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‘WandaVision’ Joins the Emmy Race and Other PGA/DGA TV Awards Insight

Welcome to the Emmy race, "WandaVision." "The Mandalorian" will show you to your seat.

WandaVision Episode 5 Paul Bettany Elizabeth Olsen

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in “WandaVision”

Courtesy of Disney+

At the worst points during awards season, new batches of nominations can feel like a slog, with each new announcement honoring the same handful of quality shows: “The Crown,” “Ted Lasso,” “The Undoing,” rinse and repeat. That’s, of course, not a ding on any of those shows — give or take an “Undoing” — but rather a reflection of the tedium that can arise out of consensus.

That’s what made things so exciting on Monday with the announcements of the TV nominees for both the Producers Guild of America Awards and the Directors Guild of America Awards.

Sure, the vast majority of the nominees from the producers and directors both largely overlapped with accolades we’ve seen before. Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” continues its strong showing, nabbing two DGA nominations, alongside its nod from the PGA. Meanwhile, freshman series including Netflix’s “Bridgerton” and HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant” were both recognized by the prestigious guilds. As for limited series, HBO’s “The Undoing” and Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” also scored dual nominations from both the DGA and PGA.

But where things really got interesting is the nominations for series that either hadn’t yet popped up yet in the awards conversation or haven’t been appearing enough in light of overwhelming critical acclaim.

Take HBO’s “I May Destroy You.” Though Michaela Coel’s landmark limited series exploring sexual assault, consent, and trauma was ranked among the best series of 2020, it has seen inconsistent representation during the winter TV awards season. Part of the hurdle “I May Destroy You” has to overcome is the fact that it just isn’t eligible for several of the most prominent guild prizes due to the creatives involved not being members of the American guild due to it being a U.K. production.

But even as Coel scored a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series, and the series earned several nominations at the Critics Choice Awards, a major snub by the Golden Globes has the the limited series lagging in the buzz department this winter.

This is why it was such a delight to see the series crop up among the PGA Award nominations for limited series, a signal that people haven’t forgotten about the production and that some are keeping hope alive as Emmy season nears.

I May Destroy You Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel in “I May Destroy You.”

Natalie Seery/HBO

The real game-changer from Monday’s announcements, though, was the DGA nomination for Disney+ limited series “WandaVision,” Marvel’s first foray into TV in conjunction with the new streamer.

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to the significance of the “WandaVision” nomination, beginning with the timing of it all. The series, like so many in production in 2020, found itself delayed by the pandemic shutdown, which pushed its debut to January of this year. That’s not particularly interesting or novel, given the vast number of series that found themselves in the exact situation.

What is interesting is how awards bodies decided to handle the industry disruptions from last year, for which there was not as much uniformity as you might expect. When the Oscars decided to delay its ceremony for two months, all of the other associated industry awards decided to follow suit — save for the Emmy Awards, which are always a bird of another feather. Further, because the release schedule (and venue availability) for feature films was turned upside down, the Oscars extended its eligibility window beyond December 31, 2020 to February 28, 2021.

While a perfectly logical decision, particularly for film, it wasn’t necessarily vital for TV awards to follow suit, as TV was disrupted by the pandemic, but nowhere near as much as the film industry was. And this is where awards bodies started splitting decisions. The Directors, Producers, and Screen Actors Guilds all opted to mirror the extended eligibility window introduced by the Oscars, for both film and TV. Meanwhile, the Golden Globes and the Writers Guild all opted to only extend eligibility for film, leaving TV shows to conform to the original January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 timeline.

WandaVision Episode 8 Elizabeth Olsen Kathryn Hahn

Elizabeth Olsen and Kathryn Hahn in “WandaVision”

Courtesy of Disney+

So, “WandaVision.”

Fervor for the series only grew after its debut in January, reaching a fevered pitch with its finale last Friday. That buzz cycle had every opportunity to juice the show’s profile in the eyes of guild voters, and it appeared to pay off with directors. The show didn’t breakthrough with producers, but that might be an inevitable hurdle that “comic book movie” series will have to overcome through time. It also didn’t make a mark on the Screen Actors Guild, but with SAG nomination voting closing on February 1, it’s uncertain how much of the series the guild was provided with. Also, it’s worth noting that of all the TV nominees, only one — multiple SAG award winner Sterling K. Brown of NBC’s “This Is Us” — had episodes that aired after January 31. Even so, four episodes of the series had aired in 2020, so the organization definitely had time to view his work before the fact.

Matt Shakman getting a DGA nomination among one of the stiffest areas of competition — limited series — is significant. It’s more than “The Mandalorian” managed in its first year of competition and it suggests that “WandaVision” could be a real player when Emmy season begins in earnest.

Welcome to the big show, “WandaVision.” Your chaos magic is more than welcome here.

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