Unlike the comedy category, where there was at least a little freshness, the drama categories at the Emmys broke down as expected. Ozark, Better Call Saul, Euphoria, Succession. Lots and LOTS of Succession, far and away the favorite to dominate the category. But! There is also Squid Game, and Yellowjackets, a slightly surprising inclusion because it’s never a sure-thing for awards shows to go for female-driven entertainment, especially when it’s a little bit into genre territory. But Yellowjackets was THE show to talk about over the holidays, and all that word of mouth paid off.
It's going to be interesting to see if Squid Game can upset Succession as THE drama of the moment. (I love Yellowjackets, but it doesn’t have a prayer.) Squid Game has been a huge presence on the awards circuit so far, and if anyone can unseat Succession as the top show on TV—because drama gets more consideration than comedy, though I would argue Succession is as much a comedy as Barry is—it’s going to be Squid Game. But the Emmy voters do the thing other groups don’t do, which is settle into grooves. They almost always vote for familiarity. Can Squid Game’s sheer global power overcome the comfort of Succession’s proven track record?
I a little bit don’t care because both those shows are good, saying one is “better” than the other is entirely objective, especially if your worldview allows for multiple examples of excellence to co-exist. Speaking of multiple examples of excellence, Sydney Sweeney is now a two-time Emmy nominee, with support actress nominations in the drama category for Euphoria, and the limited series category for The White Lotus. Sweeney is excellent on Euphoria, but she was TERRIFYING on The White Lotus. Just a pitch-perfect Mean Teen performance, but also how insidiously her favor and friendship was extended to her non-white friend and how shallow her progressivism really was, it was chilling. On a show full of monsters, Sweeney’s Olivia is one of the biggest.
Can Sweeney upset either of her categories? Probably not. Better Call Saul’s Rhea Seehorn pulled her first Emmy nomination, she could be the newcomer to surprise everyone. She’s also up against Julia Garner, Patricia Arquette, Christina Ricci, Jung Ho-yeon, and the Succession double whammy of J. Cameron Mitchell and Sarah Snook. The Limited Series category is less competitive, but also loaded with her White Lotus co-stars, and MARE F-CKING WINNINGHAM. No one watched Dopesick, but Mare Winningham is majorly admired in the industry. As is Jennifer Coolidge, who had a mini-renaissance with White Lotus. It felt like the first time people acknowledged her schtick is hard work, performance-wise. So, not unlike Quinta Brunson, Sydney Sweeney is a multiple nominee surrounded by tough competition. The win might just be having her name called twice today.