Five Emmy Narratives to Expect in 2023: A ‘Better Call Saul’ Farewell, Limited Race Churn and More HBO-Netflix Jockeying

Is Emmy season ever really over? The glut of television and a collective obsession with accolades have ballooned the TV awards race into a year-round affair. So, while there may be a slight respite from FYC billboards, panels and screenings, they’ll be back soon — even if nobody watches the show itself. With that it mind, here are a few themes to watch out for next Emmy season.

1. Better Call Saul‘s Last Chance
Even the most casual internet denizen likely encountered some hysterics about the ongoing snubs of Better Call Saul, particularly given the Breaking Bad spin-off’s final season just wrapped a few weeks back. The furor is not exactly without merit. The AMC drama has never won a single Emmy, despite 46 nominations. (Even How I Met Your Father took two wins this year.) Well, it’s not over yet. Like the parent series that spawned it, Saul’s final run was broken into two parts. The six episodes that aired in the summer, including those with guest appearances by Emmy bait Carol Burnett, will be eligible in 2023. That includes all categories, so there is still some for Rhea Seehorn, Bob Odenkirk, Peter Gould and company to get at least one swan-song salute.

2. Stranger Things Will Sit This One Out
Saul wasn’t the only series to split its season in half, but Stranger Things will likely not be part of the Emmys conversation next year. There is always the chance — especially given the bloated runtime of that finale — that Netflix could petition the TV Academy to consider one of the two episodes as a TV movie. After all, this year’s nominations proved that the movie category has become a bizarre catch-all for Emmy hopefuls with zero chance elsewhere, but it seems like too much of a stretch in this instance. The most likely scenario is that Stranger Things’ Emmy opportunities are off the table until the fifth and final season airs — presumably before the former tweens who dominate the cast are old enough to rent cars and run for president.

3. To Limited or Not to Limited?
The board at the TV Academy is often accommodating to the pleas of studios and platforms trying to pitch series in categories where strategists either think a program is better suited (read: more likely to be nominated). An hourlong show — The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, for example — would compete as a drama without such an appeal. But this group also says “no” a lot of the time. That’s likely the answer HBO will get if it pitches The White Lotus as a limited series again. Emmy rules state that a series can only compete in the limited/anthology categories if there are no recurring characters or storylines. Season two of Monday night’s big limited series winner features both the titular luxe hotel chain and Emmy recipient Jennifer Coolidge playing the same character. Nothing will be official until the board weighs in early next year (likely between February and April) — but, barring some catastrophic drop in buzz, don’t be surprised if The White Lotus transitions to the comedy categories come 2023.

4. Netflix vs. HBO, Round VI
An embarrassment of riches is never enough. In Hollywood, one must have the most embarrassing embarrassment of riches. That’s why the back-and-forth between Netflix and HBO (both among nomination counts and total wins) has become the source of annual bragging, sparring and speculation around town. This year’s Emmys presented a decisive victory for legacy Emmy darling HBO, by both measurements, but it happened one year after a similarly strong showing from its streaming frenemy. This will not dissipate in 2023. If anything, the fact that 2021 drama winner The Crown (Netflix) and 2020 and 2022 drama winner Succession (HBO) will be vying against one another for the first time in three years will add even more, ahem, drama to the race. Throw in the annual unpredictably of what’s on deck in the limited series categories , and you’ve got a real horse race — and, in an economy of layoffs, stock dives and mergers, a trip to the glue factory for the loser isn’t necessarily off the table.

5. Letting The Winners Speak
Interrupting this awards analysis for some slight editorializing. People who win awards deserve their time in the fluorescent sun of the Microsoft Theater. They shouldn’t be played off so the audience can endure another montage of cop shows that weren’t nominated. And they certainly shouldn’t have to share their career high point with a late-night host playing Weekend at Bernie’s. Sure, Jennifer Coolidge being interrupted by dance music was funny. And there’s almost definitely no lingering beef between Quinta Brunson and Jimmy Kimmel. But, in the run up to the 2023 show, these moments are going be brought up again — much like “the slap” will be next Oscar season. Producers would be wise to make sure these incidents aren’t repeated.

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