Emmy Experts Typing: Is ‘The Crown’ the only safe drama series nominee?

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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, we revisit the still unpredictable drama field.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! It’s Friday and we’ve circled back to the most chaotic genre of this Emmys cycle: drama. That’s fitting, I guess, because, you know, drama! But this remains a field that’s wide open spaces, with a placeholder frontrunner in “The Crown” and then a bunch of new shows vying for attention and older series looking to get on the academy’s series radar for the first time (cough, “The Morning Show,” “The Gilded Age,” and “Slow Horses”). I don’t know what to make of this, except to wait patiently for one or more of those favored limited series to make the jump here (“Ripley,” “Shōgun,” “The Sympathizer”?). But until that happens, we must prognosticate with the hand we were dealt. I think we’re now almost lockstep on our picks. I now have “The Curse” as well — I’ll pause here for your eye rolls and appropriate indignation — only because I’m not convinced “3 Body Problem” has the juice to get into Best Drama Series, especially with “Fallout” as the flashy fun science-fiction alternative. That show is out now on Amazon and the reviews and responses have been… great? This feels like “The Boys” but perhaps even more accessible. It’s giving “The Last of Us” but fun, and “Lost” but apocalypse. There’s even a beloved journeyman actor at the front of this show in Walton Goggins, which makes me think it might have more actors’ support than it would appear on first glance. “Fallout” has steadily risen this week — it’s now in ninth place in our odds and will probably jump even higher soon enough. It feels like this is the big Amazon priority too, never a bad thing. If “Fallout” were to make it into the top eight in our odds, then either “Loki” or “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” would have to tumble out. As an devout fan of both, I don’t love to see it. “Loki” Season 2 wasn’t as good as “Loki” Season 1, but the season/series finale was the best episode of the whole thing. They’ve never warmed to Marvel outside of “WandaVision,” but maybe our favorite trickster is the exception to this rule? Meanwhile, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” just plain ruled — but it’s also fading a bit from memory having premiered in February. (When we were chatting the other day, I mentioned how “The Sympathizer” was my favorite new show of this season, but it was actually “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and even I didn’t give it the proper shine; bad job out of me!) It shouldn’t be vulnerable, particularly in this weak year for drama contenders, but I worry that it might be — particularly since “3 Body Problem” will have more eyeballs on it. Then there’s “Ahsoka,” your sharp pick for a nominee because while Emmy voters aren’t infatuated with Marvel they do love a star war. So, this feels like the lineup — give or take a couple of shows — but is there more to it than that? Assuming nothing moves to drama series and we’re left with this field, which shows do you think are vulnerable to a snub, and which are more solid than regular people might think? Help us, Joyce!

joyceeng: You said yes when I asked if you really wanted to lock in that “Sympathizer” declaration since you’re so fickle, and look at us. Who would’ve thought? Me. Everyone is vulnerable here except “The Crown.” I don’t think that’s a hot take. Don’t get me wrong — I think “The Morning Show” will finally get its first series nomination (I have it in second), but that’s more due to the Who the Eff Knows-ness of the field than a swell of passion or acclaim. Season 3, which was unhinged and I devoured, is its best reviewed season, but let’s not act like it was collecting fives stars and 90s and 100 scores like Infinity Stones (it merely went from 67 to 72 on Rotten Tomatoes and 60 to 65 on Metacritic). And the fact that it’s been unable to get in previously signals lack of across-the-board support (we know actors love it), so I would not be shocked if it’s the “shocking” snub of the day. But in this open field, it’s good for the nom and these factors would be more of an issue in terms of the win. I think everyone’s been waiting for a raved breakout hit to come “save” this field, but we haven’t had that yet. I very much enjoyed “Fallout,” which, like I said, is like “The Boys” to me, and I can see it performing the same way with nominations too with no acting, but I obviously have Goggins in. Would I have had him in last year? No. Here’s something to think about: This category is gonna have a huge overhaul with only one of last year’s nominees, “The Crown,” eligible to return. What shows will the stans of the other seven nominees — “Andor,” “Better Call Saul,” “House of the Dragon,” “The Last of Us,” “The White Lotus,” “Succession” and “Yellowjackets” — vote for this year? This is obviously not to suggest that if you love one genre, you must love everything in that genre or that you can’t love disparate things — people contain multitudes! — but we all have our preferences and tastes.

