Megan Amram Talks 'An Emmy for Megan' Season 2: "Congrats, Haters. You Won"
"I gave it my all last year. I truly left it all on the table. I feel like people understood that I, like, really wanted an Emmy because I said it so many times," says the 'Good Place' co-executive producer of her decision to not do a second season, which just hit the web this morning.
[This story contains spoilers for the web series An Emmy for Megan, season two.]
Last spring, seemingly out of nowhere, a new acting prodigy burst onto the small screen and into the hearts of Americans all over America. This dazzling multihyphenate — director, producer, scribe, beguiling chanteuse — had, up until her remarkable debut as an auteur, hidden herself away in dimly lit, vermin-infested writers rooms on such shows as Parks and Recreation and The Good Place. But on April 27, 2018, an unfamiliar name could be heard emanating from the corner booths where Hollywood power brokers make and remake the world. "Amram" they whispered with a feverish intensity. "Amram!" they emphatically declared as they removed the pictures of Meryl Streep from their wallets and deposited them in the trash. "AMRAM!" they screamed, blood pouring from their ears as their minds tore loose their tethers in contemplation of such immense talent.
All this and more marked the day when Megan Amram announced the release of An Emmy for Megan, season one. The six-part web series put a playful veneer on serious, timely themes like toxic narcissism, Hollywood's toxic fetishization of certain body types, and the (literally) toxic perils of close female friendship, and laid out in the strongest possible terms how badly Amram wanted an Emmy. In July, when the nominations for the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced, it was a foregone conclusion that she would be the first outstanding actress in a short-form comedy or drama series nominee named (they're announced alphabetically). The series itself was also nominated.
But last September, in a stunning upset, Amram was defeated in both categories, losing short-form actress to six-time Emmy nominee Christina Pickles and short-form series to relative unknown James Corden.
After that devastating loss, Amram went completely dark, only emerging to write an episode of The Simpsons, appear in the role of "Nostalgia Cat" on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, resume her day job as a writer/co-executive producer on NBC's The Good Place, and sign an overall deal with Universal TV. However, this morning, May 6, the last day of eligibility for the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, Amram emerged from her chrysalis of shame and disappointment to bless her legions of die-hard fans, dubbed "Meg-Heads," with six new episodes of An Emmy for Megan!
Seconds after the release of the new project, Amram sat down with THR exclusively to discuss coming back from the dead, Hollywood's extremely dire boa constrictor infestation, and why 2019 will be the Year of Oswalt!
Just wanted to clear this up right away: Are you currently dead?
I am not currently dead, but it really took a lot of work to get [alive again]. I was dead for a substantial amount of time. And, you know, it’s never easy coming back from that. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, is to be dead. So I worked through it, I’m now alive, but it’s still touch-and-go.
And let me make sure I have the timeline correct here. You were dead after you were killed in the first season. And then at some point thereafter you became not dead. And then at that point you went out to live in the wilderness?
Yes. So I died before the Emmys last year. I was killed by my ex-friend, and then during that time I actually was nominated for two Emmys. I was still dead at that point. When I went to the Emmys I was dead. And then I just, something came over me a few months later; I came to one day, and I was alive but just barely. Like, I still didn’t have the same fire in my heart after losing [the Emmys]. And I just couldn’t be part of this world anymore. The only thing I could do was just go outside and start eating dirt.
Well, welcome back! I wonder, when you were living out in the wilderness, having to forage, eat rodents, presumably fend off large predators, did you learn anything that was maybe applicable to life in Hollywood?
Oh yeah! First of all, you would never expect this: There’s boa constrictors just everywhere in Hollywood. It’s kind of like at a level above your eye level so [people who live inside] don’t really notice them, but if you’re living outside it’s really intense. I was more resourceful than I ever thought I would be. I mean, I was coddled before I lived outside. I had a full team of representatives who catered to my every whim. I had lunch at work every day. Being outside it’s like, there’s no going for a Starbucks run! Your Starbucks run is catching a porcupine and drinking its blood!
Wow, I never thought of it like that.
You wouldn’t! But anyone who’s lived outside in Hollywood will tell you that exact same thing.
So you come back to inside life. At that point you made the decision to not do a second season of An Emmy for Megan …
We talk a bit about it in the first episode of … not the second season. But I gave it my all last year. I truly left it all on the table. I feel like people understood that I, like, really wanted an Emmy because I said it so many times. I did so much press. I spent a lot of my own money, and I just realized that if I couldn’t do it last year then there was no way I was going to be able to do it this year. There was no way I was going to be able to up the ante. I made the mature decision to just say, “You know what? Let’s just bow out this year quietly. No fanfare.”
Having had the chance to look back on season one — assuming it hasn’t been too painful for you to watch it again — but just having a chance to reflect, were you able to pinpoint any shortcomings that may have relegated you to mere Emmy-nominated status? And the second part of that question: What, if anything, do you think you need to do, if you ever try for a season two — performance-wise, campaign-wise, bribery-wise — to get you over that proverbial hump?
Sorry, I’m allergic to nostalgia. I think that last year I really focused on peripheral things in the series rather than the main thesis statement, which was: I wanted to win an Emmy. I now, in retrospect, think I didn’t make that clear enough. There were plenty of words I used in the series that weren’t “Emmy” or “Megan,” and at that point I didn’t understand that that could be really damning. And I threw a lot of events and stuff. I had a poster signing underneath my billboard. I had a screening at the ArcLight Hollywood, which was very fun. But the ArcLight screening wasn’t in Imax.
Yeah. So, if I had a screening this year I think I would try to rent out the Imax, because that seemingly has worked for Endgame. And I really should have hit the pavement more. You’re totally right, I should have bribed more people individually. It’s, I guess, probably against the Emmy rules, but if you bribe enough, you know, no rule can stand in your way.
