You’ve done it again, fam! After a week of voting, where there were some landslide victories and there were some nail-biting races that came down to the last day of voting. It’s always exciting to see where your loyalties lie every time the Feelies come around and this year was no exception. Thanks again for liking things as much as we do. Without further ado, let’s get to your winners!
Best Drama : The Last of Us
Sage: After our Walking Dead phase fizzled out, the last thing either of us expected was to get caught up in another series with a dystopian near-future populated by zombies and warring factions of survivors — but that’s how good The Last of Us is. The HBO adaptation of the acclaimed video game series ran away with this category, so obviously you agree.
In an entertainment landscape where so many IP adaptations seem hustled out onto the market, The Last of Us is gorgeously complete and magnificently detailed. Co-creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin supervised the construction of an entire world that feels as real as our own, and everything from the production design (that deserted mall!) to the music is top-notch. They also knocked it out of the park on casting; Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey are Joel and Ellie, and Season One showcases both journeyman actors like Melanie Lynskey and Scott Shepherd and newcomers like Keivonn Woodard in instantly unforgettable roles. It’s also genuinely scary, not shying away from the horrors of the game, and deep as hell. Amidst a regression to Hays-Code-style calls for fictional characters to be all-the-way bad or all-the-way good, The Last of Us embraces the moral minefield that is survival, putting two complicated, broken people right at its center.
Best Comedy: Abbott Elementary
Sage: High-concept streaming shows and rarely funny dramedies are on notice, because your choice for this year’s Best Comedy Series Feelie is unabashedly a sitcom. Abbott Elementary is also one of the wittiest and most emotionally intelligent shows on TV right now, and it’s doing for the Philadelphia public school system what Friends did for oversized coffee cups.
Season One was already surefooted and original, but with Season Two, Abbott officially became a classic. Each member of the ensemble has made themselves at home in their roles, and while we try not to overwhelm categories with actors from just one show, rest assured we would have been comfortable nominating every single one of these teachers. It’s taken the reins from The Office with its perfectly contained cold opens (Barbara confusing the names of Black and white celebrities being the best of this year’s), and it balances serialized storytelling like Janine and Gregory’s “the love is requited, they’re just idiots” dance and the threat of a charter school takeover with blissfully silly side plots like Jacob and Mr. Johnson co-parenting a lost cat. At the core of the show though is pure respect and appreciation for educators, especially those doing their job with minimal resources. Abbott calls out inequity in our education system while paying tribute to the countless underpaid individuals keeping it afloat. With teachers currently under attack in this country, this love letter to the best of them couldn’t be more timely.
Best Leading Performance in a Female Role – Drama: Melanie Lynskey, Yellowjackets
Sage: Shauna Sadecki (née Shipman) is everything: a wife, a mother, a friend, a compulsive liar, a consumer of human flesh, a murder, a manipulator of the cops… the list goes on. She is also the role of the always-impeccable Melanie Lynskey’s career so far.
Yellowjackets may be an ensemble thriller, but Melanie anchors the ship, playing the adult version of the teen soccer player who was so obsessed with absorbing and eclipsing her best friend that she stole her boyfriend and then literally ate her. And the Shauna of our present pushes back against every stereotype of the suburban mom: she’s the alpha to her ineffectual dope of a husband (hi Jeff, we love you), it doesn’t take much for her to admit that she doesn’t like her daughter, and deep down, she never actually wanted the normal life that she and the rest of the survivors were supposed to salvage after they were rescued.
Melanie plays Shauna with an indifference to social norms and a nonchalance about violence that are totally understandable under the circumstances but still revelatory for a character of her age and gender. She’s the undeniable, unblinking ringleader of her mostly deranged former teammates. The most she’s ever bonded with her family is over their three-pronged plan to help her get away with murder. There’s absolutely nothing cuddly about this lady, but somehow, I’d still give anything to hang out with her. And that’s why you’ve crowned Melanie Lynskey the Antler Queen of this category.
