Now that the dust has settled following the 2019 Emmy Awards, you’re probably left wondering which award-winning shows that you’re yet to see are worthy of your time. Luckily, awards and TV obsessive Shaun Nolan is on hand to help.

My friends and family know me as being the person who has seen pretty much everything; stage or screen, if you name it, I’m likely to have already watched it. When it comes to nominees for the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards this couldn’t be truer. In fact, when the nominations were announced, I’d already seen all bar two of the Comedy, Drama and Limited Series award nominees. But just because they’re up for major awards doesn’t mean they’re worthy of your time. I want to steer you in the direction of which nominees (and now, winners) you should be paying attention to.

The cast of The Marvellous Mrs Maisel
The cast of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel C: Amazon

Every show in the Outstanding Comedy Series category I’ve seen before and one of them is my favourite TV show: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. This uproarious and glamorous comedy from eccentric creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is one of Amazon Prime’s most successful exports for good reason. Not only are the central performances from Emmy winners Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein and Tony Shalhoub note-perfect (the latter two took home trophies at this year’s ceremony for their performances), but the story they tell is equally as divine. Set in a romanticised version of 1950s New York, the show follows Midge Maisel, a housewife and mother of two from a wealthy Jewish family who spends her evenings supporting her businessman-husband’s amateur stand-up comedy. But when there’s trouble in paradise and Midge’s perfect life starts to fall apart, she finds herself giving a comedy set of her own, one that will change the course of her life forever. Thrust into the spotlight and invigorated by a passion to become a stand-up comedienne for herself, with the help of Susie Myerson (Borstein), they set out to make it happen. The third season premieres on Amazon Prime on December 6th but until then, I recommend at least giving the pilot episode a try. It is undoubtedly one of the best-made pilots ever (Sherman-Palladino won an Emmy for writing and an Emmy for directing it last year) so if it doesn’t hook you in, I don’t know what will.

But while The Marvelous Mrs Maisel won the Outstanding Comedy Series statuette at last year’s ceremony, it didn’t guarantee success this time around. Instead, a BBC-produced hit (co-produced by Maisel home Amazon) took home the award. Starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge and based on the one-woman stage play of the same name, Fleabag was a sleeper hit that ended up taking the world by storm in the middle of last year. I first fell in love with PWB and the show when I caught it on stage at the Soho Theatre a few years back. Even then, it was evident that she was on to something great, and sure enough she was. The first season of the show was a hit in the UK and was eventually picked up by Amazon Prime for a US release, where it slowly became a hit over there too. The first season is largely similar to the stage play: a woman lovingly referred to as ‘Fleabag’ explains the small trials and tribulations she goes through in her life, from sex to family drama to public embarrassment, but it’s clear that she has a dark secret to hide.

Following the warm reception for season one, PWB reluctantly agreed to take the show out for a second (and final) spin. I was worried about this decision at first as shows that extend further than their source material aren’t typically as good (just ask the later seasons of Game of Thrones), but I was more than pleasantly surprised on its premiere. If anything, being devised for the screen makes the second season feel wholly more original and is, arguably, the better season of the two as a result. The highlight is the first episode which plays out like a stage play on screen – the episode won PWB one of her three Emmys of the night for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (the episode also won its director, Harry Bradbeer, an Emmy as well). It’s unlikely that you haven’t already, but watching Fleabag is a must. Even if you think it doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, it still might tickle you somehow: one of my friends told me recently that her dad went to see the recent return run of the stage play because he loved the show much.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag C: BBC

The other nominees for the comedy award are worthy of note too, even if some of them have been around for a while. The Good Place, Veep and Schitt’s Creek are three that are nominated for their third, seventh and fifth seasons respectively. My favourite of the three is Veep, a show that has always been the comedy show to beat throughout its multi-year run. The HBO hit (which was aired in the UK on Sky Atlantic) follows fictional US Vice President Selina Mayer, played by Seinfeld alum Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. The show is basically The Thick of It but for American politics and is truly one of the funniest programmes ever. I’m sad it’s over, but I’ve recently been enjoying re-watching it from the start thanks to Sky Box Sets.

The Good Place and Schitt’s Creek are much more mainstream favourites, the latter having become particularly popular recently thanks to its recent wide-release on Netflix. The Good Place – from the US Office and Parks and Rec creator Mike Schur – is about four people who find themselves navigating the afterlife, while Schitt’s Creek follows the uber-wealthy Rose family who go bankrupt and are forced to move to the small town they once bought as a joke. I find the latter funnier than the former, but it’s all personal preference really. Both are worth a try if you like that kind of thing.

