Note from Marvelous Geeks’ Team: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the [series/movie/etc] being covered here wouldn’t exist. We stand with and for them.
As far as limited series go in 2023, it’s been a prodigiously accumulated year on TV. Subsequently, it’s rewarding to see shows get nominated that would otherwise fly under the radar in the past. For genre television, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor are those shows—and thankfully, they aren’t competing against each other. Still, for its captivating and thoughtful narrative and thorough exploration of grief and vulnerability, Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t just deserve the Emmy nomination, but it deserves to win.
There are stunning contenders for the limited series category, including Daisy Jones and The Six and Netflix’s Beef. However, Obi-Wan Kenobi does something unbeatably special by subtly dismantling toxic masculinity in a space that otherwise equates to grief turning to villainy. Instead, this series allows a man to marinate in his despondency and come out the other side better than where he begins. Obi-Wan Kenobi gives Ewan McGregor some of his most emphatic material to work with, allowing him to bring the familiar character to life in a completely new light.
McGregor certainly deserves his own nomination, but since the Academy seems to be snubbing deserving actors, it’s imperative to take a moment to remember his work in creating such a poignant series. Previously, I’d said, “The exploration of grief, battered edges, and broken pieces is the series’ most haunting strength, and through every expression, no matter how brief or acutely in-focus, McGregor shows viewers cascades of emotions coursing through the Jedi. Obi-Wan is broken. It’s the straightforward, undeniable truth viewers don’t even have to look too closely to see. Obi-Wan, now Ben, is no longer the man he used to be—he says as much with his own words, and he exhibits it quietly throughout his entire physicality. There’s not a single moment during the six-episode series where McGregor isn’t at his best.”
The poignancy in McGregor’s performances, coupled with Deborah Chow’s vision and writers Joby Harold, Hannah Friedman, Stuart Beattie, Hossein Amini, and Andrew Stanton’s decision to focus on the bond between young Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair) and the older Jedi makes for a profoundly memorable accomplishment. Star Wars properties don’t have to connect directly to each other to be great, yet when they do, and with as much care as in Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor it’s a beautiful component that will allow the series to stand the test of time.
While some might argue that the limited series was forgettable, it’s a high chance they aren’t the little girls who grew up with Leia Organa as their inspiration. They aren’t the people who often forget their worth and value when drowning through the tides of their seemingly never-ending sadness. These emotions also make the series bolder because of the decision to focus on the franchise’s most hopeful character through a painful lens. Focusing on quiet moments full of questioning pleas and heartfelt revelations takes far more strength than bracing explosions at every turn. Regardless, Obi-Wan Kenobi features it all, bringing the premise of A New Hope full circle better than anyone could’ve hoped for.
It starts with the first episode because little Leia Organa running toward a forest in Alderaan after the series’ previews made us believe we’d be focusing primarily on Luke Skywalker instead. It subverts expectations gorgeously by bringing depth and nuance to one of the franchise’s most memorable quotes—”Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” It allows the audience to get to know both the battered Jedi and the fiery princess through formidable adventures that pave ample room for growth. Obi-Wan Kenobi might not be a perfect series in all areas, but it’s undoubtedly excellent in its narrative approach and performances, leaving viewers with an unbridled sense of hope at the end of it all.
The other nominees in the category are certainly incredible as well, yet none have a legacy tied to them the way Obi-Wan Kenobi does. They aren’t taking countless properties from films to books to fill the gaps fans have often cared for. And no, we don’t need another biopic on a serial killer. What the world could always use more of is the hope that persevering through challenges inflicts—the sheer strength that comes from putting aside all the pain and darkness to save someone else. Obi-Wan’s character arc is sensational. It’s a quiet exploration that provides far more than what’s on the surface, digging deep into familiar emotions viewers can understand intimately.
This familiarity nudges us to look inward as much as outward, pointing us to the unmapped, dark territories within that need a bit of light in stillness to confront the heartaches and griefs. In exploring this through Obi-Wan, the series teaches Leia about what being a leader looks like while simultaneously building up to a battle fans had waited years to see—confrontations necessary to move forward to where we first meet these characters. In truth, none of the series in the category are perfect. Not entirely, at least. Yet, Obi-Wan Kenobi has a chance to go somewhere that genre television seldom has the opportunity for. It deserves to win for focusing on vulnerabilities and meticulously nuanced dynamics, highlighting the importance of companionship and human complexities through the eyes of a weary Jedi and an ambitious princess.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney Plus.
First Featured Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.