Best Leading Performance in a Male Role – Drama: Kieran Culkin, Succession
Kim: About halfway through my first viewing of “Connor’s Wedding” I sat up and literally said to no one other than my dog and my television “Is Kieran Culkin gunning for the Supporting Actor Emmy?” By the time we got to episode five, where Roman spectacularly unloads on Mattson on a cliff in Norway, we had learned that Kieran had actually submitted in the Leading Actor race, and I was like “Is Kieran Culkin going to win the Best Actor Emmy??” And then in the Series’ penultimate episode “Church and State,” where Roman falls apart at Logan’s funeral in the most devastating fashion, it no longer became a question for me. Kieran Culkin is absolutely going to run the table for his magnificent work on the final season of Succession. I’m absolutely delighted to say that the first stop on Kieran’s awards tour is the Feelies and he won by a landslide.
I think what I love most about Kieran’s performance is how he portrays Roman as almost like an open wound. He’s got zero poker face and his deep well of emotions is barely masked by his razor sharp wit and inappropriate one-liners and a liberal use of the word “fuck” and all its variations. It’s such a wonderful contrast to the stalwart unpredictability of Jeremy Strong’s Kendall or the overwhelming ferocity of Brian Cox’s Logan or the theatrical bombast of Matthew Macfadyen’s Tom. Roman, as much as he may want to deny it, had always been driven by his emotions, and everything about Kieran’s performance gives that raw need for his father’s love and approval. It’s stunningly good work and definitely deserves to be in the Feelie Hall of Fame.
Best Leading Performance in a Female Role – Comedy: Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary
Kim: In many ways, Janine Teagues is the toughest role to play on Abbott Elementary and the fact that Quinta Brunson makes it look so easy is a true testament to her brilliance. Janine is our protagonist, our eyes into the world of Abbott, and most of the time, she’s our narrator. She HAS to be the straight person amongst a more outrageous cast of characters and that requires knowing your character so thoroughly and complete confidence in yourself as a performer. Luckily for us, Quinta is both. After all, she created Janine for HERSELF, so naturally, she knows how to play to her own strengths. Truly, Quinta is an icon, and though two-time winner Hannah Waddingham put up a good fight at first, once Quinta took the lead, she never gave it back.
What I loved the most about Season Two of Abbott is how it leaned into Janine’s messiness. It’s such a perfect portrait of a woman in her mid-twenties. She’s idealistic, sometimes to a fault. She’s a dedicated advocate for her students, but she’s also stubborn and competitive about them. Janine can be a pushover, but she also has wonderful moments of finding her spine, as shown when she stands up to her sister (The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri) for checking out on her or when she puts her foot down when it comes to her mother (THE Taraji P. Henson) and her finances. She’s a MESS romantically and she’s also learning about when it’s right to be a little selfish and when that selfishness can go too far and hurt people. Like I said. A perfect portrait of a woman in her mid-twenties and I’m so grateful we have her.
Best Leading Performance in a Male Role – Comedy: Jeremy Allen White, The Bear
Kim: I think the best thing I can say about Jeremy Allen White is that he so fully inhabits Carmy Berzatto that I often forget he’s acting and that I am watching a television show and not a documentary. He’s that good.
Technically BOTH seasons of The Bear were up for Feelies consideration because of the June to June eligibility period we used to determine the nominees. We ultimately decided to make the nominations be for Season Two, and don’t get me wrong, Jeremy is AMAZING in Season Two as Carmy tries to open a restaurant, motivate his team, and explore a healthy romantic relationship all at the same time. (Two out of three of those things go well!) However, I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to talk about Jeremy’s stunning SEVEN MINUTE monologue from the Season One finale. Shot in one take and almost entirely in tight close-up, it’s an extraordinary piece of acting that luxuriates in silences and scattered thoughts and sudden clarity. Jeremy really lets us see the wheels turning in his brain as Carmy processes his relationship with his brother and its impact on his life. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when he’s giving not just the performance of his lifetime but of his generation. And he’s only thirty-two! He’s only going to get better and I can’t wait to just sit back and watch it happen.
