Emmys Part 3: Variety and Miscellaneous

In the final edition of Man of the Hour’s Emmys preview, we are going to look at the miscellaneous categories including Outstanding Variety Series. Last year saw the end of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Comedy Central’s reign end in the category for Outstanding Variety Talk Series. Could another program spoofing pick up the mantle or will the newly resurgent talk shows of Fallon and Corden become the new kings? This year also saw the newly created Short Form categories as a way for The Academy to finally acknowledge internet web series as television. We at Man of the Hour presents our predications of what is going to win and what should win as we look forward to the Emmys in September.

If you agree or disagree with any of our opinions, please comment below. 

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Catastrophe (Episode: “Episode 1”), Written by Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan (Amazon)

Master of None (Episode: “Parents”), Written by Aziz Ansari and Jeff Yang (Netflix)

Silicon Valley (Episode: “Founder Friendly”), Written by Dan O’Keefe (HBO)

Silicon Valley (Episode: “The Uptick”), Written by Alec Berg (HBO)

Veep (Episode: “Morning After”), Written by David Mandel (HBO)

Veep (Episode: “Mother”), Written by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck (HBO)

The Outstanding Writing Category always has one nomination for a series that critics love but did not get much traction in any other categories. This nomination this year goes to Catastrophe, a wonderful British riff on the romantic comedy that was released by Amazon. Shows with good street cred like Louie or 30 Rock would win this category just to lose in the Outstanding Series category. Luckily, this is a solid group of nominees with Veep, as with all the other comedy categories, as the favorite to win the award. Do not be surprise by a win for Master of None which could rewarded for its forward thinkingness in the episode “Parents” and as a token of celebration for a show that is not favorited to win any other award. Surprisingly there are no nominations for Transparent which secured one last year. Other shows that could have fallen in the same category of well-respected but not popular enough for a nomination like Catastrophe could have been Hulu’s Casual and FX’s You’re the Worst.

What Will Win: Veep (Episode: “Morning After”)

What Should Win: Master of None (Episode: “Parents”)  

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

The Americans (Episode: “Persona Non Grata”), Written by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg (FX)

Downton Abbey (Episode: “Episode 8”), Written by Julian Fellows (PBS)

Game of Thrones (Episode: “Battle of the Bastards”), Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)

The Good Wife (Episode: “End”), Written by Robert King and Michelle King (CBS)

Mr. Robot (Episode: “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”), Written by Sam Esmil (USA)

UnReal (Episode: “Return”), Written by Marti Nixon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (Lifetime)

While The Good Wife was shut out for much of the awards they have been known to have, the season finale did get a nomination in the writing category as did another well liked and great series UnReal. But, that is all well and good but the two serious contenders battling out for the win are Game of Thrones and Mr. Robot. The first is coming off a win last year and an episode that featured everything from a death of an important character to big battles on a larger scale than some Hollywood movie. On the other corner is Mr. Robot, a show that succeeds in its storytelling first and foremost from the singular vision of Sam Esmail as writer and creator. Esmail and his show probably has the most distinct voice of the television season this year. I would not be surprised for a repeat win for the popular Game of Thrones but my heart is with Mr. Robot.

 

What Will Win: Game of Thrones (Episode: “Battle of the Bastards”)

What Should Win: Mr. Robot (Episode: “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”)

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special

Fargo (Episode: “Loplop”), Written by Bob DeLaurentis (FX)

Fargo (Episode: “Palindrome”), Written by Noah Hawley (FX)

The Night Manager, Written by David Farr (AMC)

The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “From the Ashes of Tragedy”), Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (FX)

The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”), Written by D.V. DeVincentis (FX)

The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Episode: “The Race Card”), Written by Joel Robert Cole (FX)

Once again it is Fargo vs. The People vs. O.J. With all the love that O.J. is getting this year, this could be the award that is given to Fargo and the incredible work by Noah Hawley balancing out a character run show with cheeky, cynical, absurdist humor. While The People vs. O.J. is risen above schlock mainly because of its writing, it is the combination of spectacle and a lot of other factors that make the show as successful as it was. For Fargo, it succeeds entirely because of the quality of writing that it gets from writers like Noah Hawler and Bob DeLaurentis.

What Will Win: Fargo (Episode: “Loplop”)

Who Should Win: Fargo (Episode: “Loplop”)

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)

Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)

Key & Peele (Comedy Central)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Portlandia (IFC)

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Despite variety talk and variety sketch series being separated, the writing category is still lumped together. This is a hard one to predict because the style of writing is so different for both type of shows. The sketch writing on Key & Peele is different from the straight monologues of a John Oliver. This category is also going into its first year without the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in the category as both of their Comedy Central shows are no longer on air (yet, surprisingly The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) did not get any nominations in any categories. Key & Peele has a distinct advantage in this category with the love for the show by the Academy and it being the show’s last season. Or, the Academy may continue their trend of rewarding news satire shows like the extremely well written and well researched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Don’t overlook Saturday Night Live which has one of its most likable casts and stronger writing seasons.  

