The 2023 Emmy eligibility period has officially come to an end, and with it many television favorites have said goodbye as well. In the past week no less than four major contenders have aired their series finales to varying success including Succession, Barry, Ted Lasso, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Collectively these four shows have taken home 53 Emmys over the past five years, and voters will surely want to send them off with a proper farewell.
But is there room for all four of these shows to have their moment come Emmy night? It’s normal for the Television Academy to honor one or two shows as they come to an end, but will they be able to focus on every show clamoring for a final bow? On top of all of the finales this week, this past year has also seen the end of shows like Better Call Saul, Atlanta, and Dead to Me – all shows that are no stranger to audiences and critics.
However, history has shown that the Emmys aren’t necessarily friendly to final seasons. Typically, once a show has lost momentum, voters rarely return no matter how much they loved a show in the past. In recent years past winners like Modern Family, 30 Rock, and Veep were hoping for one last hoorah but ultimately, they all went home empty handed. Just last year, the Pearson family said goodbye and after countless wins and nominations over the years you would think that voters would embrace the finale of the broadcast drama in a major way. Instead they completely shut out This Is Us for the first time in all major categories even dropping it from the drama series lineup.
Still every once in a while, Emmy voters will shock everyone and finally embrace a show in its final season in major ways. Just three years ago Schitt’s Creek made history by sweeping through the comedy categories after being largely ignored by Emmy voters up until the finale. The year before that the second and final season of Fleabag broke out in a major way. In the drama categories shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad barreled through the competition.
While it seems that voters more often than not like to stick to the mantra of “out with the old in with the new” we are in a transitory and unpredictable era. Just as the industry is finally starting to find some sense of normalcy in a post-COVID world everything has come to a grinding halt as the writers strike for a fair wage. With so much uncertainty for the industry’s future voters might feel inclined to stick with what feels the most comfortable and familiar and vote for their proven favorites more so than ever before.
Outstanding Drama Series
Cementing its status both as the Emmy frontrunner and as one of the all-time great American dramas, Succession is by far the most successful finale of the year. Without any spoilers, Jesse Armstrong was able to find a way to conclude the series in a way that both satisfied and shocked fans without ever dipping into fan service territory.
As a result, the family drama is likely on its way to having a huge night at the Emmys with likely wins for series, lead actress, supporting actor, writing, directing, and even lead actor (barring any unexpected vote splitting).
If the Roy family does manage to split the vote (with Strong, Cox, and Culkin all submitting in lead), then it might lead to a farewell win for another Emmy favorite. Even though Better Call Saul has yet to win a single Emmy out of 46 nominations, they are hoping this is finally the year for its titular star Bob Odenkirk. On top of the comedic character actors decades worth of work in the industry he also has been in the news for surviving a heart attack while filming the show’s final season two summers ago. That alone could lead to enough fans of the show to rally behind him – especially knowing that this is their last chance to honor a show that they have loved for seven seasons.
Outstanding Comedy Series
The Outstanding Comedy Series race is where things get a little more complicated. In a single week audiences said goodbye to Ted Lasso, Barry, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – all shows that have made a lasting impact on the Emmys and the television landscape as a whole.
Ted Lasso clearly had the strongest momentum heading into its final season. The two-time reigning champ at the Emmys started off as a literal show about underdogs that through its unashamed sincerity won over audiences and voters. But in its overstuffed final season, that positivity started to wear off and every major critic took it upon themselves to attack the show.
Still, talking to Emmy voters, they can’t get enough of the Apple comedy and that might be enough to carry it all the way to the finish line.
Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum in just about every way is HBO’s Barry. SNL alumn Bill Hader made it his goal to push every boundary of what a comedy could be taking his dissection of Los Angeles into some pretty dark places. In those first two seasons, voters couldn’t get enough of it, and Hader took home two Emmys for his work on the show. However in the show’s final season, just as Hader took over all directing duties as well, it might have become too dark for the average viewer. Even if it might be too hard of a pill to swallow for the casual viewer devoted fans of the show felt it was a perfect finale, even one that should be studied meticulously by all writers and showrunners going forward.
Five years ago Amazon debuted The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the 1950s period comedy from the mind of Amy Sherman-Palladino, audiences and voters were immediately won over by its lavish production, precise direction, and one of the strongest ensembles on television. Since becoming the first streaming comedy to be awarded the top prize, Maisel has continued to rake in countless nominations and creative arts awards.
Longtime fans of Maisel were beyond satisfied with the way Midge and Susie’s stories wrapped. However, it seems like the general zeitgeist has moved on from the period comedy, making it hard to gage whether or not Emmy voters will feel the need to highlight the show one last time.
On top of all of this last fall we also said goodbye to past favorites such as Atlanta and Dead to Me – two shows that at the very least will earn final nominations for their stars. Overall 2023 is shaping up to be a year of farewells, especially in the comedy races, but if Emmy history has shown us anything some of these shows might be forgotten sooner than we think.