Emmy Experts Typing: ‘Shogun’ shakes up drama races

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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 reassess drama, now with “Shōgun.”

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! It’s Friday and we went from having no clear frontrunner in the Best Drama Series category to what seems like a runway favorite. Last week, FX finally announced “Shōgun” will compete as a drama series as two additional seasons are being planned for… sometime in the future. Good for Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo and producer and star Hiroyuki Sanada. Not only will they get paid for spearheading the year’s one real breakout show not named “Baby Reindeer,” but they’re also more likely than ever to win Emmys for their work. Or maybe they were always going to win. Regardless! It didn’t take me long to put “Shōgun” all over my predictions — not just at the top in Best Drama Series, Best Drama Actor for Sanada and Best Drama Actress for Anna Sawai, but several supporting nominations — including Moeka HoshiFumi Nikaido, Tadanobu Asano, Takehiro Hira and Tokuma Nishioka (Nishioka feels particularly under-predicted right now but he’s an absolute scene-stealer on the show and has one of the season’s top emotional moments). I even have “Shōgun” in my guest predictions for Nestor Carbonell and Yuko Miyamoto. I know, I know: this is reckless because the subtle and often quiet acting on “Shōgun” is usually the opposite of what Emmy voters tend to honor. But “Shogun” is a breakout and drama is so flat that I think there’s room for all of these nominees to make it in. With “Shōgun” now out front — at least in my mind, the odds still have “The Crown” leading the way — the series category feels a lot more set. In fact, we match on seven of our overall picks: “Shōgun,” “Fallout,” “The Crown,” “The Morning Show,” “Slow Horses,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “The Gilded Age.” I’ve got “Loki” hanging on by a thread in my eighth spot and you’re rocking “The Curse.” We could also see “Ahsoka” surface here or maybe “3 Body Problem” or “Tokyo Vice”? The category lacks depth — so much so that I feel like fringe series such as “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “The Gilded Age” are pretty safe. In another year, I don’t even think they’d make the cut. Joyce, what do you make of this category now that “Shōgun” is ready to dominate?

joyceeng: What do I make of it? It’s quite boring! As you said, it’s not a deep bench, so “Shōgun” shifting to drama has obliterated any type of suspense. We might get a surprise nominee, but it’s probably more likely that the eight nominees are the top eight in the odds. It reminds me of the Best Comedy Actress race last year that we all over-analyzed because Quinta Brunson felt like a default frontrunner in Jean Smart‘s absence. Lo and behold, they gave it to her (side note: Brunson did much better work in Season 3 of “Abbott Elementary”). Not to sound like a broken record, but pre-“Shōgun” invasion, the fun of this race was its unpredictability. Now it’s hard to see something defeating “Shōgun.” I’m not even sure the biggest stans of “The Crown” would go to bat for it for its adequate final season that Peter Morgan himself has admitted his heart wasn’t into after Queen Elizabeth‘s death. No shade to any of the shows — several of which I adore — but even though we all knew “Succession” would win the past two years, it felt like it had stiffer competition, not just in terms of quality but passion. I suppose the question now is: how big will Shōgun’s” haul be? I have it claiming dual lead prizes as well, but I still have Elizabeth Debicki and Billy Crudup taking the supporting trophies. We discussed the other day how “Shōgun” may have over-submitted in writing and directing, so those might fall through its grasp.

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Christopher Rosen: I’ve been thinking about this since the other day as well. “Shogun” arguably did over-submit in terms of its writing and directing bids — but in a year without a lot of passion for the other contenders, maybe that won’t even matter. If it becomes just picking the best episode of “Shōgun,” it might be obvious. I think most would say “Crimson Sky” is the peak of the season and I could see it winning writing and directing despite internal competition from other episodes; it wasn’t “The Rains of Castamere” or “Connor’s Wedding” but maybe it doesn’t need to be. Neither of us are ready to pull the trigger on moving away from Crudup and Debicki in the supporting races. I honestly can’t imagine a scenario where I don’t predict Debicki to ultimately win — unless she’s a shock snub on nominations morning. Crudup has won before and does the Acting on “The Morning Show” (plus he’s arguably a lead), so he feels right too. But I wonder if the “Shōgun” supporting cast can make that race competitive. I’ve got the three actors in there, and Asano would be the pick as the breakout character on the show. If he winds up being the only “Shōgun” supporting actor there, maybe it’s a real race since we assume the academy will prefer the FX series to its Apple TV+ opponent. We were able to predict the guest acting races too this week, and I went awfully heavy on “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” That feels deserved, but I wonder if I’m #biased because it’s a favorite. I’m particularly keen on Parker Posey and Wagner Moura, but not a lot of others seem to share my enthusiasm despite the fact that they are fantastic on the show. (I remain shocked so many are suggesting Rob Morgan will get in for “Winning Time.” That was a 2023 personal favorite unceremoniously cut short by Max and Morgan would be deserving of any accolades for his performance but do we really believe anyone even remembers this show is eligible and would warrant nominations?) Joyce, how do you think the guest categories might shake out this year?

joyceeng: If “Shōgun” just gets two directing bids, it’ll have a way easier time winning, but triple noms is very much on the table. “Crimson Sky” is its best episode, but I do think it matters that none of its episodes are a “Connor’s Wedding,” the first one to overcome a triple vote-split in any genre, because shows that were as strong as or stronger than “Shōgun” have fallen to the triple nominee curse to “weaker” competition. Who had Jason Bateman winning over “Game of Thrones”? Not him. “Game of Thrones” even lost with two nominations to “The Crown’s” Stephen Daldry, who’s looking for a bookend statuette for the series finale, his first episode since his winning hour “Paterfamilias.” I’ll put it this way: I feel like “The Bear” is more likely to survive a triple vote-split with “Fishes.” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” was made for the guest categories and I have several of its killer guest stars in my lineups, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they all missed. Well, maybe not all, but it could be like a “Poker Face” sitch. It’s hard to gauge the temperature of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” I loved it, but it wasn’t as noisy as it deserved to be. I obviously have Claire Foy in first in guest actress. After that name-check win for her Season 4 appearance and with Olivia Colman ineligible, I cannot underestimate her. Is she the new Margo Martindale? Is she really gonna win three Emmys for “The Crown” and Imelda Staunton will have zero?

SEE Emmy Experts Typing: Will ‘Abbott Elementary’ or ‘Hacks’ expand in the supporting categories?

Christopher Rosen: I mean, no disrespect to Staunton, but… yes? Foy is the clear frontrunner there. I could see Daldry winning too, it’s true — unless Jonathan Nolan wins for directing “Fallout.” The Nolan Bros were out in full force this week and there is something cool about the idea that they both win directing awards this year. I guess having typed through this, you’re right: drama is kind of boring now — and we haven’t even gotten to the nominations yet. So let’s end it here with some optimism: what underdog are you rooting for in drama right now? I’ll be over here praying to the “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” gods while you think it over.

joyceeng: Wow, I can’t believe you’re not stumping for “The Girls on the Bus.” Who are you?! I’ve said “Tokyo Vice” before, so I’ll champion my beloved “Loki.” It’s arguably the MCU’s best show (no offense to “WandaVision”) and the only live-action one so far to get a second season, and it wrapped up Loki’s arc in such a beautiful way that I’m totally fine if we never see him again, even though I know Tom Hiddleston would gladly play him for all time. Always.

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