NPR's Eric Deggans On Which Shows Deserve To Win

Sep 17, 2017
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It's a red carpet day for television. The 69th primetime Emmy Awards are tonight. But we have awards of our own. Our TV critic, Eric Deggans, has voted on the shows he thinks deserve awards. So now we present the Deggys (ph).

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: After years of watching the Emmys and throwing stuff at my TV when they got winners wrong, I had an idea - why not create my own awards? And the Deggys were born. Now, I've only picked out a few of the most competitive categories to talk about here, starting with a big one - Best Comedy Series. There's seven nominees, including "Blackish" and "Modern Family" on ABC, "Veep" on HBO. But the Deggy goes to...

(SOUNDBITE OF DRUM ROLL)

DEGGANS: ...FX's "Atlanta." Now, "Atlanta" gets the Deggy because it's a great example of what's working on TV comedy now. It's a sharply written, authentic story, this time about the lives of young black men from creator and star Donald Glover. He pokes at issues like policing in communities of color, classism and cultural fetishism in ways that make you think before you even realize you're thinking.

Here, Glover is trying to convince his cousin and his whacked-out best friend to let him manage his cousin's budding rap career. But the conversation takes a surreal, really funny turn.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ATLANTA")

DONALD GLOVER: (As Earnest Marks) I'm not asking for money.

BRIAN TYREE HENRY: (As Paper Boi) You should be. Ain't you homeless?

GLOVER: (As Earnest Marks) Not real homeless. Not using a rat as a phone or something.

HENRY: (As Paper Boi) Don't be racist, man. That make you schizophrenic. That don't make you homeless.

LAKEITH STANFIELD: (As Darius) No. If you could use a rat as a phone, man, that would be genius. I mean, there's like five rats for every one person in New York alone. Yeah, man, I mean, it'd be messy but worth it.

DEGGANS: "Veep" will probably win this category. The Emmy Academy loves the show. And let's face it. The Trump administration shenanigans are making it look more like a documentary every day.

Next up, Best Drama Series. The seven nominees here include - HBO's "Westworld", "The Crown" and "Stranger Things" on Netflix and "This Is Us" on NBC. But I'm giving the Deggy to...

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DEGGANS: ...Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale." There's lots of competition here. But "The Handmaid's Tale" deftly updated the classic dystopian novel about women forced to serve as breeders for an American theocracy. It spoke directly to modern day misogyny and the oppression of women. And star Elisabeth Moss was mesmerizing as one of the handmaids describing the room where she's kept.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE HANDMAID'S TALE")

ELISABETH MOSS: (As Offred) A window with white curtains. And the glass is shatterproof. But it isn't running away they're afraid of. A handmaid wouldn't get far. It's those other escapes - the ones you can open in yourself given a cutting edge. My name is Offred. I had another name, but it's forbidden now. So many things are forbidden now.

DEGGANS: Some cynics say "Westworld" will win just because it has the most Emmy nominations of any TV drama. But I'm thinking it will be "This Is Us," which is a huge network TV hit.

Let's look at a really interesting category - Best Supporting Actress in a drama. We've got six nominees here from Chrissy Metz in "This Is Us" to Ann Dowd in "The Handmaid's Tale" and Uzo Aduba in Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black." But I'm giving the Deggy to...

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DEGGANS: ...Chrissy Metz and Ann Dowd. Hey, it's my contest so I make the rules. I really couldn't choose between Dowd's vicious headmistress on "The Handmaid's Tale" or Metz' tortured sibling on NBC's family drama "This Is Us." And I think Metz might actually win this one tonight.

OK, last category - Best Supporting Actor in a drama. Seven amazing actors are up for this one, including John Lithgow from "The Crown" and Jeffrey Wright from "Westworld." But I'm giving my Deggy to...

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DEGGANS: ...Michael McKean from AMC's "Better Call Saul." OK, this is kind of a trick answer because McKean wasn't even nominated. But he was amazing as Chuck McGill, a brilliantly dysfunctional lawyer and older brother to the main character on the show, Bob Odenkirk's Jimmy McGill.

Now here, Chuck is telling Jimmy why he's convinced that his brother will always be a crooked lawyer and a toxic person.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BETTER CALL SAUL")

MICHAEL MCKEAN: (As Chuck McGill) Jimmy, this is what you do. You hurt people over and over. And then there's this show of remorse.

BOB ODENKIRK: (As Jimmy McGill) It's not a show.

MCKEAN: (As Chuck McGill) I know you don't think it's a show. If you're not going to change your behavior - and you won't...

ODENKIRK: (As Jimmy McGill) I could...

MCKEAN: (As Chuck McGill) ...Why not just skip the whole exercise? In the end, you're going to hurt everyone around you. So stop apologizing and accept it. Frankly, I'd have more respect for you if you did.

DEGGANS: I'm expecting John Lithgow, who brilliantly played Winston Churchill on "The Crown," to take this prize. We'll find out who the Emmy Academy chose tonight. But my Deggy awards told you about the coolest shows and performers in a fraction of the time you'll spend watching that show. You're welcome. I'm Eric Deggans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.