Friday, August 18, 2017

Emmy Predictions 2017 - Who Will Likely Win for Writing in a Limited Series or TV Movie?

The nominations are in for The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. The final round of voting is happening now. So, it's time to speculate on who is likely to win in each major category. Next up for analysis is Writing in a Limited Series or TV Movie.

The Nominees:
  • Charlie Brooker for Netflix's Black Mirror - "San Junipero"
  • Jaffe Cohen, Michael Zam & Ryan Murphy for FX's Feud: Bette and Joan - "Pilot"
  • Noah Hawley for FX's Fargo - "The Law of Vacant Places"
  • David E. Kelley for HBO's Big Little Lies
  • Ryan Murphy for FX's Feud: Bette and Joan - "And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)"
  • Richard Price and Steven Zaillian for HBO's The Night Of - "The Call of the Wild"

This is quite an interesting race. It's one of the few major categories where Netflix's Black Mirror is going up against the big shows in the limited series races - Feud, Big Little Lies, Fargo and The Night Of. Those four shows got multiple nominations across a ton of categories. Meanwhile, the "San Junipero" episode of Black Mirror was one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of 2016. It should be the frontrunner in all of the categories it is nominated in. And yet, it just doesn't seem to have the same across the board support as the rest of the field. Charlie Brooker probably should win. The writing categories typically do well in rewarding the best written episode. But I'm still not that confident here.

Those doubts largely come from Ryan Murphy, David E. Kelley and Noah Hawley who have such strong track records at the Emmys. They have all been nominated multiple times. However, upon looking closer at this specific race, some notable patterns arise. Ryan Murphy is a prolific creator that has revitalized the limited series categories over the last decade. And yet, he has never won a writing Emmy. He's won as a producer and director but never as a writer. So, he is unproven in this category despite being well-respected in the industry. And of course, he's nominated twice in this field. So, the edge probably goes to him. His solo venture with "And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)" is also one of my favorite things he has ever done. It's a strong episode. It's probably the frontrunner in this race.

Meanwhile, Kelley has a strong track record of actors on his shows winning Emmys. He has written the dialogue that has led to those victorious moments. And yet, the last time he won an Emmy for writing was way back in 1991 for an episode of L.A. Law. Again, he has this proven track record. But that's a long time since being celebrated as an individual. Of course, it may help that he wrote all of Big Little Lies. There's not one specific episode singled out for nomination. So, voters will have to reflect on the whole series. That could be beneficial to him. It showcases long-form storytelling across seven episodes. But it may backfire as well if voters decide to favor a more specific episode highlight elsewhere on the list.

And finally, Hawley has never won a writing Emmy either. That's surprising because the first two seasons of Fargo were so acclaimed. He's won as a producer. But his contributions to the show shine brightest as a writer and occasional director. However, I'm not sure "The Law of Vacant Places" is a winning episode. It's a very table-setting premiere and felt a little more familiar to the past seasons. So, I doubt he ultimately wins. The same is true for The Night Of guys. I loved the finale and how it brought everything together in the end. But it was also trying to please as many people as possible. It didn't want a divisive ending. So, it ultimately was a little bland too. But like I've been saying in my look at the Limited Series categories, everyone still has a viable shot with no disappointing winners amongst the nominees at all.

Should Win: Charlie Brooker
Will Win: Ryan Murphy
Dark Horse: David E. Kelley