WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: In its sublime third (and, sigh, final) season, ABC’s anthology drama put a spotlight on various forms of slavery in America, from sex trafficking to forced labor to domestic abuse. Featuring a slew of brilliant, nuanced performances — including Felicity Huffman’s series-best work as conflicted wife Jeanette Hesby — American Crime once again served up an unflinching look at society’s oft-ignored injustices, and the people whose lives are upended as a result.
BIG LITTLE LIES
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: HBO’s rich-moms miniseries was spellbinding on so many levels: as a tantalizing peek at how the very wealthy live (those houses!); as a chronicle of the Monterey moms’ savage battle for social status, with tiny slights leading to giant grudges; and as a joltingly raw portrait of domestic violence, with Nicole Kidman delivering a powerhouse performance as abused wife Celeste. The central murder-mystery wasn’t even that important, compared to the stories of these flawed, resilient women.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Oh yah, you betcha Season 3 of FX’s Coen-inspired anthology delivered, with a fresh batch of quirky murders in the Minnesota snow, a dazzling dual performance by Ewan McGregor, and a stellar supporting cast highlighted by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Thewlis and Michael Stuhlbarg. Throw in gorgeous cinematography, a few pulse-pounding action set pieces and a soothingly steady lead turn from Carrie Coon, and Fargo was a pretty nice place to spend some time this spring.
FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Propelled by Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon’s impressive performances, and writing as sharp as the knife that Davis and Crawford so often wanted to plunge into one another’s backs, Season 1 of Ryan Murphy’s latest FX anthology series admirably resisted the temptation to resort to camp, instead shining an empathetic spotlight on the legendary Oscar winners that Hollywood time and again insisted upon casting as real-life rivals.
GILMORE GIRLS: A YEAR IN THE LIFE
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: A TV revival that not only meets are expectations, but surpasses them? We didn’t think we’d live to see the day. But Netflix’s much anticipated four-part continuation of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s beloved dramedy succeeded on almost every level (emotional, comedic, nostalgic, fan service-ic) reshaping the show’s tattered-by-Season-7 legacy in the process. It both left us wanting more and totally satisfied with this being the end.
THE NIGHT OF
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: HBO’s proudly austere crime drama gripped us from its very first frames, dropping us into the shoes of college student Naz, who woke up after a wild night on the streets of New York to find himself accused of murder. Naz’s bumpy journey through the prison system was an eye-opening portrait of how slowly the gears of justice can turn, and John Turturro did career-best work as Naz’s cynical, eczema-ridden attorney John Stone.