The Emmys: The shows and people they forgot


Photo Courtesy of Slate.

Compared to recent years, there are a lot of things the Emmys got right this year. The Americans finally got nominated in the major categories, Thomas Middleditch finally got recognized for Silicon Valley and Master of None was rightfully acknowledged as the breakout series of the last year. The groundbreaking, instant-classic second season of Fargo was nominated in all of the Miniseries categories. Documentary Now! was noticed for its incredibly detailed parodies. However, there are always people and shows left behind.

Show Me a Hero: The most appalling omission of this year’s nominations is destined to be classic television. Writers David Simon and Paul Haggis elegantly portray a tragedy: Nick Wasicsko, mayor of Yonkers from 1987 to 1989, in the thankless job of pushing for public housing amidst total resistance. His effort was rewarded with the fall of his political career. Oscar Isaac plays Wasicsko perfectly, an ambitious councilman who is torn apart. Catherine Keener and Alfred Molina also give great performances that deserved more attention. This, along with Fargo, was the best thing on television this year.

O.J.: Made in America: ESPN’s remarkable series 30 for 30 hit a high mark with its eight-hour, five-part documentary about the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson. Coming after the terrific American Crime Story, this should be seen as more than a companion piece. This is superior. This is an in-depth look at how Simpson became such a hero in America and how his trial was turned into a matter of race. Interviews with his friends and colleagues reveal secrets from outside the courtroom and the schemes of lawyers. It’s amazing how eight hours don’t drag at all.

You’re the Worst: The sophomore season of this FX comedy brought an emotional punch it only hinted at in its debut. While the whole cast brought their A-game, it was Aya Cash who added new dimensions to her character and handled an arc on depression with grace and nuance. She was the standout. And, despite the drama, it was still a hysterical season of television.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: While Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won a few Creative Emmys last week, it deserved more. The CW’s new show is very innovative and there’s nothing like the musical-comedy on television right now. Writer and actress Rachel Bloom creates sympathy for what should be a one-note girlfriend. The show’s title is unfortunate because Bloom puts more than craziness in Rebecca; her situation is a lot more nuanced than that. The songs are consistently hilarious, too.

Broad City: Three seasons in and creators/actresses Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer still haven’t been noticed at the Emmys. That’s too bad because they remain the funniest people on television. Broad City is a milestone in absurdity and comedic gold. They both have crafted perfect characters: Ilana the unapologetically unhinged and Abbi, who is more stable on the surface but is also a mess. Supporting players like Hannibal Buress and Paul W. Downs add even more hilarity.

BoJack Horseman: After a shaky start, Netflix’s first animated series is now something wonderful. Will Arnett leads a phenomenal voice cast in Hollywoo, the showbiz capital for humans and various animals. The show quickly corrected itself in its first season, trading in cheap sex jokes for introspective evaluations of its characters. Now in its third season, the show carefully mixes drama and existentialism into its laughs.

Rick and Morty: A show bursting at the seams with creativity, creators/actors Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s animated Adult Swim hit is like a heavenly mix of Back to the Future, Futurama, and low-brow humor. The complex plots about travel in space and time and alternate universes are well-grounded with pop culture references and dirty jokes. While the main characters might be simplistic in their animation, the universes they wander in are colorful and vivid.

Rectify: Sundance has an astonishing drama that almost no one has heard about. It follows a man released from death row after nearly twenty years, once new DNA evidence calls his guilt into question. However, this is not a thriller or crime drama. It is a quiet character study with gorgeous cinematography of the South and outstanding acting by Aden Young and Abigail Spencer. It will be ending with its upcoming season, so the Emmys have one last chance to make it right.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: FX’s long-running comedy about five narcissists has pitch-black humor and performances capturing various forms of shamelessness. Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito and Rob McElhenney continue to make these horrible people worth watching. After 12 years, that can’t be easy.

Married: FX pulled the plug on this one, which is sad because it was excellent. This show about a married couple, expertly played by Nat Faxon and Judy Greer, avoids cliches in favor of showing a couple struggling and not always on solid ground. Paul Reiser also deserved some attention for his performance on this show. The show was seen by few, but those of us who were watching got a treat.
Love: Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust headed this Netflix comedy from Judd Apatow. There was no attempt to make the characters likeable and that worked in the show’s favor. The real standout, however, is the Australian comedian Claudia O’Doherty who played Jacobs’ roommate. Her cheerfully demented sense of humor was the highlight of each episode.