What I Watched This Week: 11 Aug 2019

Legion – “Chapter 27” (A-) / series finale
About as satisfying a wrap-up as a show this messy and ambitious could have. Whereas last year’s musical showdown (set to the Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes”) was a letdown, this year’s (set to Pink Floyd’s “Mother”) felt a lot more resonant and fulfilling. The ending doesn’t let David off the hook, but it does make right a lot of his mistakes. While this show was inconsistent, it was one of the most daring things on American TV.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Mayday” (A) / season finale
Last season’s rescue mission felt frustrating because June went back after all that effort to get her back. But this season justified it and then some, as she focused the energy she had to save her daughter (who’s now God knows where) on rescuing as many other stolen children as she could. The reunion of Kiki and her dad was one of the most emotionally overwhelming things I’ve seen on TV this year. And the show’s girl power moment felt earned, unlike the one in Avengers: Endgame.

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Too Early for This: Oscar Picks – 13 Aug 2019

With the announcement of a new Academy president (a casting director, no less), there’s buzz building that the Oscar will finally honor ensemble casts, or at least the casting director that helped pick them out. We’ll see if that actually becomes a category, but for now, we’ll stick with the usual.

The Farewell
Ford v. Ferrari
The Goldfinch
The Irishman
Just Mercy
The Laundromat
Little Women
Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Queen & Slim

The skinny: Starting with 10 this year, because there is absolutely no frontrunner at the moment, and only The Farewell and Once upon a Time in Hollywood have even been released so far. Most of these are premiering at Telluride, Toronto and/or Venice, so it would be very easy for one or more to get sunk by bad early buzz. Dry Run and The Last Thing He Wanted (both starring Anne Hathaway) don’t even have a firm release date, while Fair and Balanced certainly seems likely since Vice was a big player last year, but there’s been nary a peep about Showtime’s The Loudest Voice miniseries, which covers the same topic.

Sam Mendes, 1917
Lulu Wang, The Farewell
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino, Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim

The skinny: Is this finally the year the Academy nominates more than one woman here? It would certainly seem possible finally, especially since Greta Gerwig – already a nominee for Lady Bird – has a surefire contender in Little Women.

Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Robert De Niro, The Irishman
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Tom Hanks, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Daniel Kaluuya, Queen & Slim

The skinny: Tom Hanks hasn’t been nominated since Cast Away, despite consistently turning in great work. Playing Mr. Rogers seems like a lock, but recent history would suggest otherwise. And Antonio Banderas should finally get to call himself a nominee, especially if Pain and Glory hits as big as Roma.

Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Brie Larson, Just Mercy
Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim
Renée Zellweger, Judy

The skinny: Unless it turns out to be a fiasco like The Birth of a Nation, Cynthia Erivo can go ahead and start writing her acceptance speech.

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What I Watched This Week: 4 Aug 2019

Legion – “Chapter 26” (A-)
Takes the “Baby Hitler” problem to its logical conclusion, as Sid has to argue with Kerry that killing infant David would be just as reprehensible as what David does as an adult. Meanwhile, in the past, David’s overconfidence once again portends horrific consequences. But I could have spent an entire season in this world. Give me a horror movie set in post-war Morocco with a charismatic villain with psychic powers.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Sacrifice” (B+)
June goes full Walter White, letting Eleanor die after an overdose. Is this the solution to her problem? If Breaking Bad taught us anything, it will actually create more problems. But I’m intrigued to see what happens to Fred and Serena next season, when they’ll presumably be prosecuted.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Liars” (A-)
One of the season’s best episodes, as June realizes she’s essentially on her own in her mission. Fred and Serena have a tender moment, as they imagine a world where they’re better off, without the dystopia they helped build. But it’s fleeting, because the episode ends with one of its biggest twists to date: She’s set him up to be arrested once they reach Canada.

Legion – “Chapter 25” (B+)
The biggest flex of the season, with the entire episode focused on an alternate reality where Sid doesn’t grow up too fast and live with an abuser. She’s kept safe by Melanie and Oliver from the Big Bad Wolf (special guest star Jason Mantzoukas) in a planter in New York City. Only this show would try something so audacious when we’re this close to the finale.

