The 2022 Emmys Ignored The Best Miniseries (And Best Performance) Of Last Year

With the 2022 Emmy nominations now announced, you might be looking at the Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series category and feel a bit underwhelmed. Almost entirely dominated by biopics (except for "The White Lotus"), the miniseries that were nominated for the prestigious title varied from fun watches to not-so-great time-wasters.

Looking at the nominations, you might think that, surely, there were other limited series that deserved a spot more than "Pam & Tommy" or "Inventing Anna." And the fact of the matter is that there was. The Television Academy failed to recognize, bar none, the best miniseries of 2021, along with the genuinely incredible performances that came along with it. I'm talking, of course, about filmmaker Mike Flanagan's terrifying and emotional magnum opus horror series, "Midnight Mass."

If you need to catch yourself up on what made the Netflix limited series so special, here's a spoiler-free recap (because I want people who haven't seen it to watch it!). Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) finds himself forced to return to his hometown, Crockett Island, after being released from prison. There, he witnesses his downtrodden island home get revitalized by a charismatic and mysterious priest (Hamish Linklater) who claims to be a temporary replacement for the town's longtime Monsignor Pruitt. However, when mysterious events begin to happen at the same time as the island's revival, something more sinister threatens to reveal itself.

What makes it so special

Admittedly, the summary I gave above is a bit vague and may be disingenuous, but that's not without a good reason. "Midnight Mass" is a heavy show not only for its overt religious themes, but because of how devastating it gets as the show unravels its story. Having the show set on an isolated and sparsely-populated island makes the audience feel closer to the events being shown. This intimacy makes the revitalization of Crockett Island at the hands of Father Paul so joyous to watch, and its eventual downfall so tragic. The show's ensemble is written as human to a fault. Even if some are more nefarious than others, like church member Bev (Samantha Sloyan), they are all presented as people that everyone encounters in their everyday life. Maybe these same types of people live in your religious town — I know I certainly recognize these archetypes.

This humanity is at the center of "Midnight Mass," and its embrace and later rejection of it is what makes it a cut above any other limited series eligible for the upcoming Emmy ceremony. It is a tale of how faith can both enrich and corrupt, how sacrificing oneself to serve another is as sinful as not devoting yourself at all, and how we as humans cannot let false prophets (intentional or otherwise) lead us. These themes are more timely than ever, and "Midnight Mass" was able to convey them in remarkably powerful ways, making its total awards shut-out feel so much worse.

The performance at the center of it all

While Riley may have been billed as the show's main character, it is really all about Father Paul, and Hamish Linklater's performance cements that. He is neither a hero nor a villain in the story of Crockett Island, but rather someone with good intentions finding himself on an unintended path towards sin. He does sincerely want to restore the island to its former greatness, making what eventually comes next that much more tragic.

To make things even worse, Father Paul's attempts at restoration do work. His series of miracles allow for a revival of faith throughout the town, fostering a sense of community that hasn't been felt in years. However, these miracles of his require him to sacrifice his humanity, even as he struggles to hold onto it for as long as he can.

Linklater's performance as Father Paul not getting nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor might be an even worse snub than "Midnight Mass" getting shut out of the Limited Series category altogether. His sadness and struggle is the string that ties the show together into a cohesive experience. Without his presence, it would be a very different and lesser experience. Every moment that he is on screen, whether he's powerfully reciting a sermon or cowering in a corner with blood on his face, is electric. We'll be thinking about his work long after most of these nominations fade into the background.

Does this actually matter?

It's easy to argue that "Midnight Mass" didn't get nominated this year because, at the end of the day, it's a horror series. After all, genre shows like these often get ignored by the Television Academy. However, other genre shows like "Yellowjackets," "Squid Game," and "Love Death & Robots" have also garnered multiple Emmy nominations this year, making "Midnight Mass'" snub that much stranger.

Still, I can't help but wonder if these snubs even matter in the grand scheme of things. Flanagan has gone on record numerous times about how much the project means to him – it took years of planning and false starts for it to finally get made. This miniseries was clearly made with this love and passion being its top priority, a project not particularly concerned with appealing to a wide audience (although it was a big hit with viewers last year). So, with this in mind, does a lack of official recognition undo the clear love that was put behind every frame and line? No, it doesn't, and in fact, these snubs might make that love that much more apparent. Something this special and specific doesn't need statuettes to be recognized as great.

"Midnight Mass" is available to stream in its entirety on Netflix.