Entertainment

Emmy preview: 'Watchmen' and 'The Mandalorian' lead the way into a strange virtual weekend

Posted September 18, 2020 12:09 p.m. EDT

— The Emmys will be handed out this weekend, but 70 categories have already been presented during the lead-up to the main event in what is perhaps the strangest week in the award's 72-year history, while highlighting the unwieldy nature of the TV industry.

Seventy-five awards (some juried categories have multiple winners) have been awarded so far to 26 different networks and streaming services, some of which, like Disney+, Apple TV+ and Quibi, didn't exist last year at this time. Another 54 categories will be doled out over the weekend -- 30 on Saturday at the Creative Arts show, and two dozen during the primary telecast on Sunday.

Two programs have already amassed five awards each, and both are culled from the fantasy/sci-fi/comic-book genres that "Game of Thrones" ably represented during its march through Emmy history: "Watchmen," an HBO limited series adapted from the graphic novel and movie; and "The Mandalorian," an addition to the "Star Wars" universe that made "Baby Yoda" the world's most popular meme, from Disney+. (HBO and CNN share parent company WarnerMedia.)

For the first time, the Emmys will be staged virtually, with nominees staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the producers are determined to be "live, live, live," as they described the plan in a call with reporters, dispatching 130 cameras into the field and hoping nothing (or at least very little) goes technically wrong.

Netflix, with its vast programming lineup, broke a record with 160 nominations, but that's no assurance of taking home the most trophies, in part because it's frequently competing with itself.

Thus far, over the four-night presentation HBO -- the Emmy leader for two decades before Netflix caught up -- and Netflix have each totaled a dozen Emmys, followed by Disney+ with six. That's largely thanks to "The Mandalorian" -- also a nominee for best drama -- which collected honors in such areas as visual effects, cinematography and sound.

Although the highest-profile categories are yet to come, there have already been a few milestones, including Emmys for a pair of nonagenarians: Legendary producer Norman Lear, 98, topped his own record as the oldest person ever to win the award for "Live in Front of a Studio Audience," the ABC special; and naturalist David Attenborough, 93, received the third Emmy of his illustrious career for narrating BBC America's "Seven Worlds, One Planet."

The Creative Arts ceremony will be televised on FXX, with the primary telecast to be broadcast on ABC. Tyler Perry will receive the Governors Award.

Ratings for the Emmy show -- and indeed all award shows -- have been declining but fell sharply last year, to a record-low 6.9 million viewers on Fox.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.