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Streaming Picks: August 2019

Top Picks
The Fifth Element – Prime 8/31
Idiocracy – Hulu 8/1
Jupiter Ascending – Netflix 8/1
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary – Hulu 8/16
It’s an all sci-fi month here, each offering something different. The Fifth Element is a colorful over-the-top adventure, featuring a dialed-to-11 performance by Gary Oldman. Idiocracy is the cult classic (that I actually saw in theaters!) that’s turned out to be frighteningly prescient. And Jupiter Ascending is possibly the last feature films the Wachowskis will ever get to make: a big, expensive space opera that’s often hilarious and obsessed with our place in the universe.

But the real gem is The Amazing Johnthan Documentary, which I saw at Sundance. It’s a wild ride about a comedian who’s never 100% honest, no matter whom he’s talking to.

Recent Selections
Non-Fiction – Hulu 8/2
The Kleptocrats – Hulu 8/5
Plus One – Hulu 8/6
The Swan Princess: Kingdom of Music – Hulu 8/6
The Beach Bum – Hulu 8/9
Andy Irons: Kissed by Gods – Prime and Hulu 8/9
Dogman – Hulu 8/15
Own the Sky – Hulu 8/15
Rattlesnakes – Hulu 8/15
Zoo-Head – Hulu 8/15
The Bookshop – Hulu 8/18
A Simple Favor – Prime and Hulu 8/22
Hail, Satan – Hulu 8/22
Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Prime and Hulu 8/23
Operation Finale – Hulu 8/23
Mapplethrope – Hulu 8/24
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Hulu 8/28
Body at Brighton Rock – Hulu 8/29

Otherhood – Netflix 8/2
Photograph – Hulu 8/16
In the Shadow of the Moon – Netflix 8/9
The Little Switzerland – Netflix 8/16
Sextuplets – Netflix 8/16
American Factory – Netflix 8/21
Jawline – Hulu 8/23
Falling Inn Love – Netflix 8/29
Kardec – Netflix 8/29
La Grande Classe – Netflix 8/30

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What I Watched This Week: 21 Jul 2019

Big Little Lies – “I Want to Know” (A-) / season finale
About as satisfying is possible, though of course the final shot is a tantalizing tease for an as-yet-unannounced Season 3. This season definitely had some issues, chief among them being why even do this? But it ultimately proved itself by being of consistently excellent. The first season’s theme was: You don’t really know your neighbors, even if you’re a nosy little shit. This season’s theme was: Your parents will fuck you up.

Legion – “Chapter 24” (A-)
An action-packed installment that still allows David to say goodbye to everyone along the way. Of course, his plan remains flawed, even in its revised form. That last shot is ominous, because even if he succeeds, something else will go wrong.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Witness” (A-)
“You made this world,” June tells Commander Lawrence. “How long did you think it would be before it came for you?” The horrors he subjected on Gilead force him to commit even more crimes (legal in the eyes of the state) to save his wife and the rest of his household. It’s a harrowing moment, and one that sets off the rest of the season. (Finally.)

“Chapter 20” (A-)
“Chapter 21” (B+)
“Chapter 22” (A)
“Chapter 23” (A-)
Season 2 got out in front of its skis a little, and crashed in trying to stick the landing. Season 3 so far has corrected significantly, nearing the highs of Season 1. This is all about consequences and the inability to change the past. The high point so far was the third episode, which focused on the tragic love story of David’s parents (yes, his father is Charles Xavier).

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What I Watched This Week: 15 Jul 2019

Big Little Lies – “The Bad Mother” (B+)
I’m firmly on Team Celeste after that part of the trial. Denis O’Hare gives an all-time evil lawyer performance as Mary Louise’s counsel. But all the ladies are on the verge of falling apart: Renata learns Gordon did the most cliche thing of all (slept with the nanny), Bonnie is ready to confess, Jane might also lose Ziggy to Mary Louise and Madeline might have seen her marriage slip away.

Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein (B-)
Generates more of a shrug and a “Huh?” than a lot of genuine laughs, but I’m glad someone is funding funny people’s weird ideas. Worth it for Harbour’s late-period Orson Welles impersonation.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Heroic” (B)
A bottle episode that sends June to the brink before pulling her back. A lot of it doesn’t work, but the scene between the doctor (guest star Gil Bellows) and June, where they talk about her suicidal (not homicidal, as she insists) thoughts and actions, snapped it into place.