Best Supporting Performance in a Female Role – Drama: Emma D’Arcy, House of the Dragon
Kim: Pour yourself a negroni sbagliato with prosecco in it because Emma D’Arcy is your winner for Best Supporting Performance in a Female Role – Drama by an overwhelming margin. Ooh, stunning indeed!
Because of the time span of the first season of House of the Dragon, Emma doesn’t join the cast until episode…and boy what a first impression they make. When we first meet adult Rhaenyra Targaryen, she is in the throes of active childbirth. As soon as she delivers, a messenger comes from Queen Alicent (her former best friend turned teenaged bride of her father) demanding to inspect the baby that we all know doesn’t belong to Rhaenyra’s gay husband. In an act of “fuck you” defiance and sheer will, Rhaenyra brings the baby to Alicent herself, delivering the afterbirth as she GETS DRESSED and hobbling through the palace halls when you KNOW she’s still fucking bleeding.
This sequence truly sets the tone for Emma’s performance: it’s visceral, it’s steely, it’s full of barely contained rage, and it’s powerfully confident. Emma knows exactly who Rhaenyra is and they bring her to life so beautifully. Plus, they have amazing chemistry with both Matt Smith and Olivia Cooke, so really, you win no matter who you ship Rhaenyra with. The Emmys should be ashamed for not recognizing Emma’s brilliance. At least the viewers have taste, and ultimately, that’s what matters the most.
Best Supporting Performance in a Male Role – Drama: Matthew Macfadyen, Succession
Kim: It’s been a banner year for Matthew Macfadyen: Tom Wambsgams ultimately emerged as the winner of the Succession game of thrones (even if it’s in a puppet king capacity) and now he’s a two-time Feelies champion.
Listen, I’ve been a simp for Matthew’s performance from the get go. The combination of his outsider status and his over-the-top desperation for validation immediately made him an interesting character and Matthew’s scenery chomping but never attention detracting performance just made him so incredibly watchable. We really got to run the gamut with Matthew over the course of the season from the quiet devastation of Tom and Shiv deciding to end their marriage in the premiere to the scene featured in the embedded gif set, which reminded everyone that this man had once played Mr. Darcy, to the volcanic fury that erupts in the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf-esque argument at the election night party. It’s the true definition of a tour-de-force performance, and I’m going to miss seeing Matthew’s work every week tremendously. Someone snap this man up as soon as the strikes have been resolved!!!
Best Supporting Performance in a Female Role – Comedy: Janelle James, Abbott Elementary
Sage: Ava Coleman may not be the most conscientious principal in Philadelphia public schools, but she is the principal with the best closet. And for two seasons now, Janelle James has been putting her own twist on the bad boss archetype, in the grand tradition of your Michael Scotts and Louie DePalmas, on Abbott Elementary.
Can I also say that Ava reminds me of Ms. Suzanne Sugarbaker of Atlanta, Georgia? Because like Delta Burke’s Designing Women character, she is too much and proud of that fact. Whether she’s running her own thrifting business out of her office during school hours or selling the teachers’ parking spots to Eagles fans, Ava is always hustling. And while she likes to pretend like she’s not invested in her staff (other than Gregory) or their kids, every once in a while, she’ll let it slip that she can actually be good at her job and has been paying more attention than anyone knows.
Those moments always hit, because for the majority of her screentime, Janelle is giving us exemplary comic timing, hilarious looks to camera, and line deliveries you’ll never see coming. (What I wouldn’t give to just get a reel of some of her alts.) Everyone on Abbott Elementary is funny, but she gets to be the most outrageous, which arguably sets the entire show’s tone. If all is right with the world, we’re still early on in a long, long run for this sitcom, and your pick for this award has already created an iconic character her fellow comedians will be studying for years.
