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Who Really Deserves an Emmy?

We have some far-fetched — but extremely worthy — suggestions

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

The 2016 Emmy nominations will be announced Thursday, but since The Ringer does not get to participate in the official Emmy-nominating process, we’ve come up with some candidates of our own. Below is a list of our most far-fetched Emmy suggestions — people (or things) who probably won’t get nominated, but should. Maybe next year.

Best TV Drama: ‘Hannibal’

Alison Herman: Whatever the opposite of Emmy bait is, it probably includes “hallucinated five-ways” and “murder scenes meticulously arranged into Botticelli paintings.” Hence, sadly, why not even a final-season bump will land a nomination for Hannibal, the most homoerotic tone poem to ever pass itself off as a serial killer procedural. Which is a shame! Hannibal had breathtaking visuals, layered performances (HUGH DANCY), and a whole bunch of Gillian Anderson — all things that often went unnoticed since no one expected them from a humble network show fashioned from a scrap of preexisting IP. Hopefully voters won’t make the same mistake with Bryan Fuller’s next outing (Star Trek: Coming to an old media dinosaur’s attempt at a streaming service near you!), but until then, we’ll always have Will Graham, Hannibal Lecter, and their everlasting love.

Best Couple: Sharon and Rob From ‘Catastrophe’

Rob Harvilla: Do not go on a double date with the foul-mouthed and -hearted antiheroes of the lethal Amazon half-hour romantic comedy Catastrophe, lest they sling operatic insults at one another throughout the cocktail hour and hump each other beneath the table all through dessert. They will also make your own relationship look facile and anodyne and ultimately doomed by comparison. In a mere 12 episodes across two seasons, Sharon Horgan (who also has an upcoming HBO series literally called Divorce) and Rob Delaney (who is very busy tweeting stuff like this to nearly 1.3 million people) have progressed from a surprise post-one-night-stand pregnancy (she’s still in his phone as “Sharon London Sex”) to a mostly sexless and occasionally loveless two-child marriage. Back when onscreen couples arguing would unnerve my wife, I had a pretyped text I’d send to her that said, “That relationship is not analogous to our relationship.” For this show, I considered just printing that out, framing it, and mounting it above the TV.

Sharon and Rob’s every exchange (“If I ever do cheat on you, it’s gonna be a cash transaction with a guaranteed ejaculation”) is a knife fight with a sweet embrace at the end, or vice versa, the sweetest and sexiest rapport you will ever cringe at uncontrollably. They are easily the realest couple on TV, which is to say they are the most terrifying. Great news: Catastrophe just got renewed for two more seasons, wherein their besotted antipathy will bring about the heat death of the universe. May they burn up snugly in each other’s arms, whispering the most vicious of nothings.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Kether Donohue, ‘You’re the Worst’

Michael Baumann: You’re the Worst got Real As Hell in its second season, and I don’t regret a moment spent with Gretchen depression, played wonderfully by Aya Cash, who isn’t the female lead in everything for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me. It was magnificent, cathartic, creative, magnetic television, and I’d crave more of it if I could handle it emotionally.

What I regret is every moment spent apart from Lindsay Jillian, Gretchen’s boozy, selfish space cadet of a best friend. Lindsay is an unpleasant character who could easily have been turned into a particularly nasty and vapid punchline in the hands of a less talented actress. Kether Donohue can take Lindsay from hilarious, vicious deadpan to tearful hysteria without showing any cracks, fleshing out a character whose existence is so absurd it strains the bounds of credibility. Lindsay should, by all rights, be just a sarcastic sidekick, but Donohue makes her entirely, almost aggressively, real.

And when I say I regret every moment spent apart from Lindsay, I don’t mean the parts of the show where she’s off camera, I mean the six days between shows, and the nine months between seasons.

Donohue is so great as Lindsay, I watched Grease: Live! from start to finish just because she was in it. I can think of no higher praise.

Most British-ish Series: ‘The Night Manager’

Sam Schube: The Night Manager is equal parts espionage thriller and Mallorca real estate porn, and it’s never quite certain which of the two it prefers. The British-import miniseries (based on a John Le Carré novel) aired on AMC this spring, and it’s about a fake James Bond who goes undercover to infiltrate Dr. House’s arms-dealing network. And it’s a real humdinger, tonally, because The Night Manager isn’t quite sure where it stands on the not-exactly-shades-of-gray issue of war profiteering. Obviously chemical weapons are bad, the show admits. But look at this cool house!

On second thought, forget bad politics: The thing that makes The Night Manager dope is the way it expands outward to include some absolutely lit performances by British character actors. Olivia Colman is nails as an against-the-odds (and very pregnant) British intelligence officer; Tobias Menzies (a truly great British That Guy) plays her chillingly dickish old-boy boss. A character named Rex (!) Mayhew (!!) rides a bike very convincingly, and David Harewood pops up to play, weirdly, another American. But this is all preamble: The Night Manager belongs to Tom Hollander, whom you’ll know as various British government officials, and also as the only fun dude on this show. He’s Corky, the dickish and drunkish consigliere to Hugh Laurie’s master criminal. He’s full of piss and vinegar. The Night Manager could have used a little more of both.

Most Inexplicably Sexually Attractive Guest Star: Christopher Abbott, ‘Girls’

Kate Knibbs: It made no sense. Christopher Abbott’s soft-eyed, wet-blanket, app-entrepreneur boyfriend transformed into a hairy, gruff druggie tough guy in a jarring reappearance, several seasons after Abbott had quit the show. It added another layer of surreal to Girls’ most surreal (and best!) episode ever. Abbott played a character he hadn’t played in years with a completely new personality, accent, body type, and overall vibe, and instead of being preposterous, he was simultaneously pathetic and hot. The abrupt reappearance and transformation made most viewers say, “Huh?” and it made me say, “I would.” It also made me think I misjudged Knockoff Kit Harington. Give the man an Emmy.