What Will Win: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

What Should Win: Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Crackle)

The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)

Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (NBC)

Strangely, the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category shows how conservative the Emmys is. Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee shows off the Academy’s love of the standup comedian who has always been a favorite amongst voters. Then there is the ratings giant and YouTube megahit Jimmy Fallon and James Corden’s excessive hosting likability. While it makes sense that these shows are nominated, embodying the true nature of variety, these shows stand right in the middle ground conservative entertainment. There is little bark and even less bite from these shows unlike, something like John Oliver whose political satire and well executed research has made it a viral sensation as well. Surprisingly, there was also a lack of a nomination for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee which features the first female host in late night and a distinctive feminist perspective. I can only assume that the show will have to wait until next year when it gains more traction with the Academy.

What Will Win: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

What Should Win: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

Documentary Now! (IFC)

Drunk History (Comedy Central)

Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)

Key and Peele (Comedy Central)

Portlandia (IFC)

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

I really cannot believe that Documentary Now! Was nominated for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. Sure this could all be due to the power of Lorne Michaels but Documentary Now! is a joke that is so specific to a certain group of people. This show was made especially for a niche audience and all those people who understand all the small insular jokes will love it. That said, it absolutely has no chance of winning an award. While last year Inside Amy Schumer won, partially based on the feel good story of Amy Schumer and her summer last year. This year, the feel good story of the year is the final season of Key and Peele who also had a movie released earlier this year. But, the strongest season this year was from Saturday Night Live which is coming off one of its strongest ensemble cast and writing. I know it is always safe to say that this is the worst SNL season ever, but this year’s season felt like the show was firing on all cylinders.

What Will Win: Key and Peele

What Should Win: Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Variety Special

Adele Live in New York City (NBC)

Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo (HBO)

The Kennedy Center Honors (CBS)

The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Prime Time Special (CBS)
Lemonade (HBO)

I am not even going to entertain the idea that any special has the remote possibility of beating Lemonade. The one hour Beyoncé special on HBO is not only one of the great musical acts by an artist but one of the best piece of cinematic art of any medium this year. Filled with references to folklore, history and black culture, Lemonade is transgressive television at its best. Adele Live in New York City despite Adele’s all-reaching popularity could not touch Lemonade with a ten-foot pole.

What Will Win: Lemonade

What Should Win: Lemonade

Outstanding Special Class Program

69th Annual Tony Awards (CBS)

The 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards (NBC)

Grease: Live (Fox)

The Oscars (ABC)

Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show (CBS)

For the first time in ten years the Super Bowl Halftime Show gets a nomination in this category after being relegated to a now retired award. This year’s Super Bowl was headlined by a dull performance from Coldplay, a fun performance from Bruno Mars and a transcendent performance from Beyoncé just to end on a dull note from Coldplay again. Frankly, out of all the nominees that may have been the best show on the list. It was pure spectacle through and through. The Tony’s dominate this category winning five times out of the last six years and the Hamilton bump may push it over again this year but, you cannot beat Beyoncé in my heart.

What Will Win: 69th Annual Tony Awards

What Should Win: Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show

Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series

Children’s Hospital (Adult Swim)

Fear of the Walking Dead: Flight 462 (AMC)

Hack into Broad City (comedycentral.com)

Her Story (Youtube)

UnReal: The Auditions (Liftetime)

This award has taken over the Outstanding Short-Form Live Action Entertainment Programming, featuring mainly shows from major production companies released on the internet. The only show to ever have any history with this type of category is Children’s Hospital, a funny, dark spoof on the medical melodrama shows like ER or Grey’s Anatomy. But, I’m hoping for some love to the Broad City cast for its funny little shorts used as promos for their new season. The videos, like the show, takes the little observations of everyday life and take a sharp millennial look at it. But, a part of me thinks that it is the big budget production of the Fear of the Walking Dead: Flight 462 that will win. This 16-episode miniseries follows a story on the outskirts of the show all set on an airplane as the zombie outbreak occurs.  Its production value is impressive but feels too rudimentary.  

What Will Win: Fear of the Walking Dead: Flight 462

What Should Win: Hack into Broad City

Outstanding Short Form Variety Series

Epic Rap Battles of History (Youtube)

Gay of Thrones (FunnyorDie.com)

Honest Trailers (Youtube)

Making a Scene with James Franco (AOL)

Park Bench with Steve Buscemi (AOL)

The Academy has finally accepted web videos as television. This category was specifically created to highlight strong internet based videos. Of course there are the two AOL shows that feature famous stars that are irresistible for Academy voters. But then, there are genuine viral sensations that have worked for years to gain respectability. Making a Scene with James Franco seems to be the favorite to win with its inside Hollywood concept and the backing of a Hollywood celebrity. But, I have to go with a show that has its roots in YouTubal viral visibility and hope for Honest Trailers, a show that spoofs blockbusters, to win.

What Will Win: Making a Scene with James Franco

What Should Win: Honest Trailers