The 2019 Ohio Needs a Train “Trainie” Awards

It’s that time again, where I stop telling other awards shows how to do their jobs, and instead do their jobs for them, by awarding things that feel like they need awarding. Like many of your finer awards situations, I do not publish my nominees, because of course the process is highly secret and highly scientific. 

Please to enjoy.

Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Answering Questions My Audience Probably Didn’t Know That I Had

So, for many years I’ve idly wondered where all the guitars came from. 

To wit: there are blues singers as early as the twenties from the deep south. People writing songs about how they’re so poor they can’t afford a second boot, and that they have no legs up or advantages, and they are playing those songs on guitars. They were common enough that Zora Neal Hurston even writes of ensembles created entirely out of guitars, with one strumming out chords, one playing melodies, and a third playing a sort of “prepared guitar”, making a rhythm by strumming a guitar with strips of paper threaded through the strings to deaden them. This seems to imply that there were a bunch of guitars around, enough that they were more available than any other rhythm-instrument alternative. 

Where did the guitars come from, and how were there enough of them for them to exist in a form that was cheap enough for someone with minimal resources to acquire? The answer, it turns out, is very simple: the Sears catalog

In the Jim Crow era South, the Sears catalog (which launched in 1888 1) presented a readily-available, relatively-cheap way to acquire all sorts of things to people that didn’t have any other way to acquire them, or even find them, and once a guitar was included among the possible merchandise, then people started buying them in large numbers.

Eventually, as today, people sold them when they needed money for even less than they payed, a used market built up, and ever Blind Tom, Thumbless Dick and Flat-Footed Harry could get one for a song, and use it to lament their position in the world. 

I don’t know if it’s come up in this space before, but I’ve long wondered, and now have my answer. Salut, historians! Salut, Sears!

Outstanding Achievement in Me Being a Goddamn Fortune Teller

All I’m saying here is that in July of 2017 I decided it would be funny to declare the General Mills Expanded Universe ripe for the cinematic exploration in one of my extremely-periodic “Somebody Make My Movie” posts. 

In November of 2018, General Mills put out a call for all creatives to give them ideas about ways they can tell stories using their horror cereal characters. That link, incidentally, goes to an AVClub article about the phenomenon, because the original site has been pulled 2 from the internet.

Obviously the folks at Big Cereal are running scared of my powerful fortune-telling abilities and wild creative Hollywood spirit, and decided to change their mind lest I wield my considerable power and influence against these purveyors of corn garbage! It’s only been a couple of years since people realized that millennials were destroying cereal, and perhaps they’re afraid that that’s going to start being taken literally

But I’m not a vindictive sort, I’m perfectly happy to share my ideas. All I ask in return is a crate of Boo Berry whenever I want one, and no further questions asked. 

Outstanding Achievement in Using the Internet to Create Joy, and Also Confusion, and Also Chaos, But Probably Mostly Joy

But mainly chaos. You all probably know the story. A guy who willingly answers to Matty Roberts (I’m shocked at the Matty, not the Roberts, lots of people are named Roberts) made a Facebook event to storm Area 51, stating that if they all just Naruto-run 3 they  can “outrun the bullets,” and thus “see them aliens.” 

It took off and morphed from a funny joke on Facebook to a funny joke on the whole entire internet, and everyone had a moment’s joy considering the idea of a bunch of famous people running at the gates of a government installation, and then….it kept happening.

It grew into Alienstock in Rachel, Nevada, a city with a few dozen people, no gas station, and one bed and breakfast that they partnered up with to get permits and stuff to camp and basically be around. Then the people that put that together had some shadowy, mysterious falling out with the person that runs the hotel, leaving the original proceedings and taking the name with them.

And so there came to be two gatherings meant to celebrate someone’s dumb facebook joke. The first was a massive, disappointing sellout, relocating to Vegas and getting sponsored by Bud Light, converting from a fun gathering of weirdos into yet another neon-lighted nightmare EDM festival, and causing Roberts to abandon his previous life trajectory to be a sort of travelling Alienstock arranger. 

Out in Rachel, meanwhile, a smaller event with fewer DJs and (presumably) less Bud Light was more about the original intent, even without the guy who actually had the intent, and it was certainly considerably less sponsored. People milled around, camping in the desert and, ultimately, were given the photo opportunity to approach the gates and take pictures of them “storming” Area 51. 

Its ability to launch two fairly well-attended events brings to mind this year’s complete failure (and subject of multiple posts right here) of a Woodstock event. It had a similar set of parameters – nothing but the willpower of a person being involved at the beginning, and a very short time frame, followed by a dispute with some people who wanted to put it on and a relocation.

The difference, of course, is the presence of an audience who wanted it. Ul;timately, Woodstock could have had something happen if anyone but Michale Lang had actually wanted it. This was something that people came out for, even when it split into being a brain-dead, UFO-festooned excuse for a Vegas party and a smaller, weirder still-not-actually-storming-anything event in the middle of nowhere. 

Basically I’m saying this is the power for a bunch of weirdos that take something seriously and make something happen for their effort, and I’m all in favor of it, even if this was basically the weirdest possibly manifestation of all that, and even if half of it ended up sponsored by Bud Light. 4

Outstanding Achievement in the Currently-Ongoing Trend of Multiple Documentaries Covering the Same Subject

I had not thought about the Amazing Jonathan in years. It is entirely possible that I had not thought about him in decades 5, and then, all of a sudden, there are documentaries plural about the dude. Now, admittedly, the reason we know all of this is because it’s included in the first of the documentary’s footage, and the whole point of that documentary is that there are a lot of questions about whether or not The Amazing Jonathan is dying, and zero questions about whether or not he smokes meth (he does! on camera!).

It seems, to the person writing this, to be an attempt to manufacture a sort of genre out of the whole thing, after the business with the Fyre Festival last year – which also had two competing documentaries, one paid for by the company that failed to put on the festival in question, the other by some spirited interested parties, with the two providing their own spin on a highly controversial, and also celebrity-adjacent, situation.

Since The Amazing Jonathan is his own highly-controversial (now), celebrity-adjacent situation, it stands to reason that this is an attempt to manufacture something, and capture lightning in this bottle. The problem is that you can’t really do that, and also that the Amazing Jonathan is boring, but it stands as an interesting attempt, and since I like to honor attempts at trying to build a marketing case out of something that very much cannot support one, I’m here for it.

It’s only a shame the folks that tried to make The Amazing Jonathan an icon of “what is truth”-style overmarket storytelling didn’t get ahold of Jared Eams.

Read on. 

Outstanding Achievement in Calling In to Question Literally Everything, and Also in Trying to Fake Everybody Out on a Grassroots Level and also…Aw jeez, here’s the writeup I guess

On the one hand, the story of Threatin is basically the sort of thing that I live to find out about. If it had happened thirty years ago and I read it in a book, I would never stop talking about. Instead, I had the good fortune to live through it, because it only happened nine months ago.

I’m going to try my hardest to keep this brief. Anyone who had conversations with me in early December may just want to skip ahead.

So this dude, Jared Eames, dba Jared Threatin, “starts” a “band” called Threatin, and makes up a bunch of business entities – a booking company, a record label, a press agent, all kinds of stuff – as well as a web presence in the form of YouTube videos of “performances” that feature either the crowd or the band, but never both, and a deeply hilarious set of “interviews” that were clearly just the dude “interviewing” themselves, as well as some sort of ginned-up/aid-for fake following. 

This enabled him to book a tour of the UK, which is when people started to notice that nobody was coming to these shows, even though he (acting as a fake promoter, remember) said that he had sold a bunch of tickets 6, the reaction to which meant that he ended up cancelling a bunch of the tour (forcing his band to figure out how to deal with the fallout on their own, some of which reactions were also uh….interesting) and retreating from social media.

