The 2023 Emmy Nominations Remind Us That Actors and Writers Are Essential

Ben Friedman

(Photo credit:


Studio heads who believed the ongoing Writers’ and Screen Actors’ strike would end by Labor Day weekend learned that the guilds are far more resilient than anticipated. The studio’s strategy is clear: take everything from them – including food and their apartments and force the guilds to accept any deal the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) offers up. What the AMPTP did not expect were comments like this to fuel the ongoing strikes. The protesters remain in high spirits, and they are making their presence known.


For those who have not been following the WGA and SAG strikes closely, the implications of the strikes may not have been fully realized. When the strike began, there were still completed productions filmed before, allowing the studios to maintain their release calendar with little to no delay. With September 1, 2023, marking 123 days since the Writers went on strike, studios are now experiencing delays in productions. Premiere fall titles like Dune Part Two, Deadpool 3, Euphoria Season 3, and Abbott Elementary Season 3, have all had their release dates pushed, with some being delayed as far as 2025. With shooting all but shut down, Hollywood will struggle to produce content.


(Photo credit:


How serious are the ramifications of the strike? The effect of the 2007 WGA strikes (which lasted 100 days) led to the loss of 37,000 jobs and came at a $2.1 billion blow to the California economy.


The strikes have caused serious disarray within the industry, and just in time for Emmy award season. Every year, Hollywood votes for what it deems as the gold standard of their television programming. Some may consider it a self-congratulatory affair, but at a time when streaming has become the norm, the amount of TV available for audiences is astronomical. In 2022, a record 599 original scripted shows were aired on broadcast, cable, and streaming services. The Emmys provide an outlet for studios to promote which shows are worth paying attention to. The Emmys serve as a declaration of quality entertainment that audiences should check out, thus every studio is vying for the top prize, and they are willing to pay. In 2018, Variety estimated that a studio would spend north of $1 million dollars to launch a successful campaign.



Hollywood studios need the Emmys for their bottom line: Thus, news of the ceremony’s delay from September 2023 to January 2024 comes at a costly expense for marketing, especially since the quality of work is at an all-time high, especially in the writing and acting fields. In solidarity with the strikes, I wanted to highlight some incredible acting and writing nominations that I believe exemplify what makes this industry special.


Barry showcased former SNL alumni Bill Hader’s talents behind and in front of the camera. His performance as the titular character Barry, a hitman turned actor, proved deeply disturbing and darkly comedic. Accompanied by veteran actor Henry Winkler of Happy Days fame, and a scene-stealing comedic performance from Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank, Barry was provocative until its very end and easily one of my favorite shows to air in the last decade.



Bob Odenkirk gave the best performance on TV for nearly a decade in Better Call Saul, a spinoff of the actor’s character Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. His work in Better Call Saul is nothing short of incredible and career-defining. HBO’s most exciting new show The Last of Us, which premiered earlier this year, earned Pedro Pascal his first nomination. His work as Joel, a survivor crippled by trauma tasked with smuggling a young girl Ellie (brilliantly portrayed by Bella Ramsey) through an apocalyptic world, showcased Pascal’s soft side mixed with his ability to capture anguish. Wednesday, which proved to be the most popular show of last year also saw a nomination for its young star, 20-year-old Jenna Ortega, who stars in Tim Burton’s reimagining of the Addams Family focused on their youngest daughter. I first saw Ortega in Megan Park’s film The Fallout and knew she was destined for stardom. Wednesday is proof of Ortega’s talents and showcases one of Hollywood’s brightest young actors.


Multiple shows came to an end this year, with Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Ted Lasso, and Succession all bidding adieu, with the latter proving to be a huge hit with audiences and voters, having picked up 27 nominations. A politically charged show that is loosely inspired by the Murdoch family, Succession struck a nerve with audiences as they all wondered which Kent child would be selected to run Waystar RoyCo, and on the way scoring nine acting nominations -- making it one of the most acclaimed shows of the 21st century. While critical consensus indicated that Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Ted Lasso may have been getting long in the tooth, the performances from lead actors Rachel Brosnahan and Jason Sudeikis proved as good as ever, and as fans of both shows, I am glad to see them get a final nomination for the years of joy these shows provided.



My favorite nomination is Beau Willimon’s excellent writing on Disney’s streaming show Andor. The best show of 2022 and the best Star Wars project released since the original trilogy, Andor follows characters learning the cost of war as they fight oppression and fascist rule. In the franchise’s nearly 50-year history, Star Wars has never seemed more urgent in its storytelling as it draws direct parallels to modern-day America. Willimon’s nomination for the episode, “One Way Out” showcases that idea of power run amuck, as we follow our heroes pull off a daring prison break in order to survive another day. The results are thrilling.


Spoof comedy can go horrendously wrong, thus when something emerges that is special it is worth celebrating, as in the case of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. Wonderfully written by the famous parody artist himself, Weird follows a satirical look at music icon Weird Al Yankovic, as portrayed by Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe. Lampooning the recent music biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, Weird tells a fictional account of Yankovic’s rise to fame and becoming the biggest pop sensation in the world. Like its famed parody artist, Weird is outrageously silly in all the best ways and Radcliffe commits to the bit entirely. Nominated for Best Original Writing in an Anthology Series or Movie, as well as a Best Actor nomination for the star, Weird highlights clever writing and memorable performances.



When writing is at its most powerful is when it is at its most personal, and no work exemplifies that quality better than John Mulaney’s newest stand-up special, Baby J. A well-beloved comedian, who had a public rehab stint and divorce, is now faced with confronting the world as he sheds his good-boy image. Mulaney runs headfirst into the ugliness of addiction, crafting an hour of comedy that is ugly, poignant, and outrageously hysterical, in what proves to be the young comedian’s best special to date.



Author Bio:

Ben Friedman is a freelance film journalist and a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine. For more of his reviews, visit, his podcast Ben and Bran See a Movie, or follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube: The Beniverse


For Highbrow Magazine


not popular
Bottom Slider: 
In Slider