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).
FX has been in contention for the Comedy Series prize with “Atlanta” the past two years. Unfortunately, the show did not air any new episodes this past year, which means FX is without its Emmy heavy hitter. Still, the network can certainly count on a nomination for Pamela Adlon in Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for “Better Things.” Adlon has been nominated for both of the show’s two seasons. Emmy loves comedians in semi-autobiographical roles (FX broke into the comedy categories with Louis CK in “Louie”). The real question will be if “Better Things” can get more nominations than just Adlon. The show’s third season was received with the same positive reviews that the first two seasons were. It obviously has enough passionate voters to get Adlon in. There’s a world in which it can mobilize this passionate fan base and earn Comedy Series, Directing or Writing nominations.
FX’s “What We Do In The Shadows” injects some new blood into the comedy races. The vampire-centric comedy may seem like an odd fit for Emmys. Yet, it boasts a surprisingly strong Emmy pedigree. Creator Jemaine Clement saw great Emmy success with his previous project, “Flight of the Conchords,” which received nominations for Comedy Series, Directing, Writing and Acting. Plus, the Emmys eventually came around to the vampire drama “True Blood,” nominating it in Drama Series for its second season. In terms of acting nominations, Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak and Natasia Demetriou are all submitting in the lead category. Those races may be a bit too crowded, however, Mark Proksch stands out among the Supporting Actors in the show. If fans are rallying around one performance, his might be the one that catches fire.
“You’re the Worst” has been a stellar comedy over the past five seasons. Despite featuring one of the best portrayals of depression, the show has never factored into the Emmy race. In fact, the show has never received a single nomination over the course of its run. Though this is the show’s last season, it doesn’t look like the Emmys will give the series one last reward. Similarly, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has only received nominations in the Stunt Coordination category over its twelve season run. It’s unlikely season thirteen will change that. “Mr. Inbetween” also looks to contend for its first season. However, it may be too low profile compared to FX’s other larger comedies.
The partnership of FX and Ryan Murphy always leads to Emmy gold. Of the three shows he has previously created for FX, all three were nominated at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Two projects – “American Horror Story” and “Feud” – contended for the top prize (Outstanding Limited Series). Additionally, he served as executive producer on winning limited series such as “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” All of these projects have been in the limited series space, other than “Nip/Tuck” which received a Drama Directing nomination for its first season. This year, Murphy has two shows competing in the drama field for the first time.
This track record bodes well for Murphy’s latest project, “Pose,” about ’80s ball culture in the LGBTQIA+ community. In January, the show received two Golden Globe nominations – Best Drama Series and Best Drama Actor for Billy Porter. The Golden Globes usually loves new series. With so many vacancies in Drama Series, the show could replicate these nominations. On the acting front, we may have our first transgender nominees in either the Lead or Supporting categories. MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore and Dominique Jackson all could receive their first career nominations. Rodriguez is in the lead category, while Moore and Jackson are in supporting. The critically acclaimed show will also be airing new episodes during the voting period, which could help.
A new change in rules has placed “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” in the drama categories. The first four seasons of the show were nominated for Best Miniseries, but it hasn’t returned there since 2015. Both “Hotel” and “Cult” were able to get two acting nominations, despite lukewarm reviews. “Roanoke,” however, was the only season to receive no primetime nominations. Reviews for “Apocalypse” are on par with the past few seasons, meaning acting nominations could be in play. Yet, the drama categories are more competitive and the show may not be able to resurface here.
Both “Mayans M.C.” and “Snowfall” are also competing in the drama categories.
LIMITED SERIES CONTENDERS
FX wants to continue its winning streak in Limited Series. The network has won three of the last five awards in this category. In the past, FX has had multiple shows in this category, such as “Fargo,” “Feud,” “American Crime Story” and “American Horror Story.” This year, “Fosse/Verdon” is their lone submission. Thankfully, it’s an incredibly strong show. Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams chart the rise and fall of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s careers. Both actors seem like great bets for acting prizes. Many have noted that Williams, in particular, gives one of the best performances of her career. She could win the Lead Actress in a Limited Series category. If the show runs the gauntlet with nominations, it could pull in supporting nominations for Norbert Leo Butz and Margaret Qualley.
AWARDS HISTORY AND PRECURSORS
FX built up its Emmy credibility slowly but surely, starting in the early 2000s. On the drama side, shows like “The Shield,” “Rescue Me” and “Nip/Tuck” received directing, writing and acting nominations. Both Michael Chicklis (“The Shield”) in 2002 and Andre Braugher (“Thief”) in 2006 were able to win Lead Actor in a Drama and Miniseries, respectively.
FX finally made it into Drama Series in 2007, when “Damages” picked up six primetime Emmy nominations. The show contended in Drama Series from 2007-2008, with Glenn Close winning Emmys both years for Lead Actress. Zeljko Ivanek also pulled a surprise win in Supporting Actor in 2007. There have been other dramas that have appeared in some categories, such as “Justified,” which won Margo Martindale a Supporting Actress prize. The next big FX drama at the Emmys was “The Americans,” which steadily increased its nomination total year by year. By the end of its run, it was competing for Drama Series, while also winning for Writing and Actor (Matthew Rhys).
It took longer for FX to receive its first Comedy Series nomination. After two years of acting and writing nominations (including one writing win), “Louie” finally earned a Comedy Series nomination in 2013. It would return to the Comedy Series race in 2014 and 2015 without winning. After “Louie” wrapped, “Baskets” and “Better Things“ both appeared in acting categories. It wasn’t until “Atlanta” premiered in 2017 that FX had a serious contender in the Comedy Series race again. It came very close to winning the category in 2017 and 2018. However, it won Directing and Actor for Donald Glover in the first year. The first season, the show received six nominations. By season two, “Atlanta” increased its nomination count to sixteen. When the series returns for Season three, expect “Atlanta” to be a major player across all comedy categories yet again.
While FX has yet to win Best Drama or Comedy Series, it has been incredibly successful recently in the Limited Series category. FX has won three of the last five Limited Series prizes. This includes last year’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson” in 2016 and “Fargo” Season One in 2014. “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” in particular, was the biggest success for FX. Ryan Murphy’s recreation of the famed trial earned 22 nominations, including 13 in the primetime Emmy categories. In the end, it won the most nominations of the night, nine overall including five during the Primetime televised event. FX’s domination of the limited series field began with the first season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series “American Horror Story” in 2012. The first four seasons of the show competed in the Best Limited Series category.
THE NETWORK CONCLUSION
Without “Atlanta,” FX is looking to make up ground with the rest of its comedy slate. “Better Things” and “What We Do In The Shadows” both have enough pockets of support to be dark horse choices in Series, Directing and Writing. They will either have strong Emmy tallies this year, or “Better Things” will continue to only get Pamela Adlon in Lead Actress in a Comedy.
Changes in Emmy rules mean that “American Horror Story” will have to submit their latest season, “Apocalypse,” in Drama Series. It’s unlikely the already fading show will be able to withstand the more competitive drama categories. However, Ryan Murphy’s latest series, “Pose,” looks to be FX’s best bet in Drama Series.
Once again, the biggest opportunity for FX lies in the Limited Series field. “Fosse/Verdon” combines all the elements Emmy voters love: big movie stars playing showbiz legends. The show features standout recreations of famous dances and movies. The only questions that remains are how many nominations will “Fosse/Verdon” reap and will it be able to beat “Escape at Dannemora?”