Saturday, September 2, 2017

Emmy Predictions 2017 - Who Will Likely Win for Writing in a Drama Series?

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

The Nominees:
  • The Duffer Brothers for Netflix's Stranger Things - "Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
  • Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg for FX's The Americans - "The Soviet Division"
  • Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan for HBO's Westworld - "The Bicameral Mind"
  • Bruce Miller for Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - "Offred"
  • Peter Morgan for Netflix's The Crown - "Assassins"
  • Gordon Smith for AMC's Better Call Saul - "Chicanery"

A new show hasn't won the Emmy for Writing in a Drama Series since 2012 - when Homeland won for its series premiere. Of course, the likelihood is good that a new show will prevail in the race this year. Four of the six nominees come from new shows. The Handmaid's Tale and Stranger Things got nominated for their premieres, The Crown got in for its penultimate episode while Westworld got it for its finale. All four represent solid chances of emerging victorious as well. Of course, the veteran dramas of the category are deserving as well. Better Call Saul and The Americans are still two of the most critically acclaimed dramas of the year. Plus, their respective episodes are quite entertaining. It may be easy to give the win to a new show that has hit the public zeitgeist in a big way. But it would also be great if the best episode won in this category.

This year the best nominee is probably Gordon Smith for Better Call Saul. "Chicanery" was such a compelling and climatic episode. It happened halfway through the season but it brought everything that the show was about to an immediate resolution. The season changed as a result with the characters dealing with the aftermath of that episode. It's also just wonderfully structured. Yes, it sidelined a couple of key characters. But the way it sneaks up on the audience to reveal what's going to happen despite it seeming predictable is phenomenal. The best episodes have a history of winning in the past - in 2014, for instance, "Ozymandias" prevailed over "Felina" for Breaking Bad. But silly things have happened as well - like Game of Thrones winning last year for "Battle of the Bastards."

Of the new shows, the edge would probably go to Bruce Miller for The Handmaid's Tale. That show just has the feeling of being the most topical show of the year that the Emmys would feel the urgency to reward in as many ways as possible. And yes, there were some problematic elements of the adaptation from novel to screen. However, the premiere was pretty great. It set the template for a chilling season. But The Crown could also appeal to a wide block of voters. Downton Abbey was a perennial nominee in this category and won for its first season. "Assassins" is clearly the episode getting the most attention from the season. Claire Foy and John Lithgow may win because of it. If the voters really responded well to the historical drama, then this seems like an easy category for it to pick up a victory.

And finally, Stranger Things and Westworld are shows that I liked in their first seasons. But I wouldn't say that they deserve to be recognized as the best written dramas on television for the year. They both had very problematic elements. "The Bicameral Mind" was all about bringing everything together on Westworld in a way that was suppose to shock the audience. Of course, the audience had already figured things out before then. Meanwhile, "Chapter One" of Stranger Things is a fun and tense introduction into that world. It shows that the creative team has the confidence to tell this story knowing all of the pitfalls it may stumble into. It was easy to get swept up into the narrative. All of this was tricky to get right. Because The Duffer Brothers made it work, they could possibly win. It just doesn't seem like the show that should walk away with the trophy.

Should Win: Gordon Smith
Will Win: Bruce Miller
Dark Horse: Peter Morgan