Awards

‘Russian Doll,’ ‘Sex Education,’ ‘Veep’ Among TV’s Showrunners’ Emmy Contenders Picks

Executive producers of top Emmy contender comedy, drama and limited series weigh in on what shows (other than their own, of course) they hope will see awards recognition this year.

Janine Sherman Barrois (“Claws”)
“I love ‘Insecure’ because it’s so bold and honest. Its relatability is universal and it might be one of the funniest shows on television.”

Jordan Cahan and David Caspe (“Black Monday”)
“What the Kings are doing on ‘The Good Fight’ is just crazy. Under the clever disguise of a legal procedural they’ve hidden the most brilliantly f—ed-up show on TV. The tone whips from sophisticated satire to social thriller to character study to goofy farce — while tackling impossible issues like race, gender, and politics through songs and soliloquies, courtroom battles and cartoons.” — Cahan

“ ‘Pen15’ is somehow hilarious and heartbreaking, broad and grounded, all at the same time. And it proves that an idea, which I’m sure some people told them was too sketchy, can be not sketchy at all and completely real. Almost too real at points. — Caspe

Steven Canals (“Pose”)
“I’d love to see ‘Sex Education’ get some love. It’s a dramedy that is delicately and intelligently written. Without pandering to the audiences desire, it unpacks all the joys and struggles with being a socially awkward teenager. I laughed, I cried and I cheered.”

Alexandra Cunningham (“Dirty John”)
“I love ‘Counterpart.’ J.K. Simmons on that show is a revelation. He’s playing these two men with no makeup, nothing: It’s all voice work and physicality, and it’s one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen.”

Liz Feldman (“Dead to Me”)
“I’m rooting for ‘Gentleman Jack.’ It’s a thrill to see such a smart, irreverent period piece about a strong, brilliant, gay woman. I was already a fan of Sally Wainwright, but Anne Lister is my new hero.”

Neil Gaiman (“American Gods,” “Good Omens”)
“‘What We Do In the Shadows’ is so elegantly done. Genuinely funny vampire fiction, with some gently serious performances. Bloody beautiful.”

Sera Gamble (“The Magicians,” “You”)
“I’m rooting for ‘Sex Education.’ The performances are delightful, it’s directed with this great mix of sincerity and wryness, and the scripts are so sharp.”

Leslye Headland (“Russian Doll”)
“I am a ‘Veep’ superfan. The last season was brilliant toxic perfection.”

Bruce Helford (“The Conners”)
“I really hope ‘Shameless’ gets nominated. I’m from Chicago — though I’m a Northie, not a Southie — and we share an actress, Emma Kenney, but the main reasons are the consistency of brilliance and a no-punches-pulled look at the rougher end of working-class lives. The working class are virtually invisible on American TV.”

Steve Holland (“The Big Bang Theory”)
“I love ‘Fleabag.’ Phoebe Waller-Bridge is an amazing writer and performer. The show is consistently irreverent, hilarious and touching. Season 1 was fantastic and I think Season 2 was even better. I love to be surprised by a show, and as much as I had been told to watch this show by friends, I was still surprised by how great it was. Can’t wait for more.”

Ben Cory Jones (“Boomerang”)
“‘I worked on Wall Street and ‘Billions’ is getting it exactly right. Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti are great. To me it really shows how versatile Damian is as an actor because he really plays a smart, sly Wall Street guy but you like him; he’s the Wall Street guy you actually want to win. It’s appointment TV for me.”

Angela Kang (“The Walking Dead”)
“ ‘Better Call Saul’ is one of the few shows that seems to be universally beloved by writers, for good reason. The character work, the plotting, the tone are all so artful and entertaining. On the comedy side, I’m loving ‘Russian Doll.’ Leslye Headland, co-creator of the series, was a fellow staff writer on the wonderful but short-lived series ‘Terriers,’ and I’ve always been blown away by her voice and vision.”

Mike Kelley (“What/If”)
“I think ‘Veep’ is brilliant and I can’t believe how good this season was, nor how eerily on-point it was. I also did a pilot, that I have a ton of affection for, years ago with Anna Chlumsky, and I’ve really enjoyed watching her become Kellyanne Conway.”

Michelle King and Robert King (“The Good Fight”)
“I think ‘Bob’s Burgers’ is one of the funniest shows on TV.” — Michelle King

“‘Russian Doll.’ That’s one of the more striking new shows. It’s basically ‘Groundhog Day.’ I found it to be incredible fun and well-acted.” — Robert King

Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
“I’ve watched the second season of ‘Fleabag’ three times now and think it’s pretty effing perfect, so I’m rooting for Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] and co.”

Aline Brosh McKenna (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”)
“I adored ‘Russian Doll’; I’m a huge fan of Leslye Headland, who wrote and directed the movie ‘Bachelorette,’ an under-appreciated gem. And really enjoyed ‘A Very English Scandal,’ directed by the elegant Stephen Frears, still crushing it way into his 70s. I also watch our delightful network-mate ‘Jane the Virgin’ every week when it airs and root for them for everything always.”

DJ Nash (“A Million Little Things”)
“One word: ‘Barry.’ It has it all. Great characters, mystery, dark comedy and emotion.”

Marti Noxon (“Sharp Objects”)
“I’d love to see the final season of ‘Catastrophe’ nominated. I just think that show is so well-written and so poignant. And the last episode in particular was kind of a mind-blower. Talk about going there. That, I found incredibly impressive. The whole series was great, so I’d love to see them get recognition.”

Tanya Saracho (“Vida”)
“ ‘Killing Eve’ just came back, and I was gagging, dying; I could not wait. It rattled me. I love that show. And of course, ‘One Day at a Time’: Justina Machado and Rita Moreno, I hope they get their due.”

Sam Sheridan (“I Am the Night”)
“I’ve been hooked on ‘Chernobyl’ and am astounded by the immersive quality of this world, the relentless horror of the storytelling, and the supremely high bar of quality all across the show, in every aspect. It’s a masterpiece of horror; and the horror is all unseen, floating in the air, invisible, unknowable, and tragically unavoidable.”

Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”)
“Please give all the awards this year to ‘Fosse/Verdon.’ Every single award. I’m also loving ‘Better Things’: It’s gritty and funny and heartfelt and edgy all at once. Pamela Adlon has shifted gears so beautifully this season in the wake of her high profile writing partner’s departure and that deserves acknowledgment.”

Lena Waithe (“Boomerang,” “The Chi”)
“Hopefully ‘Special’ on Netflix gets some love. ‘Ramy’ is really well done. I’m sure ‘Fosse/Verdon’ will get some love; I’ve been enjoying watching that. It’s complex and very nuanced. And, honestly, ‘Big Mouth’: It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s crass, it’s honest, it’s emotional. It’s everything you want in a TV show.”

John Wells (“Animal Kingdom,” “Shameless”)
“It’s a tie between ‘Vida’ and ‘Better Things.’ Wonderful casts, wonderful writing. Stories that need to be told, told brilliantly.”

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