Deadwood – Season 3 (A- average)
Another tremendous season, with Gerald McRaney as the big bad. Al mostly does the right thing all season, but while it’s a bit unsatisfying since we never got a fourth season, it stands as one of the bleakest endings for any American show. After fighting against the forces of evil, making alliances with other factions, they lose. Big time.

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What I Watched This Week: 7 Jul 2019

Big Little Lies – “Kill Me” (A)
“You’re drowning,” Bonnie’s mom tells her as she emerges from her coma. She’s not the only one. As Celeste and Jane try to find some normalcy with their recently suspended boys, it’s clear none of them are actually keeping their heads above water. And I don’t even know what sort of kinky shit Ed is about to get up to with the wife of the man Madeline cheated on him with.

Aziz Ansari: Right Now (B+)
I’m still wrestling with the non-apology apology at the beginning, but the bulk of the special is often quite hilarious, with Ansari’s trademark delivery skewering the Wokeness Olympics, as well as his own past material.

The Handmaid’s Tale – “Unfit” (A)
I’m kind of alone on this island of thinking this seasons has been good, but this is the first truly great episode of the season, as we explore the past of Aunt Lydia, whose mind has been so warped by the philosophy of Gilead, she couldn’t even enjoy life. There was another path, where she could have been a great teacher, mentor and lover, but she chose darkness.

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2019 Emmy Picks: Limited Series and TV Movies

I have some time this summer, so I’m resurrecting this series where I try to predict who will be the nominees at this year’s Emmy Awards. With a lot of last year’s nominees ineligible, in theory it will be easy to predict who the Academy will make room for. But it probably won’t, especially in loaded categories like Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie. Check out my picks for the Limited Series and TV Movie categories below.

Chernobyl (HBO)
Escape at Dannemora (Showtime)
Fosse/Verdon (FX)
Sharp Objects (HBO)
True Detective (HBO)
When They See Us (Netflix)

Potential Spoilers:
The Act (Hulu)
Catch-22 (Hulu)
Good Omens (Amazon)
I Am the Night (TNT)
The Little Drummer Girl (AMC)
Maniac (Netflix)
A Very English Scandal (Amazon)

In my dreams: N/A

The skinny: Despite a lot of acclaimed shows, this is down to two that premiered in late May: HBO’s Chernobyl and Netflix’s When They See Us. Both are big downers with extreme attention to detail about real-life tragedies. Chernobyl has the lead, simply because more people have actually seen it, but this will be close.

Fionn Whitehead in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix)
Brexit (HBO)
Deadwood (HBO)
King Lear (Amazon)
Native Son (HBO)

Potential Spoilers:
Icebox (HBO)
O.G. (HBO)

In my dreams: N/A

The skinny: Black Mirror has won the last two years, so I’m not expecting that to change now, especially with the technical accomplishment of Bandersnatch.

Mahershala Ali in True Detective
Mahershala Ali, True Detective
Jared Harris, Chernobyl
Benicio Del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
Anthony Hopkins, King Lear
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon

Potential Spoilers:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Brexit
Peter Dinklage, My Dinner with Hervé
Jamie Foxx, Live in Front of a Studio Audience
Woody Harrelson, Live in Front of a Studio Audience
Jonah Hill, Maniac
Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
John Malkovich, Agatha Christie’s ABC Murders
Ian McShane, Deadwood
Ashton Sanders, Native Son
Michael Shannon, The Little Drummer Girl
Alexander Skarsgard, The Little Drummer Girl
Jeffrey Wright, O.G.

In my dreams: Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood

The skinny: An extremely stacked category, but this is Ali’s to lose. He’s tremendous in the role, and just won an Oscar for being the only good part of Green Book.