He then un-retreated in spectacular fashion 7, coming out and saying that we all played ourselves, and we’re in the glass onion and he’s not in here with us we’re in here with him, and made up lies about being the person to have leaked the fact that the band was faked anyway. He then acquiesced to interviews with Rolling Stone and with The BBC, in which he told even more lies about how everything went according to plan and actually now he has fans and all that.

Along the way there’s an estranged family (probably true), a possible deeply-disturbing medical condition (probably not true), claims of living like a hermit (almost certainly true) and repeated insistence on a lack of drug use (possibly true, but mind-boggling).

The reason this is nothing less than the greatest story of the last twelve months is the sheer amount of effort and willpower that went into doing this. He took the time and effort to set up web presences for fake companies, he invented human beings to both act in his business interests and to be his online followers (at one point a reporter sees a stack of burner phones that he claims he used to make fake Facebook profiles, which, seriously, so much effort). 

Much of the reporting focuses on the money involved, but that’s less interesting to me. The money is likely to be significantly less than we think – certainly the outlay is a lot, but bands do tour all the time, albeit not made-up bands with zero followings, so the few grand to rent the venues could have come from anywhere, especially if you’re a single-minded maniac with a grandiose delusion. 

Similarly, it’s not actually that hard to see what he was going for. Record labels/marketing companies “help” bands become something more than they are all the time. It gets harder every year, but it happens. Wu Lyf in 2011, System of a Down in 1998, Guns n Roses in 1987, these are the three that come to mind most immediately, but it’s not like it would be hard to find, oh, a hundred or so more that were brought up through this “they started from the bottom” notion – by being marketed through the same channels as the bands that legitimately built their audiences that way and played those shows for their genuine actual earned audiences. 

The difference here is that Eames did it all himself. Well, he did it mostly himself and with the aid and support of his wife (who is also gainfully employed, which probably answers several of the questions about where the money comes from). So rather than spend the time and effort to produce an audience of the size he was comfortable with, or learning how to be satisfied with the audience he was able to collect organically, or even amiably selling out to some larger coroporo-entertainment interest, this dude went through all the business of selling out, just like tonnes of bands before him, but, like, on his own dime

This is completely insane. I mean, it’s probably tragically, pathologically insane in the literal sense. Like I am pretty sure that this guy’s lifestyle and chosen path are not things that healthy, well-adjusted people with reasonable expectations and a full set of fully-functioning neurochemical receptors are things that happen, but I’m pretending that the real-world harm done here is at its minimal potential level in order to say that this particular lunacy is the kind of craziness that I couldn’t imagine actually happening.

It’s like climbing a mountain just so that you can eat a big ol’ turd in front of as many people as possible – there is no possible way it was going to go well, and even at the end, even if you do it, you’re still the dude that ate a big ol’ turd on a mountain. And then following it up by saying that actually, there aren’t enough people eating turds these days, and you wanted to bring back turd-eating.

Lunacy.

 

Outstanding Achievement in Positivity #1

Jeanette Ng, armed with nothing more than an acceptance speech and a lovely hat, started the ball rolling on getting the John Campbell Award’s name changed to honor Astounding, the magazine that Campbell founded and that publishes the new authors that are so honored with the award. 

That’s pretty much it, although I will say that, given that every historically-important figure in the world is a human being, and therefore possessed of foibles that may or may not ever come to light in a way that would make an award seem less award-like to, say, a writer that the person the award is named after would have loathed, why don’t we just stop naming awards after people? Especially not early sff people. Most of those folks are real hard to stand behind.

Anyway, naming it after the magazine is a nice way of continuing to acknowledge that magazine’s editor’s contributions to the genre (which are enormous) by relocating the focus on his work (the magazine he edited) rather than on his name, which brings into it the totality of his actions and whatnot as a person, rather than just a professional editor. 

Naturally, there is much hue and cry from the usual quarters about “erasure” and, somehow, still in 2019, SJWs. This also makes me happy, because I’d rather see anyone that feels that way upset than happy. Double positivity all around!

Outstanding Achievement in Positivity 

Every year I like to write my last bit of these about something inarguably positive, and this year gave me one of the best and most positive things I could ask for in the form of the lovely Sarah’s Channel YouTube series. 

It is true that it’s a long-standing position of this blog that I’m not into spoilers, but I will say this: if it matters to you to not know how things turn out, you can pretend this is the last sentence I’ve written in this post and go about your business, just go watch it, it takes twenty or so minutes and it’s worth every single second.

For the rest of the folks that already know, or that need to know why, the deal is that Sarah (played by the incredible Claudia O’Doherty) is a beauty YouTuber who gets brought to the post-apocalyptic future (resurrected? Cloned? Dragged through time? We never find out) to be the “Savior” of what remains of humanity, and she….does what she can. She blogs about her homemade beauty products and her workout routines, she is oblivious to what’s going on around her, until she isn’t. It starts out a wildly funny thing that turns into something considerably more poignant, and manages the neat trick of laughing at the current samey, jargon-filled YouTube Default Personality while also allowing that Sarah is a human being with a set of feelings and skills, even though we’re only seeing the worst aspects of them. 

It’s beautiful, and it’s hysterically funny, and it really is very short, and it has the best ending it could possibly have. Maybe there’ll be another season, but even if there isn’t, it’s an absolutely perfect jewel of a series, and I wouldn’t change anything about it.


  1. although it would expand for its first few years into the “selling everything under the sun” form that it took for the subsequent century 
  2. there’s a link in the AVClub story, or here’s another one, but please be advised that it literally does not go anywhere, because the website no longer exists 
  3. which is actually Tina Belcher running, if you’re actually a civilized person 
  4. if you’d like to read something more serious about this, written by an actual journalist, here’s Jennings Brown’s account, and he was actually there. It’s entertaining. 
  5. I’d have to look up when that special he did sometime in the early nineties stopped airing every three hours on Comedy Central, because it would have been shortly after that. 
  6. I will say, this is the most obvious weak point in the system – the show promoters/club owners/whatever never checked this against presale receipts? 
  7. the story in that link also contains another story in the comments about Eams paying off a battle of the bands many years ago in order to win, which is just sort of par for the course. 

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards

It is a fact that remains true that sometimes, some awards shows are easier to write about than others. The Emmys are one of the ones that are always somewhere int he middle. They’re the first serious-Acting awards show that I do in the string of serious-Acting awards shows, which is kind of a bummer, and they honor television, which is basically my least-favorite entertainment medium. 

On top of all that, peak tv has sort of curdled (or congealed, or whatever food-related c-word it’s done) into a sort of scrum of extremely-predictable prestige dramas starring movie stars. The comedy categories remain pretty good, but they’re only about half the things on offer, and the miniseries categories are all “ripped from the headlines” news-adaptation business, albeit often older news. So if this one seems a little cursory, and a little joyless, it’s because I had to be breif to maintain my interest, and also nearly none of this brings me any joy. 

Next year, Game of Thrones will be off the board and Fosse/Verdon won’t have aired, and that will open up some serious real estate in about many of the categories, so it’ll be a lot easier. I hope. 

Until then, please enjoy some very considered and totally-final opinions on which of these winners is rightful, and debate among yourselves whether it does, in fact, matter that the Emmys are flying without a host again this year (they’ve done it several other times, and you don’t remember those times because nothing ever comes of it).

