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).
Facebook Watch uses star name recognition for their lone comedy series entry. The social media video platform entered “Queen America” for Outstanding Comedy Series this year. The dark comedy centers on a demanding pageant queen turned coach (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who looks to turn a hapless contestant into the next Miss USA. The only other category the show is competing in is Lead Actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones. While name recognition helps in this category, Zeta-Jones likely will not win a nomination. The race is so tightly contested that it would be hard for an insurgent candidate to sneak in without almost unanimous critical praise.
The best shot for Facebook Watch lies in the Drama fields. Facebook has spent what seems like a majority of their Emmy marketing money on touting “Sorry For Your Loss.” Billboards pop up around Los Angeles for the show and its lead performer, Elizabeth Olsen. The show revolves around Olsen’s performance as a young widow who reassesses her feelings following her husband’s death. Olsen has been the main focus of Facebook Watch’s campaign. Already, she has nabbed a Critics Choice Award for Lead Actress in a Drama. With five of the six women from last Lead Drama Actress lineup out of contention this year, the field remains wide open. This makes it the perfect category for Facebook Watch to focus its FYC efforts.
The show isn’t stopping at Lead Actress in a Drama. It also submits itself for Drama Series, Directing (“17 Unheard Messages”), Writing (“One Fun Thing”), Casting and Sound Mixing. Olsen remains the show’s best shot. Yet, if voters watch and love the show, it may grab one or two more nominations.
LIMITED SERIES CONTENDERS
The most submissions of Facebook Watch’s crop of shows is “Sacred Lies” in the Limited Series fields. Based on “The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly” by Stephanie Oakes, the show follows a cult escapee who winds up in a juvenile detention compound. In addition to Limited Series, the show also submitted four of its actors, including Elena Kampouris for Lead Actress, Kiana Madeira in Supporting Actress and both Toby Huss and Kevin Carroll in Supporting Actor. It also has one directing submission (“Chapter One”) and three writing submissions (“Chapter One,” “Chapter Seven,” and “Chapter Ten”). Add in some below the line categories (Art Direction, Casting, Cinematography and Main Title Design) and you have thirteen potential nominations. It may break in to one or two of them. However, Facebook Watch seems to have placed most of their support in “Sorry For Your Loss.”
Facebook Watch isn’t just promoting its more high profile scripted shows. It also hopes to factor into the reality space with “Returning the Favor” in Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program. “Returning the Favor” follows Mike Rowe across America as he spotlights normal people making a difference in their communities. The show is also featured in the following categories: Outstanding Casting, Host (Mike Rowe), Cinematography and Picture Editing. Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” received three consecutive nominations for Outstanding Reality Program from 2008 – 2010. If the Emmys are still fond of Rowe, he could propel “Returning the Favor” into the Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program category. At the very least, his fans may even vote for him in the host category as well.
SHORT FORM CONTENDERS
Could Courteney Cox finally receive her first Emmy nomination thanks to Facebook? Her show “9 Months With Courteney Cox” competes in the Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Show category. Cox notoriously was snubbed for her work in both “Friends” and “Cougar Town.” Perhaps, the Emmys are ready to make good on their IOU for her now. Of the 42 other eligible programs, many are Inside Looks into contenders in the comedy, drama or limited series categories.
Facebook Watch also features short form contenders in the Animated and Comedy/Drama Series fields. “Human Kind Of,” which contends in the Short Form Animated Program category, follows a nerdy teenager whose outcast status is confirmed when she learns her Father was an alien. There are only seventeen possible entries on the ballot, which gives “Human Kind Of” a strong shot to sneak in. Meanwhile, the Outstanding Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series contains 30 eligible programs. This poses a greater threat for Facebook Watch’s “The Real Bros of Simi Valley,” which will be going up against some more dramatic or “important/buzzy” topics and entries in this category.
AWARDS HISTORY AND PRECURSORS
One doesn’t become an awards juggernaut overnight, not even with Facebook’s budget. The social media platform’s first taste of Emmys came in 2017. “Stand For Rights: A Benefit For The ACLU” was a Facebook Live program that earned a nomination for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within an Unscripted Program. While there is no Emmy history in the scripted space for Facebook Watch, they hope to change that this year.
THE NETWORK CONCLUSION
There’s currently a glut of streaming services emerging. For every Hulu, Netflix and Amazon that succeeds, there’s a CBS All Access that struggles to replicate its success. Facebook Watch likely won’t be a major award winner this year. Their big push appears to be the social media giant’s first big footprint announcing them as a major Emmys player. In future years, Facebook Watch may be the channel to beat. For now, Olsen stands as a plausible wild card and “Sacred Lies” may surprise in a below the line field.