The winter awards season is in full swing, and this year, the race for best drama series boasts a competitive influx of high-profile and deserving ensemble casts.
In a Variety Awards Circuit video presented by HBO, Variety senior editors Danielle Turchiano and Michael Schneider discussed their predictions for how “classic” shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and newer ones like “The Morning Show” may perform at the Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globes.
“It’s so weird to call [‘The Handmaid’s Tale’] a classic. It’s only in four seasons. But it does feel like four seasons, these days, is a feat,” Turchiano said. “It’s been nominated for so many awards before. Critics Choice and Golden Globes nominated it in the drama series category in 2018, and then it was nominated for all of its prior seasons at the SAG Awards, and it just came off of a huge amount of Emmy nominations, but no wins. All of these other voting bodies have loved it before, but is there still momentum to love it enough this season?”
Conversely, “The Morning Show’s” momentum is only growing.
“Talk about a cast. Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston. This ensemble made some noise in Season 1, but what about Season 2?” Schneider asked. “[There were] some real shocking moments, including Steve Carell, which we won’t spoil. Nonetheless, I feel like the standout again in Season 2 was Billy Crudup, playing that sort of slimy network executive we’ve all known through the years. He wears it well.”
Another buzzy show that takes place in the world of television is “Succession,” which is now in its third season.
“The biggest snub of the past few years feels like the Screen Actors Guild and ‘Succession,’” Turchiano pointed out. “Look at that ensemble cast, and they didn’t get nominated? I feel like this is their time. Sometimes the Screen Actors Guild comes to shows a little later.”
“This is a cast that really has gelled. The chemistry among all of these people is fantastic. That’s the show to watch, especially when you’re talking about drama ensembles,” Schneider added.
The final season of “Pose” may garner some nominations and wins for pulling on voters’ heartstrings this year.
“If you talk about an emotional resonance of all of these shows we’ve been talking about so far, [there was] not a dry eye in the house during the finale of ‘Pose,’” Schneider said. “When you’re looking at Mj Rodriguez and Billy Porter, and the emotional tour de force at the end of that final season, it may still resonate.”
“Squid Game,” the Korean drama series that quickly became Netflix’s most-watched show of all time when it debuted in September, could make history during this awards season. Foreign language series don’t typically get much awards buzz in America, but audiences have resonated with “Squid Game’s” sharp perspectives on class and strong cast.
“The story is timely, but it’s also talking about [how] we’re hungry for new content,” Turchiano said. “We don’t want the same old thing. We don’t want the same old people.”
“It reminds us of how ‘Parasite’ managed to break through and make some history on the film side at the Academy Awards,” Schneider said, referring to Bong Joon-ho’s 2020 best picture-winning film. “I think TV voters are feeling like maybe they’re ready to do something similar.”
But as much as the novelty of something like “Squid Game” may be an advantage, there are benefits to having been around for awhile. “This Is Us,” for example, was heavily awarded early in its run, then faded, but could rise back to awards prominence as the series reaches its end.
“I wonder how much this ‘last chance’ factor might kick in,” Turchiano said. “They may say, ‘We did love this. We have loved this. We let it step aside for some other things, but now we wanna show that we still love it as it’s on its way out.’”
Finally, Turchiano and Schneider pointed out that awards bias against genre shows has begun to fade in recent years thanks to series like “The Boys” and “The Mandalorian.” This year, “Loki” is the genre standout to watch.
“With Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson as well, that’s a real cast. Those are movie stars doing television, so they’re now TV stars,” Schneider said. “That brings a real patina to genre on television that we haven’t seen up until now.”
Watch the full conversation above.