There are a few kinds of Emmy nominees that can often be expected to win. Not nearly as much as the Golden Globes, but the Emmys do often love new, shiny things (Lost, Mad Men, and Homeland all won in their first years, as did The Handmaid’s Tale this year). Shows or actors that were unfairly looked over the year before are often given their due the following year, whether warranted or not (Ben Mendelsohn, for instance, won in his second year of Bloodline, even though he was featured far less in a much lesser season, while the Emmys are still about 5 years in debt to Regina King, but they are slowly working it off). The Emmys also like to award actors and shows on their way out, which is why I thought The Leftovers was a shoo-in this year. I was wrong. However, Kyle Chandler finally won in his final year of Friday Night Lights, and Jon Hamm finally won in his final year of Mad Men after being nominated for every season of the series. Likewise, after being ignored in its first few seasons, Breaking Bad picked up a lot of wins in its final two seasons (I am hoping that The Americans benefits from this next season). The political environment can also help a show out — The Handmaid’s Tale and SNL certainly benefited from it this season, which is totally fair. A show should not be divorced from our political context.
There are nominees, however, that fail to fall into any of those categories, and despite otherwise being very, very good, can sometimes be ignored. This year that show was Better Call Saul.
I don’t at all blame Emmy voters for ignoring it — in fact, I’m totally fine with it. I would have voted for Sterling K. Brown over Bob Odenkirk; I might have even chosen Handmaid’s Tale over Saul, although I would have chosen Jonathan Banks (or Michael McKean, who was criminally not nominated) over John Lithgow, and I would have picked Vince Gilligan over Handmaid’s Tale’s Reed Morano just to give Saul a recognition gimme (I would have taken Moss over Rhea Seehorn, too, but no one was given that choice because Rhea Seehorn was wrongly, wrongly overlooked in the Best Actress category).
But it’s fine. I’m not unhappy with the choices that were made. Better Call Saul is not a sexy show. It does not do politics. There’s very, very little diversity on the series; it’s not a new, shiny show; and it’s not a show on its way out. All Better Call Saul is is a perfectly executed, flawlessly acted, brilliantly written, deftly directed character drama that never fails to impress.
I don’t need to see Better Call Saul win awards; I just don’t want it to be forgotten, because it is an excellent television series every single year, and it should not be totally ignored simply because it meets or exceeds the incredibly high expectations we have for it (this season of Saul was its best yet, probably as good as any season of Breaking Bad). Indeed, Saul is the Julia Louis-Dreyfus of the Best Drama category, save for one respect: It never actually wins.