for HBO, also has awards written all over it — at least for stars Kidman and Hugh Grant and even director Susanne Bier (“The Night Manager”). In late November, FX on Hulu’s “A Teacher” and its story of a high school instructor’s relationship with her student could turn some heads and give star Kate Mara awards attention.
HFPA members may also be swept up by HBO’s new drama “We Are Who We Are,” which comes complete with an indie filmmaker (Luca Guadagnino), coming-of-age tales and an international setting: A U.S. Army base in Italy. Early reviews are strong, and although break-out stars Jack Dylan Grazer and Jordan Kristine Seamón are likely too young and too green for recognition just yet, supporting cast including Chloë Sevigny and Kid Kudi could be in the mix.
Amazon Prime Video has Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology, including “Lovers Rock” and “Mangrove,” making waves at the New York Film Festival. The series could make for a contender in the TV movie/limited categories.
Among other fall shows, the reaction is a bit more mixed on Netflix’s “Ratched,” but Ryan Murphy programs are traditionally Emmy bait, especially for stars in his repertory company like Sarah Paulson. Nat Geo likes to campaign hard, and although “Genius: Aretha” is expected to still be delayed, the company’s Disney Plus take on “The Right Stuff” could be awards fodder.
On the comedy side, it would be nice to see some Season 2 love for Hulu’s “Pen15,” which has been nominated for writing by both the Emmys and the WGA.
And then there’s my “give all the awards now” decree to HBO’s “I May Destroy You” and creator-star Michaela Coel. Heartbreaking, stunning, beautiful — there are not enough adjectives to describe this summer series, which hopefully will be remembered by Emmy voters next year, but first up could get plenty of attention at the Globes, SAG, WGA and more. I’m not even sure how it will be classified: Comedy? Drama? Limited? Many questions need to be answered.
Of course, this is all assuming that the winter awards shows gravitate to the new stuff. As the broadcast, cable and streaming services all start playing down fall launches in favor of spring — especially for their prestige, Emmy-worthy projects — that’s flipped the tables on who gets first crack at honoring freshman sensations.
The Emmys, after all, will have already nominated programs like the latest seasons of AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” Netflix’s “Dead to Me” and “Ozark,” HBO’s “Insecure,” Hulu’s “Ramy” and the final season of Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek,” as well as limited entries like FX on Hulu’s “Mrs. America,” Netflix’s “Unorthodox” and Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere,” all of which are still contenders for the upcoming Globes and guilds awards gantlet.
So let’s turn things over to the Oscars race. But don’t get too comfy, film folks: Emmy season kicks into high gear by February, and with the Academy Awards pushed to April, we’re colliding right into your little show. Forget “West Side Story” — this year the turf war is all about TV versus film, and I’m feeling pretty.
More from Variety
Best of Variety