Best Supporting Performance in a Male Role – Comedy: Phil Dunster, Ted Lasso
Kim: In the disappointingly uneven final season of Ted Lasso as we know it, there was one constant bright spot we could always rely on: Phil Dunster’s Jamie Tartt. You know we love a himbo with a heart of gold and clearly, you all do too because Phil won this one in a landslide victory. He’s not just a sexy little baby anymore! He’s a sexy little baby who is also a Feelies champion.
Jamie’s arc throughout the course of the series is just so damn satisfying. Remember how insufferable Jamie was in the first season? He went from a borderline cruel bully to a perfect cinnamon roll who I would go to war for over the course of three seasons. I think so much of the shift in Jamie’s character can be attributed to the writers leaning into Phil’s natural warmth and comic timing. Jamie is a little dim, but he also has surprising emotional intelligence. So much of his journey has also been about finding the balance between being a STAR and being a team player. He finally found that balance in Season Three thanks to his training sessions with Roy and his fundamental understanding of Ted’s “total football” approach. “I shouldn’t be playing forward,” Jamie insists, in a moment that made my heart just BURST for him. “I should be here. In the center.” Honestly, truer words were never spoken. If you had told me that Jamie Tartt would be the CENTER in Season One, I would have probably laughed. But now? Absolutely he is. Deservedly so.
Best Limited or Anthology Series: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Sage: Your choice for the Best Limited or Anthology Series Feelie is for anyone who had a sneaking suspicion that Ben Kenobi was doing more than the crotchety old neighbor routine all those years on Tatooine. Obi-Wan Kenobi brought Ewan McGregor back to the role (and with better material), filling in some of those blanks and providing poignant context for Leia’s steadfast trust in him in A New Hope.
It worked with Grogu and The Mandalorian, so Disney+ wisely kept the inclusion of little Leia (a wise beyond her years Vivien Lyra Blair) under wraps, while promoting the hell out of Ewan’s reunion with Hayden Christensen. And while there’s no arguing that this isn’t a project built on nostalgia (“Duel of the Fates,” bitches!!), the richest arc of Obi-Wan actually goes to a new character: Feelie nominee Moses Ingram’s Reva Sevander, a double agent seeking revenge on Vader for Order 66.
Where every prequel, sequel, and mid-quel runs the risk of overexplaining us to death (see: Solo), Obi-Wan’s biggest triumph is that it adds meaningful layers to the titular character’s relationships from the movies instead of oversimplifying them. His friends-to-enemies dynamic with Anakin ends on a cliffhanger in the prequels, while his guardianship of Leia is only ever discussed onscreen. Say what you will about Star Wars shows forever giving grumpy guys adorable little charges, but to me, this adventure felt immediately like the history to which Leia’s message hidden away in Artoo hinted. At one point, I remember texting Kim, “This is why she names her son Ben – not anything that happened in the movies.” It even made me a bit of a Padmé/Obi-Wan truther.
We started these categories with last year’s Feelies, because we wanted to recognize limited and anthology series outside of ongoing dramas and comedies. They do different things; they serve different purposes. With Obi-Wan Kenobi, we got a contained Star Wars story that does what it set out to do well and completely – and without stepping all over its own lore.
Best Leading Performance in a Limited or Anthology Series: Jennifer Coolidge, The White Lotus
Sage: Mike White and Jennifer Coolidge are such a perfect marriage of writer and muse that I’m almost rooting for the next season of The White Lotus to fall chronologically before this last one, just so we can see what they create together again. Alas, the rise and fall of Tanya McQuoid is flawless as it is, and I would never expect them to do anything so graceless.
