Your True Crime Guide To This Year's Emmy Nominees (Spoiler: ‘When They See Us’ Killed It)

Ava DuVernay's four-part Netflix series on the Central Park jogger case received a whopping 16 nominations.

By Gina Tron

The nominations for this year’s Emmy Awards were announced Tuesday and it’s chock full of true crime and true crime-inspired stories. 

First of all, it looks like “When They See Us” will be crowned king in terms of true crime Emmys after receiving a whopping 16 nominations - the most ever for a Netflix project, according to the Huffington Post.

“Whey They See Us,” the popular and heartbreaking four-part film from Ava DuVernay, reexamined how five young teens of color became victims of a vicious and false narrative during the "Central Park 5" case, one of the most publicized cased of the 1980s in which the boys were wrongly convicted of raping a woman in Central Park. It would take years before being exonerated years later.

The film's many nominations include “outstanding limited series.”

"Thank you to the real men for inviting me to tell their story," DuVernay tweeted Tuesday, referring to Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey (formerly known as Kharey) Wise.  

Jharrel Jerome, who played Wise in "When They See Us," has been nominated for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or TV movie.

“I am at a loss for words,” the actor posted after Tuesday’s Emmy announcements.

Both Aunjanue Ellis and Niecy Nash were nominated for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or TV movie. Ellis played Sharon Salaam, mother of Yusef, while Nash played Delores Wise, mother of Korey. 

“The Act”

The first season of Hulu's “The Act,” a dramatized anthology series based on true crimes, focused on the sensational Gypsy Rose Blanchard case. The series, starring Joey King as Blanchard, follows the events leading up to the murder of Blanchard’s mom Dee Dee Blanchard. Dee Dee allegedly pretended Gypsy had everything from leukemia to muscular dystrophy to developmental issues, forcing her to endure multiple surgeries and consume unneeded medications —  a condition often referred to as Munchausen by proxy. 

The abuse went on until Gypsy Rose helped plot her mother’s murder: She asked her online boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, to kill her and he did, stabbing Dee Dee to death in 2015. He was sentenced in February to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder. Gypsy Rose was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for her role in the attack.

King has been nominated for outstanding lead actress in a limited series for her portrayal of Gypsy.

She reacted to the news with an emotional Instagram post.

"Escape at Dannemora"

Patricia Arquette, who starred as Dee Dee in “The Act”, was also nominated for outstanding lead actress, but for a different true crime series, "Escape at Dannemora,” which revisited the infamous 2015 prison break executed by Richard Matt and David Sweat at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Prison employee Joyce Mitchell helped the pair and was allegedly in a bizarre love triangle with both men. Arquette played her in the Ben Stiller-directed series, which received three nominations in total.

"FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened"

Fyre Festival was pitched as a luxury getaway for millennial influencers, collecting some of the world's most high-profile models and artists on a Bahamian island for a weekend of huge concerts and hedonistic fun. In reality, festival-goers who forked over thousands of dollars faced a lack of adequate housing, food and bathrooms (and basically had no way to get off the island), which led to multiple lawsuits being filed against Fyre organizers. Billy McFarland, the driving force behind the failed fest, was sentenced to six years in federal prison for defrauding investors to the tune of $26 million. The debacle inspired two documentaries, including Netflix's "FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened," which received several nominations, including outstanding documentary or nonfiction special and outstanding directing for a documentary. It was directed by Chris Smith.

"Surviving R. Kelly"

Speaking of documentaries, “Surviving R. Kelly” has been nominated for outstanding informational series or special. The six-part Lifetime series explored decades of alleged sexual misconduct by R. Kelly, including sex with underage girls. The #MuteRKelly movement grew in the film's wake, Sony Music dropped the singer from his label and a slew of new criminal charges have been filed against him.

Kelly has continued to reject the sexual abuse charges, notably in his highly emotional interview with Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” in March 2019.

"Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes" 

The Netflix docu-series, “Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” featured never-before-heard interviews with serial murderer Ted Bundy recorded by journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth in 1980 while Bundy was on death row. It has been nominated for outstanding main title design.

Bundy was all over 2019; in addition to the "Conversations" docu-series, the biopic “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” starring Zac Efron, was also released.

"True Detective"

Season three of the HBO show “True Detective” focuses on a case in the fictional town of West Finger, Arkansas that has strong parallels to the infamous true story of the The West Memphis 3, in which three teens were convicted of murdering 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, allegedly driven by Satanic beliefs. The teens - Jessie Misskelley, Charles Jason Baldwin and Damien Wayne Echols - served more than 18 years in prison before winning a new trial based on DNA evidence. While not technically exonerated, they were released after reaching Alford pleas that allowed them to maintain their innocence and receiving sentences of time served. 

The series also deals with a child murder, complete with dark religious elements, as well as three teens who wrongfully fall under suspicion (though they were cleared before trial). In addition, the opening shot of the first episode, which features overhead shots of a wooded area dubbed Devil’s Den, bears an uncanny resemblance to the 1996 documentary “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,” which opens with aerial footage of the wooded area of Robin Hood Hills in West Memphis, Arkansas, where the three 8-year-olds were found brutally killed.

Actor Mahershala Ali has been nominated for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or a movie for his role in the show.

"Sharp Objects"

The HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s book “Sharp Objects” stars Amy Adams as reporter Camille Preaker who returns to her tiny Missouri hometown of Wind Gap to investigate the murder of two children. Being back home means she has to reconnect with her creepy mother, who apparently has Munchausen by proxy, a condition in which a caregiver fabricates health problems of the person they are caring for with the intent to gain sympathy and attention. 

The series has been nominated for outstanding limited series. Adams has been nominated for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or a movie while Patricia Clarkson, who plays the mother, has been nominated for supporting actress.

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