The Emmys are sometimes referred to as primetime’s biggest party, but this year one of TV’s most acclaimed dramas is sitting it out. And everyone involved seems fine about it.
From 2015 to 2017, “Better Call Saul” has been a major contender in the awards race, building upon its pedigree as the prequel to frequent winner “Breaking Bad.” This year, that’s not the case, though it has nothing to do with a lack in the show’s quality — instead, it simply comes down to the calendar.
In order to be eligible for the 2018 Emmys, “Saul” needed to premiere at least half of Season 4 before May 31, — but the show doesn’t actually return until August 6. “We just have to make the show the best we can make it,” producer Melissa Bernstein told IndieWire. “We can’t retrofit it to an awards schedule.”
In fact, Bernstein said, co-creator Vince Gilligan doesn’t approach the show with any awards strategy, because “he is the most superstitious person. He’s like, don’t even say that … They don’t operate with that in mind, because it’s counterproductive.”
Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
During a recent visit to the show’s set in New Mexico, IndieWire had plenty of questions about the upcoming Season 4, which Gilligan has promised will be “darker” and “richer.” But another question that came up was how the cast felt about waiting until 2019 for recognition.
For some, the issue wasn’t even on their mind. In fact, five-time nominee Jonathan Banks didn’t even know that Season 4 wouldn’t be eligible this year.
But as he said, “I think it’s okay… I mean, I never win, anyway. I get a lot of nominations, but I don’t win.”
Banks noted that he doesn’t love attending the actual ceremony: “When it’s really hot in September, which it has been a couple times, where you’re just boiling and then all of sudden you walk into that ice cold auditorium, it is not a good feeling, it’s just hard, it’s hard.”
But his wife does like going: “She was a designer and she loves designing her dress and all that.”
She doesn’t pick what he wears, though. Instead, Banks rents his regular tux from a tuxedo shop in Thousand Oaks. And Banks did say that he would miss it, “because I see people that I don’t see very often, that I don’t know very well. Just to pass by, rub shoulders with them is nice.”
Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
Odenkirk said that not being in the race this year meant that he felt “relieved. It’s a lot of pressure to feel like you’re in the running for this thing, and you deserve it, and why would you win it against other people? Just to even think on those terms about what you’re making, it’s better to be able to go ahead with what we’re doing and think that all that matters is the story and our fans, and that’s it. They’re hopefully enjoying this great story, and beyond that, I don’t have to feel judged, or worry about measuring up to a thing that you can’t predict, or make happen.”
Also, IndieWire observed, he wouldn’t have to worry about the question of what to wear, though Odenkirk noted that “I’ve gotten better at that, because I’ve gotten some awesome free tuxes that fit me well.”
Seehorn, meanwhile, was a bit more ambivalent, though was more than willing to acknowledge why this wasn’t ultimately a negative for the show. “It’s a strange thing. I mean … first I was like, ‘Aw, too bad. Because we got invited to the prom three times, so why don’t we get to go to prom?’ And then you realize, we got invited to the prom because these writers know what they’re doing and they take the exact amount of time they need to write the stories.”
Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures
As she continued, “It’s our fans that demand a certain caliber of writing and acting and performing and post. The amount of post on this show is huge too, as you may see with the editing and the music, color timing, the photography. It takes the exact amount of time it needs to take, and it wouldn’t have been the show any other way. So you kind of just let go of the rest of it.”
For the record, no one discounted the importance of the Emmys within the TV community, or what it personally means to them to be recognized.
“I think the Emmys are a beautiful and necessary event, and I think we all value the Emmys very much, but I think we approach the story first,” Michael Mando (who plays the enigmatic Nacho) said. “We don’t think that far [ahead] when we’re doing the stories. We’re really thinking about what’s the truth of these characters, what is the reality of these characters, how can we serve the story, and how can we welcome back the audience with the best possible show we can.”
For the team, it really comes down to this: “We know it can be frustrating, especially when there’s so many shows on, it’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle and we don’t take our audience sticking with us for granted in the midst of all of that,” Bernstein said. “But if we tried to rush it just to make the window shorter, but the show was worse? Everybody would be disappointed, I think.”
“Better Call Saul” Season 4 premieres August 6 on AMC.