The other two nominees – Barry, co-created by and starring SNL alum Bill Hader, and Russian Doll, co-created by and starring OITNB‘s Natasha Lyonne – lean more toward dramedy and are hit and miss for some, but amazing if they’re your kind of thing. Barry follows a hitman who, after killing someone who attends an acting class, discovers his passion for performance. Led by Hader (who won an Emmy for his performance as Barry), the show is equally as terrifying as it is hilarious. If you’re up for genre-non-conforming comedy, this is the way to go. It airs on Sky Atlantic.

Russian Doll is not as hilarious as Barry, but it’s just as interesting. After Nadya (played by Lyonne, an Emmy nominee) gets hit by a car on her birthday, she finds herself waking up in the bathroom just as the party begins… when she dies yet again, she wakes up in the same place. A modern (and more nuanced) take on the dilemma first introduced in Groundhog Day, it’s a slow burner that ultimately pays off. It streams on Netflix and returns for a second season in 2020.

Bill-Hader and Sarah-Goldberg in Barry
Barry Season 2 Pictured: Bill Hader and Sarah Goldberg C: HBO

The drama series nominees this year were, in my opinion, a complete mess. Two of them, I haven’t seen before: Better Call Saul and Ozark (both of them from Netflix). Both are regular nominees, but neither have managed to capture my attention enough to tune in as of yet, so I can’t pass judgement. But I can on two nominees that I’m disappointed are represented here: Game of Thrones for its final season (HBO via Sky Atlantic) and This Is Us (NBC via Channel 4). Thrones (unsurprisingly) won the award for a final season that was infamously slated by fans and critics alike. In my eyes, the show has been off its games for at least three seasons now, but the Television Academy still seems to think otherwise. Similarly, This Is Us hasn’t been great since its first run back in 2016, so to see it here over some other brilliant shows is disheartening.

For me, the real winner here was between Killing Eve (BBC), Succession (HBO via Sky Atlantic), and Pose (FX via BBC) [the only other nominee, Bodyguard (BBC), was good for the first four episodes of its run, but eventually became formulaic and predictable]. All three are undoubtedly some of the best shows I’ve ever watched and are brilliant in such different and diverse ways.

Killing Eve, based on the novellas by Luke Jennings, follows British Intelligence investigator Eve Polastri (played by Emmy nominee Sandra Oh of Greys Anatomy fame) as she hunts down assassin Villanelle (2019 Emmy winner Jodie Comer). The two develop a mutual obsession for one another and drama (and great, witty comedy) ensues. The show was developed for the screen by Fleabag legend Phoebe Waller-Bridge and has a fantastic edge to it as a result. It is one of the only shows I have ever done an all-nighter to watch, and then I did it again when the second season came out. It is, perhaps, the real best drama series of the past year, and is well worth the hype if you haven’t watched it already. Both seasons are available now on BBC iPlayer.

Jodie Comer in Killing-Eve
Jodie Comer in Killing-Eve C: BBC

Succession is my new obsession and is a show that everyone who’s seen it loves, but no one seems to have seen it. Following the fictional media mogul Logan Roy and his family who are involved in the business, it’s a razor-sharp comedic drama – almost satire – about power, ego, legacy and inheritance. Executive produced by the likes of Adam McKay, it has a similar feel to his 2018 Academy Award-nominated film Vice, but is better than that in many ways. While Vice at times felt like a B-list comedy masquerading as a prestige drama, Succession is as prestige as television can get, inhibiting the wealth and style that its characters fight to exude. The second season is wrapping up on Sky Atlantic, but it’s all available now on Sky Box Sets (and NowTV).

Ryan Murphy is back in the press recently for his first Netflix show The Politician, which was released last week. I have a heck of a lot to say about that show, so I’ll write in detail about it soon, but for now, let it be known that I am a massive Ryan Murphy fan. From Glee to American Horror Story, to Feud to 9-1-1, I have seen every single television show he’s created. So, when his 1980s-set drama Pose came to BBC2 in March, I devoured it immediately.

