6 Episodes from Emmy-Nominated Shows You Need to Watch Right Now
See why these small-screen standouts are as good as gold
Television’s biggest night is almost here!
The 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards airs Sept. 20, but before you start stressing out because you still haven’t seen some of the nominated shows, relax – we’ve got you covered!
PEOPLE has put together a list of the must-see episodes you need to watch before Sunday’s ceremony. Give them a look to find out why these nominees are as good as gold.
Orange Is the New Black: "Fear, and Other Smells"
There is so much to love about this midseason episode. Although the flashbacks feature Alex (Laura Prepon), numerous members of the ensemble cast get their chance to shine. Lori Petty is perfect as Alex’s wide-eyed, paranoia-inducing tormentor Lolly. Danielle Brooks and Samira Wiley perform a heartbreaking confrontation between Taystee and Poussey when the latter’s alcohol problem reaches a low point. Piper (Taylor Schilling) delivers a rousing, hilarious speech to convince her fellow inmates to donate their, um, “sweat” to her panty-pilfering business. And Litchfield goes wild for Time Hump Chronicles, the erotic adventures of “Rodcocker,” as written by Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” (best supporting actress nominee Uzo Aduba).
Parks and Recreation: "Leslie and Ron"
While some of us are still devastated by the fact that Parks and Rec ended in February, being able to rewatch the show’s many amazing episodes, like this one, does slightly help us cope. In one of the strongest episodes of the seventh and final (sob) season, we finally find out why TV’s most unlikely friendship reached an impasse. Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ron (Nick Offerman) are locked in their old office by their cohorts, forcing them to talk through their feud. The retrospective of the relationship between Offerman’s staunch libertarian and Poehler’s relentlessly dedicated civil servant allows viewers to absorb every last drop of the beloved characters, and finally relieves us of their painful estrangement.
American Horror Story: Freak Show: "Blood Bath"
AHS is never one to disappoint, so be assured that “Blood Bath” involves quite a bit of, well, blood. But the events leading up to the titular bathing scene are what really give this episode its punch. It delivers the backstory of gleefully sociopathic Dandy (Finn Wittrock), showing the scope of his journey from privileged brat to matricidal maniac. Meanwhile, AHS powerhouses (and acting nominees) Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates are pitted against each other as Elsa and Ethel. Their feud culminates in a violent death and an even more brutal cover-up.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: "Kimmy Rides a Bike!"
Choosing one episode from Unbreakable‘s premiere season was no easy task. “Kimmy Goes to School” came in a very close second, thanks to best supporting actor nominee Tituss Burgess’ insta-classic “Peeno Noir,” but we couldn’t resist the hilarious social critiques in “Kimmy Rides a Bike.” Desperate to forget their problems, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) and Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) become addicted to a Soul Cycle-esque exercise class led by a tyrannical trainer named Tristafé (Nick Kroll). While Kimmy tries to sweat away her responsibilities, Titus indulges his own addiction by watching her charismatic kidnapper, Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), online.
RELATED VIDEO: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Star Tituss Burgess took ‘Shots of Patron’ While Anxiously Waiting Emmy Nomination
Silicon Valley: "Homicide"
Like the show in general, the sixth episode of Silicon Valley’s sophomore season is anxiety-inducing, cringe-worthy and hilarious. It starts with Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) having an A-plus freakout over his company’s very public humiliation, and keeps delivering from there. We get greater insight into Erlich (T.J. Miller) and his relationship with Richard (Thomas Middleditch) when a rival from his past makes an appearance. Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) have a gloriously terrible debate over whether to let a rude daredevil meet a gory end. And Jared (Zach Woods) lets his oblivious flag fly and tries to force female outliers Carla (Alice Wetterlund) and Monica (Amanda Crew) to be friends.
Empire: "Unto the Breach"
It’s hard to single out one episode of the explosive hit, but the relentlessly fast pace of “Unto the Breach” definitely makes it one of the season’s most memorable entries. With Andre’s (Trai Byers) illness earning significant screen time, Cookie (best actress nominee Taraji P. Henson) up to her antics and the typical family scheming/fighting going on, it’s a roller coaster of an episode – and we haven’t even started on Anika’s (Grace Gealey) sudden betrayal and fall from grace! “Breach” can also boast of having one of show’s best collections of music, including the Lyon brothers’ touching in-elevator rendition of “Lean on Me.”