“Mindhunter” seemed to have everything going for it when it premiered in October 2017. It had a great pedigree (producer Charlize Theron, producer-director David Fincher), the marketing muscle of Netflix, and strong reviews. But it under-performed during awards season, getting completely blanked by the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and even the Critics’ Choice Awards. After a long hiatus the show returned for a second season in August 2019. So awards voters, now’s your chance to make it up to the eerie crime thriller.
Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany star as FBI agents who, with the help of an academic (Anna Torv), start a behavioral unit that studies violent criminals who commit repeat offenses — serial killers, specifically. While season one focused on the creation of the unit and its chilling interviews, season two put those theories into practice with its season-long focus on the real-life Atlanta child murders that terrorized the city’s black community from 1979-1981.
The reviews were still great, and Fincher continued to direct multiple episodes in addition to continuing on as a producer. So is the landscape any different this year for a “Mindhunter” windfall? Well, it has to fend against the last season of “Game of Thrones,” though the Globes and SAG Awards have always been ambivalent about that show despite its consistent dominance at the Emmys.
However, other awards heavy-hitters are back in the running after their own long hiatuses: “Stranger Things,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Crown.” And that doesn’t count new dramas like “The Morning Show,” plus “Big Little Lies” shifting from limited series to drama series categories after it aired its second season. So it doesn’t look like it will be any easier to maneuver.
But gosh darn it I hope awards voters come around this time. The show manages to paint haunting images with hardly any violence actually shown on screen, just the deeply committed performances of actors investing in vivid, sinister dialogue in the kind of chilly atmosphere Fincher has always been so good at generating — from “Se7en” to “The Social Network” to “House of Cards.”
And there’s precedent for delayed recognition. “Fleabag” just won the Emmy for Best Comedy Series for its second season after not being nominated for a single award for its first. And “Schitt’s Creek” took five seasons to catch on before picking up its first Emmy, Television Critics Association and Critics’ Choice nominations this year. Now “Mindhunter” deserves to make a killing.
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