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series

While it’s true that I don’t always treat the writing categories like technical categories, they certainly 1 have their technical aspects. So while Seth Myers and Stephen Colbert’s writers have the job of being funny a lot more often than other people (which seems hard), they do sort of have the benefit of a definite format – the show has the same basic structure every night, even though the material is demanding. Samantha Bee and John Oliver’s shows are weekly, and don’t run for as many weeks as the other late-night shows, for all that, and so have the major advantage, while also having more expectation. Saturday Night Live has to make a non-comedy celebrity funny most weeks, but is also disqualified at present by the fact that it’s coming out of a particular low point. Anyway, what I’m saying is that Documentary Now is written in a whole bunch of ways, and manages to be funny in all of those ways, and is therefore the winner here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Documentary Now!

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special

Someday, I will get to the bottom of why I think writing a television adaptation of real events is somehow not as hard or worthwhile as any other sort of writing. I suppose, at first gues,s it’s because you already have the story beats plotted out and, if it’s anything that’s happened in the last several decades, some portion of it robably already happened on tv to some extent. I’m not sure how much I want to defend that stance, because it might not be accurate, but I will say that every single one of these things is an adaptation of real life events, and that seems weird to me.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Ava DuVernay and Michael Starrbury, When They See Us, episode: “Episode 4”

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

As much as I thought the technical award nominations for GoT were ridiculous, I’d have loved to watch the people doing the nominating try to keep a straight face while they pretended to actually believe that any portion of this season deserves an award for writing. The merest idea is as insane as Emilia Clarke playing in the NBA, and I’m sure it was entertaining to hear people try to reason out. It is not the rightful winner, obviously 2, but it’s the funniest nomination. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jesse Armstrong, Succession episode: “Nobody is Ever Missing”

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Since this is one of those categories where a longtime reader will be able to spot the foregone conclusion here, despite some stiff competition 3, I will just point out that while “Janet(s)” is a fantastic episode with a crazy-ass decision, it also should have yielded an acting nom for D’arcy Carden I’M JUST SAYING.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, The Good Place episode: “Janet(s)”

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series

One of the other things that makes Documentary Now! Impressive is that, in addition to the aforementioned commitment to doing a bunch of different things stylistically, they do it with a short schedule and no money, which means that the directors really have to know their stuff ot be able to get it quickly and efficiently. I guess. Also: I only like two of the shows in this category and that’s the only one I can imagine getting a directing award.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Alex Buono and Rhys Thomas, Documentary Now! Episode: “Waiting for the Artist”

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special

While it’s true that I don’t always know what to associate with the director of any given television enterprise, and what to associate with the writer 4, I’m also going to take the position that neither does the nominating body for the Emmys, and they work in the biz, because this category and the writing category are basically the same. Anyway, I believe that wards are like manure. They’re no good in one place, ya gotta spread ‘em around.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Johan Renck, Chernobyl

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

No seriously, there are three episodes of Game of Thrones here. Did they watch the thing, or did they just leave three slots in the schedule because it’s the last season and then pretend like these three episodes are somehow worthy? Because no they are not. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Adam McKay, Succession, episode: “Celebration”

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

I get that The Big Bang Theory ended and that means it gets a bunch of courtesy nominations, but given that the directing did not change even one time in eleven years, I’m pretty comfortable saying it does not deserve this. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel episodes here are fine, as is the Fleabag episode, although there’s not much directorially interesting going on there. Of the two episodes of Barry, the more impressive is “ronny/lilly”, so that’s the last one standing.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Bill Hader, Barry, episode: “ronnie/lily”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

So Sharp Objects starts to be nominated in the acting categories, which makes sense: it’s almost entirely an actor’s show. There’s plenty of stuff in the writing and stuff, certainly, but it’s really the acting that makes it something people want to notice. It’s relatively rare for that to happen, even in the limited series/movie categories, so it’s worth noting. Also, I don’t have much to say about most of these nominees, not even the one that won.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Emily Watson, Chernobyl, episode: “Open Wide O Earth”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

I will say this, regardless of the fact that I’m not Mr. Acting Fan, I have loved three of the nominees in this category a great deal. I think that Paul Dano is the winner, but I don’t want it to reflect anything about my general opinion of Michael K. Williams or Stellan Skarsgaard. Just in this one case, Paul Dano was better. That’s all.I mean, I also love Paul Dano. I don’t want to overcorrect the other way here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Paul Dano, Escape at Dannemora, episode: “Part 7”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

I have basically never had a tonne of good things to say about Game of Thrones. I have even less to say about the stupid, rushed, force-finished, lazy ending of Game of Thrones. I will say that, even among circumstances that were terrible, the fact that Gwendoline Christie not only turned in a terrific performance, but also had to submit herself for consideration because the production wouldn’t do it, is amazing, and it means she should win.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones episode: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

This category can just go straight to hell. We’ve got a bunch of Game of Thrones phoner-inners, a guy reprising a character he came up with a performance for over a decade ago, and the indescribable horror of This is Us. None of this is ok, but I guess Gus Fring is the closest to an ok thing.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul, episode: “Piñata”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

I was going to single Alex Borstein out like I did Gwendolyn Christie back up there in drama, for being the best part of a show I don’t care about. She still is! But Betty Gilpin is actually the best part of a show I do care about, and should be given many awards.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Betty Gilpin, Glow, episode: “Mother of All Matches”

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Earlier in this writeup I decried that D’Arcy Carden was not nominated for an acting award for the episode of The Good Place that was nominated for its writing. So here I will further state that William Jackson Harper gave a better performance on The Good Place, even just from a regular old acting standpoint, than several of these people. I don’t begrduge Stephen Root his eventual win, and am happy to go along to get along, but I feel it’s worth mentioning that it probably should be William Jackson Harper.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Stephen Root, Barry, episode: “berkman>block”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

As badly as I want to think that Niecy Nash is the best actor in this category (and she almost is), she, unfortunately, misses it only by the margin of not being the best actor on the show she’s on, and this one goes to Aunjanue Ellis.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Aunjanue Ellis, When They See Us

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

While I think that Hugh Grant’s ability to find roles that allow him to expound upon his own Hugh Grant-ness is pretty impressive, and while I’m happy to see Sam Rockwell return to something high-profile and worth his time (even though I didn’t like it), they aren’t the winners. Benicio Del Toro and Jared Harris, similarly, are delightful whenever they pop up. But Mahershala Ali basically carried an entire tv show on his own back, despite some screwy writing, and it should be rewarded.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Mahershala Ali, True Detective

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

LOL Emilia Clarke LOL.

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Sandra Oh, Killing Eve, episode: “You’re Mine”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

LOL Kit Harington LOL

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL.

(this time with a much smaller “lol” for Milo Ventimiglia. lol.)

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Billy Porter, Pose, episode “Love is the Message”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

This is a tight category with lots of strong contenders, but I’m pretty here for Julia Louis-Dreyfuss getting handed one more, just because I like a winning streak 5.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Veep, episode: “Veep”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

After all that, it wouldn’t be very consistent or rigorous of me to not give it to the one person from The Good Place that is nominated, would it? I mean, he has like fifty other Emmys, but I suppose he does also deserve this one. What a great show.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Ted Danson, The Good Place, episode: “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will”

Outstanding Competition Program

Generally speaking, I am way more interested in watching people succeed than watching people fail. It is surprising, then – or at least seems surprising at first blush – that I’m so firmly in the camp of Nailed It!, until one considers that you’re not really watching people fail, but instead watching people for whom none of the usual advantages or even skill set applies, and they’re doing it anyway. Here’s to another fantastic and wonderful television show about things being rigged against you, and you going out there and doing it anyway, perhaps one of the more important messages television has to send under the current circumstances. Hurray for Nailed It!! 6

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nailed It!

