Welcome to the 2019 Emmy Circuit series, where we analyze and predict all your favorite TV series and their chances with the Television Academy (at least at this time of publishing). The series examines the shows and performances about their awards potential, most notably the Emmy Awards. Emmy nomination voting opens June 10 and closes on June 24. The official Emmy nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 16 while the ceremony airs on FOX Sunday, Sept. 22. All Emmy pieces run with the following schedule: Mondays (Dramas), Tuesdays (Network Spotlight), Wednesdays (Comedies), Thursdays (Network Spotlight), Fridays (Limited Series, Variety Series, Below-the Lines).
“Ramy” is an engaging new show from Hulu and A24. Created by Ari Katcher, Ryan Welch, and Ramy Youssef, who also stars as the titular character, this comedy-drama tells the story of a son of Egyptian immigrants living in New Jersey. Ramy navigates the conflicting demands of his faith, his family, and his millennial friends. With an eye for the cinematic, the show continues to captivate audiences and could pave the way for an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series nomination for the talented Youssef.
“PEN15,” is a new comedy series from creators, and co-leads, Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine. The show is a cult favorite hit. Hulu announced that the network would be renewing the series for a second season, much to the delight of fans across the globe who flock to this dynamic and acerbic show. The series is marked by a stark, and genius stroke of cognitive dissonance, as Konkle and Erskine, women who are in their thirties, play middle school best friends named Anna (Anna Konkle) and Maya (Maya Erskine) alongside a cast of actual middle schoolers.
The competition for Outstanding Comedy Series is quite tense this year, given the finale of HBO’s excellent “Veep,” a strong second season from HBO’s “Barry,” in addition to the award favorite “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” As the title of the show suggests, “PEN15″‘s particular brand of humor—sophomoric by design—does not tend to fare well at awards shows like the Emmys. Even if “PEN15” doesn’t earn a nomination, the series is still an interesting, provocative, and at times darkly funny testament of the most awkward years.
A dramedy co-produced by Hulu and Channel 4, “The Bisexual” centers on a woman named Leila (Desiree Akhavan). In the series, Leila decides to leave a ten-year relationship with ex-partner Sadie (Maxine Peake), to explore her bisexuality. Created by Desiree Akhavan, who won the Grand Jury Prize for “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” at Sundance, and Rowan Riley, it’s a compassionate series brimming with a visceral quality and sharp writing. With an unforgettable performance from Akhavan, “The Bisexual” could earn Akhavan an award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, or perhaps writing at the Primetime Emmys.
A Star-Making Performance
Aidy Bryant shines as a member of the ensemble cast on “Saturday Night Live.” She has recently tried her hand with featured film roles (“The Big Sick,” “I Feel Pretty”), but it’s “Shrill,” a new series in which she stars, in which Bryant is able to showcase the full range of her talents. Bryant plays Annie, a calendar editor at a Portland alt-weekly struggling to make her presence known to both her boss and on-and-off-again partner.
Persuading her boss to offer her more assignments, Annie gains more self-confidence in her writing talents and in her self-image. Based on the book “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman” by Lindy West, the series hits the right tonal notes and manages to take up the mantle that the highly influential and uplifting book offered. “Shrill” is perhaps a strong contender for a Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nomination for Bryant, who plays Annie with a sense of grace, urgency, and a vibrant verve.
“Casual,” premiered on Hulu in 2015 and ended late July of last year. The beguiling, and frequently deadpan series, was directed by Jason Reitman (“Thank You For Smoking,” and “Up in the Air“) and created by Zander Lehmann. The show captures the ennui of a recently divorced woman named Valerie (Michaela Watkins), who lives with her brother Alex (Tommy Dewey) and daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr). After the divorce, Valerie tries dating again, this time, with help from dating apps. The show received great critical acclaim in its four-season run and could be under consideration for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, and an Outstanding Actress nomination for Michaela Watkins. Tommy Dewey could be a contender for Outstanding Supporting Actor as well.
