Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)
One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and some Fridays.
Editor’s Note: As you’d expect, after the Emmy nominations were announced earlier this week, the mailbag surged with reaction from fans who were pleased or, more often, miffed by the results. Here’s a sampling:
Three (or Seven) Cheers for Abbott Elementary!
Comment: Now that the Emmy nominations have been announced, your mailbox is going to be filled on who or what should have been nominated. I am not going to discuss that, given how many I think were robbed. Instead, I am praising how Abbott Elementary broke through and got the recognition that it deserves (seven nominations total). It became one of my favorite comedies this season, along with (also-nominated) Only Murders in the Building. The last time a broadcast network won an Emmy was Modern Family, so I will be rooting for Abbott Elementary. — Kathy
Matt Roush: You and me both. I love Ted Lasso and celebrated its many Emmy wins last year, but I’m hoping against hope that the Emmy voters will recognize how rare an achievement it is for a relevant, smart comedy like Abbott Elementary to emerge on network TV and become a hit and will reward it accordingly. (Fat chance, I know, but if I weren’t an optimist at heart, I’d have burned out long ago.) Hacks, Only Murders in the Building, and my current obsession, What We Do in the Shadows, are also worthy, but this year, why not embrace the underdog that beat the odds? Watching the same shows win again this year, while it’s what we’ve come to expect with the Emmys, will be such a bummer.
How Many Nominations Should One Show Get?
Question: I’m sure you are getting plenty of mail about the Emmys, but my question is more on the process than on the nominations. (For the record, I was most disappointed by the lack of any love for Ghosts or Yellowstone and Kelly Reilly, Selena Gomez, Luke Kirby, Wyatt Russell, and Julia Roberts missing out on nominations.) Do you think they will ever try to limit the number of nominees per show per category? This year’s nominations, including a whopping five nominees from The White Lotus in one category, seems like a conversation about doing so is warranted. I am not all that familiar with the voting process, but it seems like a lot of people are just voting for folks in the shows they like best, which is leaving some very worthy people out in the cold. — Molly M
Matt Roush: This year’s nominations are remarkable (not in a good way) for the stacking of multiple nominations for a limited number of shows. Because the entire cast of The White Lotus submitted themselves in limited-series supporting categories (eight nominations total), that stood out. But so did the 10 acting nominations for Ted Lasso and 14 for Succession (including in guest-acting categories), which gives the impression that overwhelmed Academy members just checked off anybody who was in one of the handful of shows they actually watch. The situation with the glut of TV has gotten out of hand and I wouldn’t know how to start to fix it. (Blue-ribbon nominating panels, maybe, but how to assemble them — and who has time?) Your suggestion of limiting the number of nominations any show can get is just too arbitrary. Where to draw the line, and how? (I suppose you could just take the top two or three who got the most votes for any individual category, but that’s pretty much what happened with the afore-mentioned exception of Lotus.) The issue here is that many of TV’s best shows have rich ensemble casts, and if everyone from the show of the moment gets nominated, that leaves precious few slots for anyone else.
Yellowstone Got (Bleep)ed!
Question: Before I dive into the inevitable snubs, I just want to say how genuinely surprised I am by the love given to Abbott Elementary and its multiple acting nominations. I know many saw it as a lock for a Best Comedy Series nomination at least, but with the Emmys and broadcast TV, you never know. I also applaud the nomination for HBO’s The Survivor, a moving TV movie that didn’t get that much love when it came out earlier this year. But it is still impossible to take the Emmys seriously when they continue to give ZERO LOVE to Yellowstone.