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

It is the case that there are now forty-odd years worth of people who can mark the moment they became old by the point at which they started to hate Saturday Night Live. Ordinarily I’m not susceptible to this sort of thing, and so am sort of left to wonder if this is something that has finally come and sunk its claws into me, or if Saturday Night Live really has just had an awful couple of seasons. Fortunately for our purposes here, it doesn’t really matter which is the case, because it wouldn’t win even if I had liked it (I guess), because Amy Sedaris’s show is as weird and delightful as every other thing Amy Sedaris has ever done, and it wins.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: At Home With Amy Sedaris

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

While I’m sad that this is the only carryover category for a possible “Carpool Karaoke” joke and I don’t have on in the chamber, I’m glad that I don’t have to sully the category that I’m pretty much always going to give to Samantha Bee with such nonsense.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

Outstanding Television Movie

Call it the television climate of 2019 or whatever, but I think I’m probably more attuned than usual to the end of a beloved grim-n-gritty HBO series that actually tied things up and made for a satisfying ending to a series, and so I think Deadwood probably gets this one this year.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Deadwood: The Movie

Outstanding Limited Series

So far the hardest matchup in the whole dang awards program has been that of Chernobyl vs. When They See us, and I really don’t know where I come down on. I think probably When They See Us, but man, it could go either way on any given day. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: When They See Us (today)

Outstanding Drama Series

LOL Game of Thrones LOL

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Pose, I guess. Or maybe Killing Eve. I didn’t think beyond laughing at the Game of Thrones thing. Let’s go with Pose, final answer.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Ooh! It’s The Good Place! And it better get some Game of Thrones style courtesy noms next year for its final season or I’m LEADING A MUTINY.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Good Place


  1. like all parts of television production 
  2. it’s not even a rightful nominee 
  3. I love Veep, and was very impressed with Pen15, aand sang the praises for Russian Doll all over the Creative Arts writeup. 
  4. I mean, I know sometimes, but there are decisions that could go either way, and I’m always a little curious about those. 
  5. NB this completely contradicts everything I usually say about people continuing to win for the same performance, to which I say: shut up. 
  6. please note that one of these exclamation points is the one in the official title of Nailed It! and the other is the exclamation point that ends the sentence. 

71st Annual Primetime Creative Arts Emmys

The fortnight 1 of Emmy bacchanalia begins now, with the Creative Arts Emmys. As has become the custom, I will guide you through the process of being right about them, so that you always know where to stand in terms of how to award television shows. 

As with previous years, I’ll be trying to keep the word count down, even though the bulk of my viewing time is spent on the categories honored in this one, and not the other more-attention-getting one 2but there’s also seven hundred million trillion categories. 

Oh, and I’ll be skipping the juried categories because I largely don’t understand them, and they’re listed in this footnote 3.

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special

There are few things, in any year, in any category, better-written than Nanette, which is one of the very few things in the world that deserves every single bit of hype that it’s gotten. It certainly beats Carpool Karaoke, and it seems offensive to consider them in the same category. Ah, the Emmys.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Hannah Gadsby, Nanette

Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program

Interestingly, both of the once-competing documentaries about the Fyre Festival are nominated for Emmys, albeit in different categories. Also interesting (I mean, for whatever value of “interesting”) that Anthony Bourdain is still getting posthumous nominations. And they’re good ones, so this one, at least, will stand.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, episode: “Kenya”

Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special

“Oh that Carpool Karaoke, such outstanding video control. Gosh, we sure do need to nominate Carpool Karaoke for a bunch of Emmys because obviously it is a quality program and not just a static camera in a car shooting people singing along to the radio.” Seriously though. If anyone can explain to me why Carpool Karaoke is nominated for multiple Emmys, I would very much appreciate it. The technical direction was just about the only part of Rent worth mentioning, so I guess it wins.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Rent

Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie

You know what, why not let Game of Thrones go out by winning one of the only Emmys it actually deserves? The one for coordinating a bunch of stunts. Good job, guys.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Game of Thrones

Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or Variety Program

Feels like this is yet another category 4 that The Good Place lost out on. I’m thinking specifically of the big fight in the bar at the midpoint of the second season. Anyway, I’m impressed by the fake fighting in both Cobra Kai and Glow, but Glow has the advantage of having to make it look genuinely fake, which takes some of the pressure off, so I guess I do like something about Cobra Kai after all. I thought I didn’t. Way to go, Emmy nominators.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Cobra Kai. It comes as a huge surprise to me, also. 

Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role

You know, every single year I try to make sense of what the fuck this category name means, and every year I fail. This is the third year running that I have been stopped dead in my tracks by this nonsense. RENAME THIS CATEGORY OR I WALK, MR. EMMY.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chernobyl definitely had good visual effects. I don’t know how supportive their role was, but I’m willing to give them the nod anyway. It’s not their fault this category name doesn’t make any damn sense.

Outstanding Special Visual Effects

Man, with GoT having turned in one of the cheapest-looking half-assed season (visually speaking) 5 so far, it sort of opens up the field a bit. I’m going with Star Trek, then, because I want to.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Star Trek: Discovery, episode: “Such Sweet Sorrow”

Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera)

Boy, Free Solo just seems like the most difficult technical production I can think of, in terms of getting something you could actually show on tv that makes sense and is interesting, even down to the sound. So I’m going to go with that one.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Free Solo

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special

You know what, this one I can kind of understand nominating Carpool Karaoke for. I would imagine that it’s more difficult than I think to mix sound in a car with people of various voices/volumes  6. I’m going to go with the Grammys, though, because actual songs of various types are actually performed on that one, and not just weird car singing. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Grammys

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation

The only way that I could even imagine establishing a criteria that make sense and that any of these fit would lead me to Russian Doll, so it’s got to be Russian Doll, right?

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Russian Doll, episode: “The Way Out”

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series of Movie

I’m a simple man, and I tend to lean these things in favor of things that require someone to mix singing and stuff, but I think I’m actually going with Chernobyl, where even the sound mixing was spooky.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chernobyl, episode: “1:23:45”

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour)

I appreciate that they have divided the sound mixing up by length, given that I (who have never worked a day in television in my life) think that it would be a different thing to mix an hour than a half hour – it would, for example, be a program that was twice as long. This is satisfying to me, a dumb outsider. I also feel like there should be a joke here about the sound mixing on “The Long Night” being super-important because the episode wasn’t lighted at all, but since that joke is an invitation for people to weirdly flex about how the problem was that my tv is insufficiently fancy, I’m not going to make it. So there. It’s still a good sound mix, though, and I don’t praise GoT easily. Battle scenes are hard, yo.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Game of Thrones, episode: “The Long Night”

Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera)

Everything I just said a minute ago about Free Solo is still the case here, because I’m sure that editing is also difficult under those circumstances.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Free Solo

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special

Everything I just said a minute ago about Chernobyl is still the case here, because the spookiness remains important.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chernobyl, episode: “1:23:45”

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation

Everything I just said a minute ago about Russian Doll is still the case here, because I still don’t know what I’m doing.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Russian Doll, episode: “The Way Out”

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) 

Everything I just said a minute ago about Game of Thrones is still the case here, because they still had to edit the sound without being able to see it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Game of Thrones, episode: “The Long Night”

Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special

I thought the Norman Lear tribute thing was pretty cool, but it wasn’t really a new production design. Interestingly, all of these variety specials are more-or-less live to tape 7. I really thought I didn’t have much to say about Rent, but it turns out I remember a lot about the way it looked and the way it was staged, so I’m going to go with it as the winner here. Yay!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Rent. Somehow. Again. 

Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Reality or Competition Series

There’s a sort of existential question about what, exactly, constitutes the production designe for Queer Eye, if I’m being honest, because the final production design of the thing is so in the hands of the people being eyed, as well as the people doing the eyeing. Nevertheless, I think it’s the winner here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Queer Eye, episode: “Jones Bar-B-Q”

Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half-Hour or Less)

I appreciate that they’re leaving themselves open with that “or Less” for Adult-Swim-style half-length shorts or whatever. Makes me happy. There are, of course, none here, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to not rule them out.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Russian Doll, episode: “Nothing in the World is Easy”

Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More)

I’m just happy to see A Series of Unfortunate Events nominated, and definitely think that the production design was a clear high point, so it goes to that one. Especially since it’s done, and isn’t going to get more chances. I mean, Game of Thrones is also done, but ASOUE has much better production design.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Episode: “Penultimate Peril: Part 1”

Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More)

I don’t have a lot of good things to say about The Handmaid’s Tale, really, but the production design is where it shines. In fact, as I write these, the production design categories are really causing me to consider that it’s the production design that is where television makes its best cases. It’s really a production designer’s medium.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Handmaid’s Tale, Episode: “Holly”

Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program

Every year I take umbrage at the term “unstructured”, even though I totally know what it means in this context, because there’s got to be a better word for it. ALL TELEVISION IS STRUCTURED. IT’S ARRANGED IN DISCRETE BLOCKS OF TIME. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I guess Born This Way (Editing Team)

Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured Reality or Competition Program

Queer Eye is nominated for the whole season. Hard to argue with that, I guess. I mean, it might not be hard, but I’ll never know because I’m not really arguing with it.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Queer Eye (Editing Team)

Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming

There are many things to recommend about both Three Identical Strangers and also Leaving Neverland, but I’m not entirely sure the Picture Editing is one of them.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Free Solo (Bob Eisenhart)

Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming

I am, again, not a television insider, and have but minimal knowledge of how the world of television works, but I am, again, forced to question whether Carpool Karaoke is the miraculous achievement of technical acumen that it is positioned to be here. I just don’t buy it. If it were something that had happened once, maybe, or if it had just started happening and they had to figure something out, maybe. But this is a long-running late night segment that they turned into a whole special, and I can’t imagine that didn’t have that shit dialed in already, so even if it is a special now, and therefore longer (I guess), I still don’t buy it! So I’m going to go with Drunk History, which is sort of built on having a bunch of really impressive editing of all sorts.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Drunk History, (John Cason, Episode: “Are You Afraid of the Drunk?”)

Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series

I don’t mean to sound like that guy, but these are all awful, and I can’t imagine caring about how they are edited.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Mom, I guess. (Joe Bella, episode: “Big Floor Pillows and a Ball of Fire”)

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie

I’m willing to go so far as to say that even the picture editing contributed to the spookiness of Chernobyl, and that “Open Wide, O Earth” was the spookier episode.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Chernobyl (Jinx Godfrey, episode: “Open Wide, O Earth”)

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series

It’s real hard not to keep pulling these for Russian Doll, so I guess I’m just going to give into temptation and do it again.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Russian Doll (Laura Weinberg, episode: “Ariadne”)

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series

Ah, what the hell, Killing Eve seems well-edited

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Killing Eve (Dan Crinnion, episode: “Desperate Times”)

Outstanding Music Supervision

Since the music supervision is an enormous part of the very fiber of Fosse/Verdon, let’s go with that one.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Fosse/Verdon (Steven Gizicki, episode: “Life is a Cabaret”)

Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics

True story: Fred Armisen’s musical contributions to his comedy efforts are, to a one, better than Trenchmouth 8! Regardless of comparative worth, the fact that Documentary Now contains such multitudes is worth a bunch of awards, including this one.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Documentary Now, Episode: “Original Cast Album: Co-Op

Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music

I hadn’t thought about it until I evaluated it for this very writeup, but I do really like the opening titles of Good Omens. So that one.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: David Arnold for Good Omens

Outstanding Music Direction

I am compelled to choose the one that is explicitly and entirely about the music, quite frankly.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Beyonce Knowles-Carter and Derek Dixie, Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce

Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special (Original Dramatic Score)

I can’t say any of these scores jump out at me, so I’ll give it to Steven Price for basically just not getting in the way.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Steven Price, Our Planet episode: “One Planet”

Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special (Original Dramatic Score)

It pains me to pass over T-Bone Burnett like this, but David Arnold’s excellent contributions don’t end with the title music. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: David Arnold, Good Omens episode: “In the Beginning”

Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score)

I’m inclined to give this one to Barry merely for being a nonstandard bit of work. Good job, Barry.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: David Wingo, Barry (episode: What?”)

Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special

I will say that I really thought that Star Trek: Discovery would get this one, but after some thought, I will say that while much of the prosthetic work on American Horror Story was not exactly groundbreaking, the scoliosis effects were pretty great (NB that they might not have been in the specific episode nominated, I didn’t go back and watch) and there was a bunch of prosthetics on everyone all the time, so I think maybe it goes to that. They made Kathy Bates a robot!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: American Horror Story: Apocalypse Then, episode: “Forbidden Fruit”

Outstanding Make-up for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic)

The only time of the year that I praise biopics for their accuracy and/or verisimilitude is in technical categories at the Emmys, where I praise them for making people look like other people.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Fosse/Verdon

Outstanding Make-up for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic)

Not only does RuPaul’s Drag Race have the best makeup, it also has the most makeup. Who says you have to choose between quantity and quality?

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: RuPaul’s Drag Race, episode: “Trump: The Rusical”

Outstanding Make-up for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic)

So all that other stuff said, I’m not entirely sure what the non-prosthetic makeup that AHS was nominated for would even be. The people look like people, I guess. Ditto for Game of Thrones, although at least they had to paint somebody blue or whatever. So I’m gonna go with GLOW, because at least I know what the non-prosthetic makeup is doing.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Glow

Outstanding Main Title Design

I do appreciate that the main titles of Game of Thrones served a practical purpose (laying out the geography of Westeros and the players remaining in the titular game), which is something the rest of them don’t really do.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Game of Thrones

Outstanding Lighting Design / Lighting Direction for a Variety Special

As with every year, I must acknowledge that it is a herculean effort to put on an awards show, and the technical demands are considerable, but also that any live event is hard, and the people that lighting designed Rent didn’t have the advantage of several decades of this exact thing happening at the same time every year, and so I think it’s a more difficult (and therefore more impressive) piece of work. This is because I have a pretty rudimentary grasp on how this stuff works. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Rent 

Outstanding Lighting Design / Lighting Direction for a Variety Series

I feel like America’s Got Talent, even by the finals, is such a grab-bag of different stuff going on, plus there’s the onstage stuff, the backstage stuff, and the judges’ table stuff, that it must be hard to lighting design. That’s how I feel.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: America’s Got Talent, episode: “Semi-Final #1 Performance Show”, which is a perfectly-reasonable title for a show where the titles don’t matter, but which also sounds like it was poorly translated into English.

Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within an Unscripted Program

Oooooookay. I will buy a hat for the person who can explain to me what Carpool Karaoke is doing in this one. Is this a prank? What the hell is going on? What on Earth was interactive about the thing? Anyway, Conan Without Borders was pretty cool.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Conan Without Borders

Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within a Scripted Program

As much as I just want every award to go to The Good Place all the time, and as much as I didn’t exactly love Bandersnatch, I do think it was a cool experiment that came out pretty well, and probably deserves to be honored as such.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Outstanding Interactive Program

Clearly we are using a definition of the word “interactive” that I simply do not understand. NASA and SpaceX: The Interactive Demo 1 has interactive right there in the title though, and it was really cool, so it wins.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: NASA and SpaceX: The Interactive Demo 1

Outstanding Original Interactive Program

Am I in favor of just giving as many of these as possible to the space shit? You’ve probably been reading this blog long enough to know that the answer is: yes. Absolutely.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: NASA Insight’s Mars Landing

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program

Gosh, but Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman were delightful. I mean, this whole category could pretty accurately be renamed “Most Amiable”, but they were especially delightful. I’m exclusively using that word to describe them, obviously. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, Making It

Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie

I think most of my opinions from the makeup categories come through here, so big ups to the Fosse/Verdon people for accurately recreating hairstyles.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Fosse/Verdon

Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special

Once again: RuPaul has not only the best hairstyling, but the most hairstyling. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: RuPaul’s Drag Race, episode: “Trump: The Rusical”

Outstanding Directing for a Reality Program

I will be honest: while I have a pretty good sense of what directors do in many contexts, I can’t get my head around how Shark Tank is nominated here. I don’t get it. Anyway, I’m giving it to American Ninja Warrior, because I like American Ninja Warrior and think it should get awards for stuff.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Patrick McManus, American Ninja Warrior, episode: “Minneapolis City Qualifiers”

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special

Sigh. Guys. What do I have to do to make the Carpool Karaoke thing stop? It’s not even that I think it’s that bad. It’s pleasant! Sometimes even downright delightful! Why is it nominated for every dang technical Emmy? This is completely insane. The live Norman Lear thing was pretty cool.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: James Burrows and Andy Fisher, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons

Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program

I think in this case an ability to work with such subject matter in an effective and reasonable matter means that Leaving Neverland wins this one.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Dan Reed, Finding Neverland

Outstanding Costumes for a Variety, Nonfiction, or Reality Programming
Somehow I guess the costumes for Carpool Karaoke just weren’t up to Emmy snuff. I can only imagine this is a tragic oversight on the part of the Emmy nominating body. Anyway, since RuPaul’s Drag Race is predominantly about the costuming, I think it’s got to go to that one.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: RuPaul’s Drag Race, episode: “Trump, The Rusical” 

Outstanding Contemporary Costumes

Of all the technical categories, this is the one I have the hardest time with. I just don’t know enough about costume design to know which of these shows has the best costumes on it. I’m going to go with Grace and Frankie, because the nominated episode had a wedding in it, and that means it was more elaborate. 

 THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Grace and Frankie, episode: “The Wedding”

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes

I’m still out here riding for pretty much any given visual aspect of A Series of Unfortunate Events, frankly. I love it. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: A Series of Unfortunate Events, episode: “The Penultimate Peril, Part 2”

Outstanding Period Costumes

Ordinarily, as an Old Person, I don’t fight the notion of my oldness. Still and all, when GLOW popped up in “period” costumes and not “contemporary” costumes I still tought “hey wait!”. But thirty years ago is long enough to quality, and also it makes this category much easier, because it’s the only one of these where I can actually be said to like the costumes.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: GLOW, episode: “Every Potato Has a Receipt”

Outstanding Commercial

On the one hand, my reaction to this category is “commercials aren’t even the simulacrum of art that television is”, but I it runs into the fact that television is, in many instances a vessel to keep people looking at the screen in between blocks of commercials 9. So I guess I’m just going to say the Sandy Hook thing and leave it at that, cognitive dissonance be danged.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: “Point of View”

Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming

You know, the only real components of Our Planet are the cinematography, the editing and the narration, so I think it’s probably good that half the field comes from it. It really sells itself on the cinematography. The “Coastal Seas” one is not only gorgeous, but seems like it was especially difficult to do, technically, so it gets the nod.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Our Planet, episode: “Coastal Seas”

Outstanding Cinematography for a Reality Program

Obviously I think the nature cinematographers have a harder job, and while I’m sure the Deadliest Catch folks have their shit pretty well dialed in by this point, the Life Below Zero folks might be less so, and so deserve the award.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Life Below Zero

Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)

I genuinely like the camera work in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Not much else, but he camera work is nice.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: M. David Mullen, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, episode: “Simone” 

Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie

See above w/r/t spookiness, etc.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jakob Ihre, Chernobyl, episode: “Please Remain Calm”

Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour)

What We Do in the Shadows isn’t up for enough awards, and I’m still a dipshit about these things, so I’m giving it to What We Do in the Shadows.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: DJ Stipsen, What We Do in the Shadows, episode: “Manhattan Night Club”

Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series

Literally the only one of these television shows I can even pretend to get behind is Rel, which makes this fairly easy.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: George Mooradian, Rel, episode: “Halloween”

Outstanding Choreography for Variety and Reality Programming

Oh come now, certainly someone does some car seat wiggling in Carpool Karaoke, or some hand dancing or something, and can have been worthy of an award here. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Travis Wall, So You Think You Can Dance

Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program

RuPaul’s Drag Race’s casting concerns are both specific and ongoing 10, and I’m always impressed that they put together as many worthwhile contestants as they do every single year. In this case, the show’s longevity works in its favor, which is also kind of novel for an Emmy awards writeup, where I usually get all cranky about such things. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: RuPaul’s Drag Race

Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special

Many things are not worth the hype about Fosse/Verdon, or at least weren’t worth it to me 11, the casting was superb. One might even use the word “impeccable” if one were so inclined.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Fosse/Verdon

Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series

Before I become the latest (and possibly last, speaking chronologically) person to heap praise upon the casting of Pose, allow me to pose (sorry) the following question: given that there were zero new characters in the last season of Game of Thrones, what, exactly, would qualify it for a casting award this year? I get that it’s probably for the series as a whole or whatever, but shouldn’t that be a different award? Should not each year’s Emmys be for that year’s work, in which case the casting department was responsible for, oh, six billion extras or whatever, but zero people that spoke lines? I rest my case, and hereby declare the award should go to Pose.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Pose

Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series

Obviously, given the previous entry, I think that casting awards are easier to win for the first season of a show, when everyone is a new cast member and the casting team have to do the most work. So I’m going with Russian Doll yet again. 

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Russian Doll

Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series

Hack Into Broad City was the best of these, but I don’t want to choose which winner was better, so I’m declaring a tie.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Hack Into Broad City

Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series

Not only an Emmy for Megan, but also an Emmy for anyone associated with An Emmy for Megan.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Patton Oswalt, An Emmy for Megan

Outstanding Narrator

Earlier I said that the three components of Our Planet were the cinematography, editing and narration, and the narration is the best narrator to ever narrate, so my biases should be fairly obvious here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: David Attenborough, Our Planet

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance

The early awards show write-ups on this here website were heavy on corrective write-in candidates. I’ve stopped doing that, mainly because I believe every running joke should be permitted to die a natural death, and also because it’s not really reacting to the awards show as presented, which is what I’m doing here. That said, in “Outstanding Animated Program,” the actual greatest show on television 12, Bojack Horseman, is nominated for the episode “Free Churro,” which is singled out in FN7 as being one of the series high points, and which is an episode in which only one voice actor (Will Arnett) appears – as both the title character and as that character’s father, Butterscotch. It’s an incredible, cathartic episode of television that really goes to places in terms of dealing with some really tough questions, and it ends on the kind of joke that requires the kind of commitment that I can only stand back and admire. What I’m saying is: Will Arnett should have been nominated in this category for his performance in what the emmy folks agree is one of the best episodes of television of the year, and he is not, and that seems like it’s a mistake. So I’m writing him in, especially since two of the fucking nominees here are for Family Guy.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Actually Will Arnett, for Bojack Horseman, episode: “Free Churro” 

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

You know, I didn’t think much of Constance Langdon’s return to American Horror Story until I heard Jessica Lange talk about the process of getting into a character she had last played many years before, which involved watching her own performance for (what she claimed was) the first time. Turns out there might be something to this acting thing after all!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, episode: “Return to Murder House”

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Kumail Nanjiani is such an all-around great actor that I’m happy to see him in pretty much anything, and I’m especially glad to see him nominated here.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kumail Nanjiani, The Twilight Zone, episode: “The Comedian”

