What’s next at the Emmys? – IndieWire

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We may never see a phenomenon like the “Squid Game”. Hopefully so. The Emmys is the kind of voting body/cultural institution that needs to get this kind of external jolt every year, just as it did with the movie awards, where non-English language productions caught fire with audiences and grabbed the attention of the awards. So far, “Squid Game” has been a perfect Emmy storm with legendary word of mouth, Netflix support and a quality series with elements that made voting even easier.

But even if these blitzkrieg conditions are seemingly impossible to intentionally recapture, the success of “Squid Game” provided a road map for other potential international hits to succeed on their own. A year after a true phenomenon, it seems the TV world has largely been waiting for Season 2 of the series to become the next international series to enjoy such success.

What if we didn’t have to wait?

The Rehearsal Nathan Fielder Finale HBO

Elizabeth Olsen on love and death

In a theoretical world where international series didn’t have to historically overperform to gain attention, there are many other pieces of the “Squid Game” puzzle among other worthy series that deserve at least a look. They might not be in the biggest conversations when Emmy voting opens on June 15, but here are some elements of last year’s breakout that you’ll find in this year’s lineup from around the world.

Listing of a proven winner

Glory Song Hye-kyo in
Song Hye-kyo in “The Glory”.Graphyoda/Netflix

“Squid Game” was a high-level implementation of a basic premise. It’s a story of survival that’s easy to grasp. Similarly, the year’s biggest Korean drama contender, who could have taken a spot, operates on a similar premise. Netflix’s “The Glory,” released in two parts at the turn of the calendar year in the heart of the Emmys rush, tells the story of a woman who takes revenge on bullies during her school days. “The Glory” offers a different brand of twisted escapism. Led by Song Hye-kyo in a demanding performance that requires various transformations as the series progresses, “The Glory” inhabits this murky territory without clearly defined heroes or villains. The field for best actress in a drama is already crowded, but few contenders do as much for their respective series as Song has through 16 episodes.

The next few months will be dominated by HBO series about children fighting to control their patriarch’s family business. (One is currently airing, but don’t forget that a third season will debut right after the eligibility period closes.) For those looking for a less corrosive financial empire than news conglomerates or megachurches, consider… wine. “Drops of God” is the latest entry in Apple TV+’s upper echelon of mostly non-English-language series (joining “Losing Alice” and “Pachinko”), centered on an elaborate two-person race for world control. -famous wine guide and the world’s largest private cellar. One is the protégé of the late famous wine expert, while the other is his estranged daughter. Showrunner Quoc Dang Tran (whose French Disney+ series “Parallels” does teen-centric, dimension-hopping sci-fi better than “Stranger Things” ever did) took on the challenge of adapting a popular Japanese manga and a series that he made of it, which is intimate, but still has a world-hopping, continent-crossing atmosphere.

With “Euphoria” out of the running this year, there’s an opportunity for something like “The Class” to fill the modern tinist story void. An adaptation of Netflix’s runaway hit “Elite” itself, “Class” follows a group of new students at an affluent Mumbai private school as they learn the inner workings and teenage hierarchy. (For more on how “Class” brings some depth and insight to what could have been a simple, formulaic translation of a new country’s school system, read Proma Khosla’s piece on the new season.) It’s familiar enough in its structure and differences. the execution that can lead to an available competitor.

Sometimes, when you have a story ready to win an award, it confuses you. Of the serial killer stories released between June of last year and June of this year, the French Netflix drama “Black Butterflies” was the best told. The series (starring global star Niels Arestrup) is striking in its treatment of power, memory and cyclical violence, an interesting contrast to the murder-centric docudramas that are at the heart of many campaigns. year, not just from Netflix. Expand the scope of crime a little wider and you’ve got the raw power of “Snabba Cash,” the second season of a Netflix drama set in Stockholm that’s just as ready for a drama-hungry audience as the first.

Crime stories have been one of the most prolific areas of recent Emmy success in the drama categories, surpassed perhaps only by raunchy period dramas. By the way….

Costumes and colors

The Empress Netflix
“The Empress”Netflix

An undeniable part of the visual appeal of “Squid Game” was that vast collection of costumes. While the irony of wearing it as a costume is probably lost on most of the people dressed in pink, green and masks on Halloween, the fact that it made it this far is a testament to how unique the show’s visual appeal is. to its ultimate success.

