HBO’s “Watchmen” came out on top of the 2020 Emmy nominations with a whopping 26 bids, more than any other program that aired within the 2019-20 eligibility period. Gold Derby now predicts it will dominate the Emmys, winning five above-the-line races: Best Limited Series, Actress (Regina King), Supporting Actress (Jean Smart), Writing (“This Extraordinary Being”) and Directing (“This Extraordinary Being”). If true, it would be a rare feat indeed considering this timely program about mask-wearing and social injustice was completely skunked at the Golden Globes. Hmm, what’s with this huge disparity between the two respected awards organizations?
As it turns out, “Watchmen” competed as a drama series last winter at precursors like the Golden Globes, Critics Choice’ and SAG Awards. Many people just blindly assumed there would be a second season, particularly after the strong showing for its first, which aired last October-December to great acclaim.
It wasn’t until January 2020, a month after the Golden Globes revealed their nominations, that showrunner Damon Lindelof announced the show’s completion. He gave his blessing for someone else to continue the comic book adaptation for HBO in the future, but he would not be involved. Thus, “Watchmen” is now contending as a limited series with the Television Academy.
But last year it was still thought of as a drama series, where competition is always much fiercer thanks to the sheer number of entrants. Case in point: there are about 200 dramas in awards contention this year and only about 40 limited series. And at the Golden Globes, there are only five slots apiece for each series and acting category, so getting in there is extremely tough.
Another curious wrinkle: the Hollywood Foreign Press Association bends over backward each year to spread the wealth so that every network and studio gets invited to their big party. Of their five nominees for Best Drama Series, two already came from HBO: “Succession” and “Big Little Lies.” So even if the Golden Globes were huge fans of “Watchmen,” nominating it might have meant another network possibly being dis-invited — how uncouth!
Looking back, the Critics’ Choice Awards seemed to have its finger on the pulse, as those voters nominated “Watchmen” four times, including Best Drama Series. It even took home a pair of acting trophies for King as Best Drama Actress and Smart as Best Drama Supporting Actress. Their fourth bid was for supporting player Tim Blake Nelson, who was strangely snubbed at the Emmy Awards.
What about the all-important guilds? The Screen Actors Guild snubbed “Watchmen” in the drama races, though it did recognize the stunt ensemble, a category that combines all genres. The Producers Guild gave it a nom for Best Drama Series. The Directors Guild rewarded Nicole Kassell with an individual win for Best Drama Directing. And the Writers Guild nominated it in Best Drama Series, but gave it a trophy in Best New Series.
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