Emmy Experts Typing: After 25 nominations last year, how big will ‘Succession’s’ final season be?
Welcome to Emmy Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Emmy race — via Slack, of course. This week, on the eve of “Succession’s” fourth and final season premiere, we tackle drama.
Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! What better time to dive into this year’s drama contenders than right now with our beloved “Succession” ready to kick off its final season? We’ve both seen the first episode and, speaking only for myself here, no notes. What a show! I’m ready to throw numerous Emmys at Jesse Armstrong and his cast, including Best Drama Series (again), Best Drama Actor for Brian Cox, Best Drama Supporting Actor for Matthew Macfadyen, all the crafts, and even a trophy for Sarah Snook. We talked about this with our voices earlier in the week, but based on at least the first episode — plus the wide-open spaces in the Best Drama Actress category — the argument could be made that Snook could perhaps have an easier time winning her deserved “Succession” Emmy in the lead category. (If she runs in supporting again, she’ll have to do battle with the category’s Goliath, Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus.”) That’s probably a conversation for another week, and we’ll have a better idea of what might happen when “Succession” gets to the meat of its season, but it’s something to consider. So is this: Last year, “Succession” set a record with 14 acting nominations out of 25 total, including citations for Nicholas Braun, J. Smith-Cameron, and guest stars James Cromwell, Alexander Skarsgard, Arian Moayed, tha god Adrien Brody, Hope Davis, Sanaa Lathan and Harriet Walter. My question for you is this: Can “Succession” break its own record in 2023? Even with the elimination of the unlimited ballot (take your bows for killing that one), I think all the regular actors nominated last year will find themselves with nominations again this year — and there’s even room for Alan Ruck and Zoe Winters, too, if I’m being honest. On the guest front, Moayed, Cromwell, Walter, Davis and Skarsgard will probably be back again, and past winner Cherry Jones should compete too. This is to say nothing of folks like our beloved Justin Kirk and “Barry” contender Stephen Root. This isn’t just a “Succession” column, but it’s not not a “Succession” column. So let’s start here: What do you think about the “Succession” potential to end its final season with an Emmys bang — and what show would you put in second at the moment behind the obvious frontrunner?
joyceeng: Are you asking if the Emmys will go full f—ing beast? If we still had the unlimited ballot, it would absolutely run the table. But it will probably still dominate on the restricted ballot, seeing how much actors love it and the show is as unbeatable as Logan himself. Pause here for a quick flashback to Season 1 when it got zero (o) acting nominations. I am once again hopedicting Eldest Son along with the usual trio of Macfadyen, Braun and Kieran Culkin, but like I said, I suspect ASkars might be ineligible for guest and would snag a supporting spot instead, which would be very bittersweet for us Conheads. (What if Stellan makes it in for “Andor” and we have a Skarsgard War?) As I mentioned, my ideal sitch is for Cox, Culkin and Snook to win, so the core Roys (sorry to Con) and Tom will all have Emmys, but I can easily see Jeremy Strong and Macfadyen prevailing again. Snook is obviously the trickiest one to pull off regardless of where she runs (as we’ve discussed ad nauseam), though she certainly has the material so far to justify a lead placement. “The White Lotus” is clearly in second, a distant one, not just because it’s a smash but it’s the one on which we have the most data. It won 10 Emmys in limited last year and nearly swept the winter awards (across three different genres!). This will be the first “Succession”-“The White Lotus” showdown, and if you thought it could be a tight matchup before, this being “Succession’s” last season ought to make it an easy KO. Several of the usual suspects have weaknesses — my beloved “Better Call Saul” is destined to go Emmy-less because we can’t have nice things; “The Crown” went 7/7 in 2021, but when was the last time someone talked about Season 5? — and while “The Last of Us” has the potential to do well, it has no awards footprint at the moment, so I wouldn’t put it higher than third. That’s an all-HBO top three. It’s not the Emmys. It’s HBO?
