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Ultimate Emmys Bracket: When They See Us Tries to Take Out Veep

Plus Chernobyl takes on The Good Place.
  • (Photos: Netflic, HBO)
    (Photos: Netflic, HBO)

    In the days leading up to the 2019 Emmy Awards, we're pitting the 26 shows with the most nominations against each other to determine Primetimer readers' favorite Emmy-nominated series of the year. Full details in our kick-off post. 

    On to the next last of match-ups in round two... (Seed number appears before show title)

    Round 2, Match 7

    (Photos: Netflix, HBO)

    When They See Us
    Network: Netflix
    Nominations: 16, including Outstanding Limited Series

    While others may have received more Emmy nominations, no show feels more worthy of Emmy acclaim than When They See Us, director Ava DuVernay's limited series about the falsely accused "Central Park Five," the young black kids who were accused of the sexual assault and attempted murder of a jogger in New York City's Central Park. In DuVernay's hands, the series never loses sight of how pertinent it is to 2019's politics and current events, but that doesn't get in the way of telling the clear-eyed and almost unbearably empathetic story of these boys whose lives were stolen and their families who fought to keep them from being forgotten. In any other year, it would almost certainly waltz to an Emmy win, but this year's competition is fierce.

    Network: HBO
    Nominations: 9, including Outstanding Comedy Series

    The final season of HBO's vicious comedy series about politics and the unbelievably self-centered people who take part in it, took an extra year getting to us in order to give Julia Louis-Dreyfus time to undergo cancer treatment. Fortunately, both the show and it leading lady returned with zero signs of rust. Selina Meyer hit the campaign trail with her customary desperate zeal, and the ensuing twists and turns gave us moments like Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) killing a small-town dog mayor, while Amy (Anna Chlumsky) defected from Team Meyer to sell her soul and become the Kellyanne Conway of Jonah Ryan's (Tim Simons) campaign.

    The Matchup: Your vote in this matchup will depend heavily on the sentiment you hold in your heart for Veep. Which seems like an odd determinant considering Veep resists sentiment at every turn. But final seasons have their own sentimental orbit, and watching showrunner David Mandel and star Julia Louis-Dreyfus land that plane so successfully is impressive. But is it more impressive than Netflix and Ava DuVernay teaming up for the most shattering TV experience of the year?


    Round 2, Match 8


    (Photos: HBO, NBC)

    Network: HBO
    Nominations: 19, including Outstanding Limited Series

    Premiering in the wake of the Game of Thrones' final season, few expected a gray, somber look at the historical event that was the Chernobyl disaster to become the must-see television event that it became, but that's just more credit to writer Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck for their stark, disciplined approach, and to stars like Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgard. The vacuum left behind by Game of Thrones and Veep means that the next great HBO series could go in a lot of exciting directions, and shows like Succession and Los Espookys are having a lot of fun in that sandbox. Of course, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who'd call Chernobyl "fun," but it was certainly gripping.

    The Good Place
    Network: NBC
    Nominations: 5, including Outstanding Comedy Series

    After three seasons of lovable characters, ethical philosophy, bonkers comedy, and wild twists of plot, NBC's fervently beloved comedy series got its first Emmy nod for Best Comedy. Having aired its most ambitious season, the show presents a double-edged sword for Emmy voters: its spotlight episodes are knockouts, but you'll need a whole lot of context to jump right in.

    The Matchup: It's the cult fave about a Kafka-with-froyo vision of the afterlife versus the somber, chilling true story of the greatest nuclear disaster after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Feel good versus feel dread. Jason Mendonza versus cooling towers. Vote your conscience.

    Watch for more matches in the coming days (and follow us on Twitter and/or like us on Facebook for direct access to the polls as they're released).


    Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, Chernobyl, The Good Place, Veep, When They See Us, Emmys Bracket