Hey, Emmy voters: ‘The Leftovers’ is back, and it is better than ever

The Leftovers” makes its long-awaited return for its third and final season on April 16. I’ve seen seven of the last eight episodes, and all I can say is that they are wonderful. It will be an unforgivable crime if the TV academy overlooks this show again. Emmy voters, it is time to sit up and take notice of the best show on television.

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Season three of “The Leftovers” picks up where season two left off as the world anxiously awaits the seventh anniversary of the “Sudden Departure.” That was when two percent of the world’s population (140 million people) suddenly and inexplicably disappeared off the face of the Earth, leaving loved ones behind to grapple with the painful existential questions of how, why and where so many people vanished into thin air. Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and Nora Durst (Carrie Coon), both irreparably damaged by that fateful day and the journeys they have endured since, leave Miracle, Texas and travel to Melbourne, Australia. They are eventually joined by family and friends to wait out the impending anniversary in the last few audacious and heart-wrenching episodes of the series.

Although overlooked by the Emmys, the first two seasons of the show garnered attention from the Critics’ Choice Awards, which nominated actors Christopher Eccleston and Coon in both 2015 and 2016 (with Coon winning on her second nomination). Theroux, Ann Dowd and Regina King also picked up nominations last year along with one for the show as Best Drama Series.

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Showrunner Damon Lindelof has been nominated twice by the Writers Guild of America:  in 2015 for Longform Adapted Screenplay for the show’s pilot (with co-writer Tom Perrotta), which was won by “Olive Kitteridge,” and again this year for Episodic Drama for “International Assassin” (with co-writer Nick Cuse), which they lost to an episode of “Better Call Saul.”

This year, Theroux and Coon are being entered at the Emmys as leads, while Amy Brenneman (herself a multiple Emmy nominee for “NYPD Blue” and “Judging Amy”), Liv Tyler, Kevin Carroll, Eccleston, Scott Glenn and Tony winner Lindsay Duncan are submitted as supporting players. They all have dynamite episodes and Brenneman in particular could be a strong contender if she submits the sixth episode of the season.

The writers branch has traditionally been kind to genre series over the years, especially those that were overlooked in other main categories. In 2000 Joss Whedon broke through with a writing bid for the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episode “Hush,” and acclaimed space opera “Battlestar Galactica” netted two consecutive writing nominations in 2007 (“Occupation/Precipice” by Ronald D. Moore) and 2008 (“Six of One” by Michael Angeli). Two years ago, before “The Americans” finally broke through with bids for Best Drama Series and its two leads, the writers nominated it for “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” And  Lindelof, twice-nominated  by the WGA for “The Leftovers,” was a regular Emmy nominee for “Lost” (with 5 episodes nominated from 2005 to 2010).

As for the directing category, with “Game of Thrones” and “The Knick” out of contention, there’s at least three spots open in that race. This is great news for “The Leftovers” director/executive producer Mimi Leder, a nine-time Emmy nominee, and winner of two Emmys as a producer of “ER” in 1995 and 1996 as well as an Emmy for directing the landmark “Love’s Labor Lost” episode in 1995. The season opener, “The Book of Kevin,” might be her best bet, or perhaps the series finale might be better, but that one remains shrouded in mystery for now.

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