With 10 nominations, the nature documentary “Planet Earth II” is the most recognized nonfiction program at this year’s Emmy Awards, so it seems like it should be a safe bet to win Best Documentary Series, especially after the original “Planet Earth” won this award in 2007. But while Emmy voters like nature programs, they’re also big fans of true crime stories lately, which could be good news for the Netflix series “The Keepers.” Who do you think will win?
“Planet Earth II” explores animal life around the world in six episodes that explore islands, mountains, jungles, deserts, grasslands, and even cities, where animals have learned to adapt in human-built habitats. Because the series is driven so much by its lavish sights and sounds it’s no surprise that it picked up two nominations for cinematography, two for picture editing, two for directing, and one apiece for music composition, sound editing, and sound mixing. That’s even more than the original series, which had seven total bids and won the awards for cinematography, music composition, and sound editing in addition to the top category, so watch out for “Planet Earth II” in those races this year as well.
But true crime has grown in popularity in recent years, so “The Keepers” might appeal to Emmy voters. HBO’s “The Jinx” became a water-cooler hit for its examination of real estate heir Robert Durst, who is suspected in three deaths and was arrested the day the finale episode aired. It won this category in 2015. Then in 2016 Netflix enjoyed similar success, claiming this award with “Making a Murderer.” That series followed the controversial case against Steven Avery, who was exonerated of a sexual assault conviction in 2003 only to be re-arrested for a murder in 2005. When you also consider the success of the “Serial” podcast, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” (winner of nine Emmys), and “O.J.: Made in America” (Oscar winner and nominated for six Emmys this year), it’s clear there has been a surge of interest in real-life criminal cases.
“The Keepers” investigates the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969. It inspired passionate interest from audiences when it premiered in May, but it has a significant disadvantage in that it has no other nominations. “The Jinx” and “Making a Murderer” had six apiece. So it looks like “The Keepers” has significantly less overall support from the academy.
But perhaps there’s an upset in the making from another series entirely. PBS’s “American Masters” has been on the air since 1986. It doesn’t have the buzz of “Planet Earth II” or “The Keepers,” but it has something potentially even more important: a whopping 10 previous victories in this category. Like “The Keepers,” it has no other nominations this year, but underestimate it at your own risk.
Rounding out the category are the ESPN sports series “30 for 30” and the Netflix culinary series “Chef’s Table,” both of which are nominated for the second time.
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