Wednesday, January 17, 2018
TV and Media

From most serious comedy to TV president, 8 other Emmys we'd like to award

At this point, the Emmys seem increasingly silly. With so much TV currently airing, it seems impossible that any voting body could narrow down the pile to a handful of the "best."

However, that's exactly what the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will do Thursday when it releases the nominations for the year's best programming. There will be snubs and surprises. And it can be frustrating for obsessive TV viewers like yours truly.

So in the spirit of it all not really mattering anyway, we came up with our own categories in which to award some of our favorite shows. They may seem nonsensical, until you remember that shows like the quick-witted and extremely vulgar Veep and the heavy-handed and heartfelt Transparent are competing against each other in the same category. What's crazier than that?

Funniest dramas

Fargo (FX)

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

Orphan Black (BBC America)

Unreal (Lifetime)

WINNER: Fargo. We watched most scenes through our fingers, the dread and tension dripping from every moment of this superior sophomore season. But it was also full of laugh-out-loud moments like Peggy spoonfeeding a tied-up Dodd. In hindsight, we were probably eager to laugh at that because it was a welcome relief from the rest of the drama. But we have to mention the GIF-worthy shenanigans from the Orphan Black clones. Using a hometown church production of Jesus Christ Superstar in one episode was nothing less than inspired. And don't forget about Unreal, a juicy satire on reality TV. Practically everything that comes out of cutthroat showrunner Quinn's (Constance Zimmer) mouth is solid gold.

Most serious comedy

Baskets (FX)

Casual (Hulu)

Togetherness (HBO)

Transparent (Amazon)

You're the Worst (FX)

WINNER: You're the Worst. The second season of You're the Worst truly won us over. The series about a young couple trying their best to take a serious relationship not-so-seriously, tackled the topic of mental illness, specifically depression, in a headstrong way that most shows don't. It was a surprising turn that proved the show could handle despair and sadness as deftly as it handles jokes. Other nominations also show comedies benefit from a little heart. Baskets is hilariously devastating, especially when Zach Galifianakis' sad clown frustratingly ate a 6-foot-long sub sandwich on a busy highway. And you probably skipped over HBO's quietly promoted and thus canceled show Togetherness. The Duplass brothers know how to give us the feels and the laughter.

Most deserving show that has never been nominated

The Americans (FX)

Broad City (Comedy Central)

The Leftovers (HBO)

Rectify (SundanceTV)

You're the Worst (FX)

WINNER: The Americans. It is truly appalling this show hasn't gotten big Emmy recognition. Margo Martindale won outstanding guest actress last year, but its leads Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, who play KGB spies Elizabeth and Philip Jennings living in 1980s DC, deserve to be on the big list. The show itself had its best season this year. Full of nuance and intrigue, the plot swiftly builds tension through its beautifully constructed characters. It's a show that quietly grabs you and begs to be watched carefully. HBO's The Leftovers also showed us how a series can successfully evolve. Its sophomore season was much stronger than its first, partly because of the powerhouse performance from Carrie Coon. But let's not forget about Broad City, the kind of dependable comedy everyone needs. It's also one that easily flies under the radar of awards shows like the Emmys. But look closer, and you'll see that it's an expertly crafted half-hour, led with full conviction by its two millennial leads, best friends (in real life and in the show) Abbi and Ilana. Its third season was its strongest yet, with full character arcs and a cameo by Hillary Clinton.

Best binge

Bojack Horseman (Netflix)

Catastrophe (Amazon)

Master of None (Netflix)

Mr. Robot (USA)

11.22.63 (Hulu)

WINNER: Master of None. We enjoyed our lost weekend with Aziz Ansari. He plays a fledgling actor in NYC who just wants to eat pasta and fall in love. We are all Dev. Each episode stands on its own, but collectively None dishes out smart takes on diversity, adulthood and funny contemporary issues. And now we want to take a trip to Nashville. Our other nominees, Bojack Horseman and Catastrophe make for fun binges while dramas Mr. Robot and 11.22.63 beg to be watched in succession as their mysteries unfold.

Show with sex scenes that most resemble a flame emoji

WINNER: Outlander. We don't even need to talk about sex on other shows. Starz's Outlander proves TV sex can be real, romantic and part of the plot. Feminism is the core of this sci-fi and period drama; Claire commands the screen with her tenacity and sexuality. Her husband, Jamie, isn't just the hunky Scotsman along for the ride. He's thoughtful, intelligent and just as stubborn as his time-travelling wife. Their relationship is continually tested, but they always find their way back to each other through their bodies. And it's a pleasure to watch.

Best TV presidents

Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), Scandal

Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), House of Cards

Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Veep

WINNER: None. This ballot is just as hard as the real one, but since we don't have to pick one, we won't. They're all terrible people, which makes for great entertainment.

Best young actor

Connor Jessup, American Crime

Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel

Holly Taylor, The Americans

Tara Lynne Barr, Casual

The kids on Fresh Off the Boat and Blackish

WINNER: All of them. They are all destined for greatness. We've come a long way since child actors were just there for cute one-liners. This year we watched Holly Taylor explore the depths of her parents' secret lives on The Americans. Connor Jessup, who played a troubled gay high school student, surprisingly outshone his onscreen mother (Lily Taylor) on American Crime's powerful second season; and a freaky Freddie Highmore did what we all knew was coming as a young Norman Bates. On Hulu's "comedy" Casual, Tara Lynne Barr brilliantly struggled with authority and her sexuality while coping with her parents' divorce. And the charming kids on ABC's Fresh Off the Boat and Blackish make us laugh harder than the adults do.

Wardrobe we'd most like to steal

Broad City (Comedy Central)

Catastrophe (Amazon)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW)

The Mindy Project (Hulu)

WINNER: All of them. They delightfully showcase a normal woman's body. We might not exactly want to wear Abbi and Ilana's outfits on Broad City, but we appreciate their wacky tenacity. (Just don't forget to remove the security ink tag.) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Mindy Project both prove that office wear can be bold and sexy while still professional. And Sharon Horgan on Catastrophe gives us a taste of spunky British fashion, pairing patterns on patterns on patterns. Can we please have those tights?


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