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Rationalizing the Narcos Emmy Snub


Emmy season is upon us.  On September 17, 2017, the enlightened Emmy voters will crown the outstanding actors and actresses for this season.  Award shows are silly.  Unlike sports, there aren’t specific rules to define the winner.  As a result, shows that we fall in love with get snubbed because others don’t have as sophisticated taste as we do.  This year, Narcos’ Wagner Moura is the Emmy’s biggest snub in my heart.  Moura plays the infamous Pablo Escobar.  With Netflix’s third season of the show dropping last week, the snub feels even more painful. The omission isn’t even the nomination that gets the most attention, many writers have made a case for Justin Theroux’s The Leftovers performance, but Moura’s oversight is a snub worth looking into.

Maybe Moura’s performance just isn’t good enough?

The 2017 nominees for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series are Anthony Hopkins, Bob Odenkirk, Liev Schreiber, Milo Ventimiglia, Kevin Spacey, Sterling K. Brown and Matthew Rhys.  These are some well-established dudes.  Moura, an actor whose only other recognizable credit is 2013’s Elysium, doesn’t have the same acting pedigree as the Hopkins and Spaceys of the world.  He would have been a dark horse candidate.  But, the actual portrayal of Escobar is worthy.  For example, in the episode “Los Pepes,” Pablo’s daughter asks him if Santa Claus will be able to find them, even though they are living in a secret hideaway.  The physicality of Escobar’s reply is greater than any Kevin Spacey smirk in House of Cards or handsome smolder from Ventimiglia in This is Us.

Moura’s acting is worthy.

Are the subtitles too much work?

Narcos suffers from the same problem as The Leftovers–the shows are difficult to watch.  If they were accelerated reader books, they would be worth 26 points.  There are many pieces to their puzzle. In Narcos’ case, their story isn’t easily accessible. The story is mostly told in Spanish.

I legitimately think this factors into Narcos’ popularity. It is impossible to fold laundry and watch Narcos. Or check twitter. Or zone out and watch Narcos.  The show requires all of your attention.  The show is not an easy watch. Unlike Stranger Things, This is Us or other Emmy darlings, the show requires more effort. As a result, I believe that I know more Spanish than I did after two years in high school, even though most of my new vocabulary words are curse words.

Are the costumes overpowering the actors?

If you’re not reading subtitles, then you’re probably looking at Pablo’s mustache. The mustache is a character all to itself.  As Escobar’s troubles increase the shape of his mustache seems to symbolically transform.  I missed an entire conversation about murdering civilians because I was consumed with analyzing how the parabola of facial hair had seemed to shift into a tighter, more disappointed arch.

But the facial hair isn’t the only distraction in Narcos. It’s easy to become obsessed with the early 90s costumes.  Escobar’s wardrobe is thrilling.  His collection of nautical sweatshirts are distracting. His sagging jeans are forever etched into my memory.  There are times when the actors aren’t wearing the clothes, the clothes are wearing them.

But, who could possibly wear these sweaters and pull it off?

I refuse to believe that Wagner Moura’s performance isn’t good enough to be listed on the ballot of the Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series.  (If there had been one more stupid sweatshirt, I would offer him up for Outstanding Actor in a comedy series.) Whether viewers were turned off by Murphy’s overly assertive narration or being constantly reminded that this isn’t the actual Pablo Escobar with actual photos of the original outlaw, we’ll never know. For what it’s worth, Moura’s performance as the most fearsome man sporting the most comical sweater will be my vote for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for many years to come.

Article written by Megan Suttles

I can't decide if I want to use this space to be witty or insightful. I guess it will be neither.