Inspired by the ballroom dance culture and the LGBT+ community in New York that was popularised by the Jennie Livingstone documentary Paris Is Burning (Canals is a co-creator of the show), Pose follows the lives of Blanca, Elektra, Angel, Pray Tell, Candy and so many more (Billy Porter, who plays Pray Tell, took home an Emmy for his performance). Featuring the biggest trans cast and crew to ever be assembled, Pose is not only one of the best shows of this past year, but it’s almost definitely the most important. As compelling as it is necessary, it’s one of Murphy’s very best. Season one is available on BBC iPlayer now, with season two coming 26 October.

Other drama series nominated for awards include How to Get Away With Murder (ABC via Sky Witness), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu via Channel 4) and House of Cards (Netflix), none of which I watch anymore as they’ve dwindled in their later seasons.

Indya-Moore in Pose
Indya-Moore in Pose C: BBC

And finally, the nominees for Outstanding Limited Series, a category that is a real half-and-half for me. Three of them – Chernobyl (Sky Atlantic and HBO co-pro), Escape At Dannemora (Showtime via Sky Atlantic) and Sharp Objects (HBO via Sky Atlantic) – I found so difficult to get through, I switched them off before they finished, which is a particularly impressive feat considering they’re only a single season with a handful of episodes. Chernobyl, winner of the award and nine others at this year’s ceremony, is a hyper-realistic (but also, in some parts, heavily fictionalised) account of the infamous Chernobyl power plant disaster. It’s a show that has clicked with a majority of audiences from what I can see online, but it didn’t capture me whatsoever. I found it boring, overlong and self-indulgent from the start and after three out of the five episodes, I switched it off.

Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, made me feel similarly. Based on a novel by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl), I turned off after one episode because I felt the same way. I looked to the novel to see if that inspired me at all, but I stopped that half way through as well.

Escape at Dannemora I didn’t necessarily dislike, but I found myself never reaching to watch it, so eventually deleted it and haven’t really thought much about it since. Like Chernobyl, it’s a semi-fictitious account of a true story, this time of two men who escaped from a Dannemora prison in 2015. The performances, design and direction (by Ben Stiller, strangely), is fantastic, but it’s so long for something so simple. In fact, I’d argue that it would’ve made a much better TV movie.

The other two nominees are much more worthy of being checked out. When They See Us, a mini-series on Netflix from director Ava Duvernay, is the true story of the Central Park Five, five completely disassociated young men who were each in Central Park the night a woman was raped in the late 1980s, all five of whom were accused (and some, wrongfully sentenced) for the crime. It’s harrowing and extremely timely, a story that holds a mirror up to today while also shining a light on the past. The show’s lead actor, Jharrel Jerome, won the Best Actor in a Limited Series Emmy for his performance.

Michelle Williams in Fosse Verdon
Michelle Williams in Fosse Verdon C: FX

My favourite though is the FX series Fosse/Verdon, from a range of producers and stars affiliated with Broadway. Telling the story of the intense relationship between Broadway sensation Gwen Verdon (played here by Michelle Williams, who won an Emmy) and legendary choreographer Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell), it’s as much of a compulsive viewing experience as Killing Eve. Michelle Williams’ devastating and expansive performance is reason enough to watch this for yourself, but if you’re even slightly interested in the entertainment industry or theatre in particular, it needs to be seen. The full series is available on BBC iPlayer now.

A Very English Scandal, a three-part series written by one of my favourite writers Russell T. Davies, was also nominated for a handful of awards and was snubbed by not being up for the big prize. Starring Hugh Grant and the incomparable Ben Whishaw (who won an Emmy for his performance), it tells the story of Jeremy Thorpe, a 1970s British politician who had a very melodramatic gay affair that rocked the nation. It is one of the best things I have ever seen and I’ve re-visited it multiple times since, each time watching it like a three-hour movie. It’s not available to stream anywhere currently, but do consider purchasing it to see it for yourself. It’s crafted to perfection.

A Very English Scandal Pictured - Ben Whishaw
A Very English Scandal Pictured – Ben Whishaw C: BBC

I love awards ceremonies for many different reasons – the glamour, the excitement, the ridiculous notion that we can rank subjective pieces of art as “the best” – and am forever disheartened when people try and write them off as being unnecessary. In my eyes, major awards ceremonies serve as a reminder of the art that was on offer to us that past year. It’s why snubs hurt so much, perhaps, because it gives a show we love less of a chance of being remembered in years to come. I for one use lists of past nominees to gauge shows and films I should visit that I wasn’t alive at the time to see. Hopefully 2019’s list of Emmy nominees has the same affect for others further down the line.