‘The Last Dance’ Wins Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Series

Considering the last few wins in this category were zeitgeist-y crime docs many assumed "Tiger King" would walk away with the award.
The Last Dance Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan celebrating after the 1993 NBA Finals.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

This year’s Emmy nominations for the Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Series were competitive — and that’s because the nominees comprise some of the most compelling, tantalizing, and binge-worthy works that kept us all talking. I

It was really anyone’s game last night but, in the end, the ESPN series “The Last Dance” secured its first win out of three nominations. “The Last Dance” focused on basketball superstar Michael Jordan and his final year with the Chicago Bulls. Jordan’s tenure on the Bulls is beloved, and in a year where nostalgia has been the only safe haven in a world full of chaos, it’s a win that makes sense. It was also nominated for its editing and direction in the documentary/non-fiction sphere.

But, as stated already, this was a tough category. The PBS series “American Masters” was being touted as the front-runner up until the award was announced. The documentary series has been on the air since 1985, spotlighting the likes of author Ursula K. LeGuin, actress Mae West, and musician Miles Davis.

Another strong competitor was the Hulu documentary on Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton entitled “Hillary.” The documentary was close to the heart of director Nanette Burstein. “First and foremost, this encompasses the subjects I care deeply about: women’s rights, equality, our broken politics, partisan politics. So it was very rewarding being able to make a film like this,” Burstein said in an interview with IndieWire.

HBO was also represented with the nomination of the Monopoly crime documentary “McMillion$, but the question on everyone’s mind was whether Netflix would take home the award for the most conversation-inducing, crazy, and chaotic documentary released in 2020: “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.” The story of Joe Exotic and his murderous rivalry with big cat enthusiast Carole Baskin continues to captivate audiences, with numerous showrunners creating narrative series’ based on the documentary and Baskin herself appearing on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Considering the last few wins in this category were zeitgeist-y crime docs, like Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country” and HBO’s “The Jinx,” many assumed the Joe Exotic story would walk away with the award. No doubt there will be discussion come Monday about how the series was robbed. No worries, as there are at least two narrative works in the making to, possibly, win Emmys down the line.

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