Best Drama Series
Winner - Better Call Saul
Runners Up - Killing Eve, Pose, and The Good Fight
Commentary - I am not diving into the Game of Thrones battle. It is not my place. As you will see below, it does not walk away empty handed. One award to make up for lost time and one for a personal favorite honor the show's final season. I have my thoughts on the final season, like everyone else, but I want to instead focus on my pick for this year's Best Drama Series. For years, Better Call Saul has been living in the shadow of its predecessor. It is consistently ranked among the best in television, but always seems to lose out to flashier, more popular, and more buzzed shows and performances. It is time for folks to finally recognize the brilliance of Better Call Saul. The TCA did earlier this month, and it was a well-deserved, albeit a bit surprising recognition. Better Call Saul may not have the same buzz as Breaking Bad, but as it closed out its fourth season, it proved that in terms of quality, it is certainly at least its equal. Brilliantly written, impeccably acted, and bold, Better Call Saul continues to churn out impeccable television drama, and it's time it got kudos.
Best Comedy Series
Winner - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Runner Up - Better Things, The Good Place, Insecure, and Schitt's Creek
Commentary - I am late to the Mrs. Maisel awards party, but it's better late than never. The first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was pitch-perfect fun. So I was worried whether the cast and crew could capture the same magic in Season 2. Sophomore slump is a real thing. Luckily, viewers didn't have to slog through a slump. The second season had the same Amy Sherman-Palladino zing and fizz, the cast were impeccably on point, and even get more room to grow in their world. Zany, fun, infectious, Mrs. Maisel is a bright spot in the television lineup, and one of the best shows on television today.
Best Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Bob Odenkirk "Better Call Saul"
Runners Up - Billy Porter "Pose" and Richard Madden "Bodyguard"
Commentary - One of the biggest reasons Better Call Saul has been so successful is because the great Bob Odenkirk stepped up from a comedic relief bit character and became the fully-fledged leading man Saul is today. Still cranking out dark humor, but throwing in emotional pathos, and truly dramatic talent, Odenkirk has proven that he is an amazing actor, and has created a character that rivals any on television today.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - (TIE) Jodi Comer and Sandra Oh "Killing Eve"
Runners Up - Christine Baranski "The Good Fight", Julia Roberts "Homecoming", and Maggie Gylleenhaal "The Deuce"
Commentary - Killing Eve Season 2 was great, although I agree with most folks that it had a bit of a sophomore slump compared to its first season. That being said though, what never slumped was the dynamic duo at is center. One of them could win an Emmy next month, which would be great. But it would feel like something was missing since the other one would be left out. Because how can you reward one, but not the other? Comer and Oh's characters are so intertwined, their sick, loving, utterly fascinating mind-bending cat and mouse relationship is so mesmerizing. It is what keeps the show afloat. I simply cannot reward one, without rewarding the other.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Andy Samberg "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
Runners Up - Ted Danson "The Good Place" and Jim Parsons "The Big Bang Theory"
Commentary - Brooklyn Nine-Nine's last minute save from NBC reminded me how much I love that show. This last season didn't miss a beat, and each and every week, one of the best ensembles on television is led by a great performance from Andy Samberg. He always did well with the sketch comedy on SNL. But the first season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, his character was so obnoxious, I almost didn't stick around for season 2. I'm glad I did. The writers and Samberg figured out how to make his character work. Now, entering its seventh season, Samberg has found his rhythm. He has matured as an actor, as his character has matured. It makes the comedy funnier, and the emotional scenes more effective. It is time he got recognition for a great performance, a great role, in a great show.
Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Winners - (TIE) Pamela Aldon "Better Things" and Rachel Brosnahan "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
Runners Up - Issa Rae "Insecure", Debra Messing "Will & Grace", and Phoebe Waller-Bridge "Fleabag"
Commentary - Rachel Brosnahan is epic in her role on Maisel. She is hilarious, fast, funny, fierce, and lights up every scene she is in. She truly is marvelous. But I could not leave this television season without also rewarding Pamela Adlon. Better Things is an incredible show, but it had to survive the bad publicity around the Louis C.K. findings, and had to trudge on without one of its creative producers. I actually think that not having C.K. made it a much better show. I respected the comedy in Louie, but it was always just one beat too dark, and yes, it had its creepy moments too. Without C.K., Adlon's voice was able to reign supreme. The show was funnier, more emotional, and filled with a lot more feminist punch. Adlon gets a lot of credit for her directing and her writing, but she deserves as much, or more for her acting. Sam is a great character, and Adlon is just jaw-dropping good in every episode. I can't wait for season 4.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Peter Dinklage "Game of Thrones"
Runners Up - Jonathan Banks "Better Call Saul", Chris Sullivan "This is Us", and Alfie Allen "Game of Thrones"
Commentary - Once again, I am not diving into the Game of Thrones controversial last season. I will say that in a normal year, Dinklage would not have won for his performance. This past season of Game of Thrones, he was simply not given enough to do to win an award. But I am playing catch up here, and while I'm sure it will incur the wrath of some, I don't really care. Tyrion is one of my favorite characters over the course of Game of Thrones, and despite Dinklage's brilliant portrayal for years, I have never given him an Awards Psychic award. He deserves one. He has won plenty of Emmys for his role, and it's time I caught up. Maybe its not for this season, but it makes up for the rest of the seasons where he was nothing short of phenomenal on screen.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - (TIE) Gwendoline Christie "Game of Thrones" and Maisie Williams "Game of Thrones"
Runners Up - Susan Kelechi Watson "This is Us" and Rhea Seehorn "Better Call Saul"
Commentary - There are two things I will defend openly about this season of Game of Thrones: Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams. Whatever you think of the story, these two actors rose above the material and delivered emotional, complex, and compelling characters that both were beloved by fans. Christie's best episode was A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, the best episode of the season by far, as her character's long arch to become a true knight was fulfilled. The look on her face, the emotion in her eyes, it showed a truly talented actress. Williams got to be the bad ass this season. Yes, that one important scene (I won't spoil although at this point, everyone should know), gave her triumph, but it was the maturity and the confidence that Williams displayed that made Arya George R.R. Martin's favorite character, and the audience's as well.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - Tony Hale "Veep"
Runners Up - Joe Lo Truglio "Brooklyn Nine-Nine", Timothy Simons "Veep", and Tony Shalhoub "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
Commentary - Once again, I am late to the party, and am making up for lost time. In all the years of Veep, I have never given one of my awards to the great Tony Hale. He had yet another fantastic season as Gary, the obsessed, ridiculous, punching bag of Selina Meyer. Hale is a master comedian, who relished his sidekick role, and made it so much more over the years. We all know that Selina Meyer will go down as one of the iconic comedic roles of all time. But comedy has always relished the supporting players who do their part. I think Tony Hale's Gary Walsh will also join those ranks of television comedy icon.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - D'Arcy Carden "The Good Place"
Runners Up - Alex Borstein "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", Yvonne Orji "Insecure", and Molly Shannon "The Other Two"
Commentary -The Good Place's inclusion in the Comedy Series category at the Emmys was a welcomed sight for those of us that are fans. That is because it is one of the funniest and most clever shows on television. This season, which had its characters moving around a lot, one of the anchors of the show was D'Arcy Carden's brilliant take on Janet. In its third season, Janet was finally able to really let loose from her robotic constraints and become a fully fledged part of the ensemble. In particular, the episode "Janet(s)", the show's best of the season, gave Carden full range to prove why she is such an essential part of one of television's best ensembles, and one of the best, and most underrated comedic actors working on television today.
Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Winner - Michael McKean "Better Call Saul"
Runners Up - James Cromwell "Succession" and Ron Cephas Jones "This is Us"
Commentary - Better Call Saul brings a great balance of humor and darkness, and Michael McKean's recurring role as Chuck McGill is a perfect representation of that. It is an amazing role for an actor that has been around for a long time. He perfectly plays off of Odenkirk's Saul, and creates a fully-fledged character that is mesmerizing to watch. So happy to see his Emmy nomination, which is, shockingly, the first in his long career.
Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Winner - Phylicia Rashad "This is Us"
Runners Up - Cherry Jones "The Handmaid's Tale" and Cicely Tyson "How to Get Away With Murder"
Commentary - Our Little Island Girl was one of the season's best episodes on This is Us. First, it gave us so much depth to the character of Beth. The other main reason was because it was smart to cast Phylicia Rashad as her mother. In all of her years, Rashad has never won an Emmy award, and that fortune might change this year. She is always good, in every role she was in, but was particularly effective and emotionally complex on This is Us.
Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Winner - John Mulaney "Saturday Night Live"
Runners Up - Peter MacNicol "Veep" and Craig Robinson "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
Commentary - So SNL had its share of good hosts this season, but John Mulaney's episode was easily the best. The stand-up comedian, who won an Emmy last year for his work, could take home another Emmy this year. He easily stepped right into the sketch comedy (which is not always easy to do for a lot of actors, even great ones), and the sketches were sharp. It is so nice to see a writer step up on that stage and take it by storm. He is following in the footsteps of so many comedy legends. If he keeps it up, it will not be long before he joins their ranks.
Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Winner - Molly Shannon "Will & Grace"
Runners Up - Maya Rudolph "The Good Place" and Kristin Scott Thomas "Fleabag"
Commentary - I have loved the character of Val for so many years on Will & Grace, and this season was no exception. Every time you see Molly Shannon appear on that show, you know you are in for a crazy and incredibly funny episode. Shannon is always churning out great comedic work, and has proven that she is a quality dramatic actor as well. Her role as Val is one of those that stands out and showcases the talents of one of our finest comediennes.
Best Directing in a Drama Series
Winner - Debbie Allen "Grey's Anatomy - Silent All These Years"
Runners Up - Andrew Stanton "Better Call Saul - Pinata" and Adam McKay "Succession - Celebration"
Commentary - Grey's Anatomy has been on the air for now fifteen years, and in that time, it has had its ups and downs. While it is far away from its days as an Emmy powerhouse, the show has seen itself continue to click along at a nice pace, even with so few original cast members left. For those of us who are still fans, the last couple of seasons, while not as dynamic, have served as comfort food. That being said, Grey's has never let itself completely fall into complacency, and has always tried to remain relevant in its story lines. And every once in a while, it manages to pack such an emotional gut punch, you remind yourself why it is one of the most successful drama series in television history. Debbie Allen behind the camera created a powerhouse episode in Silent All These Years. Tackling the subject of abuse, Allen and her team brought emotion, clarity, empathy, and a jaw-dropping scene to make this one of the most talked about episodes of the year on television. It was not only an important episode, it was a incredibly well-made one.
Best Writing in a Drama Series
Winner - Peter Gould and Thomas Schnauz "Better Call Saul - Winner"
Runners Up - Emerald Fennell "Killing Eve - Nice and Neat" and Kay Oyegun "This is Us - R&B"
Commentary - Better Call Saul's Season 4 finale was a brilliant ending to a magnificent season. There was a lot going on in Season 4, and the writers used the finale to brilliantly tie them all together, and set up a dark and scary Season 5. We ultimately know where is this all going, but the journey to get there, the slow burn of the inevitable, has been fascinating to watch. The writers deserve so much credit for crafting this brilliant series, and this episode is a perfect representation of their masterwork.
Best Directing in a Comedy Series
Winner - Daniel Palladino "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - We're Going to the Catskills"
Runners Up - Pamela Adlon "Better Things - Shake the Cocktail" and Regina King "Insecure - Ghost-Like"
Commentary - Maisel's second season had some great set pieces, and took its show to new places and new horizons. I honestly do not think this is anywhere near the season's best episode, but the directing, the camerawork, and the creation of this Catskills town in that time period are impeccable, and showcase the talent that is Daniel Palladino behind the camera.
Best Writing in a Comedy Series
Winner - (TIE) Phoebe Waller-Bridge "Fleabag - Episode 1" and Josh Siegel and Dylan Morgan "The Good Place - Janet(s)
Runners Up - Amy Sherman-Palladino "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Midnight at the Concord" and
Pamela Adlon "Better Things - Shake the Cocktail"
Commentary - How can you choose? You have that brilliant family dinner episode in Fleabag, which was the most uncomfortable, squirmy, darkly hilarious piece of writing I have witnessed in a long time. But then you also have that brilliant Janet(s) episode in The Good Place, a fun, crafty, unique look at one of our favorite characters, and easily the best episode of a great comedy. So how do you choose? Well it's my party, so I do what I want, and I choose both.
Best Limited Series
Winners - (TIE) Chernobyl and When They See Us
Runners Up - Fosse/Verdon, A Very English Scandal, and Sharp Objects
Commentary - Once again, I have to pose the question: how do you choose? I don't envy Emmy voters for having to only pick one. Chernobyl and When They See Us came blazing in to the Emmy race at the last minute, knocking out front runners that have been sitting in that status for months. Chernobyl is a quiet horror about one of the most tragic events in world history. It's slow build, beautifully haunting and meticulous script, and its cast, give Chernobyl both a sense of urgency, but also a subtle glance at the terrors of history. When They See Us is a bold, emotionally electrifying series that examines one of the darkest moments in recent race history in the United States. Its bold direction, powerful script, and knock-em-dead cast all bring a sense of urgency and continued relevancy to a story that still asks questions and still shocks to this day. These two series both are historical series that feel eerily modern and prevalent. That is the power of two captivating and must-see stories that both deserve as much recognition as they can get.
Best Television Movie
Winners - Deadwood: The Movie
Runner Up - Native Son
Commentary - This race is almost worthless at this point (although the same was said of miniseries about a decade ago when they combined the two categories). I think television movies will make a comeback, but luckily, despite lack of competition, there was one incredibly exceptional film this Emmy season, and that was Deadwood. One of the most underrated series of all time, Deadwood fans have been lamenting the lack of a true conclusion to their beloved series for over a decade. David Milch has been not so quietly lobbying to get his series that proper finale. Finally, HBO delivered with the Deadwood: The Movie. Reuniting the old cast, rebuilding and recreating that world, and finding the same brilliance as its show was a tall task to take on. Milch and his team did with style, and gave fans a well-deserved conclusion.