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Christopher Rosen: HBO could have half the slots here with “House of the Dragon” too, though I know you’re out on that title for now. The network could easily run the table in the drama acting categories – not just the guest slots for whichever “Succession” actors pop or perhaps someone from “The Last of Us” (Melanie Lynskey, an Emmy winner in 2023 for her other performance?), but all four acting categories with two of the “Succession” boys, Jennifer Coolidge and Bella Ramsey taking home Emmys in September. That’s my bet at the moment, at least, but I’m bullish on “The Last of Us,” a great show I greatly enjoy – it’s like an upscale version of “The Walking Dead,” and I was here for it. Back to “Succession” versus “The White Lotus”: I could probably make an argument for “The White Lotus” winning here — while the show will continue with a third season, this is the only time academy voters will be able to reward this specific incarnation of the series, and “Succession” has already gotten its series flowers — but I don’t really believe it (though when we expand out and start predicting the writing categories, I could definitely see Mike White making a play for the Jesse Armstrong crown). So let’s head to a category where “Succession” actually can’t win: Best Drama Actress. As mentioned, I’ve got Ramsey there, but Lynskey stands in the lead for “Yellowjackets” and she could easily win — it’s likely she was the runner-up to Zendaya last year and is the only returning contender. You’ve got three “Yellowjackets” actresses in this category, a wild swing until you consider that the show is beloved and gives its actresses lots of great material with which to work. Do you think if that plays out as you expect, does it help or hurt Lynskey in terms of the win? And if it isn’t Lynskey or Ramsey, who ultimately takes this category for the win?
joyceeng: That category is the wild, wild West. I basically have triple Buzz Buzz because nothing else here feels super strong at the moment. And at least we know they watched and liked the show last year, and with the high turnover in the category, there is #roomforall (Frances Fisher TM) three Yellowjackets to make it on the restricted ballot if support for the other contenders is diffuse. I mean, you just went the other way with Helen Mirren from the Taylor Sheridan Cinematic Universe. You also have Emma D’Arcy, whom I do not have. I don’t think a nom for them or the series is out of the question, but I wouldn’t call either safe. Like I said, “House of the Dragon’s” momentum has stalled since it aired (and has been swallowed up by “The White Lotus,” “The Last of Us” and “Succession” following in quick, uh, succession), and other than that fluky Golden Globe win, it did poorly at the winter awards, a no-show at the top guilds save for a SAG stunt ensemble nomination. I suppose Ramsey could triumph in a similar way Zendaya did in 2020: People think they’re too young to win, but there’s just an avalanche of support behind them. And “Euphoria” wasn’t even up for series then, which we’re all expecting “The Last of Us” to be. I don’t think the presence of another one or two co-stars would hurt Lynskey, who is still seen as the face of the show, but that obviously also depends on how things play out in Season 2. And maybe her “Last of Us” stint would help her here. If it’s not either of them, who knows? The prophecy has dictated that all Queen Elizabeth portrayers win for the even-numbered seasons, so Imelda Staunton has to wait ’til Season 6. We touched on this the other day as well, but what if “The Crown” upgrades Elizabeth Debicki to lead? Would she actually win though? Probably not. I don’t think we’ll have a ton of clarity on this category until after noms. But maybe the open field and restricted ballot will allow Christine Baranski to finally crack the lineup on her last shot with “The Good Fight”? Or will they just go back to Elisabeth Moss, who was a dark horse upset pick the last time she contended in 2021?
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Christopher Rosen: I’m not going back to Moss and I’ll see perennial fave Baranski and raise you another perennial fave, Betty Gilpin? We talked about Peacock with regard to “Poker Face,” but I wonder if interest in that series will extend to “Mrs. Davis” and if Gilpin could land her first lead actress nomination. I’d personally love to see it, and since this category is wide open spaces dot mp3, maybe I can harbor that fantasy for a little while longer. I’ll leave the last word to you, however, and I hope it’s about “Succession.” What’s your favorite moment from the premiere and why is it the nickname [spoilers]?
joyceeng: Very chaotic and very Chris of you to proffer a Peacock show — one that won’t premiere for another four weeks — when you specifically said the other day you’re not predicting “Poker Face” because you’ve been burned by Peacock before with “Girls5eva” (now a Netflix series!). My favorite part was doing something you are loath to do: reading. As in reading all the empty buzzwords our fave sibs have managed to fit into a PowerPoint deck about their new venture. “Succession” is my favorite show to read.
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