What We Are Watching:
Emmy Edition

a hot take on the emmys this year... what was nominated and what... wasn’t. all during a pandemic :/

intro by sarina freda

featuring writings from:
lizzie racklin, maiya pascouche, natalie duerr, and arjun biju


Despite it all, America keeps chugging along with its awards shows that are absolute non-negotiables, and the Emmys are no exception.

With an overwhelming amount of shutdowns and delays, the pool of qualifiers for this past year (and a half!) were quite specific, highlighting the ridiculousness of award shows at large, despite their deep-rooted history in the very beginnings of performance.

However, as opposed to 3 Greek tragedies to choose from, the 19,000+ members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) are asked to watch over 300 shows, making it so “if you’re not on the zeitgeist you’ll never get nominated.”

So, as the ATAS certainly did not watch 300+ shows, neither did we!

But here’s some stuff we loved that did, or did not, get nominated.

By Sarina Freda

Lizzie watched...


PEN15 is one of those shows that, on paper, sounds like it might not work, kinda like the human/animal world of Bojack Horseman. But in execution, the whole adults-playing-tweens-amid-a-cast-otherwise-comprised-of-children thing works to remind you of how singularly weird everyone feels in middle school. The costumes, haircuts, and mannerisms are a scary perfect representation of early 2000s suburban childhood and Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine bring cringe comedy to a beautiful level while taking on the highs and lows of adolescence. It’s only nominated for one Emmy—Outstanding Comedy Series—so do with that what you will, but hopefully, their brilliant school play will sweep at the Tonys. No matter what, I’ll never stop thinking about the way Anna is constantly adjusting her side bangs.

Maiya Watched...

Feel Good

Wowww is this show the sexiest, queerest anxiety ramble of all time? Yes, yes it is.
Emphasis on the sexy part.
Feel Good is one of those TV shows you cannot put down but you must because you’ve only been gifted two short seasons. Mae Martin is at their best because they are themselves: an adorable chaotic mess.
The writing is spectacularly real, darkly hilarious, and oh so heart-wrenching. It handles addiction with the nuance of experience. Complex conversations surrounding gender and sexuality are tenderly woven throughout at what feels like the same time the real Mae Martin is experiencing them.

It is possibly the best comedy show on Netflix today... so its lack of nomination is...


Arjun Watched... 


Conan O’Brien could be considered one of TV’s most legendary Late Night Hosts. Through a celebrated career as a writer for The Simpsons and tragic fallout with NBC, Conan has remained a mainstay in the comedy world.

His 2021 Emmy nomination comes, of course, on the heels of his recent retirement from his late night-show Conan on TBS.

Conan’s top-of-show monologues don’t hold a candle to Colbert’s charm, and his interviews can sometimes lack the smoothness of Meyer’s, but where he shines is in his on-the-spot remote segments.

I can’t honestly say how many times I’ve watched and RE-watched all of the videos his team has uploaded to the TeamCoco channel, all of which have amassed tens of millions of views to date. Conan’s quick wit and improvisational skill are effortless and consistently entertaining, whether he’s getting his skin scraped off at a Korean bathhouse or helping his associate producer reorganize his office.

Conan O’Brien will always be an inspiration to anyone who thinks of themselves as funny and likes doing funny things—all I’ll say is an Emmy win would be the perfect way to cap off an incredible and illustrious 11 years of comedy.

Sarina Watched...

How To with John Wilson

When everything was dark and cold and COVID during the harsh winter of 2020, I had few things bringing me joy. One of them was How To

Tragically, not a single Emmy nom :( 

With the hundreds of thousands of hours of seemingly incongruent footage he’s taken over the years of his personal life, NYC, and his travels, John Wilson teaches us how to do many things. But mostly, we get to see reality through his eyes.

Part of his charm is his neurosis and lack of social abilities, so when he’s speaking to us through voiceover, it feels as though we get to know him better than anyone else ever has. This sense of borderline uncomfortable tender intimacy was an entirely new viewing experience for me, seemingly devoid of any editing or performance.

Of course, that can never be true—some level of self-awareness is necessary and also impossible to shed when creating something for an audience. But this version of himself is so unapologetically raw in the most unexpected way that I began to question my reality entirely.

How do we do the things that we do? At the end of the day, we are all absolutely fucking bonkers. John Wilson knows that, and sees that, and asks you to see the same in himself, in yourself, and everyone you’ve ever met because to deny that is true insanity.

Natalie Watched... 

I May Destroy You

I May Destroy You is a rare gem of vulnerability in an industry obsessed with remakes, adaptations, and franchises guaranteed to be at least semi-successful.

Michaela Coel's limited series is provocative and un-bingeable (in the best way). Coel cracks her consciousness open to audiences as she tries to make sense of the senseless: her own experience with sexual assault. Her transparency results in an autofiction epic that examines the relationship between ourselves and bodily autonomy.

After being completely snubbed at the Golden Globes, I'm happy that the Emmys gave it the recognition (NINE nominations!!!) it deserves.

Win or lose, I'm confident that I May Destroy You escaped the grips of modernity and will be remembered for its ability to empathize and understand our beautiful yet messy human experience.

What did you think of what was nominated,
what wasn’t,
what won?!
tell us your thoughts below