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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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. 

One thought on “71st Annual Primetime Creative Arts Emmys

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