Megan Amram is trapped in a hell of her own design.
That might sound like an overly dramatic way to describe a self-created web series she is under no obligation to continue making. But when the Portland-born, L.A.-based comedy writer sets her mind to something, she sees it through to the end, no matter the time, stress or personal torment involved.
In this case, the goal currently tormenting her is winning an Emmy Award.
In 2018, Amram—whose résumé includes writing credits for some of the most acclaimed comedies on television, including The Simpsons, Silicon Valley, Parks and Recreation and The Good Place—started her campaign with An Emmy for Megan, a show whose sole purpose was to satisfy the minimum requirements to qualify for a nomination in the Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series category.
While the show ended up getting nominated in two categories, Amram ultimately came away empty-handed. So she brought the show back this year—despite her character being murdered at the end of Season 1—and once again earned a pair of nominations, one for the series itself, and another for Patton Oswalt, who hosts a "chat show" after each episode in which he mostly just passive-aggressively begs viewers to subscribe to his Patreon.
But talking to Amram, it's clear the pressure of bringing home that elusive statuette is starting to wear on her.
"It really does take a lot of time and effort, and I have real jobs—not to brag," the 32-year-old says from her childhood home in Raleigh Hills, which she returns to often. "I gotta just stop doing this. But I'm not going to be able to until I win."
Amram's second chance at validation—and freedom—comes this weekend at the Creative Arts Emmys, which precedes the main ceremony by a week, where she'll go against the likes of Nick Hornby and Stephen Frears' State of the Union and Broad City's web spinoff Hack Into Broad City. WW spoke to Amram about separating Megan Amram from "Megan Amram," accidentally getting one her biggest Emmy rivals disqualified, and her next potential crusade: Twitter verification.
WW: An Emmy for Megan is a very meta project. How close to the real Megan Amram is the Megan Amram on the show?
Megan Amram: I also have to ask myself that question constantly, because I have no idea anymore where the character ends and real me begins. Here's what I'll say: The real Megan Amram also really wants an Emmy. The character that I'm playing on this show—which is a character because, otherwise, how could I get nominated for Best Actress, which I was last year?—is more narcissistic than I am, and a little more histrionic than I am. But we both maintain a core sensibility, which is that we both desperately want to win an Emmy.
Were you one of those kids who grew up obsessed with awards shows?
I was really obsessed with Hollywood in all of its forms. When I was in high school, there was a movie called Bigger Than the Sky that was shot in Portland. I somehow finagled my way to be an extra on this movie that nobody saw—it stars John Corbett from Sex and the City. And I was like, "This is the best day of my life," which, for those of you who have not been an extra, it's nothing. You just sit there for 13 hours. But I was so inspired that I wrote my college essay about it.
The show is really about satirizing Hollywood's desperate need for validation, which I wouldn't think would endear you to the voters. Are you surprised the show keeps getting nominated?
I've been very amused by truly every single turn this saga has taken. When making the series, I wanted to make sure that people knew I wasn't trying to be malicious or make fun of any person in particular. I was generally poking fun at the process. And I think a lot of TV shows and web series do the same thing that I'm doing, they're just not as bald about it. It's a little more evident in Los Angeles, but if you drive down the street, you will see, like, 500 billboards for [The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel]. And I'll be like, "They're kind of doing An Emmy for Megan thing, on a [bigger] scale." Like, I don't have Jeff Bezos' money, so I can't buy 500 billboards, but I bought one billboard. I don't really see any difference except that I'm being very up front with how I'm asking for it.
The Emmys added a length requirement to the short-form category this year, and it's been suggested that's because you pointed out there wasn't one in Season 1 of An Emmy for Megan.
I do think that changing the rules of the entire awards system is probably more of an honor than winning one trophy. I don't have any verification that it was because of me, but it's a wild coincidence if it wasn't. The crazy part is, there was a Better Call Saul web series that was nominated this year in the same category I am, and then a couple days later it was disqualified because they found out that one of its episodes did not reach the minimum length requirement.
The Good Place is up for Best Comedy Series this year. What would mean more to you: winning for that show, or for An Emmy for Megan?
The pros of winning for An Emmy for Megan is that I don't have to make it anymore. The pros of The Good Place is that it's a show I've worked on the entire time that it's been on the air, and I made it with all of my best friends. And we just wrapped the show entirely, which entailed me crying for like three weeks straight. So in the end, I think that would be more of an honor.
Who do you feel is your biggest threat this year?
Truly, they're all extremely talented, and they all truly deserve this award. That being said, I'll also be like violently angry [if I lose again], because I poured my heart and soul into this and I deserve it more than all of them.
You have more than a million followers on Twitter, yet you're not verified. If you win an Emmy this year, might your next mission be to finally get that blue check?
I am willing to state on record that I think Twitter is anti-Semitic for not verifying me. But I want my next crusade to be the person with the most followers who isn't verified, which I might have already accomplished.
What'll happen if you lose again?
The best thing last year is that after James Corden's series beat me, I met a bunch of the people who made [the show] at the after-party and they were like, "We genuinely thought you were gonna win. We're kind of scared of you." It's almost better to not win and have people be scared that you're going to be an angry martyr. That feels good, too—to have everyone know that you deserve it and didn't get it. So I just feel like it's going to be a win-win. But it won't literally be a win-win if I lose.
SEE IT: All episodes of An Emmy for Megan can be streamed at anemmyformegan.com. The Creative Arts Emmys air Saturday, Sept. 21, on FXX. 8 pm.