by Julian Spivey
What We Do in the Shadows
My absolute favorite nomination from the reveal of the 2020 Emmy Award nominees this morning (July 28) was FX’s wacky vampire mockumentary “What We Do in the Shadows” being nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. I figured it might be a longshot to make the cut and was genuinely happy to see it did. “What We Do in the Shadows” follows the lives of four vampires who are roommates in a Staten Island home and is truly one of the biggest laughs per minute producers of any comedy currently on television. I was also giddy to see the episode “On the Run,” where my favorite character of Laszlo leaves the house on the run from a pissed off vampire and creates the alter ego Jackie Daytona, was one of an incredible three episodes from the series to be nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.
Cast of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
While season three of Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was certainly the weakest of the show’s output so far, it’s still nice to see the incredibly talented and hilarious cast receive so much love from the Emmy voters. Rachel Brosnahan (who won two years ago for season one) was once again nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, Tony Shalhoub (who won last year for season two) got another nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in Comedy Series, Alex Borstein (who’s won twice) was nominated again for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy and Marin Hinkle received her second straight nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Sterling K. Brown who guest starred in season three also received a nomination for Reggie, the tour manager of crooner Shy Baldwin in the show, but I think this just shows how much Emmy voters love Brown and I would’ve preferred to see Michael Zegen, the only full-time cast member who’s never received a nomination, in his place. Luke Kirby, who portrays comedy Lenny Bruce and won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy last year, was also once again nominated. You’d think with a cast having this much love there wouldn’t be room for any snubs, but Jane Lynch really should’ve been nominated for her portrayal of Sophie Lennon, as well. I would’ve been fine had the Emmys substituted her for Hinkle this year.
It shouldn’t come as a secret to anybody who’s been following The Word for a while that Andre Braugher’s stoic, deadpan performance as Capt. Raymond Holt on NBC’s sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is one of my – if not my – favorite performance over the last decade on television. It’s nice to see Braugher back in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category after missing out the last three years after receiving nominations in the two years prior to that. I doubt Braugher would be considered the favorite in the category, but I will likely leap from my couch and through my roof if his name is read come Emmy night.
D'Arcy Carden and William Jackson Harper
It’s really nice to see the Emmy voters give a little extra love to NBC’s “The Good Place” after its swan song season. I’ve been essentially begging for D’Arcy Carden’s performance as the human-like robot Janet to be nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for years – and I truly hope she steals the honor. Carden has been a usual suspect on my snubs list since the show began. It’s also nice to see William Jackson Harper nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his performance as Chidi on the show. It probably wouldn’t make my top half of favorite performances on “The Good Place,” but it’s at least a nice nod to Harper’s job on the show.
Of everything that makes this particular list this was the biggest shoo-in for a nomination. The moment Eddie Murphy said his goodnights at the end of the December episode of “Saturday Night Live” he hosted it was a cinch he would be nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series and he’s probably the favorite to win it. That doesn’t temper my excitement any though as Murphy’s hosting stint on ‘SNL’ was an instant classic – something terribly hard to do these days – and the best episode from start-to-finish of the show in quite some time.
I’m thrilled Paul Mescal was nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series for his wonderful, truly future star-making performance as Connell on Hulu’s “Normal People,” but the excitement is tempered by the fact that his exquisite co-star Daisy Edgar-Jones doesn’t join him on the Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series side and the show as a whole wasn’t nominated either. Still Mescal was amazing in a role of a popular high school student falling in love with a social outcast and not really knowing how to handle its affect on his social standing and then kind of having things flip on him when leaving his small hometown for college.
If I’m not mistaken Hulu’s “Ramy” was in the unique situation where both its first and second seasons were eligible for this year’s Emmys, but it seems the second season received the nominations (I preferred the first season, which seems to put me in the minority). Many believe the show to have been snubbed in the Outstanding Comedy Series category, but Ramy Youssef himself received a much deserved nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. Youssef is terrific in portraying at least some version of himself in dealing with trying to be a good Muslim in the modern world. Further congratulations are due to Youssef who is the first Muslim-American to ever receive an acting nomination at the Emmys.
Late Show with Stephen Colbert
It’s certainly not a shock that “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS has been nominated for Outstanding Variety Talk Series as it’s the fourth straight nomination for the show in the category. I’m still happy for the series, which I consider to at least be the best variety talk show on broadcast network television – I still haven’t gotten around to watching Emmy darling “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on HBO. Colbert’s mixture of comedy – mostly of the political variety – and interviews are among the funniest and smartest on television. His predecessor David Letterman was also the best interviewer of any variety talk show host and it’s nice to see Colbert fill those shoes admirably. Colbert’s also done yeoman’s work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic without a live audience to admire his work.
Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby
While I continue to be irritated that NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” has never broken into the Outstanding Variety Talk Show category, despite annually receiving a very well-deserved nomination for its writing staff I was most happy to see Meyers nominated for his writing of his stand-up comedy special “Lobby Baby” for Netflix this year. Meyers is terrific at navigating topics such as his home life – most notably his wife giving birth to their second son in the lobby of their apartment building – with stuff you typically see on his late night show like politics. He’s almost certainly going to lose in this category to Dave Chappelle, but it’s nice to see him included.
Aberfan (Peter Morgan/The Crown)
The best episode of the third season of “The Crown” on Netflix was its third episode entitled “Aberfan,” written be the show’s creator and lead writer Peter Morgan, which told of the tragic Aberfan mining town disaster of October 21, 1966 in South Wales and the absolutely horrible reaction afterward by the royal family, in which Queen Elizabeth II considers her biggest regret of her long reign. The episode includes terrific performances all around by Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II), Tobias Menzies (Prince Philip), Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) and Lord Snowdon (Ben Daniels) and as an American truly taught me a bit of English history that I’d previously had no knowledge on. “Aberfan” is “The Crown” at its absolute best.