Amy Adams in Sharp Objects
Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
Joey King, The Act
Florence Pugh, The Little Drummer Girl
Emma Stone, Maniac
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon

Potential Spoilers:
Connie Britton, Dirty John
Aunjanue Ellis, When They See Us
Niecy Nash, When They See Us

In my dreams: Paula Malcomson or Molly Parker, Deadwood

The skinny: While Adams has had this locked down since last summer, a late surge from Patricia Arquette and Michelle Williams could mean she loses yet another award. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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2019 Emmy Picks: Drama

I have some time this summer, so I’m resurrecting this series where I try to predict who will be the nominees at this year’s Emmy Awards. With a lot of last year’s nominees ineligible, in theory it will be easy to predict who the Academy will make room for. But it probably won’t, especially in loaded categories like Actress in a Drama Series. Check out my picks for the Drama categories below.

The Night King on Game of Thrones
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Homecoming (Amazon)
Killing Eve (BBC America)
Ozark (Netflix)
Succession (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)

Potential Spoilers:
Billions (Showtime) – never nominated
Bodyguard (Netflix) – new show
Pose (FX) – new show

Ineligible: The Americans, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, Westworld

In my dreams: N/A

The skinny: With The Americans over and everyone else delayed or getting out of Game of Thrones‘ way, this category is wide open. There should be plenty of room for last year’s favorites that missed the cut here (Killing Eve, Ozark) and new shows (Homecoming, Succession), plus Better Call Saul, which was ineligible last year. While there’s plenty of love for Pose and Bodyguard, I think the power of HBO and Amazon will hold those new shows back. But of course, none of this matters, because Game of Thrones is winning yet again.

Richard Madden in Bodyguard
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Richard Madden, Bodyguard
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Billy Porter, Pose

Potential Spoilers:
Kevin Costner, Yellowstone (1 win for Actor in a Limited Series for Hatfields & McCoys)
Brian Cox, Succession (1 win for Supporting Actor in a Limited Series for Nuremburg)
Stephan James, Homecoming (never nominated)
Jeremy Strong, Succession (never nominated)
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us (2)

Ineligible: Ed Harris, Matthew Rhys, Jeffrey Wright

In my dreams: Rufus Sewell, The Man in the High Castle

The skinny: I genuinely have no idea who might win this year, but I’m pretty confident in this line-up. I think Ventimiglia’s reduced role this season means he’ll lose his slot, leaving room for newbies like Richard Madden and Billy Porter.

Julia Roberts in Homecoming
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Laura Linney, Ozark
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Julia Roberts, Homecoming

Potential Spoilers:
Christine Baranski, The Good Fight (6 nominations for this role on The Good Wife)
Sarah Snook, Succession (never nominated)
Robin Wright, House of Cards (5)

Ineligible: Claire Foy, Tatiana Maslany, Elisabeth Moss, Keri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood

In my dreams: Keeley Hawes, Bodyguard

The skinny: Another wide-open race, which means Jodie Comer and Mandy Moore will finally get their due. But House of Cards‘ limp finish means Robin Wright is toast. Now can it be a tie between Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh?

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Bobby Cannavale, Homecoming
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
Justin Hartley, This Is Us

Potential Spoilers:
Kieran Culkin, Succession (never nominated)
Asia Kate Dillon, Billions (never nominated)
Matthew Macfadyen, Succession (never nominated)
Alan Ruck, Succession (never nominated)

Ineligible: Joseph Fiennes, David Harbour, Mandy Patinkin, Matt Smith

In my dreams: Shea Whigham, Homecoming

The skinny: It is well past time for Banks to get his, which means Dinklage is bound to win once again. (To be fair, no above-the-line talent involved in this season of Game of Thrones deserves an Emmy.) I think the Succession bros cancel each other out, but Macfadyen has the showiest role and thus might sneak in ahead of Justin Hartley.

Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones
Julia Garner, Ozark
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul
Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones

Potential Spoilers:
Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones (never nominated)
Susan Kelechi Watson, This Is Us (never nominated)

Ineligible: Alexis Bledel, Millie Bobby Brown, Ann Dowd, Vanessa Kirby, Thandie Newton, Yvonne Strahovski

In my dreams: Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve

The skinny: They’re really gonna nominate three ladies for Game of Thrones and one of them isn’t going to be Gwendoline Christie. What a damn shame. At least Rhea Seehorn will finally get a long overdue nod. Almost the entire slate will be new this year, which will hopefully keep this category unpredictable.

