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Can Atlanta-produced 'Stranger Things' and 'Atlanta' win top Emmys?

This was posted on Thursday, September 14, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

More than 120 TV shows have come into metro Atlanta after the state sweetened its tax credits to production companies in 2008, from "The Walking Dead" to "The Game," from "Single Ladies" to "Survivor's Remorse."

But most of them have gotten minimal to no love from the Emmys - until now. Last year, two shows shot in the area - Netflix's "Stranger Things" and FX's "Atlanta" - began collecting nominations and wins from places such as the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards and the Peabodys out of the University of Georgia.

Now each show is vying for respective top Emmy prizes: best drama for "Stranger Things" and best comedy for "Atlanta." This is the first time shows shot in Georgia have ever been nominated in those categories.

"Stranger Things" received a whopping 18 overall nominations, including writing, directing and best supporting actor and actress. Only two programs - NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and HBO's "Westworld" - received more. During the Creative Emmys last weekend, "Stranger Things" pocketed five technical awards.

"Atlanta," created and starring Donald Glover, gathered six nominations, including casting, writing and directing.

A list of all Emmy nominations

Both shows have received oodles of love from both critics and viewers. Out of 36 critics on Metacritic, "Atlanta" received an impressive score of 90 out of 100. On, the average rating from more than 18,000 fans was an average of 8.6 out of 10.

"Stranger Things" faced more mixed reviews from writers, garnering a still solid 76 out of 100 via Metacritic But it's clear the 1980s mix of horror and nostalgia was a hit given that nearly 340,000 people have rated the show on to date, scoring it an average of 8.9 out of 10.

Eric DeggansTV critic for NPR, said in the drama category, "Stranger Things" is facing a very competitive field, with shows such as NBC's heart-tugging "This is Us," Netflix's prestige period piece "The Crown" and Hulu's of-the-moment alternative universe drama "The Handmaid's Tale" getting comparable buzz.

Daniel Fienberg, a TV critic for The Hollywood Reporter, considers the category wide open this year as well. "Stranger Things" took home a raft of awards earlier in 2017 and he said it seems to be well liked by a broad array of viewers, even if it's not necessarily a critics' favorite.

"There's something to be said for a show that people feel genuine affection towards," Fienberg said. "If enough voters go that route rather than pick what they think is the most respected, then it's entirely possible for 'Stranger Things' to win."

Indeed, Gold Derby, combining the predictions of experts and users, gives "Stranger Things" a nearly 50/50 shot at winning, with "The Handsmaid's Tale," "This is Us" and "The Crown" lagging behind.

In comedy, Deggans thinks "Atlanta" should win even though he doubts it will.

"Donald Glover created this very nuanced and authentic look at three brothers in Atlanta trying to live their lives and get ahead," Duggans said. "There are a lot of universal truths about friendship and class and race and sex and life as a Millennial. There are a lot of shows made in Atlanta, not a lot about the city."

But he expects "Veep" to take the prize yet again. The HBO political satire starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the best comedy Emmy in 2015 and 2016. Salon TV writer Melanie McFarland said in a Twitter DM that  "Atlanta" could only win if "voters buck their very bad habit of rubber-stamping repeat winners like 'Veep,' which didn't have a great season."

Fienberg said "Atlanta" is "unique in every way but if the metric is which of the shows made me laugh the most, in all likelihood, it's 'Veep.' "

Gold Derby follows the same logic as Deggans and Fienberg: it has "Veep" as the heavy favorite with 4/9 odds with "Atlanta" at a still reasonable 7/2 odds to win it all, far more than any other show in the category.

Glover, though, is the odds-on favorite to win best actor in a comedy series with 2/3 odds on Gold Derby, ahead of past winner Jeffrey Tambor for Amazon's "Transparent." Glover earlier this year won best comedic actor at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice.


"The Emmys" hosted by Stephen Colbert, 8 p.m. Sunday, CBS


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.