WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: After a wildly innovative freshman season, Donald Glover’s FX series somehow went out and topped itself in Season 2, dabbling in Gothic horror and frat-house comedy on its way to delivering a murderer’s row of standout episodes. (Two words: Teddy. Perkins.) It was more than just an experiment in form, though: It was laugh-out-loud funny, too, and the mix of genres eventually cohered to tell a warmly observed tale of family over fame.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Netflix’s dramedy about the formation of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling hit us like a body slam. Not only did it allow viewers to revel in its 1980s trappings, it served up relationships that were even more complicated than the moves its leading ladies pulled in the ring, and allowed for stunning star turns by Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin, who play the estranged besties cast as on-screen rivals.
THE GOOD PLACE
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: We can’t forking believe it, either, but NBC’s afterlife comedy kept finding ways to surprise us in Season 2, leaning into last season’s shocker of a twist and expanding on it in unexpected (and hilarious) ways. The entire cast is a delight, from Ted Danson’s mischievous Michael to D’Arcy Carden’s chipper Janet, and the sharp jokes helped make Eleanor’s ethics lessons go down easy. This isn’t just the TV equivalent of frozen yogurt; it’s actually delicious.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: For starters, to right the wrong of it not being nominated last year. But in addition, Season 2 of Issa Rae’s sublime dramedy was, from Issa’s attempt to form a hotation to Kelli’s dinergasm, hella hilarious; from Issa and Lawrence’s brutal fight to Molly’s dead-end relationship with Dro, hella crushing; and from Lawrence’s disheartening three-way to Issa’s temporary willingness to turn a blind eye to discrimination against Latino students, hella real.
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Much has been made about Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino’s breakout ’50s-set comedy’s quick-witted dialogue, sumptuous period details and stunning performances (led by the dynamic Rachel Brosnahan). And all of it has been true. But we’d like to take a second to marvel at the series’ jaw-dropping (and relatively unsung) direction. Team Palladino’s masterful camerawork (see also: Episode 2’s three-minute, uninterrupted, sweatshop “long take”) is as groundbreaking as it is gobsmackingly artful.
ONE DAY AT A TIME
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: It would be a disservice to label the Norman Lear reboot an “old-school sitcom,” which has quietly morphed into one of television’s most progressive series. Season 2 tackled extremely relevant social issues — including immigration, bigotry, PTSD and gender politics — without ever hitting viewers over the head with them. Best of all, it came at each one with grace, humility and heart, which is no small feat — even with a cast as terrific as this one.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Since we only discovered Eugene and Daniel Levy’s gem of a comedy in Season 4, it technically deserves several back nods. But at the very least, it should get a nomination for its latest episodes, which not only made us ship the impossibly cute couplings of David and Patrick, and Alexis and Ted, in a way that borders on obsession, they changed the way we’d forevermore hear “Simply the Best.”