Outstanding Portrayal of a Jewish Character by a Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Tom Hardy, ‘Peaky Blinders’

Gabe Fisher: The most obvious candidate for a Peaky Blinders Emmy would be Cillian Murphy for his outstanding performance as Thomas Shelby, the leader of the gang. But expecting a lead actor nod when the show has never received a nomination of any kind may be asking for too much. That’s why I think they should make up a new category, which would be an indisputable lock for Peaky Blinders: Outstanding Portrayal of a Jewish Character. The winner? Tom Hardy for his role as Alfie Solomons, the leader of the Jewish London gang that is not to be messed with. Hardy reprises his usual role of mumbling incoherently — a skill that probably earned him his most famous gig — but this time, it’s replete with the hilarious, dubious overuse of Jewish ritual garments and Hardy wearing hats that make you question whether he’s a Hasid or a hipster:

There’s an amazing Passover Seder scene in which Alfie Solomons, adorned with ritual fringes and all, analogizes the Pascal sacrifice to the Shelby family, and plenty of other head-scratching references of the Jewish tradition that keeps things interesting. I’d give Hardy not only the Emmy, but a lifetime honorary membership to the Tribe.

Best Actor: Justin Theroux, ‘The Leftovers’

Sam Donsky: The second season of Hot Cop* (*that’s what I call The Leftovers) is a miracle of tone. From black comedy, to unknowable tragedy, to uplifting family drama, to the blurred inner-edges of thriller and sci-fi, it darts in and out of these genres until it’s woozy — a good woozy, the sort of woozy-ness after which everything suddenly, somehow, begins to make sense. Even the tone of its theme song is a jolt. This is the rare second season that doubles as reconsideration. It doesn’t just improve upon its predecessor. It snaps it back into place.

And I think the same could be said of Justin Theroux. Ostensibly conceived as a Difficult Man role, Theroux took his performance as Kevin and gradually figured out how to unravel it. Not “Don Draper is mean for an episode, but then finds out about swimming” unravel — I mean, unravel unravel. Theroux’s Kevin is competent, but in a way that feels helpless; suicidal, but in a way that feels deeply sane. He’s full of grief until he isn’t; he’s full of plans until, wait a minute, here’s my seventh-favorite Pixies song, turn that shit up, let’s get some chores done and then tell the police about the body in the back of our truck. Grief is life, you know? Or at least it’s stranger than fiction — which is really all The Leftovers has ever wanted to be.

Best Supporting Actress in a Candid Reality Program: Nikki, ‘90 Day Fiance’

Rubie Edmondson: Much like a child on the losing end of a Little League championship, Nikki deserves an award just for showing up — to America, to become the teen bride of 58-year-old Mark, to all of the events filmed by TLC over the course of 90 (ninety!) full days, and to her eventual wedding (yep, it happened) on the shores of Hawaii. And not only did Nikki participate, she gave a truly masterful performance.

Consider this small sampling of scenarios in which Nikki managed to keep a straight face:

  • When Mark purchased her precisely the same model of sporty red car that he purchased his ex-wife.
  • When she saw Mark’s zebra-print sheets. To reiterate, Mark is 58.
  • When Mark woke her up, on multiple occasions, by blowing a loud AF train whistle.
  • When Mark introduced her to his 21-year-old daughter, who proceeded to giggle about her new stepmom being younger than her.
  • When Mark uttered the words, “We’re going on a romantic getaway to Ocean City!”
  • When Mark blamed her period for anything less than a straight-faced reaction to his bullshit.

And after 90 days of keeping a pristinely straight face, Nikki showed up to TLC’s finale aftershow and formed her lips and teeth into an expression commonly referred to as a “smile”:

Bravo, Nikki. Give this girl all of the goddamn statuettes.

Best Cultural Critic: Jessica Williams, ‘The Daily Show’

Allison P. Davis: Trevor Noah, bless his dimples, really did try his best to fill Jon Stewart’s anchor chair, but The Daily Show under his regime has been lacking — too cute, too soft, too not what anyone needs in this time of Trump. It’s been missing bite and wit, except for the segments by senior correspondent Jessica Williams. In the past year, she served shade to critics of Beyoncé’s radically black performance of “Formation” at the Super Bowl. She came after those who needed coming for — Ben Carson, campus sexual assault, casual sexism and racism, hoverboards — with a clever, cutting segments that enlightened the masses. She held it down for black America, but still made all of America laugh (and also reminded everyone that they are kind of idiots). Give Jessica Williams an Emmy for being the critic America needs during these batshit crazy times.

Best Performance in a Korean Rap Reality Competition: BewhY, ‘Show Me the Money’

Donnie Kwak: Imagine, if you will, a weekly rap competition judged by Drake, Puffy, Jay Z, and Birdman in which 9,000 MCs are whittled down, dramatic battle by dramatic battle, to a single winner who immediately becomes a household name. Imagine, too, that the songs produced in the show, often featuring collaborations between the judges and the contestants, are released after each episode and immediately become top 10 hits. And now imagine that the show itself is so influential and popular that it totally dominates any conversation about rap in the country.

This show exists in South Korea. Show Me the Money, currently airing and peaking now in its fifth season, is my only TV addiction — a thorough appropriation of American rap signifiers but also distinctly Korean, in the way the competitors are deferential to not only the judges, who are among Korea’s most famous rap stars, but also to each other. And, of course, there’s the manufactured drama — complex rap missions fabricated to maximize tension and create indelible 8 Mile moments.

Oh yeah, and the gentleman in the video above, spitting flawless flames like his life depended on it? Call him Korean Kendrick.