After steadily building up momentum since the show premiered on Netflix in 2017, “Big Mouth” looks like it might finally be poised to take home its first win for Best Animated Program during part one of Sunday night’s Creative Arts Emmys ceremony. It also doesn’t hurt that last year’s champ, “Rick and Morty,” was not eligible to compete this year. But it will be facing some stiff competition from three previous winners of this category as well as a program that won several awards last year.
“Big Mouth” submitted their season four premiere, “The New Me.” Nick (Nick Kroll) arrives at summer camp and reconnects with his old friend, Seth (Seth Rogen). When Andrew (John Mulaney) arrives, Nick attempts to make Andrew jealous of his friendship with Seth, but Andrew and Seth end up becoming very close. Things get complicated for the boys when they realize one of their friends is transgender and is now attending the camp as Natalie (Josie Totah). When Natalie goes to the girls’ bunk, Jessi (Jessi Klein) is determined not to like her but eventually becomes friendly with Natalie. Nick’s jealousy of Andrew and Seth’s friendship causes him to have a panic attack and is bitten by Tito the anxiety mosquito (Maria Bamford).
“Big Mouth” is in a solid position to win this. The episode received universal acclaim for its depiction of pre-teens dealing with anxiety as well as how it portrayed Natalie in coming out to her peers as trans and casting a trans actress to voice the character. After only getting a nomination for Best Music and Lyrics its first time around, the show has been nominated for Best Animated Program for the past two years. Last year, the program took home two Emmys for Best Character Voice-Over Performance (for Maya Rudolph, who is nominated again this year) and Best Derivative Interactive Program for a series of stories on Instagram called, “Big Mouth Guide to Life.”
If there’s one show that could take down “Big Mouth,” it might be “Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal,” a series that is centered around a caveman and a dinosaur who become companions after both face horrific tragedies. The submitted episode, “Plague of Madness,” sees the duo encounter another dinosaur that’s infected with a flesh-eating virus that causes it to look like a zombie. When the infected reptile sees the two, they become his next target. They are chased by the mad dinosaur and eventually trick it into running off a cliff. The infected dinosaur’s weight makes it fall into a sea of magma and both the caveman and his dinosaur friend watch as the infected dinosaur slowly and agonizingly succumbs to its surroundings. Tartakovsky brings a huge heft to this project having created such Emmy-winning programs as “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Samurai Jack” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars.” After airing the first half of the first season on Adult Swim in 2019, the show won three juried animation awards at last year’s Emmys. It’s possible the violence in the episode could be a turn-off for some, but past winners (most notably the “Pickle Rick” episode of “Rick and Morty”) have been able to win with very graphic violence. Don’t forget that the people voting on this award are specifically in the animation branch of the TV Academy and an auteur project on this level could be like catnip to them.
“Bob’s Burgers” is back and this year, the program is nominated for “Worms of In-Rear-Ment,” the second episode of the show’s 11th season. Linda is looking forward to taking the family out for an evening at the symphony, but those plans soon come crashing down when Gene realizes that he’s contracted pin-worms. As Linda tries to do everything she can to make sure the family outing still happens, everyone else in the family realizes they might have been exposed, which causes Linda to worry that she might be a bad mother. Having won the category twice before (for “Mazel-Tina” in 2014 and “Bob, Actually” in 2017) means that this show shouldn’t be counted out. However, even though this episode is very nice and centers on the reliable family dynamic that has made the show such a success, the idea of rewarding an episode about being infected with worms feels like that might be too far of a stretch.
“South Park” returns to this category for the first time in three years with their hour-long episode, “The Pandemic Special.” The residents of the Colorado town are feeling all the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s starting to take its toll on all of them. In the midst of running a special on his marijuana, Randy fears that as scientists get closer to developing a vaccine that they will discover that his intimate escapades with a bat and a pangolin in Wuhan were what caused the disease to transfer to humans. At the same time, teachers are refusing to come back to school until they are able to be vaccinated. This leads to out-of-work police officers being hired as substitute teachers. There’s been a lot of criticism towards “South Park” in recent years, specifically in relation to both how they approached the Trump presidency as well as their newer format of having a continuous storyline throughout a season. This episode was definitely more in the mold of the show’s earlier iterations, which have claimed this prize five times and is a strong entry, but probably not strong enough to win.
Rounding out this year’s competition is “The Simpsons,” which is singled out for “The Dad-Feelings Limited,” the eleventh episode of the show’s 32nd season. Homer and Marge end up befriending Comic Book Guy and his wife, Kumiko at a trivia night. When Kumiko spends time with Maggie, she tells her husband that she wants children. At first Comic Book Guy is against this but starts to have a change of heart after spending time with Bart and Lisa. When the two become upset and he’s unable to comfort them, Comic Book Guy travels back to his home. It’s revealed that he took solace in comic books because his father never went to any of his baseball games as a kid. Comic Book Guy makes up with his father and returns to Kumiko, telling her he’s ready to start a family. It’s a surprisingly sweet episode that could pull off a win if it tugs the heart strings of the right people. It’s also impossible to count out this show after its racked up 11 wins in this category, with their most recent victory two years ago still being a huge shocker.
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