Emmys 2021: Tracking The Season’s Changes, Still Amid COVID-19
This time last year the COVID19 pandemic was pausing productions and calling into question the ability of television series and talent to effectively campaign for Emmys, not only due to health and safety concerns, but also because of how it might look to be trying to celebrate amid so much death. Now, more than 365 days later, the pandemic is still not over and many of the changes implemented last year, including virtual FYC events, are in place once again. However, the 73rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards season won’t be a complete repeat of last year, so Variety is breaking down what is new and notable for the state of the season so far.
Although many productions had on- and off-again production schedules throughout the year, the Television Academy is back to its original schedule of important dates for FYC season, most importantly marking 6 p.m. on May 13 as the entry deadline for all shows, talent and episodes (including hanging episodes). Nominations-round voting will begin on June 17 and continue through 10 p.m. on June 28, with nominations announced on the morning of July 13. Final-round voting will then begin on Aug. 19 and continue through 10 p.m. on Aug. 30. Online submissions have been open since February and the deadlines to apply for member ship to guarantee voting eligibility, as well as for current voting members to apply for hyphenate voting status, have already passed.
Finally in the Running
Speaking of on- and off-again productions, a few high-profile series that were originally thought to be prominent Emmy contenders in 2020 ended up sitting out that race, unable to finish their projects amid the pandemic. But the 72nd Primetime Emmys’ loss is the 73rd’s gain. HBO’s “The Undoing,” FX’s return of “Fargo” and National Geographic’s first female-focused installment of “Genius” (centered on Aretha Franklin) are all going for statues in the limited series categories. This will be “Genius: Aretha’s” entrance into the awards race since it only just aired in March, but “The Undoing” already picked up four Golden Globe noms, as well as two SAG Award noms.
The long-shelved episode of ABC’s “Black-ish,” titled “Please, Baby, Please,” finally saw the light of day on Hulu in August. It is now being submitted in the comedy writing and directing categories at the Emmys. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video’s “Sylvie’s Love” is entering into Emmys’ TV movie race after submitting on the film side of the ballot at the Golden Globes. “Black-ish’s” special episode was originally created for the fourth season of the broadcast family sitcom in 2018, but since it’s an ongoing series, it will be included as part of the current (seventh) season submissions. Kenya Barris and Peter Saji wrote the episode; Barris directed. “ Sylvie’s Love” was shut out at the Globes but now is eyeing awards plays for the project, as well as for writer-director Eugene Ashe and stars Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha, from the Television Academy.
It’s All Talk
The Television Academy originally planned to combine the variety talk and variety sketch categories this year, for the first time since 2015, but ended up reversing that decision. That is good news for series in both genres, in part because the skills to produce them are different enough it feels unfair to compare. But now the talk category will be the more competitive one, simply due to the volume of shows in the running. Last year only three sketch series made the ballot: incumbent winner “Saturday Night Live” from NBC, HBO’s freshman “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and Comedy Central’s long-time Emmy favorite “Drunk History.” This year, the two former series are eligible once again, as are rookies “The Amber Ruffin Show” and “Ziwe,” but overall the number of sketch series in existence, let alone Emmy-eligible, is dwindling. Talk shows, on the other hand, continue to be in abundance. Incumbent winner, HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” and veteran CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” show no signs of slowing down, for example.
Double the Entries
Both HBO Max’s “Search Party” and Netflix’s “Selena” dropped two seasons of their respective comedy and drama within the Emmy eligibility window this year. For the former, it was the third and fourth season of the Alia Shawkat-starrer overall but first two on the new streamer, while “Selena” was designed as a two-part series. The first nine episodes focus on the late singer-songwriter’s family through her childhood and teen years, and the second nine episodes dissect her fame and, eventually, her murder.
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