It’s truly a testament to your personal growth that you can be so self-critical. One thing that struck me watching the new, “not season two” episodes was your focus on your own psychological trauma, depression, et cetera. That is such a hot trend right now! And I was just like, “Wow, how brave!” What made you, Megan Amram, say, “I’d better hop on this train”?
I am pretty sure it’s Mental Health Awareness Month right now. That’s not a coincidence. But it also is a coincidence because May 6 is the last day you can upload a series [for Emmy consideration]. I think trauma can come in a lot of different packages. And just because it’s silly and frivolous and dumb doesn’t mean that it’s dumb, you know? If there are any young girls out there who lose two Emmy, one to James Corden, and feel really bad about it, I just hope those people see this, and feel seen.
Another thing that I wanted to ask about is that, I couldn’t help but notice that you were killed again in the season two finale. And it seems like, OK, it could be anyone, right? You have a lot of haters out there. But one suspect that I was surprised to see missing from the possibles, especially given the history between you two, is D’Arcy Carden. Also given that poison once again appears to be the murder weapon …
I just think you should cut toxic people out of your life. And one of the most toxic people is probably the person who murders you. And it’s like, murder me once shame on you, murder me twice shame on me. Me and D’Arcy have a wonderful working, professional relationship. But in terms of our friendship we were not able to get past the murder. And if you watch the — it’s not so much a second season as like a video diary — but I have no idea who killed me. It’s a real whodunnit. I just think poison is sort of a hot thing right now.
I wonder if the massive response to season one of An Emmy for Megan could have led to an increase in poisonings. I don’t know if there’s any statistics. I’ll have to look into that, whether it could have inspired copycats.
Oh yeah. I mean, anything that gets people talking [about An Emmy for Megan and me, Megan] I’m happy about, but I just wanna be very clear: I do not support poisoning people. It’s something I’ve had to deal with and it’s really rough. So always be really safe with poison.
Another thought I had watching the new “video diary” you’ve made was, like, an Emmy for Megan? (Farting noise.) So last year. Like, completely. And watching this year it hit me: Patton Oswalt is a star! Would you go so far as to say 2019 is “The Year of Oswalt”?
It was so amazing that he was such a fan that he did an aftershow, because he’s such a busy guy. He’s always doing like a million jobs. He has his own stand-up, writing, and now to find that he did this aftershow? I could not have been more proud and honored. He was really honest. Like he doesn’t like episode two, and that’s fine! But he is really excellent, and I think we’re gonna submit him for best actor!
Yeah well, that tracks with just, like, the vibe I get — you tell me if this is wrong, or just coming out of nowhere — but the vibe that I get from you is just: selflessness. I just feel like you are someone who always puts themselves second, and their friends first. And what I expect to see this year is just you supporting Patton in his quest for an acting Emmy. I mean, he has an Emmy already. He has as many nominations as you, but he’s actually won. But I feel like that just doesn’t matter to you at all.
No, it doesn’t. I love just surrounding myself with people in my orbit who are just super positive. I wanna help them. Like, Patton could use the exposure. You’re totally right that I’m the most selfless person I know. I pretty much never think about myself. And An Emmy for Meagan is not really about me.
Well, I may come back to Patton because he’s just so amazing. But so if this doesn’t work out for you, what’s the next move? Are you done with trying to win awards? Might you switch your focus to another one of the EGOT-level accolades?
First of all, my dream is to win the Emmy this year for not even having made a series, just because I feel like that’s kind of the biggest feat you could do. I last year looked into whether I could win an EGOT all at once with the same project. The tough one is really the Tonys because you have to be at a Broadway theater and there’s only like 30 of them and you have to bid for your time. It’s really very difficult. Because [at first] I was like, "Maybe I could do a one-woman performance on a Tony[-eligible] stage for one night and record it and simulcast it as both a TV show and a movie and have an original song," but it didn’t work out. I think that if I don’t win this year — which, hopefully people just want me to win so I’ll just go away? — I might have to reevaluate and probably get back into academics and try for a Nobel Prize.
Well, I don’t know if you heard about THR’s Empowerment in Entertainment Award? Last week we had this big event where we announced a new fellowship program, and as part of it we literally created a new award —
Wait, you did?!
Yes. We named it for Oprah — the "Oprah Winfrey Empowerment in Entertainment Award" — and we gave it to Oprah. Now, I don’t know if that’s a path you’d in interested in going down?
Well, I mean, I’ve only known about this award for five seconds now but I am upset that I didn’t win it. I also feel like this is similar to me creating my own awards show, the Meggys, because sometimes you do lose [awards that you don’t create yourself].
Well, I can make some inquiries. No promises. Also, before I wrap up here I did want to ask you about the smooth, rich taste of Maker’s Mark bourbon.
I’m not sure how much to say because I’ve been informed that since it’s not an official product placement I can’t say that they are. But just from my own experience as an individual in no way affiliated with Maker’s Mark: I love it. I think that it is the most fantastic drink that you can drink on, say, a picnic blanket outside with your loved ones, or out of a mug at a child’s basketball game. It makes everything better. Maker’s Mark: It Makes Everything Better.
And my last question. I just wanted to revisit the same question that I asked you last year after the release of season one. Is there anything that you wanna say to the doubters, the haters, this time around?
All I want to say to the doubters and the haters is that you won, OK? You frickin’ tore me down until I didn’t make a series. I hop you’re happy because now the odds of me winning an Emmy are probably lower than ever. And I’ve now died twice. I rose from the ashes once like a phoenix — and you guys probably hated that cause you’re my haters. But then the second time? Nope. Down for the count forever. So congrats haters, you won.
Watch the new episodes of An Emmy for Megan at AnEmmyForMegan.com