“Bo Burnham: Inside,” the virtuoso musical extravaganza that hilariously and heartbreakingly captured the isolation caused by the pandemic, won three Emmys last year, albeit not the main category presented during the televised ceremony. That award, Outstanding Variety Special, went to “Hamilton,” a 5-year-old recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s popular musical.
I don’t mention that to revive the past — although I’m tempted, since Burnham’s special was best on TV last year and I can’t think of a bigger touch in Emmys history — but to point out the campaign’s comedy, drama, and limited series, some of the most worthy shows are those that are a little further off the radar. Hope the voters paid attention. Here are seven that deserve attention.
The Beatles: Back (Disney+)
Yes, Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking documentaries made us look at the Beatles’ final year in a different way. We certainly wondered how we could possibly have thought that Yoko Ono broke up the group by just sitting next to John while she worked on a crossword. Most importantly, this thrillingly intimate eight-hour treasure was a terrific eye-catcher, drawing us into the circle of the world’s biggest rock band and letting us hear how they create, banter and bicker, and turn pastel suits (and turtlenecks) into statement pieces. I’ve watched it twice and each time it ended I was discouraged and thought, ‘I’m going to miss these guys.’ No doubt a third viewing is coming up.
“Couples Therapy” (Showtime)
Couples Therapy is now in its third season starring therapist Orna Guralnik mmm-hmmm make their way through sessions in which a handful of longtime couples relieve their challenges and attempt to restore and reignite their love. The show has made the laser-focused Guralnik a star and accomplished a small miracle in the reality TV genre – it authentically depicts the disagreements and trauma of its subjects without exploiting their humanity. Plus, if you’re in a relationship, it’s educational. Examine your non-verbal communication! It speaks volumes folks!
How To With John Wilson (HBO)
Documentary filmmaker Wilson takes a meandering approach to seemingly banal subjects and then skillfully transforms them into profound inquisitions about the human condition. In season two, Wilson felt more confident about thinking more about his own story, but he was still odd and awkward — we wouldn’t have it any other way — in his approach to subjects like learning to appreciate wine and (my favorite) developing spontaneity . Wilson’s unique vision — and his view of New York — has garnered him so many followers that HBO renewed “How To” for a third season.
“Lizzo takes care of the big grrrls” (Prime Video)
She sings. she raps She plays the flute. She’s inspired viral dance trends that are happy even when (or maybe because) fans get the moves wrong. You’ve heard their songs even if you don’t know it. And now Lizzo is a TV star. Your reality series, a competitive show that follows a quest for plus-size dancers, has lived up to every expectation you had of it. There is plenty of positivity, energy, and lessons in self-love, along with tears of disappointment and happiness. And lots of Lizzo!
“Selena + Cook” (HBO)
Selena Gomez gained new fans for her work with comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short in the Hulu comedy Only Murders in the Building last year, which may lead some to discover this light-hearted cooking show that’s been around for a while three years. The series began as an exercise for Gomez in getting comfortable in the kitchen during the pandemic. She moved up in season 2 and now, in her own words, “she doesn’t play,” although she still has her moments. (Who has not set off a smoke alarm – this week – while you’re cooking something?)
“Top Chef” (Bravo)
“Top Chef” appeared at the Emmys in its second season 15 years ago and has been nominated every year since. It has only won the reality competition series trophy once, usually losing to “The Amazing Race” or “The Voice” or “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in the last four years. Shows tend to run in this category, suggesting voters are rewarding brands rather than taking a close look at the nominated seasons. This year offers an opportunity to break the monotony, as Top Chef: Houston was one of the most emotional and exciting chapters of the series and continues the show’s pivot away from little drama and towards more inspiring stories. Well done Buddha!
“We need to talk about Cosby” (Showtime)
W. Kamau Bell’s four-part series took a measured look at Bill Cosby’s career, the importance of his cultural significance to black Americans and, of course, the stories of the many women who have accused the comedian of sexual assault. Bell admits to struggling with the contradictions his subject raises. “There were times when I was doing this show that I wanted to quit,” he says in the closing episode. “I wanted to hold on to my memories of Bill Cosby before I knew about Bill Cosby. I think I can, as long as I admit – as long as we all admit – there was a Bill Cosby we didn’t know.” This willingness to ask tough questions makes Bell’s exhaustive series a provocative, essential sight.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-06-21/emmys-2022-predictions-documentary-reality-lizzo Emmys 2022: standout documentaries and other series