If Watchmen really is a one-season wonder, then its performance at the 2020 Emmy Awards was an excellent way to sign off.
HBO’s take on the classic graphic novel from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons took home a superheroic 11 Emmy Awards on Sunday night, making it the most-awarded show of the year, and the first comic book adaptation to win a major category at the Emmys. The series, developed by Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) won the biggest award it was nominated for: Outstanding Limited Series, for which Lindelof and the rest of the writing staff accepted the award remotely (“don’t worry – we’ve all been tested” Lindelof assured the audience). In an affecting acceptance speech touching on the themes of the show, Lindelof urged viewers to “stop worrying about getting canceled and ask yourself what you’re doing to get renewed.”
Prior to taking home the big prize, Watchmen had already built up itself a formidable warchest of awards already on the night. Regina King won Outstanding Lead Actress for her role as Angela Abar a.k.a. Sister Night. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II won Outstanding Supporting Actor for his role as Cal Abar (who, SPOILER ALERT: is definitely not just Cal Abar). Lindelof and writer Cord Jefferson also won Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series for the standout episode “This Extraordinary Being.”
Watchmen only missed on three of the awards it was nominated for during the main show, including Outstanding Lead Actor (in which Jeremy Irons lost to I Know This Much is True’s Mark Ruffalo), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series (Jean Smart lost to Uzo Aduba of Mrs. America), and Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series (three different Watchmen episodes ultimately lost to Netflix movie Unorthodox).
In addition to the four awards it won during the Emmy Awards, Watchmen won seven Creative Arts Emmys in the week leading up to the main show. The series won Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series (putting Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross one Tony away from an “EGOT”), Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series (This Extraordinary Being), Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes (“It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice”), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series (“A God Walks into Abar”), Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series (“This Extraordinary Being”).
All in all, Watchmen won 11 of the 26 awards it was nominated for.
HBO submitted Watchmen as a limited series for the 72nd annual Emmy awards, rather than as a drama. This is because it’s still unclear whether the show will ever receive a second season. Original creator and showrunner Damon Lindelof has been insistent that he viewed the show as a singular entity with a beginning, middle, and end, and that he would only return to the franchise down the road if he received an idea that excited him. Series star Regina King says she won’t return to the project without Lindelof.
There is always a chance of Watchmen bringing in a new creative team and going the anthology route, but given the show’s performance at the 2020 Emmy Awards, that new team would have a lot to live up to.