The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards air at 7 p.m. Monday on NBC with Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update" anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che as co-hosts. I hope you've seen some of the nominees.
Why do I say that? Because that's the same thing I say after the Oscar nominations every year. Being a TV guy, I don't go to a lot of movies, and many of the nominees I've never even heard of.
The same thing probably goes for the Emmy nominees for many TV viewers if they don't subscribe to the streaming services.
Cable may be different. For example, HBO's Game of Thrones received 22 nominations this year, more than any other series. Last season it averaged around 10 million viewers each episode. That's a massive audience for a cable series. However, CBS workhorse NCIS is consistently seen by up to 4 million more viewers each week and is totally ignored by Emmy.
A better cable example is HBO's Westworld. It received an impressive 21 nominations, yet averaged a paltry 1.6 million viewers. Those numbers might even get you canceled on The CW, where Valor pulled in fewer than a million viewers last season and got the ax. Meanwhile, the No. 1 CW series, The Flash, is a "hit" with a mere 2.2 million viewers.
The lone broadcast network drama nominee this year, NBC's misty-eyed This Is Us, is also seen by about 10 million each week and the episode that aired after last year's Super Bowl was viewed by an astonishing 27 million.
One final Emmy example is the Donald Glover FX series Atlanta. It received the most comedy nominations with 16 and yet is seen by fewer than 1.5 million viewers each week.
By comparison, broadcast TV's most-watched sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, is still going strong after 11 seasons with 18.6 million viewers. It has never won outstanding comedy, but has been nominated four times.
ABC's black-ish is the only broadcast series to be nominated for outstanding comedy this year. Last season's finale was seen by only 4.9 million.
What all this suggests is that TV is so fragmented these days that quality has little to do with quantity. But it also means the nominees risk not being seen by that many people.
If your TV diet consists of the standard meat and potatoes fare -- CBS police procedurals, hospital dramas, any shows with Chicago in the title or Bachelor/Bachelorette -- Emmy night may hold little meaning for you.
Nonetheless, the nominees represent some outstanding programming. Each is worthy in its own way, but if you want to see the very best, you need to subscribe to a streaming service.
This year, Netflix topped the list with 112 nominations, followed by HBO with 108 and NBC with 78. Who decides the winners? The Television Academy's 23,000 members cast ballots in their areas of expertise for shows that aired between June 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018.
Here are the Big 6 categories with the odds-on favorites and the ones I'd vote for if I could.
The Americans (FX); The Crown (Netflix); Game of Thrones (HBO); The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu); Stranger Things (Netflix); This Is Us (NBC); Westworld (HBO).
Favored: Game of Thrones. My pick: Game of Thrones. Gripping adventure at its best.
Lead Actor, Drama:
Jason Bateman (Ozark, Netflix); Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, NBC); Ed Harris (Westworld, HBO); Matthew Rhys (The Americans, FX); Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us, NBC); Jeffrey Wright (Westworld, HBO).
Favored: Brown. My pick: Brown. A scene-stealer in a standout series.
Lead Actress, Drama:
Claire Foy (The Crown, Netflix); Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black, BBC America); Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale, Hulu); Sandra Oh (Killing Eve, BBC America); Keri Russell (The Americans, FX); Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld, HBO).
Favored: Moss. My pick: Russell. It was a multilayered tour de force in the series' final season.
Atlanta (FX); Barry (HBO); black-ish (ABC); Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO); GLOW (Netflix); The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon); Silicon Valley (HBO); The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix).
Favored: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. My pick: Atlanta. Dark, introspective, absurd observational humor.
Lead Actor, Comedy:
Donald Glover (Atlanta, FX); Bill Hader (Barry, HBO); Anthony Anderson (black-ish, ABC); William H. Macy (Shameless, Showtime); Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO); Ted Danson (The Good Place, NBC).
Favored: Glover. My pick: Glover. The guy's a genius and he won last year.
Lead Actress, Comedy:
Pamela Adlon (Better Things, FX); Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon); Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish, ABC); Allison Janney (Mom, CBS); Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie, Netflix); Issa Rae (Insecure, HBO).
Favored: Brosnahan. My pick: Rae. She created, co-writes and stars in this surprisingly refreshing series.
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Style on 09/16/2018
Print Headline: Not streaming? Emmys may seem foreign to you