This year’s Best TV Movie category was a tough one, especially as last year’s pandemic forced many studios to abandon theatrical releases and transition several of their features to the television realm. When the nominees for this year’s Emmys were announced, many looked askance at the choices, wondering where the more familiar films were — as well as whether the selections were truly made for TV.
In a fitting end, the feature that felt most like a movie built for television walked away with the award. Dolly Parton’s “Christmas on the Square” took home the Emmy for Best TV Movie Sunday night. The Netflix feature is a “Christmas Carol”-esque story of a bitter woman, played by Christine Baranski, who plans to sell a small town only to be changed by the residents of it. Dolly Parton plays, appropriately enough, a Christmas angel.
Dolly Parton has crafted quite a niche for herself in television. “Christmas on the Square” marks the third Parton film in the last five years to be nominated for Best TV Movie (following “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” in 2017 and “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones” in 2020). The aforementioned “Christmas of Many Colors” was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy.
The win is also a validation for Parton’s relationship with Netflix, which dates back to 2018 when the streaming giant greenlit an anthology television series, “Heartstrings.” The series sees Parton serve as both singer and songwriter, as well as executive producer and star. In a statement back in 2018, Parton said, “As a songwriter, I have always enjoyed telling stories through my music. I am thrilled to be bringing some of my favorite songs to life with Netflix. We hope our show will inspire and entertain families and folks of all generations, and I want to thank the good folks at Netflix and Warner Bros. TV for their incredible support.”
Amazon Prime Video had the odds with two features — Tessa Thompson’s period romance “Sylvie’s Love” and Paul Bettany’s family drama “Uncle Frank” were both nominated — while HBO had their drama “Oslo,” and Lifetime had their Mahalia Jackson biopic, “Mahalia.” Many had assumed “Sylvie’s Love” would take the win, especially considering its strong reviews and heralded performances.