The 75th Primetime Emmy Awards will take place on Tuesday (NZ Time), four months after being ambushed by the Sag-Aftra strike (remember that?). If the extra viewing time wasn’t enough to let you catch up on the seemingly endless wave of new shows hitting streaming services, you’re probably not alone.
Aside from the whirlwind that was the final season of Succession, or the couch-bound travel fest of The White Lotus in Sicily, a raft of other nominated shows that are worth your attention. Here are seven bingeworthy contenders to watch in the lead-up to the Emmys. Happy viewing!
Outstanding limited or anthology series
Most drivers have encountered the odd middle finger or aggressive honk but Beef takes it to a whole new level. Danny (Steven Yeun) and Amy (Ali Wong) are both on the edge when a tense encounter in a Los Angeles car park unleashes their various frustrations. This revenge comedy, based on a real-life incident, twists and turns until you don’t know which way is up – or whether anyone will survive.
Jury Duty, Amazon Prime Video
Outstanding comedy series
Being roped into jury duty is bad enough, but imagine realising your time there was part of some extravagant experiment – one that had been filmed for the world to see. This was Ronald Gladden’s reality, and thanks to Jury Duty, we can watch every minute of it play out. Gladden, who signed up to be part of a TV documentary about LA’s criminal justice system, had no idea that everyone around him was an actor (even James Marsden plays an exaggerated, egotistical version of himself), making his reactions to the increasingly bizarre scenarios even sweeter. With elements of Big Brother and The Truman Show, this is pranking on a scale we haven’t seen on screen for a long time.
The Last of Us, Neon
Pedro Pascal, outstanding lead actor in a drama series
Even if you haven’t seen The Last Of Us, you probably know that Pedro Pascal was deemed the internet’s “zaddy” of 2023. He can largely thank (or blame) this post-apocalyptic drama series, which had audiences swooning over Joel (Pascal), a grieving father who agrees to escort snarky teenager Ellie (Bella Ramsey) on a perilous journey in the hope she holds the key to civilisation’s survival. Based on the Naughty Dog video game franchise, it’s a bold and emotionally raw interrogation of life amid chaos.
Poker Face, TVNZ+
Natasha Lyonne, outstanding lead actress in a comedy series
Equipped with a bullshit detector that would put the world’s best detectives to shame, Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne) finds herself solving mysteries while on the run from a casino boss following a suspicious death. Blending elements of Ocean’s Eleven, Columbo and the works of Agatha Christie, Poker Face tests your truth-telling ability in a new location, and with a different supporting cast, every episode.
Yellowjackets, Neon (season 1 & 2) or Netflix (season 1)
Outstanding drama series
The beauty ofYellowjackets is that it leaves viewers wondering whether to laugh or scream. After a private plane carrying a high school girls’ soccer team to a tournament crashes in the Canadian wilderness, the girls’ humanity is put to the test. Reminiscent of Lost – its non-linear chronology flashes back and forward in time – it’s a hair-raising survival tale that fleshes out (pun intended) the potential cannibal within all of us.
Despite receiving seven nods for its first season at the Emmys in 2022, it walked away empty-handed. Perhaps this year will bring it out of the wilderness.
The Bear, Disney+
Outstanding comedy series
While season one of this frenetic restaurant drama impressed us, season two locked us in – especially given its sublime guest cast, which included Jamie Lee Curtis, Olivia Colman, Gillian Jacobs and Bob Odenkirk. Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) is guiding the Chicago diner through its fine-dining rebirth, a journey filled with even more chaos and emotional turmoil than season one. A love note to great food and a painful examination of fractured family dynamics, The Bear is one of the best shows on television. It has already won four awards at the Creative Arts Emmys (including for best casting for a comedy series). Let’s see if it can cook up some more.
Fleishman is in Trouble, Disney+
Lizzy Caplan, outstanding lead actress in a limited or anthology series
If you enjoyed the book, you’ll lap up the series, written by the same author, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who also served as executive producer. Liver specialist Dr Toby Fleishman (Jesse Eisenberg) falls into said “trouble” when his ex-wife wife, Rachel, fails to return from a yoga trip, leaving him to look after their two young children. Its female narrator guides us through marital woes and gendered privilege and despite its star-studded cast (Lizzy Caplan, Claire Danes) and popular source material, this remained a hidden gem. Could the Emmys bring it to the fore?
New Zealanders will be able to watch The Emmy Awards live on The Television Academy’s YouTube page from 2pm on January 16.