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Emmys 2022 preview: Where does your favorite TV show stand?

Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

"Atlanta" came back after a four-year break. "Barry" has returned too — after a mere three years. "Stranger Things" will unveil a new season this week after being away since 2019. Comparatively, the two-year gap between "Better Call Saul" seasons feels forgiving. I can kind of, sort of remember where we left off.

If you're a fan — and you should be, as these are four of the best shows on TV (let's give "Stranger Things" a pass for its uneven third season) — you're not going to need to be reminded to tune in to these established hits.

But perhaps a moment of silence is in order for any of the other several dozen series that have landed in the last few weeks (or will soon premiere), just in time to meet the May 31 Emmy eligibility deadline and not long after Netflix revealed it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the most recent quarter and (gulp) projected it would lose an additional 2 million in the current one.

As Emmy season lurches back to normalcy following a couple of virtual years, it would seem that there are too many shows, too many platforms, not enough subscribers ... and, frankly, not much in the way of buzzy offerings that might prod people to even sign up for a free trial. I love a horrific detective story about a ritualistic double murder in fundamentalist Mormon country as much as the next guy, but the reviews for Hulu's "Under the Banner of Heaven" aren't all that great. Maybe I can just content myself with the warm memories of cannibalism in "Yellowjackets" and sleep easy tonight.

Or I could try watching "A Very British Scandal," which is different from "A Very English Scandal" and not at all related to Netflix's "Anatomy of a Scandal" or, of course, "Scandal," the Shonda Rhimes TV series that aired forever on ABC and somehow never landed Kerry Washington an Emmy.

You see the problem, right? You live the problem. Remembering that, say, the political thriller "Gaslit" (it's about a scandal!) is on Hulu and not Apple TV+ or Prime Video or HBO Max or Starz and then trying to recall whether you still have the Hulu subscription your college-age daughter signed up for to watch "Abbott Elementary" because, of course, she doesn't have cable ("only old people have cable, Dad ... not saying you're old, but ...") can be maddening.

 

You can understand why Television Academy voters tend to reward the same handful of shows at the Emmys every year. Once you get past the splintered nominations round, the trophies are going to go to the programs — "The Crown," "Ted Lasso," "The Queen's Gambit," "Hacks," "Mare of Easttown" last year — that managed, against all odds, to enter the mainstream conversation. It's why the Disney+ presentation of "Hamilton," a 5-year-old recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda's popular musical, won the Emmy for variety special. Voters knew the songs by heart.

So looking ahead to the 74th Primetime Emmys in September, what shows have threaded the needle of art and accessibility? It's a short list.

Drama

Season 5 of "The Crown," last year's drama series winner, won't arrive until November, leaving the door open for "Succession," which won in 2020 and then had its third season delayed by the pandemic. "Succession" delivered a satisfying season, particularly the thrilling finale, which brought an electrifying set of new alliances and betrayals. But the season was also a bit scattered, largely due to restrictions the show had to face while shooting during COVID-19. "Succession" should win, but there's a case to be made for other shows too.

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