Are you seriously behind on television and don’t have time to binge-watch everything before Sunday night’s Emmy Awards? We’ve got you covered.
You don’t need dozens of hours getting up to speed. You just need four. Here, we present episodes from likely and deserving winners in the best drama and comedy series categories, based loosely on our predicted winners.
Catching up using this method will obviously mean some series-spoilers and not totally getting every plot detail. But you’ll get a taste of what you’ve been missing out on, and maybe figure out which series to binge on later once you do have some time.
The Americans (best drama series nominee)
Episode: The Day After (Season 4, episode 9)
Time commitment: 46 minutes
The basics: Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys played a pair of killer Soviet spies who live in Northern Virginia with their two children. Watching any episode from the FX Cold War spy drama out of sequence will be jarring, so just be prepared.
Why this episode: This episode does a great job combining the character dynamics with a major cultural touchstone, the 1983 ABC TV movie The Day After, about a potential nuclear holocaust, which still ranks as the highest-rated TV movie.
Also consider: Persona Non Grata, nominated for an outstanding writing Emmy, and The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears, which used a brilliant time-jump and has been called one of the best of the series.
Mr Robot (best drama series nominee)
Episode: eps1.9_zer0-day.avi (Season 1, episode 10)
Time commitment: 54 minutes
The basics: In this USA thriller, Rami Malek plays a troubled young cyber-security engineer turned hacker recruited by Christian Slater’s character.
Why this episode: This show is a rarity among the Emmy nominees: Its first season has received nominations, but the second season is already available to watch. So why not start with the finale from season one, and if you like it, then just dive right in to the next season? This episode includes a lot of answers to big questions that built up over the series. “Watch Mr Robot simply for its beguiling oddness, personified in Malek’s outstanding, trip-wired lead performance,” Washington Post critic Hank Stuever writes. “With his brilliantly buggy eyes and tortured grasp on reality, Elliot represents a modern sense of alienation.”
Also consider: The pilot episode, eps1.0_hellofriend.mov, which was nominated for an outstanding writing Emmy. This may be a better option for those of you who are wary of season two, which has struggled to follow-up on the success of the show’s first season.
Game of Thrones (best drama series nominee)
Episode: Battle of the Bastards (Season 6, episode 9)
Time commitment: 60 minutes
The basics: The HBO drama follows individuals jockeying for power in the fantasy world created by George R. R. Martin, where life is mostly miserable and for whatever reason most people speak with British accents. If you’re just starting now, be at peace with not getting all the intricacies: There have been so many feuds, broken alliances and deaths already. Some of us have been watching the entire series and still get lost, especially with the names. Too many names!
Why this episode: The crazy-intense battle scenes, expertly directed, including one of the biggest action sequences of the series, with the kind of spectacle that’s usually reserved for the big screen. The episode reportedly cost more than $10 million (Dh36.7 million), required 660 crew members, involved 70 horses and was shot over 25 days.
Also consider: The Door (episode 5), if for nothing else than getting all the pop culture references to “hold the door.”
Veep (best comedy series nominee)
Episode: Mother (Season 5, episode 4)
Time Commitment: 28 minutes
The basics: On the HBO series, Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Vice-President/President Selina Meyer, who, along with her team, tries to amass relevancy and power while getting through the moronic and disastrous sorts of things that happen in political Washington.
Why this episode: Seeing how Louis-Dreyfus’s character handles a death in her family is the perfect way to get to know Selina Meyer.
Also consider: Congressional Ball features a major confrontation, a gala and a nod to a weird Washington tradition, The Hill’s “50 hottest” list.
Master of None (best comedy series nominee)
Episode: Parents (Season 1, episode 2)
Time commitment: 30 minutes
The basics: Aziz Ansari plays an actor in New York City whose biggest success so far is a yogurt commercial. And while Ansari’s character is South Asian, that’s not a central show premise any more than the fact he is a man, or young, or in New York City, or has friends.
Why this episode: Ansari’s actual parents play his fictional parents in this episode, which is nominated for a best writing Emmy. As we wrote last year: “For many children of immigrants, this episode wasn’t just entertaining. It was affirming. It was finally being able to see the bedrock narrative of your life told with nuance, not stereotypes. With characters, not caricatures.”
Also consider: Nashville, a delightful and unique take on a first date.
black-ish (best comedy series nominee)
Episode: Hope (Season 2, episode 16)
Time commitment: 22 minutes
The basics: The ABC single-camera comedy centres around the Johnsons, a multi-generational, upper-middle class black family living in a mostly white neighbourhood.
Why this episode: This is one of the most emotional episodes of the series, and perhaps its most important, showing how comedies can tackle some of society’s most pressing issues. The plot focuses on the high-profile police shooting of a black teenager and how adults grapple with talking to their children about police brutality. Show creator Kenya Barris told The Washington Post’s Bethonie Butler, “I have never been as afraid about an episode of television that I’ve written in my life.”
Also consider: Season 2 finale Good-ish Times, which features a dream sequence that pays homage to the 1970s sitcom Good Times, developed by Norman Leader. Barris has said Lear’s approaches to sitcoms greatly influenced black-ish.
Don’t miss it!
The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards will air live in the UAE on OSN First HD at 4am on September 19 with a repeat at 7pm.