Sunday, December 5, 2021

OPINION: The 73rd Emmy Awards, and why they sucked

October 1, 2021
<p>Design by Daena Faustino. </p>

Design by Daena Faustino.

We all watched the Emmy Awards ... right?

Full transparency: I didn't see it live and had no interest in doing so. And many of you probably googled the list of nominations and winners after it happened (or while it happened... also, like me).

From someone who thrives on movies and television shows (including limited series/miniseries, because that's a thing now), that's a big diss.

Here, let me put it this way: who cares?

I truly don't care what the Emmys think is "good" media. But, I am happy Evan Peters won something. It's funny how his first Emmy didn't involve Ryan Murphy whatsoever. To that end I say, if you know, you know.

Now, I didn't watch all the winning shows, and you shouldn't have expected me to. I did, however, watch a ton of them.

First, the Emmys are white. People of color were nominated at record-breaking numbers, yet they barely won. All major acting trophies went to white people; Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez (“Pose”), Michael K. Williams (“Lovecraft Country”), Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang (“Saturday Night Live”) all did not win. According to Variety, "49 non-Anglo creatives were recognized in the acting and reality competition categories," but most left with nothing.

Well ... that's another reason why I don't care what the Emmys think is stellar television. I beg the question: when will the Emmys take Black, Indigenous and creatives of color seriously? When will we be recognized? Are we only good for nominations ... to pull in views?

Now that I've said my piece, let's begin.

I think we all can agree how comical it was that "WandaVision" was nominated for 23 Emmys but won three. But was it really surprising?

I loved WandaWision. I am a comic reader and a HUGE Marvel fan ("Falcon and the Winter Soldier" > "Wandavision" > "Loki," but that's a conversation for a different time), but the show was not consistent. Perhaps, my biggest critique was its pacing. It failed to successfully tie its loose ends, aka Ralph Bohner, Monica Rambeau and Agatha Harkness.

Also, Agatha was just not a good villain.

Nonetheless, Wanda and Vision were skillfully characterized and brought the emotional depth the show sought to do. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't crying at some parts ... no spoilers here. However, that doesn't guarantee a show an Emmy. Yeah, I think it's fair to say "WandaVision's" massive nomination pool was for views, but I also think it's fair to say "Mare of Easttown," "The Queen's Gambit," "I May Destroy You" and "The Underground Railroad" were tough competitors.

While we are discussing Marvel and the Emmys, why wasn't Carl Lumbly nominated for "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier?" I think we already know.

Pulling in Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or a Movie was Kate Winslet in "Mare of Easttown." As a sidenote, HBO Max has the best movies and shows, and I definitely recommend the subscription. There are always loopholes, though.

This show... ahh... where do I even begin? My sister hated it, but watched it every Sunday with me. It was an experience needless to say. But confusing? The acting was astonishing, and Winslet's performance was memorable. Julianne Nicholson and Evan Peters also pulled Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. They were great.

I felt like so much happened, while nothing happened at the same time — more like so much happened, but it didn't feel like anything happened. It felt normal, not rushed, and the pacing was steady and sensible. It was fascinating and captivating, a mystery with a few other plot points that don't necessarily come together in the end. Each plot point still has its place. The show is about Mare — don't get it twisted, it's in the title — so don't expect much else. It was shocking, but not nonsensically shocking, the complete opposite of something like "Riverdale" or "The Boys," where shock-value is a key feature of the plot.

On another side note, I enjoyed "The Boys" a LOT, and it is nowhere comparable to "Riverdale." I have my qualms with the institution of the Emmys, but there's a reason "Riverdale" isn't nominated for anything, and "The Boys" is.

Anyways...

I don't think I could give a good summary of "Mare of Easttown." Google's summary won't prepare you for the show but it's pretty accurate regardless: "Mare Sheehan, a police investigator in a small Pennsylvania town, investigates a brutal murder as she tries to keep her life from falling apart." And oh, let me tell you ... her life does fall apart.

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Another big winner was "The Queen's Gambit." It won Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series and Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. It deserved the wins.

But did I struggle to get through it? Yes. It's a "true" drama and quite a slow burner. Each moment was quintessential to the plot and I loved the insight into protagonist Beth's mind. Done at that level? It's rare for a show. It's masterful and most shows should aim toward such a feat.

If you haven't seen it, you should. Not much else has to be said. You already know it's about chess.

All the shows I've talked about thus far are character-driven shows. They cater to a basic plot, sure, but they focus primarily on the characters to carry the plot and then-some. It's a balance. "WandaVision" failed to maintain that balance. This is precisely why "The Queen's Gambit" and "Mare of Easttown" beat it out for many categories.

I would talk about "The Crown," but it's sitting on my Netflix list. Nor did I watch "Ted Lasso." I hate sports and can never stand shows about them. Sorry.

Let's talk about "Pose," "Lovecraft Country" and "I May Destroy You." These shows deserved to win. And they barely did in major categories: lead actor/actress, supporting actor/actress, etc.

As I mentioned, "Mare of Easttown" and "The Queen's Gambit" were great, but that great? I don't know about that (I'm not saying they are overrated either). It's also hard to believe "The Crown" consecutively beat shows with a majority BIPOC cast in the larger categories because it is so "acclaimed."

In "Lovecraft County," Jurnee Smollet was phenomenal (Black! Canary! Movie!), as were Jonathan Majors and Michael K. Williams. Similarly, the cast of "Pose" delivered. Both were shot artistically and the cinematography is enough for you to watch it.

"I May Destroy you" is a must-watch. The writing is incredible and the portrayal of sexual assault survivors is handled sensitively with the most impact for viewers.

"Pose" is on Hulu. "Lovecraft Country" and "I May Destroy You" are on HBO Max.

With all this being said, I'm gonna finish my commentary on this note: Don't be afraid to critically view entertainment media. Some movies and shows are bad but enjoyable. That's okay, too. At the end of the day, that's all that matters.

However, we should examine what we watch and why we watch it. It's not a bad idea. In fact, I'm doing it right now and it's very fun. Being a movie critic in your own space of mind/talking to those in your community is important. Opening up conversations about representation in media, for instance, incites change. Don't downplay it.

Now, maybe I'll go watch the Emmy-winning series "The Crown."

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