Emmys 2017: High Time To Topple The Patriarchy?

By Glenn Whipp Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Glenn Whipp takes a look at what's the buzz on the 2017 Emmys season.

Los Angeles Times

When we last left the Emmys, Tatiana Maslany and Rami Malek were geeking out, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was calling up her trophy case designer to talk about a remodel and the adorable "Stranger Things" kids were bicycling through the Microsoft Theater, handing out PB&J sandwiches to the horror of some in the audience. (Gluten and peanut butter? Why not just dole out a sack full of leaky batteries while you're at it?)

Host Jimmy Kimmel bade us a fond farewell after "Game of Thrones" won the Emmy for drama series. (Hey, Jimmy Smits and Dennis Franz: You sure that card didn't read "The Americans"? You can never be too careful these days.) And we were left to ponder a pretty good night full of smart choices and the occasional misspelled name. (Seriously: Kit Harington deserves another nomination just for that gaffe.)

What fun do we anticipate this year? We're glad you asked.

Q: "Game of Thrones" isn't eligible for the Emmys this year. Where are its 23 Emmy nominations going to go?

A: Because "Game of Thrones'" new season arrives July 16, three days after Emmy nominations are announced, it won't be eligible for any love this year. That means there will be a royal usurper unseating the two-time drama series winner, along with a wealth of nomination slots for actors, writers and directors, not to mention makeup artists specializing in dismemberment and disemboweling.

"Homeland" is the only past drama series winner still on the air, and it's past its prime, meaning that we'll have a newly minted Emmy champion. That show should be "The Handmaid's Tale" because ...

Q: ... because you want to topple the patriarchy. We get it.

A: No. Because the spectacular Hulu offering, which premiered last month, is the best drama of the season, a superbly crafted cautionary tale set in a totalitarian world of forced surrogate motherhood.

But "Transparent" showrunner Jill Soloway wasn't far off the mark last year when she yelled that "topple the patriarchy" line after winning the Emmy for comedy series director. So much of this season's best work, the empathetic ensemble in "Big Little Lies," Jessica Lange's heartbreaking turn as Joan Crawford in "Feud," Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth in the lavish "The Crown," the fresh, relatable comedy of Issa Rae and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in, respectively, "Insecure" and "Fleabag," the soaring, searing work of Dawn-Lyen Gardner and Rutina Wesley in "Queen Sugar", came in shows in which women were front and center.

And let's not forget Millie Bobby Brown, the young actress more powerful than Eleven in the way she conveyed her "Stranger Things" character's conflicted emotions mostly without words. Don't hold her youth against her, Emmy voters. Eleven!

Q: Are you saying Emmy voters like people who have been around the block?

A: You do remember Maggie Smith won again last year for "Downton Abbey," right? There are veteran actors who Emmy voters can't seem to resist, even if there are new, worthier people deserving recognition. Part of this comes from the crushing weight of available choices facing voters as they make the endless scroll through the ballot. Last year, there were 2,108 acting submissions among the lead, supporting and guest acting categories. That's up 62 percent from just five years ago. So name recognition carries some serious weight. Just like in politics, incumbents possess a clear advantage.

Q: Meaning Allison Janney and Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be nominated again.

A: Of course! But there's a twist. Janney, after three nominations and two wins for comedy supporting actress for "Mom," has decided to bump herself up to lead, meaning that she'll be competing against Louis-Dreyfus, who has won the award five years running for "Veep." Both women own seven Emmys for acting.

Q: Will their tie be broken?

A: Hopefully not. We'd much rather see some other equally fine contender _ a newcomer like Rae or Waller-Bridge or the terrific Tracee Ellis Ross, nominated for the first time last year for "black-ish", receive their moment in the spotlight.

Q: And that's entirely possible, right? Voters turned off the autopilot last year and went for Malek and Maslany for drama leads.

A: They did, though these wins might partly be explained by the Television Academy changing Emmy voting from a ranked ballot to a plurality system, i.e., the person with the most votes wins. This change likely boosts the chances of nominees from more divisive shows. With six contenders nominated, you need only find a little more than 16 percent of the vote to win. That's not that many clones.

Q: Got it. Anything else?

A: Not right now. Mamacita's mixing up the cocktails. We best not keep her waiting.

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