I want to say first that I find the Emmys nonsensical. Giving out trophies for something as various and impossible to quantify as creative work seems to me not just silly, but actually inimical to creativity, which does not need your stinking badges and, indeed, suffers when it strives to win them. Nevertheless, I offer these names, which might as easily be (many) others, in the spirit of spreading the love.
Comedy series: "Detectorists" (Acorn TV). Written and directed by and starring Mackenzie Crook, this beautiful pastoral comedy — set around metal-detecting hobbyists searching for Saxon gold and spiritual connection — makes a song out of the present and past, what changes and what remains.
Drama series: "Twin Peaks: The Return" (Showtime). Superbly unaccountable, the extremely belated, happily inconclusive third and final season of David Lynch's Northwest noir supernatural comic melodrama was a show in which you not only never knew what would happen next, but how it would happen – as farce, horror, in color or black and white, a tribute to Georges Méliès, or something made by people who had never worked a camera before.
The television industry’s stars and creators should have been asking themselves that question Thursday morning when the 70th Primetime Emmy nominations were announced, and the list read more like a political indictment rather than a verdict of what did and didn’t work this year on TV.
The wildly successful reboot of “Roseanne” was almost entirely passed over after Roseanne Barr unleashed a late night/early morning racist tirade on Twitter that cost the comedian her career, scoring only a supporting actress nomination for Laurie Metcalf and her brilliant portrayal of liberal snowflake Jackie.
Cicely Tyson and Viola Davis play on-screen mother and daughter on “How to Get Away With Murder,” but they were nominated for an Emmy in the same category as mother and daughter for different shows.
How does that work?
Well, Tyson, who plays Ophelia Harkness, was nominated Thursday for guest actress in a drama for playing Annalise Keating’s mother in “How to Get Away With Murder.” Meanwhile, Davis, who plays Keating on the same show, earned a nomination in the same category for “Scandal.”
Judd Apatow was in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, directing an episode of “Crashing” for HBO when he learned that his documentary, “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling,” had been nominated for an Emmy for outstanding documentary, and Apatow for best director in that category.
The film is an exhaustive look at the life and legacy of Shandling, with quite a few revelations and twists along the way.
Playing the iconic, ill-fated fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was slain by a serial killer in 1997, was a “profound, transformative life experience,” says Edgar Ramirez. But it was the themes of prejudice and homophobia in FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” that really resonated for the Venezuelan-born actor, who on Thursday earned a supporting actor Emmy nomination for his work.
Where are we catching you?
I’m in Atlanta. I’m shooting a movie here. It’s hot. We’re one week away from shooting and in rehearsals right now. This was just such a surprise, honestly. I was trying not to think too much about it in the days leading up to it, because you never know. You can’t obsess about these things, but when they happen, you celebrate the fact that the show got so much beautiful recognition. I’m very, very happy.
Benedict Cumberbatch received his sixth Emmy nomination as actor in a limited series for his portrayal of the titular character in Showtime’s pitch-black dramedy “Patrick Melrose.” The show, about an Englishman struggling with rampant addiction rooted in memories of sexual abuse at the hands of his father, is based on a series of autobiographical books by Edward St. Aubyn. The show is as searing as it is hilarious — a heady mixture that attracted Cumberbatch from the start. The actor is in London working on another project and says he completely forgot it was Emmy nominations day.
Where were you when you got the good news?
I was in a car going home from East London where we’re doing some filming for a show about Brexit, and my phone just blew. I thought, ‘Whoa, what’s going on here, is there a malfunction?’ But then I saw, ‘Congratulations, huge love,’ and what not, and that’s how I found out. It was quite lovely.
Tap dancer and choreographer Chloe Arnold assumed the worst when she got an early-morning phone call from her manager. But when she found out the good news — snagging her first Emmy nomination for choreography on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” — she couldn’t contain her excitement.
She also thought back to her mentor, entertainment mogul and choreographer Debbie Allen.
"I remember when I was a kid, there was a picture of Debbie Allen winning her Emmy — she’s cry-celebrating," Arnold said. "That was before I knew her. Then I got to see that Emmy at her house, and I just think it’s like it gives you that seed that it’s possible."
One of these television quotes is encoded with subservience, the other with retribution, but each comes from a powerful drama battling for prominence. The 2018 Emmys race will be about many things, but front and center is the smack-down between HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Both have multiple nominations — 22 for “Thrones,” 20 for “Handmaid’s” — and both are previous winners for drama series. But “Handmaid’s” won last year, when “Thrones” wasn’t eligible, so this will be the first time the shows are in competition against each other.
Even as race continues to be one of the most divisive issues in the country, the celebration of cultural diversity is a dominant theme across the 70th Emmy Award nominations. Performers of color and series produced and written by minorities scored numerous nominations Thursday.
“Atlanta,” “black-ish,” “This Is Us” and “Westworld” are among the series receiving big nods that spotlight minorities in major creative and acting roles.
Hollywood has been rocked in recent years by controversies over the lack of awards recognition for people of color. But the stream of performers, producers and writers of color receiving Emmy nominations indicate that the Television Academy at least is placing a greater premium on honoring projects with diverse cultural perspectives.
Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany won an Emmy in 2016 for her role in BBC America’s “Orphan Black” as the rebellious Sarah Manning … and as the violent Helena … and as soccer mom Alison Hendrix, along with nine other characters, all clones.
On Thursday morning, she learned she’d again been nominated in the lead actress in a drama category for her work on “Orphan Black.” But her mind was on another role — her New York stage debut that very evening.
Big day for you: The New York premiere of “Mary Page Marlowe” tonight at the Second Stage Theater, in which you play the title role, along with four other actors. And now the Emmy nom. How are you feeling?
David Harbour, who plays a tough yet melancholic top cop in Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” scored his second Emmy nomination Thursday for supporting actor in a drama series.
When his girlfriend brought the news of his nomination, Harbour was in the middle of an unglamorous task — teaching his puppy to poop on command.
“It’s so special and so gratifying,” Harbour said of the nomination. “The television being made in this country right now is so wonderful, to be acknowledged by those people … is just a dream come true.”