Still, I’ll miss her elaborate pink outfits, her desperation to be liked, her casual cruelty, and her always-elegant ability to turn a phrase. (“He was kinda…fuckin’ his uncle.”) No one but Jennifer could have made Tanya so foul and yet so pitiable. Watching her steal every scene made me kinda wish that I too could float through life that clueless. It takes a consummate pro to capture what’s tragic and enviable about her, and a complete lack of self-consciousness to take her to all the needy places she needed to go. It’s only right that Jennifer is collecting award after award for this performance, and HOF is thrilled to add another to the stack.
Best Supporting Performance in a Limited or Anthology Series: Dove Cameron, Schmicago
Kim: Y’all know a star making performance when you see one because Schmicago’s Dove Cameron took the lead in this category on the first day of voting and she never looked back. I know Dove’s got that Disney Channel pop star pedigree but that doesn’t make her any less of a revelation on Schmigadoon/Schmicago, especially in the way she seamlessly transitioned from her Ado Annie inspired role in Season One to her Sally Bowles inspired role in Season Two. I said it in the nominees post and I’ll say it again here now that she’s officially a Feelies Winner: how is this girl not at the top of the list of potential Sallys for the latest Cabaret revival???
I could go on and on at how good she is, but I’ll just leave you with the evidence. Even when she shares a screen with Aaron Tveit, who as a performer sucks all the air out of the room, you still can’t take your eyes off HER. That’s saying something!
Best Shipper Moment: Janine and Gregory kiss in the living class room, Abbott Elementary
Kim: One of the things I miss the most about the shift to binge viewing and shortened seasons that all drop at once is the art of the good old-fashioned slow burn. These days, it feels like TV shows are so completely aware that they could be axed at any moment so they don’t allow us to luxuriate in the will they/won’t they of it all because they are trying to squeeze at least six seasons of pining into eight episodes just in case they don’t get anymore. Shows don’t really torture us with the longing looks and the lingering glances and the fleeting touches like they used to do. (Can you tell I was raised by The X-Files?)
Thank God for Abbott Elementary and its hit show status because it’s brought us the best and most painfully tentative workplace slow burn romance since Jim and Pam. It’s clear from the pilot that Janine and Gregory are MFEO but Abbott has come up with wonderful and realistic ways to keep them apart while still building up the sexual tension between them until it reaches a breaking point. The breaking point comes at the PECSA teacher’s conference, where a pretty substantial amount of alcohol and a classroom entirely made of flowers finally gives a newly single Gregory the courage to make a move. And so, as they hide from a security guard, he finally kisses her.
That in itself is amazing, but what takes this moment to like screaming through my fingers because I can’t DEAL WITH IT level is the way Janine looks at him after he breaks the kiss, the moment just hanging in the air. And then. AND THEN she hooks a finger in his lanyard and pulls him in for another kiss. It’s so fucking good and it doesn’t even MATTER that they almost immediately walk it back, because THAT, my dear friends, is the art of the will they/won’t they slow burn and I am HERE for it. And obviously you are too, as this moment ran away with the vote.
Best Right in the Feels Moment: Bill and Frank’s last day, The Last of Us
Sage: No one we meet on The Last of Us was more prepared for the crumbling of modern society than Bill. He spent his life anticipating disaster, but he never saw Frank coming. Because Bill had prepared himself for loneliness too, and he probably could have lived out the rest of his life pretty contentedly on his own in his suburban fortress. That’s what I was thinking about when I watched their last day play out in the stunningly romantic episode “Long, Long Time” – the bravery it took to let Frank in.
Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett are obviously both excellent, and they have a beautiful chemistry. They both talked about it after the fact, how generous they found each other as scene partners. And spending time with them really does feel like watching two people who’ve spent years in each other’s pockets, to the point where Frank knows that, no matter what argument he offers up, Bill isn’t going to just let him go.
With the letter Bill leaves for Joel, Frank and Bill’s love story reflects back on his budding connection to Ellie and ultimately influences Joel’s choice in the season finale. (“We have a job to do. And god help any motherfuckers who stand in our way.”) But the episode and especially the final day that Bill and Frank design for themselves also stand alone as some of the most human and hopeful storytelling we’ve seen in this genre. Love: 1, Mushroom Zombies: 0.
