Sat. Aug 8th, 2020

Hey Emmys, Nominate These Shows! Part 1 (Dear White People, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)


Dear White People and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Two Comedies the Emmys Need to Take Seriously

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The Emmys have begun their voting and nomination ballots are out to Television Academy members. Today begins a short series of pleas to voters to consider shows, new and returning, that haven’t gotten the Emmy love they’ve deserved. Watch for more next week.

The first in the series covers two wildly different shows, both showing the broad spectrum of comedy on current television: Dear White People and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Dear White People (Season 1)

It’s not often that a television show adapted from a film can surpass said film (Friday Night Lights is a good example). Sometimes a premise really exists within the confines of a 2-hour space and doesn’t stretch out to fill the time needed for a full season of TV. With Dear White People, there almost isn’t enough space to explore the richness of character and subject at hand that Justin Simien’s brilliant show displays.

The series, about a fictional Ivy League school of primarily white students and the pushback from black students at the school’s institutionalized racism, uses the film as a jumping off point. Every episode focuses on a single character from their backstory to their current story, while still incorporating everyone else and moving the story forward. It does this with a Rashomon-style of storytelling; giving us widely varying viewpoints on the same stories, enriching us along the way. It’s never less than perfectly executed. It’s never less than perfectly balanced between serious social commentary and biting comedy. It does what great television can do; entertain and illuminate. Existing in the confines of a 30-minute comedy ends up being exactly where it should be.

Let’s take “Chapter V,” directed by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and focuses on Reggie. Reggie, played by Marque Richardson, is an IT genius with the looks of the BMOC and feels like the ‘revolution’ is happening around him. The episode follows a melancholic Reggie through busted parties and movie theaters, ultimately ending up a house party being thrown by Reggie’s white friend Addison. Reggie starts slaying at Drunk Trivial Pursuit, starts loosening up and having a good time. While we’ve had a leisurely and languorous pace and mood to this point, this is where Jenkins ratchets up the tensions and the tone, managing both with such expertise that even though we can see what’s coming it’s still a shock. The house is dancing, Future’s “Trap N****s” comes on and Addison sings along with it, to Reggie’s shock. Reggie tells him, he can’t say that. Addison says he’s not racist so he can say it. Reggie pleads again. It escalates. Quickly. The police show up and who gets a gun pulled on him? Reggie stands there, motionless, a pistol inches from his face. In one moment, Justin Simien and Barry Jenkins, through the vehicle of Richardson’s performance, highlights the the frightening truth for so many black men; that still, in 2017, the color of your skin – not your actions – can get you killed.

This may seem like a lot to take in for a ‘comedy’ series but the definitions of drama and comedy on television have been morphing for years and it’s shows like Dear White People that can bridge that gap in a way that is incredibly satisfying.  


Outstanding Comedy Series

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
“Chapter I,” directed by Justin Simien
“Chapter IV,” directed by Tina Mabry
“Chapter V,” directed by Barry Jenkins

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
“Chapter I,” written by Justin Simien

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Logan Browning

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Brandon Bell, DeRon Horton, Marque Richardson

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Antoinette Robertson

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Season 2)

C’mon Emmys, are you really this afraid of a musical TV show? Did Cop Rock and Glee hurt you that bad? What in the hell does the CW have to do get the attention of Emmy voters? Yes, I know, I know, the show’s first season got four nominations and actually WON two Emmys; for Editing and Choreography. Those were fair nominations and truthfully, a musical comedy has a distinct advantage in those two categories as it requires more editing (of musical numbers) and obviously has more choreography than a general comedy would. But why shut it out of the top nominations?

I urge, no, implore the Television Academy to really look at Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on all levels: as great comedy, a hilarious musical, and featuring one of the best female comedy performances since the days of Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball. Yeah, that’s how good Rachel Bloom is, Emmys. But, whatever you do, DO NOT pay attention to Rachel Bloom saying she doesn’t care about awards shows. Don’t do it, I MEAN IT.

I would tip my hat to Rachel Bloom and Donna Lynne Champlin above all (with no shade to the rest of the stellar cast) this season with Champlin as the real standout and breakthrough. Her song “You Go First” is a power ballad of a performance so heartbreaking, and with an accompanying video that’s equal parts Bonnie Tyler and Wilson, that it deserves all of the awards. I defy anyone to disagree. Come on, fight me.


Outstanding Comedy Series

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
“Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?” directed by Aline Brosh McKenna
“When Will Josh See How Cool I Am?” directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
“Where Is Josh’s Friend,” written by Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna and Marc Webb
“Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?” written by Aline Brosh McKenna

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Rachel Bloom

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Pete Gardner, Vincent Rodriguez III

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Donna Lynne Champlin, Vella Lovell

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Santino Fontana, Scott Michael Foster

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Tovah Feldshuh, Patti LuPone

Outstanding Music and Lyrics
“You Go First,” from the episode “Who’s the Cool Girl Josh is Dating?”
“Let’s Have Intercourse,” from the episode “Josh is the Man of My Dreams, Right?”
“Santa Ana Winds,” from the episode “Josh is the Man of My Dreams, Right?”
“The Math of Love Triangles,” from the episode “All Signs Point to Josh…or is it Josh’s Friend?”

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