My Road to the Emmys Pt. 2

When the Emmy nominations were announced in July, I decided to finally settle down and watch the shows nominated that I’ve been meaning to watch. So instead of rewatching Parks and Rec for the 25th time, I settled down on my couch and binged.

Two historical limited series. One handling facts, another lost in fantasy.

Mrs. America

This historical miniseries loosely tells the story of the ratification of the Equal Rights Act (ERA) from both sides of the issue—conservative activists led by Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) and second-wave feminists including Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), and Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale). Despite spanning across the 1970’s, the Hulu show serves as a direct correlation to women’s rights of today. It’s hard to see that not much has changed in the last 40 to 50 years. There was a Women’s National Convention!

I’m embarrassed to say that I was pretty clueless when it came to the women’s movement before watching Mrs. America. I obviously knew about Gloria Steinem and The Feminine Mystique, but for someone as outspoken and contentious as Phyllis Schlafly, I can’t believe this show was the first time I was hearing about her. Her stance and the basis of her group of housewives was to stop the ERA. They were all very pro-choice and pro-family—a woman’s job is at home with her children. Women accomplished so much in the short period of time that is explored in the series, and then once Reagan gets into office, all of that progress just disappears.

This was such a strong cast. I loved how every episode focused on one specific person, but never strayed away from the central plot. It was so weird to see Cate Blanchett and Sarah Paulson—two figures of modern feminism (in my opinion)—play conservative housewives. Rose Byrne did a wonderful job capturing Gloria Steinem’s reserved but very confident demeanor. To the world around her, she was cool and even a little intimidating, but viewers also got to see moments of her more vulnerable side.

Outstanding Limited Series
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Cate Blanchett
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Margo Martindale
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Uzo Adubo
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Tracey Ullman
Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie or Special
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special – “Shirley”
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie – “Phyllis”
Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score)
Outstanding Period Costumes

Hollywood

I love Old Hollywood. I love stories about Old Hollywood. While I did enjoy some of this Netflix series, it definitely wasn’t my favorite thing. This seven-episode series takes a look at Hollywood post-World War II and the making of a controversial film.

This was very much Ryan Murphy’s idealized world—his own “dreamland,” if you will. Like most of his work (other than Glee), there was so much gratuitous sex that took away from the story. The discussions of race and sexuality were were not true to the time period and the story was a convoluted mess. The aesthetic was nice and there were some good performances, but it lacked a good script. I didn’t expect this to be a completely factual account of Hollywood at this time, but the story went so far into a dream-like fantasy that it lacked substance and took away from the social commentary.

The one person that deserved any kind of nomination is Joe Mantello who played Dick Samuels, a studio executive who works hard to push back against the studio to make the groundbreaking film. He was the only character I really cared about and had a great character arc that developed across the seven-episodes. They completely did him dirty during the final episode and made me mad.

So it’s no wonder all their nominations were for creative details like hair and makeup or production design. I don’t recommend watching and it’s a good thing this was a LIMITED series.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie – Jeremy Pope
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie – Jim Parsons
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie – Dylan McDermott
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie – Holland Taylor
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special – “Jump”
Outstanding Period and/or Character Hairstyling – “A Hollywood Ending”
Outstanding Period and/or Character Makeup (Non-Prosthetic) – “Outlaws”
Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score)
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or Movie – “Hooray for Hollywood”
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More)
Outstanding Period Costumes

The Emmys air Sunday, September 20th 5:00pm PDT/8:00pm EDT. It will sure to be a strange show—I predict many technical difficulties!

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