The culture is becoming nerdier, at least as measured by the picks of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ best small-screen work. Ten shows or specials with scientific or technological themes or characters are nominated in a variety of categories for a 2018 Emmy Award, as compared to nine in 2017, and six in 2016. Top nominees in the major award categories include WESTWORLD (artificial intelligence), BLACK MIRROR (technology and society), and THE HANDMAID’S TALE (fertility).
Charlie Brooker’s show BLACK MIRROR, which imagines dystopian futures where technology adversely affects society, is nominated in three categories. The current season’s premiere, “USS Callister,” is nominated for Outstanding Television Movie, and Charlie Brooker and William Bridges are nominated for that episode for Outstanding Writing For A Movie. Jesse Plemons is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Movie for his role. Actress Letitia Wright is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Movie for her role in the season’s finale, “Black Museum.” The first two seasons of BLACK MIRROR premiered on the British Channel, while seasons three and four were produced by Netflix where they are streaming. For more, Science & Film wrote about the themes of pain and addiction in “Black Museum.”
Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s HBO series WESTWORLD is inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name, about a theme park of androids for humans. The series is nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Jeffrey Wright (mostly android) and Ed Harris (human) are each nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor, and Evan Rachel Wood (android) is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress. Thandie Newton (android) is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress.
Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, now in its second season, is set in a world where an environmental trauma has led to infertility amongst most women as well as men, and a totalitarian regime controls fertility. The series is nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Elisabeth Moss, who stars as a Handmaid (enslaved fertile women), is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series. Joseph Fiennes, who plays a member of the controlling regime, is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor. Alexis Bledel (handmaid), is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress, as are Ann Dowd and Yvonne Strahovski. As part of our “Peer Review” commissioning series, infertility specialists wrote about current-day reproductive technologies and rights. For the episode “After,” Kari Skogland is nominated for Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series, and for the season premiere, Bruce Miller is nominated for Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series.
The hit HBO comedy SILICON VALLEY, now in its fifth season, satirizes start-up culture. It is nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. Alec Berg is nominated for Outstanding Writing for A Comedy Series for the episode “Fifty-One Percent,” and Mike Judge is nominated for Outstanding Directing for the episode “Initial Coin Offering.” The writers for the show have consulted with technology specialists, including electrical engineer Tsachy Weissman who came up with a theoretical proposal for one of the inventions the series centers on.
The Duffer Brothers’ Netflix series STRANGER THINGS, now in its second season, stars a middle school-age girl who can telekinetically rip the universe to open a hole into another dimension. Millie Bobby Brown, who plays said supergirl, is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series. David Harbour is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor. The series is nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. The Duffer Brothers are nominated for Outstanding Writing for the season finale. The series has been renewed for a third season.
Brett Morgen’s documentary JANE, produced by National Geographic, is a portrait of primatologist Jane Goodall and the early years of her work with chimpanzees in Tanzania in the 1960s. It is composed primarily of footage shot by Jane Goodall’s then-husband Hugo van Lawick, acclaimed wildlife photographer and filmmaker. The film is nominated for Exceptional Merit in Documentary filmmaking, and Brett Morgen is nominated for Outstanding Directing For A Documentary as well as for Outstanding Writing.
Other science-based nominees include National Geographic’s STARTALK WITH NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, nominated for Outstanding Informational Series. THE BIG BANG THEORY’s director Mark Cendrowski is nominated for Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series for his work on the episode “The Bow Tie Asymmetry. The PBS series AMERICAN MASTERS, which premiered the Sloan-supported documentary BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY, is nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series, along with BBC’s BLUE PLANET II.
The 70th Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on NBC on September 17 beginning at 8pm EST, co-hosted by Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost and Michael Che.