I can still remember being stuck at home with mono when I was in elementary school, and all day — every single day, on all FOUR of our channels — the Watergate Hearings were the only thing to watch on TV. Now there’s so much great stuff to stream that it’s easy to take it for granted. To help you sift through this embarrassment of riches, we’ve compiled our first-ever collection of Emmy previews / reviews for some of the big shows that will be honored at the 74th Emmy Awards on Monday, September 12.
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series
This category is dominated by blockbuster series about pop culture, including The Beatles: Get Back, about which art critic Josef Woodard wrote, “To cite Peter Jackson’s stunning Beatles documentary Get Back as the year’s greatest music doc — or even one of the best films, generally — somehow falls short of identifying its special status.” Read the whole review here.
Additional reviews include The Andy Warhol Diaries, which Callie Fausey calls “a heartfelt, sexual, and fascinating peek into a once-private world”; jeen-yuhs: a Kanye Trilogy, about which Woodard writes, “For West fans, detractors, and all of us in the great between, jeen-yuhs is a case of personal and powerful music doc-making worth watching”; and 100 Foot Wave, “the documentation of one man’s obsession to ride the biggest wave of them all, and how his dogged pursuit almost tore apart not only his body, but his friendships, his marriage, and his mind,” writes Koss Klobucher. “This show is worth the watch.” Also nominated in this category: We Need To Talk About Cosby.
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special
The endlessly chronicled life of Britney Spears got the documentary treatment in two films this year, although Woodard posits that the weaker of the two, Controlling Britney Spears, got the Emmy nomination. He sounds off on both docs here. Also nominated in this category: George Carlin’s American Dream, Lucy and Desi, The Tinder Swindler, and We Feed People.
A super-strong selection of ripped-from-the-headlines-inspired drama, including Dopesick, which Ellie Bouwer writes is “frustrating and heartbreaking, and greatly informative about an extremely dark time in American history — certainly worth watching, but don’t forget the tissues.” As I wrote in my review of The Dropout, “Watching Amanda Seyfried transform herself into Elizabeth Holmes the person and then ELIZABETH HOLMES the CEO (with her distinctively baritone-but-monotone voice and eerily innocent eye contact) is undoubtedly one of the most amazing performances I’ve seen this year.” Also in this category, the contrast between Julia Garner’s performances as Anna Delvey in Inventing Anna and Ruth Langmore in Ozark (nominated for Best Drama Series) is almost as uncanny as watching Lily James, who viewers came to know as Downton Abbey’s Lady Rose, transform herself into Pamela Anderson in Pam and Tommy (reviewed here by Bouwer). Bouwer also reviews the sole fictional entry, White Lotus, describing it as “a brilliant view of wealth and inequality.”
In a category that includes Squid Game, the most-streamed show in Netflix history, Succession, with a field leading 25 Emmy nominations (read my review here), and Stranger Things, which Bouwer describes as “emotional, relatable, and deeply nostalgic,” there truly is enough here to keep viewers happily binging through the winter, at least. Also nominated for Best Drama Series are Euphoria, of which Travis Weedon writes, “Few shows on television are this ambitious and this affecting,” and Yellowjackets, which I wrote in my review is “Part psychological supernatural thriller, part horror mystery, and part teen drama (think Lord of the Flies meets Heathers), Yellowjackets could have easily been cheesy and sleazy but it somehow managed to be cool and compelling instead,” as well as Better Call Saul, Ozark, and Severance.
Here’s a handy ballot to make your own Emmy Award winner predictions. All of the Independent’s television and movie reviews can be read online at independent.com/film-tv.
A Complete List of the Santa Barbara Independent’s Reviews of Emmy-Nominated Shows
100 Foot Wave — Reviewed by Koss Klobucher — Exploring the Trials and Tribulations of Big-Wave Surfing
The Andy Warhol Diaries — Reviewed by Callie Fausey — A Fascinating Peek into the Private World of a Public Persona
The Beatles: Get Back — Reviewed by Josef Woodard — More Than Just the Year’s Greatest Music Documentary
Changing the Game — Reviewed by Ninette Paloma — Lessons From High School Sports
Controlling Britney Spears and Britney v. Spears — Reviewed by Josef Woodard — All the Britney Documentaries One Reviewer Can Handle: A Sad But Ultimately Triumphant Tale of the Mega Pop Star
Dopesick — Reviewed by Ellie Bouwer — The Depressing Truth of the Opioid Epidemic
The Dropout — Reviewed by Leslie Dinaberg — Too Wacky for Fiction, This True Story Is Worth Dropping Into
Euphoria — Reviewed by Travis Weedon — Gen-Z Must-See Follows High School Students in a World of Sex, Drugs, and Social Media
jeen-yuhs: a Kanye Trilogy — Reviewed by Josef Woodard — Personal and Powerful Music Documentary Worth Watching
Pam & Tommy — Reviewed by Ellie Bouwer — Lily James and Sebastian Stan Deliver Dazzling Performances as Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee
Stranger Things — Reviewed by Ellie Bouwer — Trouble, Terror, and Teenhood Return to Hawkins, Indiana
Succession — Reviewed by Leslie Dinaberg — Terrible and Terribly Funny People
White Lotus — Reviewed by Ellie Bouwer — Dark Humor and Murder on the Beach