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Christopher Rosen: There is something funny about how this lineup is already a blurry mirror image of last year: “Andor” for “Ahsoka” or “Loki,” “The Last of Us” for “Fallout,” “Succession” for “The Morning Show,” “House of the Dragon” for “3 Body Problem,” “The White Lotus” for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”? While drama series is a mess, at least the acting categories feel a little more stable. Elizabeth Debicki and Billy Crudup are clearly well ahead in the supporting races and the Best Drama Actress field feels pretty stable — assuming both Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston get in together. Best Drama Actor makes sense on paper too, with Gary Oldman and Dominic West out front. We added Goggins to that category this week after he was placed here instead of the supporting category. There’s also your fave Colin Farrell still a popular pick as well. Drama Actor feels like the one acting race here that could have the most unexpected result. Do you foresee any shocks there?

joyceeng: The “Star Wars” and post-apocalyptic video game parallels are obvious, but I think “Succession” supporters would sooner back “Slow Horses” (or “The Curse,” but the former is more accessible) than “The Morning Show.” Outside of a similar merger acquisition storyline, “Succession” and “The Morning Show” don’t have a lot in common, let alone a similar base of support. The writing branch was the angel investor in “Succession” and writing was the only Emmy category it won every season. “The Morning Show” has never gotten a writing bid and we just discussed its WGA snub (in favor of “The Curse”) the other day. Actors have always been the biggest fans of “The Morning Show,” while “Succession” had to work for acting support (zero acting noms for Season 1, no SAG noms until Season 3, and, unlike “The Morning Show,” it never won an individual SAG). Meanwhile, “Slow Horses” just won USC Scripter for the second year in a row. I don’t think drama actress is stable at all! I’d say Aniston feels the safest, but very few people saw her Season 2 snub coming. No shade to them because you know I love the Green sisters (shout-out to Christina Applegate!), but it cracks me up that she and Witherspoon can’t seem to get nominated together. The third time ought to be the charm given the state of the field, but who knows. I had Ella Purnell in here two months ago and I dropped her for… I don’t even know. Emma Stone maybe? I might put her back in if “Fallout” really takes off. Imelda Staunton was the big snub last year, but she should be able to snag the nom this time. Can she complete the Queen Elizabeth trifecta of wins for the actresses’ second seasons? Jury’s still out. I have Carrie Coon, but I’m not sure about that either since “The Gilded Age” is so ensemble-y and everyone is uniformly great. I’m just trying to manifest the “Justified” reunion in drama actor, but I think anyone can get in after Oldman and West. I struggled fill Goggins’ vacancy in supporting for, like, 11 minutes and wound up putting Jack Lowden back in. Zero confidence in that or any “Slow Horses” acting nom outside of Oldman… she types as she predicts three. Maybe I’ll go full “Fallout” and slot in Aaron Moten, who does some peak comedy in the power armor. All this to say, I hope Crudup does not go lead, as many want him to/predict he might, because I don’t wanna think about who to replace him with in supporting.

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Christopher Rosen: As a “Succession” supporter, I’d definitely back “TMS” because it’s like “Succession” if it got a concussion. But point taken, I guess, on your point. As we end here, no closer to consensus or clarity than when we started this chat earlier, do you imagine any possible dark horses who might get in the acting races? Anyone from your fave “Tokyo Vice”? My pal Melissa Benoist for “The Girls on the Bus”? Or what about “The New Look” yet another Apple TV+ drama that has high-profile actors in awards-bait roles?

joyceeng: But how many voters would love “Succession” if it got a concussion? They haven’t yet! This is a moo point since “The Morning Show” ought to get in, but, again, this might come into play when we’re talking about the win. I would never underestimate Ben Mendelsohn, who pulled off a hilarious upset in absentia in 2016 for “Bloodline.” Let’s do this for Sally.

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