Best YAS!!!! Moment: Logan Roy’s wives and mistresses unite, Succession
Sage: Logan Roy was a complicated man. The people in his life, especially those closest to him, feared him, loved him, and hated him, often all at the same time. And while Succession is always most concerned with how he systematically destroyed his kids, there’s also the rubble of his romantic relationships to pick through after he dies.
“He couldn’t fit a whole woman in his head,” Shiv says during her eulogy, and though we don’t see how Logan treated his wives and girlfriends behind closed doors, he certainly wasn’t dedicated to any of them. They weren’t innocents either; no one marries or sleeps with a billionaire media mogul in his 80s with the purest of intentions. (And poor Kerry’s been kicked around for that the entire season.) Even so, they form a twisted but close-knit sorority, and it’s strangely moving to see them bond.
In the Wives and Mistresses pew at his funeral, women who knowingly betrayed each other sit knee to knee, laughing at the same jokes about what it was like to sleep next to him. They survived him, in a way that the kids didn’t. Because surviving him brought them together. It’s a brief moment in a momentous episode, but it’s meaningful because of all the stories we didn’t get to hear. Let’s hope they got gloriously drunk at the wake and told them all.
Best Warm Fuzzy Moment: Richie finds his purpose, The Bear
Kim: Sometimes a needle drop is so fucking perfect that a song and television show end up indelibly tied together for the rest of time. A good needle drop can elevate even the most mediocre television scene, but the RIGHT needle drop can make a scene instantly iconic. Think about how “Chasing Cars” immediately conjures up the image of Izzy Stevens in her pink ballgown on Grey’s Anatomy. I can’t hear Sia’s “Breathe Me” without thinking of that magnificent final montage of Six Feet Under. “Make Your Own Kind of Music” is used all the time (most recently in the Barbie trailer) but in my heart it belongs to Lost‘s Desmond Hume and that masterful cold open of the second season. Think about the way “Running Up That Hill” surged to the top of the charts after Season Four of Stranger Things a whopping thirty-seven years after its release. Pop music and television go hand in hand and sometimes they create the most magical of moments.
Well, we can now add The Bear to the needle drop Hall of Fame. Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” now forever belongs Richie Jerimovich, you guys. Your votes for Warm Fuzzy of the year have made it so.
The thing about “Forks” is that it’s a fantastic episode even without this singular musical moment. Season Two of The Bear gave several members of its ensemble their own spotlight episode and Feelie Nominee Ebon Moss-Bachrach is more than up to the task. Richie’s whole arc for the season is his search for purpose, and he finds it via a week-long apprenticeship at a fine dining restaurant where he learns what a true act of SERVICE the service industry can be. Everything comes to a head when Richie gets to surprise a guest with a fancy ass version of deep dish pizza. As the distinctively plucky banjo intro of “Love Story” starts in the background, you literally SEE the moment everything clicks for him. Purpose found. If your heart isn’t BURSTING by the time Richie is driving around the streets of Chicago in the wee hours joyfully singing Taylor Swift at the top of his lungs, you may want to check if you still have one.
Best WTF?! Moment: Someone got sucked off, Ghosts
Sage: Most days, the CBS version of Ghosts is a lighter, less melancholic show than the original UK series. But that may have changed in the cliffhanger that ended Season Two. Someone got sucked off! (For those not aware of the terminology, which I still can’t believe the censors let them get away with, this is what the ghosts call it when one of them is scooped up by unseen forces and taken to the actual afterlife, never to interact with humanity again.)
But who?? We’re not ready to lose any of our ghost friends, nor are we ready for any of these cast members to leave the show when the ensemble has gelled so well. But it’s a totally shocking moment that doesn’t appear to have an explanation that won’t be devastating – the very definition of a “WTF” season-ender.
Thank you, as always, for your votes!! Keep watching all the things and we’ll see you next year!