Home / Awards / Hey Emmys, Nominate These Shows! Part 3 (Billions, Queen Sugar)

Hey Emmys, Nominate These Shows! Part 3 (Billions, Queen Sugar)

Billions and Queen Sugar are front and center for Emmy consideration in Drama

Welcome to part 3 of the series Hey Emmys, Nominate These Shows! This time I focus on two dramas, one in its second season and one its first.

First up is Showtime’s Billions. While Homeland and Ray Donovan have been the network’s main Emmy gets in recent years, this is the time for Billions to be considered. Its second season took a leap in quality that should be noted and features some of television’s most exciting performances.

Next is Queen Sugar, for its first season. Breathtakingly original television from two of the biggest names in Hollywood – Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay. Bracingly original, gorgeous television with great storytelling and acting across the board.

READ: Hey Emmys, Nominate These Shows! Part 1 (Dear White People, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Hey Emmys, Nominate These Shows! Part 2 (Difficult People, Schitt’s Creek)

Billions (Season 2)

The first season of Billions landed post-Occupy Wall Street and with its 1% hero/villain probably came out at the wrong time. Damien Lewis’s Bobby Axelrod was certainly going for the traditional anti-hero bad guy that you love anyway and Paul Giamatti’s attorney general Chuck Rhodes with a flair for doing bad gave us the other side of the same coin. It was a good first season but not spectacular. Then the second season showed up to play.

Lewis and Giamatti gave barn-burning performances, leaving little scenery intact. Maggie Siff, formerly of Sons of Anarchy, rose this season to give a stellar supporting performance the woman in between these two men in her life. Her Wendy was a balance of her professional life with Axelrod and personal life with husband Rhodes, often blurring the lines between the two, might have been the most difficult trapeze act of the season and she soared.

But for me, the true story of season two of Billions and the absolute breakout was Asia Kate Dillon as Taylor Mason, the cold and calculated math and statistics genius that changes everything. Dillon is the first gender non-binary character on television to be played by a gender non-binary actor. While this element of their character is very much a part of the show, it’s not THE part. Dillon’s Taylor transcends the trappings of making an issue of gender and sexuality to create a truly original and exciting character. Upon Showtime asking what category for the Emmys they’d like to be submitted in Dillon wrote an impassioned letter to the Television Academy asking if they considered the separation of ‘supporting actor’ and ‘supporting actress’ to be one of anatomy or identity. The letter was met with positive response and upon learning that the Emmys do not specify a gender qualification, Dillon decided to dig deep into the late 1500s use of ‘actor’ as a non-gendered, non-anatomy based use of the word and successfully submitted their for Emmy and SAG consideration.

I realize I have focused heavily on Dillon in this FYC and to be sure they are a true breakout star and gave an Emmy-worthy performance but the show – and Lewis, Giamatti and Siff, along with great supporting work from David Costabile and Malin Akerman – all grew from Season 1 to Season 2 that deserves a real push and a real consideration.


Outstanding Drama Series

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
“Golden Frog Time,” directed by Karyn Kusama

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
“Golden Frog Time,” written by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Brian Chamberlayne and Alice O’Neill

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Paul Giamatti, Damien Lewis

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Asia Kate Dillon, David Costabile

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman

Queen Sugar (Season 1)

It would be enough to nominate a show as thematically powerful as OWN’s Queen Sugar’s first season. Detailing the story of an African-American sugar cane farming family in Louisiana (and elsewhere) with a broad spectrum of characters and an absolute star turn from its lead, Rutina Wesley (True Blood), could and should be enough for the average Emmy voter to recognize that they’re seeing something new and vital in an era of literally hundreds and hundreds of shows to choose.

But Queen Sugar doesn’t stop there. With the backing of none other than Oprah Winfrey and director Ava DuVernay (Selma), Queen Sugar’s first season was also entirely helmed by female directors (including DuVernay herself); a first for any television show in history. One of those directors, Tina Mabry, also directed one of the best episodes of the first season of Dear White People and was a DGA winner this year for the television movie An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win, both of which she is also Emmy-eligible for this year.

This is a show rooted in empowerment and strong characters. It’s cinematic, it’s political, it lets its characters be vulnerable and continues to offer us a glimpse into a life we might not know about. It takes its time to get us there, letting us absorb these characters with a leisurely Southern pace like we’re sitting on a porch sipping lemonade listening to a story being told.

Opportunity and visibility matters and it’s never been more evident than on this show. The second season, which just aired the first of its two-part season premiere last night does the very same.

Queen Sugar‘s first season is available on Hulu.


Outstanding Drama Series

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
“Give Us This Day,” directed by Tina Mabry
“First Things First,” directed by Ava DuVernay

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
“Where With All,” written by Tina Mabry
“First Things First,” written by Ava DuVernay

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kofi Siriboe

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nicholas L. Ashe, Omar J. Dorsey, Timon Kyle Durrett, Dondre T. Whitfield, Greg Vaughan, Ethan Hutchison

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Bianca Lawson, Tina Lifford

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Glynn Turman

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Mayacarmen Lopez

About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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