Season Four was inevitably a step-down, but that reflects even more poorly on the Emmys for not giving it love in previous years. What does the most popular show on all of TV (when this is a TV award show, not a “webshows mislabeled as television airing on streaming platforms” show) with an amazing cast, great production, heart-stopping drama, and thought-provoking stories have to do to get nominated over culturally irrelevant fare like Yellowjackets (maybe the nominators just got confused by the similar names). The Emmys should not pick shows just because they are popular, but then seemingly deliberately ignore a show watched by tens of millions for shows watched by only tens of thousands on their iPhones. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see a Yellowstone-Succession opening skit? — Justin G
Matt Roush: This wasn’t Yellowstone’s best season, I agree, but it also wasn’t a banner year creatively for the bloated new episodes of the past-its-peak Stranger Things, which to me feels more like it got its Drama Series nomination as a reward for its popularity. I’m at a loss to explain why the Emmy voters are so resistant to Taylor Sheridan’s shows — 1883 didn’t burn up the limited-series nominations, either — which have become something of a cottage industry. Maybe the next spinoff with the star power of Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren will be harder to ignore. But if Kevin Costner and a breakout star like Kelly Reilly can’t move the needle, maybe nothing can.
Not a Ghost of a Chance
Comment: Lots will be written about Emmy snubs, but I have to weigh in on my two disappointments: Ghosts for comedy series (such a wonderfully feel-good show) and Luke Kirby for supporting actor in a comedy (his performance in the season finale of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was his best yet). — Dee
Matt Roush: Maybe if Luke Kirby had stayed in the guest-actor category (where he won previously), he might have had a better shot than facing the supporting casts of Ted Lasso and Barry. This wasn’t my favorite season of Maisel, but Lenny Bruce’s rant to Midge in the finale was definitely a high point. As for Ghosts: I knew that would be a long shot, but was hoping a few of those larger-than-afterlife performances by the various spirits might get noticed. If the show continues to grow in popularity and visibility, which I expect it to, I’m still hopeful the Emmy voters will find it in the seasons to come. But given the uphill climb any network series has to get noticed, Ghosts has its work cut out for it.
Abbott the Broadcast Network Exception
Comment: I’m very happy that Abbott Elementary was nominated for best comedy, along with a few terrific actresses (and an actor) from the show. However, I’m disappointed that The Conners was totally ignored. I feel last season was very strong. My mom is angry that Yellowstone, Big Sky, This Is Us and A Million Little Things were not nominated. She doesn’t realize how fierce the drama category is from streamers. — Fred
Matt Roush: Even when The Conners was Roseanne back in the day, and a monster hit, it often had trouble getting the Emmy love it deserved. Multi-camera comedies are not in vogue in so many ways. The only network comedy besides Abbott Elementary I felt even had a shot was Ghosts. Regarding the dramas: I’m especially disappointed that the final season of This Is Us was so ignored. A creative and resonant network drama that tried to rise above formula, and which scored emotionally with so many viewers, is something to treasure and at the very least acknowledge. To let it sign off without any recognition is lamentable.
And Finally …
Question: Do you think the Emmys will ever do separate awards for network vs cable and streaming? — Pat
Matt Roush: This question comes up every year and is especially apropos in a year when only one network series made the cut in the comedy or drama categories. My answer is, as in past years, no, the TV Academy is not going to segregate broadcast network TV from cable, premium, and streaming shows. If they had done so, would the breakthrough of Abbott Elementary even be newsworthy? I’m just glad that Warner Bros. (now Discovery) and Disney didn’t relegate this wonderful show to a streamer like Hulu, HBO Max, or Disney+, as has happened with other terrific shows that bypassed the networks. It’s true that some fine work is going underappreciated, but that’s also the case for many streaming and cable shows. (I’m thinking of HBO Max’s wonderful Julia series about Julia Child.) The pool of candidates is just too big anymore. To create awards just for network TV shows would be to diminish the impact of an Emmy win, giving the impression that network TV was being patronized as something lesser and different. While it’s obvious that content restrictions for the networks often results in an uneven playing field, to create new categories just to give more popular shows a spotlight would threaten to turn the Emmys into the People’s Choice Awards.
That’s all for now. We can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. (Please include a first name with your question.)