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

I mean, whatever praise my outraged footnoting may have made it seem I don’t have for The Good Place does not actually mean that I don’t love Human Treasure Maya Rudolph, and the magnificent Judge Gen, short of Hydrogen, the only other thing in existence at the time she was born 13.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Maya Rudolph, The Good Place, episode: “Chidi Sees the Time Knife”

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

There’s an awful lot of Saturday Night Live in this category, especially considering that it’s all for their worst season in a long, long time. Even in a good season, though, it’d be hard to top Peter MacNicol.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Peter MacNicol, Veep, episode: “Oslo”

Outstanding Short Form Variety Series

Oh thank heavens some form of Carpool Karaoke is back. I couldn’t fathom going on without it continuing to be nominated all the time. I’m glad I don’t have to envision a world in which that happens. Anyway, I quite like Billy on the Street.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Billy on the Street

Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series
I just don’t understand who can watch An Emmy for Megan and not agree that it definitely deserves an Emmy. Obviously.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: An Emmy for Megan

Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series

This category is dumb. FX’s Inside Look things are always kind of boring bog-standard pseudo-documentaries, and there’s been so much filmed and written about creating Saturday Night Live that Creating Saturday Night Live could only ever have felt pretty redundant. That leaves us with the RuPaul’s Drag Race specials, of which Portrait of a Queen is better.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: RuPaul’s Drag Race: Portrait of a Queen

Outstanding Children’s Program

Star Wars: Resistance is fine and admirable, but I really, really dug A Series of Unfortunate Events.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Outstanding Short Form Animated Program

I suppose I’m the last person on the “praising Steven Universe train,” but I shouldn’t be, and also I think that’s more about how it should be nominated for more awards, which is kind of the only way that I write about television anyway.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Steven Universe, episode: “Reunited”

Outstanding Animated Program

If you’ve forgotten what I’ve already said about the wonderful “Free Churro,” it’s back up at the voice performance category. But also you shouldn’t have forgotten what has it been, two minutes? Jeez.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: BoJack Horseman, episode: “Free Churro”

Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)

We interrupt the runner of being baffled by the Carpool Karaoke thing to point out earnestly (and for the second time this writeup) that Nanette is also among the very best things that Netflix has ever shepherded into existence, and should win this award and any other award for which it is eligible.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

Outstanding Variety Special (Live)

Finally, I get to not complain about a nomination for the Norman Lear thing, but to celebrate it, because it was outstanding, if not a super-technical achievement.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and the Jeffersons

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

It’s sad that the Fyre Festival documentary that was meant to exonerate Fuck Jerry is in here, if perhaps predictable. I’m giving it to Leaving Neverland, for changing and elevating the conversation around Michael Jackson (again) in a way that seems to make it more supportive of the survivors he left in his wake.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Leaving Neverland

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series

I probably don’t have to come out and say it at this late date, but I love Our Planet, y’all.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Our Planet

Outstanding Informational Series or Special

As impressive as much of this is (and I like the nominees in this category, by and large, quite a bit), only one of these programs actually played a part in getting a serial rapist finally into some sort of arrest situation. So it wins, because that’s above and beyond the call of television.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Surviving R. Kelly

Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking

I like Three Identical Strangers a lot as a piece of television. It’s got a crazy-ass plot and all sorts of twisty business, and it’s a documentary. That’s pretty cool, and worthy of an Emmy.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Three Identical Strangers

Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program

It seems like United Shades of America was nominated for a bunch of these last year, and this year it’s not in nearly as many categories. That’s fine, it’s still very good and it deserves this one.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell

Outstanding Structured Reality Program

Every year I am perplexed and/or frustrated by this category, and every year I give to Antiques Roadshow out of spite. I’m nothing if not comfortable with tradition.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Antiques Roadshow


  1. not that one 
  2.  the amount that this level of interest is offset by the number of technical categories regarding which I am far from an expert is left up to the reader  
  3. Outstanding Motion Design, Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Programming, Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming, Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation 
  4. I acknowledge that it seems weird to say “yet another category” when this is the first time it comes up, but I’m in the future and I know the rest of the categories, both here and in the primetime ceremony 
  5. and also in every other way  
  6. I mean this both in the sense that their voices are of varying degrees of sonic loudness, and also the volume of human tissue in the car probably affects things considerably, in terms of the mix, due to acoustic reflection and whatnot. 
  7. with the caveat that I don’t actually know what all went into Homecoming, as such 
  8. which is strange, because Trenchmouth should have been great: Fred Armisen is a very good drummer, and Damon Locks has made a bunch of great music since then, including the very week in which I’m writing this. 
  9. the other option being that the programming is there to prop up the money made from paid subscribers 
  10. to wit: they have to find people that are good in drag, and that can do all the stuff associated with costuming and performing in a drag persona, and still be competitive – i.e. they have to make sure that the winner isn’t a foregone conclusion every year (some of this is probably on the editors, also) 
  11. I mean, a salacious sensational biopic about a storied choreographer and his favorite dancer was basically never going to be for me, so that might go without saying. 
  12. I know that I bestow this honor on three different shows, but until Atlanta and/or The Good Place can deliver me as many episodes as good as “Escape from LA,” “Fish Out of Water”, “That’s Too Much, Man”, “Stupid Piece of Shit,” “Ruthie,” “Free Churro” or “Mr Peanutbtter’s Boos” then they will, no matter how much more awards attention (and ratings) they get, always be, at best, second. And even then, it is deeply unlikely that any television program will ever top the one-two of “The Old Sugarman Place” and “Time’s Arrow” as actual bona-fide masterpieces of television writing (NB that these episodes are from all over the series’ run, so wouldn’t all be eligible, like “Free Churro”. This is not to say that I don’t love the other contenders very much, but only to say that Bojack Horseman is a genuine actual genius piece of work, and deserves many more awards from all corners. 
  13. I love this joke more than I love some members of my family. 

The Comeback Trail: Tool – Fear Inoculum

I don’t write a lot of Comeback Trail posts. They’re hard to qualify for, for starters: I have to have some kind of relationship with the band, enough that I can situate myself within their context. The “comeback” itself has to be reasonably-easily regarded as such, such that there’s no real quibble with using the term 1. Even more than that, there has to be something to write about.

As far as it goes, Tool’s Fear Inoculum definitely hits the first one right on the head – I’m a heavy-music-inclined white dude born in 1983. I’ve got a personal relationship with Tool. It’s more-or-less the one you think it is, although I’ll add some caveats later when I talk about this record. A thirteen-year break means that this is definitely a comeback by just about any definition of the word, so we’re in good territory there. The problem is that I don’t really think that I have anything worthwhile to say. 

The reason for soldiering forward, then, is because I actually don’t think anyone has anything in particular to say about it. Oh, reviews abound. Everybody’s written one by now, and the odds are that everyone’s review is overwhelmingly positive. It is, in fact, hard to swing a dead cat on the music-focused portion of the internet without hitting a glowing review, talking about long-ass songs and weird-ass time signatures and returns to form and whatever else. The thing is, they’re also going to talk about how it’s just too soon to review the record, and the pleasures of the record will unfold over time.

I’m not here to call these people liars, certainly.

The story of the album is the other thing that it’s pretty easy to hear about: there was a huge, exhausting-sounding legal battle that ended up draining the band’s creative batteries. It then took them forever to put together because they are terrible perfectionists and all the parts had to be right, and also lead singer Maynard James Keenan wouldn’t even consider contributing until everything was done. But, through the concerted effort of the band and a miracle of patience or something, we’re all here at the end of the rainbow, and the new album Fear Inoculum is upon us. 

And it’ll take everybody some time to learn how to like it.