“Future Man” has a stellar cast, which also matches its superb comedic writing. Created by Howard Overman, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir, and executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, among others, the show tells the story of janitor Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson). Upon finishing his favorite video game called Biotic Wars–the first person to ever finish it–the game’s two main characters appear and recruit him to save the world from the Biotic Wars that are actually occurring in real life. Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson) call upon him to be a hero. With recurring characters played by Awkwafina, Haley Joel Osment, and Keith David, the show boasts stellar performances. The series, which has been picked up for a third and final season, is sharp and lovingly crafted, although it might not be the kind of humor that is endearing to Emmy voters.
Hulu’s contenders for the Drama category are Marvel’s “Runaways,” and “The First.” With a lot of excellent dramatic shows in contention this season–such as “Game of Thrones,” “Killing Eve,” “Homecoming,” and “Ozark”–these particular series might not be high on the list. “Runaways” has a dedicated following, and does feature some strong performances and excellent writing, but it is likely not going to stand out of the crowd. “The First,” a sci-fi drama taking place in the near future that narrates the story of astronauts trying to become the first humans on Mars, has already been canceled after one season.
Limited Series/TV Movie
A Strong Contender
“Catch-22,” based on the classic satirical novel by Joseph Heller, is set for an Emmy-friendly premiere. The series stars George Clooney (who also acts as an executive producer), Christopher Abbott, Hugh Laurie, and Kyle Chandler. Abbott plays John Yossarian, a US Army bombardier fighting in WWII who hopes to return home soon out of concern for his own life and is frustrated by a cruel and bureaucratic Catch-22. The concept declares that a concern for one’s safety suggests a rational mind fit for service, and to prove that his mind is no longer rational and would warrant discharge, he would need to show that he actively desires flying dangerous missions. The sardonic tone, which feels in keeping with a George Clooney vehicle, and strong performances could make this show a very strong contender for Outstanding Limited Series. Christopher Abbott’s performance as Yossarian might also be worthy of an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series, and George Clooney could be a contender for the supporting category.
“The Act,” starring Joey King and Patricia Arquette, is based on the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard (King) and the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard (Arquette), Gypsy’s mother. Dee Dee was accused of having Munchausen syndrome by proxy and fabricating illnesses and disabilities on behalf of her daughter. This gripping true-crime thriller might Emmy award-winning Arquette garner a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series.
Based on the Stephen King novel, the horror anthology series “Castle Rock” is a dark and gripping show from Hulu that takes place in the fictional Castle Rock, Maine, weaving together the lives of interrelated characters. Created by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, with an ensemble cast of Andre Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgard, Jane Levy, and Sissy Spacek, it has been renewed for a second season. Although a strong series with the frights and intrigue characteristic of a Stephen King title, the show might not be quite what the Emmys are looking for.
“Into the Dark” is another horror anthology series from Hulu, which releases a feature-length episode each month, taking its inspiration from a holiday during that month. From executive producers Jason Blum, Alexa Faigen, and John Hegeman, “Into the Dark” deliver smart, high-octane freights that cleverly make a holiday like Thanksgiving or even Valentine’s Day feel terrifying. Like with “Castle Rock,” the series might not be a contender for the Emmys, but it is a captivating show nevertheless.
Awards History Precursors
The critically-lauded show “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, has been Hulu’s hottest ticket thus far. The show won four categories in 2018, including Outstanding Lead Actress for Elizabeth Moss, Outstanding Supporting Actress for Ann Dowd, Outstanding Directing for Reed Morano and Outstanding Writing for Bruce Miller. The latest season of the show will premiere on June 5, and will, unfortunately, block the series from Emmy consideration this year in the principal categories. Perhaps this year another show will be able to compete as strongly as “The Handmaid’s Tale” did.
Hulu’s best chances for Emmy wins are likely, “Casual,” The Bisexual,” “Ramy,” “Shrill,” and “Catch-22,” which is maybe the strongest contender of all of them, given the strength of the cast and its writing. “Shrill” could earn Aidy Bryant a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, although the category will be extremely competitive this year with shows like “Veep” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which have previously swept the Emmys, in addition to the hit “Barry.”