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2019 Emmy Picks: Comedy and Variety

I have some time this summer, so I’m resurrecting this series where I try to predict who will be the nominees at this year’s Emmy Awards. With a lot of last year’s nominees ineligible, in theory it will be easy to predict who the Academy will make room for. But it probably won’t, especially in loaded categories like Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Check out my picks for the Comedy and Variety categories below.

The cast of Veep
The Good Place
The Kominsky Method
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Ineligible: Atlanta, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley

Potential Spoilers:
Dead to Me (Netflix) – new show
Russian Doll (Netflix) – new show

In my dreams: Fleabag

The skinny: Veep‘s last hurrah has this in a walk, though personally Barry should win for defying expectations and turning in a second season in some ways even better than the first.

Bill Hader in Barry
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Bill Hader, Barry
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Potential Spoilers:
Jim Carrey, Kidding (never nominated for acting)
John Goodman, The Connors (7 nominations for this role on Roseanne)
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek (never nominated for acting)
Randall Park, Fresh off the Boat (never nominated)

Ineligible: Larry David, Donald Glover

In my dreams: Pete Holmes, Crashing

The skinny: There’s a small possibility Jim Parsons could win for his final turn as Sheldon Cooper, but he hasn’t been nominated since 2014. Also, let’s just reiterate: He has four Emmys already. FOUR. That is a crime. So Bill Hader can and should win once again.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Allison Janney, Mom
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Potential Spoilers:
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me (2 nominations in this category for Samantha Who?)
Kristen Bell, The Good Place (never nominated)
Alison Brie, GLOW (never nominated)
Aidy Bryant, Shrill (1 nomination for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Saturday Night Live)
Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me (1 nomination for Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Mad Men)
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie (1)
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2)
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek (1 nomination for Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Temple Grandin)
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (4)
Tracey Ullman, Tracey Ullman’s Show (4 wins for acting: 2 for Individual Performance in a a Variety or Music Program for The Best of the Tracey Ullman Show and Tracey Takes on New York; 2 for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Love & War and Ally McBeal)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag (never nominated for acting)

Ineligible: None

In my dreams: Maya Rudolph, Forever

The skinny: By far the most crowded category, with none of last year’s eight nominees ineligible. The only new blood I’m expecting is Natasha Lyonne (who could have a serious shot were she not running against Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Also, Emmys gonna Emmy and bring back Candice Bergen, who once won so many times here she took herself out of contention. But how great would it be to see the likes of Catherine O’Hara or Phoebe Waller-Bridge here?

Henry Winkler in Barry
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Matt Walsh, Veep
Henry Winkler, Barry

Potential Spoilers:
Ed Asner, Dead to Me (7 nominations in this category including 3 wins for The Mary Tyler Moore Show)
Anthony Carrigan, Barry (never nominated)
Gary Cole, Veep (1 nomination for this role as Guest Actor in a Comedy Series)
William Jackson Harper, The Good Place (never nominated)
Manny Jacinto, The Good Place (never nominated)
Marc Maron, GLOW (never nominated)
Andrew Scott, Fleabag (never nominated)
Timothy Simons, Veep (never nominated)
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live (1)

Ineligible: Louie Anderson, Brian Tyree Henry

In my dreams: Kevin Dunn, Veep

The skinny: Maybe we’ll all be spared another nomination for Alec Baldwin’s tired Trump impression and let a worthy actor take the spot, but complacency comes easy to this group. My worst fear is that Timothy Simons, who has been crushing it on Veep since the very beginning – but especially the last two seasons – will become like Nick Offerman, crafting one of the all-time great TV characters with nothing to show for it.

Alex Borstein in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Laurie Metcalf, The Connors
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace

Potential Spoilers:
D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place (never nominated)
Olivia Colman, Fleabag (1 nomination for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for The Night Manager)
Sarah Goldberg, Barry (never nominated)
Jameela Jamil, The Good Place (never nominated)
Rita Moreno, One Day at a Time (6 previous acting nominations in other categories, including 2 wins)

Ineligible: Zazie Beetz

In my dreams: Paula Pell, A.P. Bio

The skinny: I think they can probably give Aidy Bryant and Leslie Jones some time off, and replace them with the ladies of The Good Place, but the most deserving nominee (Sarah Goldberg) is going to have a tough time breaking into this group.

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