However, costumes are another area where it would be extremely difficult to break into this year. “Queen Charlotte” and “The Crown” already have Netflix pushes, a shame considering “The Empress” would be making another period piece with its own elaborate pedigree. Following “Dahmer” last fall, the German series presented on the platform shows the ascension of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Devrim Lingnau) in the mid-1800s, as she and her husband help lay the foundations of a nearly 50-year reign. Emperor Franz Joseph I (Filöp Froissant). With Hulu’s “The Great” entrenched in the comedy category, “The Empress” could have given any other platform/network a chance to crack a category that favors the more lavish details of European royalty (especially one that involves at least one character coming to the fore).

And a series doesn’t have to be fantastical or set in the royal court of another century to be appreciated for its signature elements of craftsmanship. Take Prime Video’s Italian import “Prism,” a gentle and grounded story about two twin brothers coming to the end of their teenage years and coming to terms with different parts of their identities. Each of the eight episodes is centered around a different color, which not only helps with chapter-by-chapter changes, but also gives each a distinct palette without feeling like a cheap storytelling gimmick. The series is patience and care, representing a different shade of boldness for those who want to highlight a unique visual approach.

The “game” part also counted

Tao Tsuchiya as Usagi in Alice in Wonderland Season 2
Tao Tsuchiya as Usagi in Alice in Wonderland Season 2Kumiko Tsuchiya

You can narrow the appeal of “Squid Game” down to this visual sense, metaphorical transition, or life-or-death stakes. But much of the secret sauce came from the fact that those sets were unpredictable. They fell into a warped version of a variety show where losing meant death.

It’s a dark recipe to repeat, but “Alice in Borderland” already helped set the stage for the “Squid Game” sensation to follow with its 2020 debut season, preparing audiences for another creepy, in other words, race-based bathed in violence. . “Alice in Borderland” takes place in a mysterious alternate version of Tokyo, where residents must play through complex challenges to survive. The central sequence of the series’ opening episode has a handful of the main character wandering through a deserted, carless, pedestrian-free town square. Last December’s Season 2 kicked off with one of the most stunning car chases TV has ever put together, with some bravura set magic from director Shinsuke Sato and a production design team that helped build an uncanny valley version of a giant Japanese metropolis. cases out of thin air. (While we’re at it, let’s also try a supporting cast for Nijirô Murakami, who is single-handedly carrying part of Season 2.)

“Oh Hell” is one of the international series that managed to survive the Great HBO Max Content Purge of 2022, and it has a different form of the playful, anarchic spirit that voters recognize on the comedy side. Debuting on the platform last fall, it follows a listless Helene as she chooses a job she doesn’t care about, a less-than-fulfilling romantic life, and her impetuous decision to make a cello teacher the man of her dreams. It’s too reductive to call this show a German “Fleabag”, but it’s ideal for anyone desperate for this style of laughs in the comedy categories. Mala Emde provides the kind of central performance tightrope walk that makes it fascinating to watch Helene get away with her schemes and her increasingly outrageous life choices. What better game is there?

Based on a true story


Yes, we’re well aware that there isn’t (probably) actually a private island where desperate racers compete to beat 455 others for a huge cash prize. But if “Squid Game” is indeed a unique example of international telecasting at the Emmys, it’s also an opportunity to delve into a successful area that’s existed long before: draw from real life.

As Disney+ and Hulu reach their own crossroads (and see the global reach of their core franchises gradually erode), they have a growing library of international series to help solidify their offerings in the minds of people who want more. to register. like superheroes and space. Last year’s “Ousekine” was a four-part narrative about the 1986 police killing of student Malik Oussekine and his family’s subsequent search for justice. This year sees the release of “The Good Mothers,” a British-Italian co-production about a group of women who worked together to dismantle the ‘Ndrangheta crime family in the Calabria region of southern Italy. The series takes place in the not-so-distant year 2010, which will also be heard at the Berlinale in February.

Perhaps the future solution will be something closer to what “Spy/Master” will do with a revamped Max in the coming weeks. The latest in a series of Cold War dramas, this new one focuses on a global effort to extract a burned-out secret agent from former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu’s inner circle. Victor Godeanu (Alec Secareanu) is a fictional character, but the idea of ​​setting a co-production story against the backdrop of a real event may be a growing idea in an international TV market. Speaking on a panel focused on co-productions at SeriesFest in Denver last week, Secuoya Studios CEO Sergio Pizzolante said, “I recommend historical fiction if you find a big historical event and find a reason to tell that story… easier said than done. to do, but it’s a good place to start.”

Bringing these shows to the fore in the Emmys conversation serves a greater purpose, especially for platforms that are still trying to define what they bring to the crowded streaming field. If the time and resources you put into awards strategies are ultimately another form of marketing to show the rest of the TV world what you stand for and what you have to offer, then these are the shows to go for, even if they’re never going to be generational. phenomena.

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