Can Better Call Saul do something that would have seemed impossible in its early days and ultimately outshine the series that spawned it?
ome claim Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Breaking Bad prequel, which has clocked up six seasons to the original’s five, has already shown itself to be the superior series. This is more than a little premature.
A number of otherwise successful series have come unstuck right at the very end: St Elsewhere, Lost, Dexter and, most notoriously of all, Game of Thrones.
I think that’s unlikely to happen to Better Call Saul; nonetheless, I’d prefer to reserve judgement until we’ve seen the very last episode, landing on Netflix on August 16, when the story of Jimmy McGill’s transformation into Saul Goodman will be complete.
(This is why I’ve avoided reviewing individual episodes over the last few weeks. Let’s have the full meal before deciding on the size of the tip.)
Unfortunately we’ll have to wait another month — until September 12, to be precise — before we learn the answer to a different question: will Rhea Seehorn, who plays Kim Wexler, finally get the best supporting actress Emmy that’s so far eluded her and which some of us think she should have won already?
‘The Emmy voters have made countless glaringly wrong calls over the years’
Mind you, in order to win, you first have to be nominated. Believe it or not, this is the first year Seehorn’s name is on the list of nominees.
Better Call Saul has received multiple Primetime Emmy nominations every year since 2015, yet so far failed to take home a single award. The fact that Seehorn was repeatedly snubbed up until now is shocking, especially since her character and performance are as important to the series as Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill.
It’s been obvious for a long time that if Better Call Saul is the story of how Jimmy turned into Saul Goodman, it’s equally the story of the moral corruption and decay of Kim Wexler.
And Seehorn’s astonishing, electrifying performance has conveyed it brilliantly. She really deserves that Emmy. Will she win it? I’ll believe it when I see her holding it in her hand.
The Emmy voters have made countless glaringly wrong calls over the years. Infamously, The Wire never won an Emmy. In fact, it received just two nominations, in the writing category, and lost both times.
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This is by far the worst recurring oversight, but there are plenty of others to pick from. How about Modern Family winning best comedy five times but Parks and Recreation failing to win once?
How about Murphy Brown beating Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond beating Arrested Development or Jon Cryer from Two and a Half Men beating Curb our Enthusiasm’s Larry David for best comedy actor?
As for so-called best dramas, remember the years when LA Law beat season one of Twin Peaks, The Practice beat The Sopranos and the mediocre seventh season of Game of Thrones beat the brilliant final season of The Americans?
The Emmys’ snubbing of Seehorn looks even more egregious when you consider some of the actresses who won during the period when she wasn’t considered worthy of a nomination.
In 2016, the winner (for the second time in five years) was Maggie Smith for repeating her panto dame turn in Downtown Abbey. Last year, the Emmy went to Gillian Anderson for playing Margaret Thatcher in The Crown.
Anderson did a great job of capturing Thatcher’s voice and mannerisms, to be sure, but it was an impression, not a performance, and it had all the depth of a saucer.
How on earth could the Emmys justify two back-to-back nominations each for Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things (2017, 2018) and The Crown’s Helena Bonham Carter (2020, 2021), yet completely ignore Seehorn?
Looking at the other nominees, who include Sarah Snook (Succession), Patricia Arquette (Severance) and Julia Garner (Ozark, for which she’s already won two Emmys), none of them can touch Seehorn’s portrayal of the complex and conflicted Kim.
If she doesn’t win come September, it’ll be the biggest daylight robbery since Judy Garland in A Star is Born was beaten to the 1954 best actress Oscar by the wan Grace Kelly in the near-forgotten The Country Girl.
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