But, furthermore, maybe the reason that I don’t think it’s that good is because Tool is, more than just about any other band I can think of, a band that moved straight out of my wheelhouse – that had once been a band made up of components that I loved in a way that worked out satisfyingly to me. Basically, I think that Tool made a much better heavy metal band than prog rock band, and their move to (now) totally be the latter means that I’m pretty well completely uninterested in what they’re doing.

This move has, however, been pretty organic. They’ve moved from leaden, brutish slightly-pointy sludge metal (Opiate) to much-smarter, more-melodic, technically accomplished art sludge metal (Undertow), to something that’s almost its entirely-own thing, in the form of the proggy but still decidedly rocking (and not, it must be said, much sludgey) Aenima, to the much more conceptual prog-metal “opus”-style (and slightly wittering and determinedly not sludgey) Lateralus to the full-bore proggy-ass barely-metal high-minded 10,000 Days. And here, on Fear Inoculum we have heavy metal somewhere in the background (and, of course, not even a speck of sludge), but mostly are just openly plowing the fields of prog 2

Even with this being the case – that the band’s sound has changed as the result of their organic movement through their own artistic purpose and whatnot – doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard for me to develop any kind of opinion about Fear Inoculum other than a kind of weary shrug. The actual sound 3 aside, the record sounds both obliviously self-assured, and comparatively underworked.

The former makes itself known in several ways. The playing is mechanically impressive – they’re all good players, with a formidable amount of skill, and the pieces that comprise this record seem to have been written with an eye to making that the primary feature. Adam Jones, who was formerly the sort of grounding force, as the metal-est member of the band, the member with the most limited palette of technique, has clearly spent the intervening decade plus figuring out some new stuff, and is a hell of a (prog) guitar player. Lots of his playing is impressive. Justin Chancellor has always been an impressive bassist 4, and Danny Carey continues to be….well, he’s the most frustrating member of the band. He’s clearly got the ability to hit the drums a lot. This album could be an eighty-minute drum solo for the way he plays it. It’s a very impressive drum solo. He should send it into Guinness or something, but it’s a lot more like circus tricks than a rock band’s drummer. Also knock it off with the fucking tablas already, duder.  

And then we come to the singer (and primary contributor to the underworked-ness). Maynard James Keenan is a fine singer – good voice, great range, etc. – and I’m not going to talk about his lyrics, because I don’t talk about lyrics (and don’t know them in the first place). His performances on this record are…kind of phoned-in? I don’t like them, anyway, and they seem super subdued. But he’s older, and he’s in a different place, and this is a different Tool – thirteen years in anyone’s life is a long way from end to end, so it stands to reason that things would be different. It is perhaps Keenan’s contributions where I am most dissonant with Tool fans (or even other ex-Tool fans). To wit, I was pretty much always more into Tool as an instrumental unit, even when I loved them, and a less-feisty, less-engaged Maynard does not help matters much.

It’s not a bad album, though. I’m not enough of a contrarian (there’s that word again, perhaps inevitable when something is glowed about that leaves me completely unmoved) to think that it would be. Every one of the super-long pieces has at least parts that are pretty cool, even if some of those parts are cribbed from other Tool songs or, in one case, provided by noise titan Lustmord. The song that works best as a whole piece, and the song I could see myself slipping into playlists in the future is the titanic “Invincible,” which trucks along nicely and on which everyone seems like they’re part of the same band for the whole track. “7empest” has a stupid number in its title, but is the other song that approaches being something I’d listen to in the future, and may even grown on me – it’s louder, and doesn’t spend as much time building up frustrated, abortive dynamice shifts 5.

As mentioned at the top, the read on this seems to be that it’s something you have to live with for awhile, to let develop for awhile in your head before a judgement upon it can be pronounced. I suppose the argument that I’m making is that maybe that’s more about convincing yourself of the things that you could like about it, because it’s the only Tool album in a bunch of years, and might be the only one for awhile, and if you’re a Tool fan, you’ve got to get into something.

So, to answer the central question of the installments of this series – is it a comeback? Sure, I guess. It seems like a pretty natural extension of the band itself, and while it isn’t a patch on their best work, it’s certainly not as bad as it could have been 6, and it quite obviously is giving the fans what they want, and for good reason – if you stuck with them through 10,000 Days, this album is basically a direct sequel to/continuation from that one, so you’re in luck! – and it’s selling like hotcakes. So sure, they’ve come back. I’m just not a part of their audience anymore.

Maybe some of you are like me, then, and are unmoved and not terribly enthused by the notion of putting on a record the same length as the movie Chicken Run over and over again until it sinks in. Rock music isn’t a competition, nor is it an actual real-life game of RIYL, nor is it an opportunity to flex on people by telling people what’s “like that thing they like, only better”. However 7, also reissued this week is the phenomenal, satisfying, genre-defying heavy music masterpiece Neurosis & Jarboe. While it’s not new (it’s just newly-issued on vinyl and remastered everywhere else), it’s everything a Tool album could have been but wasn’t if you’re pining for a version of Tool that doesn’t exist, and for my fellow “no longer that interested in what Tool is doing”-heads, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Go buy a copy. It’ll make you happy. 


  1.  I have occasionally toyed with starting a sort of companion feature, “Still Going Then?” where I write about things like the newest set of Body Count albums or the last couple of Boyz II Men albums – acts that are still plugging away and have never really stopped, even if their sales and audience sizes are considerably diminished from their hayday. I don’t do it in the end because it’s sort of the opposite of what I write about here – I’m interested in the things that are popular or attempting to be popular, not the people who are able to modify their circumstances to ply their craft under different circumstances. That last thing is something I’m specifically inclined to celebrate, in fact, but it’s not the purview of here. Or, rather, it isn’t until I reverse this decision and decide that it is.  
  2. If it seems like I’m coming down on prog rock here, please understand that I am not: I lik1e prog rock a lot, and you only have to go back to the most recent post on this very blog to see me glow about early-ish Genesis, and I’m happy to talk about Pink Floyd all day, just to name the two easiest-to-hand examples. My problem is not prog-rock, it’s that I don’t think Tool is a very good or interesting prog rock band, and they were a good and interesting heavy metal band.  
  3. and attendant genre quibbling, which I admit is about at its end here 
  4. his addition to the band is what cleared away most of the aforerunningjoked “sludge” – he’s a much more fluid bass player than Paul D’Amour. For a sort of wish-fulfilling alternate-universe where he’s in a heavier, less-frustrating band, I invite you all to revisit Isis’s mighty “Altered Course”, from Panopticon, on which he guests, and which is fucking awesome. 
  5.  it really does seem like an extra-heavily-used Tool move is to build up to a crescendo and then back off of it real quick-like, a thing they’ve kind of always done, but which seems to be their main mode of operation on this record. 
  6. It’s not, for example, nearly as bad as the last A Perfect Circle album 
  7. Yes indeed, this is one of those sentences that can only lead to the writer doing exactly the thing they just said they aren’t actually doing. 

The Best Records of August 2019

Let it be noted that August, 2019 might be the weakest month for stuff that I’ve heard since I started doing this. There’s some exciting stuff on the horizon, though, so let’s get through this. Also I almost always have missed something when I think things are getting thin, so I expect that it isn’t as dire as it seems from right now. 

Brutus – Nest (Another great doom-metal-adjacent record, which is possibly the only genre in my general rotation of genres to have delivered regularly so far this year)

Pharmakon – Devour (I appreciate the shift into making denser, more-sounds noise music, it works for her super-well)

Russian Circles – Blood Year (It’s true that every Russian Circles album is the same, and it’s also true that it’s a great album they keep making)

Tropical Fuck Storm – Braindrops (The dude from the Drones continues his second act, and the result is finally as good as The Drones were)

Oh Sees – Face Stabber (Whichever permutation of the name John Dwyer is using, the results are usually pretty consistent, but this album is the best one he’s made in quite a while)