Emmys 2020 drama series preview: Help us Baby Yoda, you’re our only hope

  • The Child, aka Baby Yoda, in the Disney Plus series "The Mandalorian." (Disney Plus/TNS)

If Baby Yoda (aka the Child) can use the Force to levitate objects, heal his friends, choke his enemies and bend the very course of fire, you think he’d have the ability to wrangle an invitation to the Emmys too.

Who doesn’t want to see Baby Yoda (and I know his name isn’t Baby Yoda, Jon Favreau, but until the Big Reveal promised for Season 2, I’m going to stick with this adorable placeholder) float into the picture, snug in his bassinet, in whatever form this year’s Emmys ceremony might take?

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Do you remember how much joy this wide-eyed creature gave us during the eight weeks “The Mandalorian” aired on Disney+ last year? Bryce Dallas Howard, who directed the fourth “Mandalorian” episode, the one that launched a thousand memes of Baby Yoda sipping soup, called the character “the light of all our lives.”

So, yes, when it comes to the show this year, I would just say: Help us Baby Yoda. You’re our only hope.

Being part of the “Star Wars” universe, “The Mandalorian” doesn’t rate as the sort of prestige television that voters gravitate toward. But they should. The series tapped into Lucasfilm lore and also created its own vivid, Sergio Leone-inspired spaghetti western world, introducing intriguing characters played by the likes of Carl Weathers and Werner Herzog. Airing as J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” arrived in theaters, “The Mandalorian” shone by comparison, its patient storytelling a relief after the overstuffed conclusion to the Skywalker saga.

Is “The Mandalorian” one of the eight best dramas on television? Maybe not. But it’s a few cuts above “Westworld,” that’s for sure. Think outside the box, Emmy voters.

With this in mind, let’s break down the Emmy race for best drama series, ranking the likeliest nominees in order as well as giving shout-outs to a few other shows.

LIKELIEST DRAMA SERIES NOMINEES

1. “Succession”: God, I love these monsters. Each and every self-involved member of the Roy family has a special place in my heart, so much so that when I hear Nicholas Britell’s Emmy-winning earworm main title theme, I want to make like Logan Roy and tell everyone to (expletive) off because the best show on television is airing and I need quiet (please).

2. “The Crown”: I love these monsters too. Just not as much. But I’d be OK with another Olivia Colman acceptance speech, though it might not be the same if the ceremony is virtual and she hasn’t been drinking.

3. “Better Call Saul”: Four seasons. 32 Emmy nominations. Zero Emmys. ZERO. It makes no sense. But voters have only two more seasons to make things right and, by “make things right,” I mean reward Bob Odenkirk and, at the very least, finally nominate Rhea Seehorn.

4. “Ozark”: The twisty drama won Emmys for direction and supporting actress Julia Garner last year, and its third season ranks as its best yet. (A low bar, but still … ) It was also a season that people blazed through during the early days of the pandemic, so it will be fresh on voters’ minds. Expect a big haul.

5. “The Morning Show”: The debut series from Apple TV+ was a victim of its own hype early on, but it found its footing as the season went along, exploring its #MeToo storyline with a nuance that proved mostly satisfying.

6. “The Handmaid’s Tale”: The Hulu drama won 14 Emmys from 44 nominations in its first two seasons, including a drama series win for year one. But Season 3 seems like a loooong time ago, and not just because of the pandemic. It’s hard to imagine voters wanting to spend much time in Gilead right now.

7. “Big Little Lies”: The Bonnie storyline didn’t work and there may have been competing visions for the show’s direction, but the second season still gave us plenty of juicy pleasures as well as some powerful scenes examining the poisoning nature of denial.

8. “Pose”: While the second season didn’t quite equal its first (a tall order), “Pose” retained a singular place in “prestige” television — a show about poor, black and brown LGBTQ characters that reveled in beauty, depicting grace in the midst of sorrow, anger on the road to comfort.

9. “Westworld”: My patience for willful inscrutability has been taxed well past the breaking point with this one.

10. “Stranger Things”: The third season dropped nearly a year ago, well before we entered our own Upside Down world. It was a perfectly charming run of episodes, particularly for anyone who worships at the altar of John Hughes.

NOMINATED BEFORE, COULD BE AGAIN

“Killing Eve”

“This Is Us”

“Homeland”

It’s hard to sustain soapy, surprising storytelling. “Homeland,” in its final season, succeeded longer than most dramas, though, like “Killing Eve,” you could argue that it should have stopped after its stellar first season.

PROBABLY TOO GOOD TO BE NOMINATED

“The Outsider”

“My Brilliant Friend”

“The Good Fight”

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“Star Trek: Picard”

Harrowing adaptations of Elena Ferrante and Stephen King, a speculative and surprising take about an alternate America where Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election and a new life for a beloved captain (and franchise). All deserve attention.