Best Actor in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Jharrel Jerome "When They See Us"
Runners Up - Jared Harris "Chernobyl" and Hugh Grant "A Very English Scandal"
Commentary - The heart of When They See Us is truly Jharrel Jerome. This category has taken so many twists and turns this Emmy season. Jerome went from being a borderline nominee to being the front runner for this first Emmy award. That is the power of his performance. The anger, the confusion, the hurt, the exasperation in Jerome's character of Korey serve as a conduit for the same emotions being felt by the audience watching. It was a confident, emotional, and impeccable performance from a young actor who has a bright career ahead of him.
Best Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Michelle Williams "Fosse/Verdon"
Runners Up - Niecy Nash "When They See Us" and Amy Adams "Sharp Objects"
Commentary - Compared to Bob Fosse, not much is known about the real Gwen Verdon, her life, her thoughts, her desires, her story. We know bits and pieces as the general public, with much of her story reserved for her hardcore fans. That is until now. Michelle Williams studied Verdon, spent time their her daughter, and worked overtime to make sure she got the unknown details right. It pays off, and now because of the passion, skill, and utter star power that Williams brought to her role, fans know more about Gwen Verdon than ever before. She was mesmerizing in the role, a difficult role to learn, and was the underappreciated guiding light, not only in Bob Fosse's life, but in the Fosse/Verdon's success.
Best Supporting Actor in TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Ben Whishaw "A Very English Scandal"
Runners Up - Michael Kenneth Williams "When They See Us" and Stephen Dorff "True Detective"
Commentary - A Very English Scandal may not have ended up as big of a contender as some of the other quality limited series this year, but it doesn't lessen its greatness. At its center were two fantastic performances from Hugh Grant, and particularly Ben Whishaw. He was perfectly cast, emotionally wrought, and beautifully brought his character to life. I hope that Emmy voters haven't forgotten just how fantastic he was.
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Patricia Clarkson "Sharp Objects"
Runners Up - Eliza Scanlan "Sharp Objects", Vera Farmiga "When They See Us", and Robin Weigert "Deadwood: The Movie"
Commentary - Damn if Patricia Clarkson wasn't the most interesting villain on television in a long time. She plays her psychotic character perfectly. She is the perfect housewife, the underappreciated mother, and yet lurking under the surface is a demon. Sharp Objects builds this character over each episode, and Clarkson's transformation is always subtle. That does not mean that she was not effective. In fact, that slow burn of a characterization made a much more of a gut punch when the finale rolled around. If Clarkson wins the Emmy this year, she will have a three for three winning streak, having never lost a race. Watching Sharp Objects, I understand why.
Best Directing in a TV Movie/Limited Series
Winner - Ava DuVernay "When They See Us"
Runner Up - Jean-Marc Vallee "Sharp Objects"
Commentary - When They See Us is an emotional gut punch. It is bold, powerful, and even though it was set decades ago, feels timely, fresh, and unfortunately relevant. That is thanks to the impeccable eye, amazing leadership, and power of Ava DuVernay's magnificent direction. She keeps proving time and time again, that she is one of our finest directors working today, and When They See Us is yet more proof of her greatness.
Best Writing in a TV Movie/Miniseries
Winner - Craig Mazin "Chernobyl"
Runners Up - Ava DuVernay and Micahel Starrbury "When They See Us - Part Four"and Steven Levenson and Joel Fields "Fosse/Verdon - Providence"
Commentary - The brilliance of Chernobyl lies in its writing. It could have been flashy, loud, pure screaming horror. Instead it slow builds, it lets you get to know the characters, see the internal emotions. It still is horrific, no series made about Chernobyl could have avoided it. But Mazin's brilliant slow build makes more impact, and absorbs you into the horror instead of keeping you at a distance. Simply put, Chernobyl is a masterwork of writing.
Best Variety Series
Winner - The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Runners Up - Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Commentary - When Stephen Colbert first took over The Late Show, it was a bit rough. The transition was not as smooth as assumed, and it took awhile to adjust to Colbert when he was not in his Colbert Show persona. But eventually he got his groove, and these last two years or so have been Colbert doing his thing, and doing it well. He is sharp, funny, has shed his old character, and has become an important voice in late night television. I am personally glad to see him back on top.
Best Animated Series
Winner - Bob's Burgers
Runner Up - BoJack Horseman
Commentary - BoJack Horseman had another great season, but I felt like Bob's Burgers had its best season in at least two years. There seemed to be more energy in the episodes, and I've decided to loop back and reward it again.