The Mandalorian nabbed 15 Emmy nominations earlier this week, one among them a coveted spot in the race for Outstanding Drama Series. The nomination is more than just a shot at an accolade; it’s proof Star Wars is more than just a money-making franchise.
This year’s Emmy awards have already delivered a number of surprises: actors who seemed to be sure to earn a nomination (Reese Witherspoon and Bob Odenkirk are the first two who come to mind) were snubbed, while underdogs like Zendaya nabbed their first nomination ever. Among those surprises was The Mandalorian‘s nomination for outstanding drama series: a category which is usually the tightest race in the entire ceremony.
It’s no secret that outstanding drama series is the category that every show covets – it’s the most prestigious award of the night (besides outstanding comedy series, which is the same award but for a different genre) and having the Emmy stamp of approval provides immeasurable free press as well as an indicator to viewers that “yes, you should watch this show”.
As such, whenever there’s an upset in the category, debate ensues. This year, much of that debate has centered around Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian – the wildly popular series which premiered on Disney+ late last year and, among other things, gave rise to the internet sensation that was Baby Yoda.
Of course, a Star Wars property having a significant impact on pop culture is hardly surprising: the franchise has produced some of the most iconic characters and cinematic moments of all time, and has consistently performed well at the box office – the franchise is second only to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in terms of ticket revenue.
However, while Star Wars has always been a beloved franchise, it’s never really been considered a prestigious one. The original trilogy is a strong trio of films, but the prequels were notoriously…. lackluster (to put it kindly), and the most recent trilogy of films divided fans as to whether or not they were any good.
In addition to mixed fan reception, Star Wars has had a rocky road in terms of accolades. A New Hope won 7 Oscars and was nominated for four more (including best picture and best director) but no Star Wars film has won an Oscar since the original trilogy. And although the films have regularly gathered nominations for awards on the technical side of things (like visual effects and sound editing/design), in terms of big-ticket nominations, the franchise has had a bit of a dry spell.
This is why it was such an upset that The Mandalorian even received a nomination in the first place. It’s no secret that genre projects struggle during awards season, but The Mandalorian is in the company of Watchmen and Stranger Things this year when it comes to science-fiction shows raking in the nominations.
The Mandalorian tied Schitt’s Creek for the fifth most nominated show this year (edged out by Ozark, Succession, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Watchmen, which sits in first with a whopping 26 nominations) which is a HUGE win not only for the show itself but for the entire Star Wars franchise.
Although shows like The Clone Wars have been incredibly well-received and each trilogy will have its own set of diehard fans, Star Wars as a whole has always been situated in a somewhat precarious position – it certainly brings in the box office dollars, but it’s been decades since the franchise has been taken seriously by the voting bodies of awards shows like the Emmys and Oscars.
But if The Mandalorian is any indication, the tide could finally be turning once again for Star Wars. Favreau’s ambitious attempt at a space western featuring a lone-ranger (voiced by Pedro Pascal who, despite his stellar performance, wasn’t eligible for Emmy consideration due to his lack of face time on screen) and foregoing the breakneck pace normally found in the franchise, in favor of moving things slow and steady.
The drastic change in pace, as well as the dazzling visuals, instantly iconic score from Ludwig Göransson, and a rotating roster of impressive directors (including Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Deborah Chow) are all elements that undoubtedly led to the show’s many nominations.
Although it may not win outstanding drama series, and there will always be those who question its nomination for the category in the first place, The Mandalorian‘s many Emmy nominations are a surefire sign that Star Wars is not a franchise to be counted out during awards season.
What do you think of this year’s Emmy nominees? Are you a fan of The Mandalorian? Sound off in the comments below.