‘Framing Britney Spears’ lands 2021 Emmy nominations as conservatorship case looms

A woman in a fedora smiles
Britney Spears, seen in 2003, is the subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary “Framing Britney Spears.”
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

“Framing Britney Spears” — the buzzy documentary examining the #FreeBritney movement and the pop star’s turbulent rise to fame — has landed two Emmy nominations amid the singer’s ongoing fight to terminate her conservatorship.

A day before the next court hearing in Spears’ conservatorship case, the provocative film received nominations Tuesday for documentary special and picture editing for a nonfiction program. “Framing Britney Spears” premiered in February as part of FX’s “New York Times Presents” series.


The “Framing Britney” installment was submitted for Emmy consideration as a documentary special in lieu of “The New York Times Presents” per TV academy rules, which state that a single project cannot be entered in both the documentary series and documentary special categories.

In the documentary special category, “Framing Britney Spears” is up against “Boys State,” “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” “The Social Dilemma” and “Tina.”

Applying the rigor of “Frontline” to the story of her conservatorship, “Framing Britney Spears” is a pointed work of criticism aimed at celebrity culture.

Feb. 5, 2021

The water cooler episode, now available to stream on Hulu, exposed the myriad toxic and sexist ways the media descended on the young Spears as a rising superstar.

It also delved into the mounting controversy surrounding the “... Baby One More Time” hitmaker’s conservatorship, which has significantly limited Spears’ autonomy for the last 13 years.

Months after “Framing Britney Spears” debuted, Spears made an emotional plea to a Los Angeles court demanding an end to the legal arrangement, which she condemned as “abusive.”

Madonna, Iggy Azalea and now mental health and disability rights advocates are watching Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle as a civil rights issue.

July 12, 2021


During a 24-minute speech, she accused her conservators, including her father, of forcing her to work nonstop, take medication that left her incapacitated and use an intrauterine contraceptive device to prevent her from having children.

“I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK and I’m happy,” Spears told a judge last month.

“I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. ... But now I’m telling you the truth, OK? I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry, it’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”

“Framing Britney Spears” also turned a critical spotlight on how Spears was treated by prominent figures such as veteran journalist Diane Sawyer and pop musician Justin Timberlake, who dated Spears in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Samantha Stark, who directed “Framing Britney Spears,” says that creating the documentary without the singer’s permission “was a huge internal conflict for me.”

June 23, 2021

Meanwhile, Spears herself did not seem fond of the FX documentary, admitting on Instagram that she was “embarrassed” by how she was depicted.

“As the world keeps on turning and life goes on we still remain so fragile and sensitive as people,” her Instagram statement read.


“I didn’t watch the documentary but from what I did see of it I was embarrassed by the light they put me in ... I cried for two weeks and well .... I still cry sometimes !!!! I do what I can in my own spirituality with myself to try and keep my own joy.”

While Britney Spears dismissed new documentaries about her life as reductive, fans doubt she even wrote her latest Instagram post. Not true, she says.

May 4, 2021

When it was reported in May that yet another documentary about Spears was in the works at Netflix, Spears once again disapproved, calling the concept “hypocritical.”

“So many documentaries about me this year with other people’s takes on my life ... what can I say … I’m deeply flattered !!!!” she wrote on Instagram. “These documentaries are so hypocritical … they criticize the media and then do the same thing.”