By Daniel Howat
The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards nominees are finally here, unveiling those recognized by the Television Academy for one of the most crowded television seasons in history. Shocking misses are inevitable every year, but with this unprecedented deluge of content, the exclusions are more painful than usual. With lots of returning favorites, plenty of new hits, and scores of limited series, let’s dive into the misses and surprises of this year’s nominees.
“Squid Game” Dominates
Though it’s not much of a surprise, considering how much of a phenomenon it has been even in the months since its release, Netflix’s “Squid Game” performed exceptionally well this morning. The Korean drama became the first non-English show nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. This, along with nominations for stars Lee Jung-Jae, Jung Ho-yeon, Park Hae-soo, and Oh Young-soo, breaks new ground for non-English language content. The crew already won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, and I’m sure Netflix will put a lot of weight behind this one to make history over their other Drama Series nominees, “Ozark” and “Stranger Things.”
“This Is Us” Misses For Its Final Season
After a reasonably consistent awards performance over its six-season run, “This Is Us” failed to get any nominations for the Primetime Emmy Awards. This is only the second season of the show to miss a Drama Series nomination following Season 4. Sterling K. Brown also missed a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, his first miss of the series’ entire run. The show scored only a single nomination this year for Outstanding Music and Lyrics for the song “The Forever Now.” Many considered Mandy Moore a surefire nominee for the final season, along with many other performers, but none made it in.
“Succession” Leads The Nominations
“Succession” missed last year’s Emmy season due to a break in filming because of the pandemic but won Outstanding Drama Series in 2020 for its second season. The show led this morning with 25 nominations for its third season, maintaining its frontrunner status for a repeat Drama Series win at this year’s ceremony. All the major players scored acting nominations: Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, and Nicholas Braun, along with first-time nominee J. Smith Cameron and numerous Guest performers. Three directing nominations are nothing to sneeze at either. Though Netflix will put up a big fight with “Squid Game” and Apple is lurking with “Severance,” “Succession” is in a solid position to provide HBO with another big win.
“Yellowstone” Zeroes Out
After scoring its first SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, many expected “Yellowstone” to finally break through with the Emmys. This year, no such luck was to be found for the ultra-popular series as it failed to garner a single nomination. It’s a bit surprising, especially considering the demographic of the show. Still, with shows like “Euphoria” scoring nominations in its place, perhaps the Emmys are beginning to favor younger-skewing content.
Newcomers “Severance” And “Yellowjackets” Join The Club
Along with “Squid Game,” “Severance” and “Yellowjackets” were the newcomers to the Outstanding Drama Series category, scoring nominations for their first seasons. Both shows have a somewhat large ensemble and were able to snag a few acting nominations too. Melanie Lynskey and Christina Ricci showed up for “Yellowjackets” in Outstanding Drama Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively. For “Severance,” Adam Scott (Lead Actor), Patricia Arquette (Supporting Actress), John Turturro, and Christopher Walken (both in Supporting Actor) all received nominations. Though Christopher Walken is excellent in the series, his role is limited. It’s somewhat disappointing to see him nominated above more prominent performers like Tramell Tillman or Zach Cherry. Still, with both new shows receiving Directing and Writing nominations (with two for “Yellowjackets), they’ve made a big splash on the scene.
Pros and Cons For “Better Call Saul”
On the one hand, “Better Call Saul” had an underwhelming showing this morning. Above the line, it scored an Outstanding Drama Series nomination, along with Bob Odenkirk for Lead Actor and Rhea Seehorn for Supporting Actress. Despite several excellent options like Michael Mando, Jonathan Banks, Patrick Fabian, Tony Dalton, and Giancarlo Esposito, it received no other acting nominations. It also failed to score Directing, Editing, or Cinematography nominations, though it managed to get a writing nomination for its seventh episode before the mid-season break. And yet, the nomination for Rhea Seehorn is long overdue and a massive celebration for fans of the series as they’ve been clamoring for this nomination for years. Here’s hoping for an even better showing next year for the rest of its final season.
No Superheroes Or Star Wars
While “Stranger Things” still landed an expected Outstanding Drama Series nomination, no other genre shows made the cut. After Marvel Studios splashed onto the scene with “WandaVision” last year, the Television Academy had many opportunities for nominations this year with “Loki,” “Moon Knight,” and “Hawkeye.” Amazon’s “The Boys” couldn’t repeat its Outstanding Drama Series nomination from last year either due to its latest season not being eligible for the nomination cut-off (it will be competing next year). And “The Book of Boba Fett” couldn’t replicate the success of its parent show, “The Mandalorian,” which was nominated for its first two seasons.
“Ted Lasso” Leads The Comedy Nominations
After winning Outstanding Comedy Series last year, “Ted Lasso” remains the frontrunner this year with 20 nominations for its second season. Although some expected the hit Apple TV+ show to take a slight dip in its nominations this year, the show arguably over-performed, capturing ten acting nods, along with writing and directing mentions. Hit network show “Abbott Elementary” had a terrific day for its debut season. Could it be taking the mantle from “Ted Lasso” this year?
“Black-ish” Misses Major Nominations In Final Season
“Black-ish” was a bit hit or miss at the Emmys over its eight-season run, scoring three nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series and a handful of acting nominations. One consistent presence was Anthony Anderson, who scored a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for every single season. That is, until this final season. Anderson missed a nomination, as did Tracee Ellis Ross for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The show’s last season only garnered nominations for its costumes and makeup.
Great Showing For “Barry” Overall
“Ted Lasso’s” biggest challenger for the Outstanding Comedy Series win this year, “Barry,” had an excellent showing this morning, scoring almost every necessary nomination. Bill Hader in Outstanding Lead Actor, Anthony Carrigan, and Henry Winkler in Supporting Actor, along with two writing nominations and a directing nomination for Hader. Still, despite her best work on the show to date, Sarah Goldberg missed an Outstanding Supporting Actress nomination. Considering how much the Television Academy liked the show this year, it’s a glaring and somewhat confusing miss. Hader has won Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for the first two seasons, though he didn’t compete against his former SNL castmate Jason Sudeikis last year. Both are doing incredible and highly different work, making it a coin toss for who will win in the end.
No Selena Gomez For “Only Murders In The Building”
Steve Martin and Martin Short were shoe-ins for Hulu’s freshman comedy, “Only Murders in the Building,” which garnered 17 total nominations. Both veteran comedy actors were nominated, though their co-star Selena Gomez surprisingly missed a corresponding nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The show is built entirely around this trio, so it’s odd for the Television Academy to nominate only two of the three actors.
Weak Showing For “Atlanta”
“Atlanta” took several years off, returning with less of a splash than its previous two seasons for its still acclaimed third season. Donald Glover was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor, a category he won for the show’s first season. Hiro Murai scored an Outstanding Directing nomination as well. Otherwise, the show was shut out of the top categories altogether. With one more season in the works, it will be interesting to see if the series can return to the Emmys with the same strength it previously did or if it will fade out.
WTF Happened With Limited Series?
Given that we had approximately 1,000 new limited series releases this season (don’t fact-check that number), it’s embarrassing that we only got five nominees for Oustanding Limited Series. As this new age of TV has shifted, the Limited Series has become king. Why do Drama and Comedy Series get eight nominees for their categories in some cases each, while Limited Series are stuck with five? Even so, the nominees we did get were somewhat surprising. The nominees for Outstanding Limited Series were: “Dopesick,” “The Dropout,” “Inventing Anna,” “Pam & Tommy,” and “The White Lotus.” Instead of any of the beforementioned critically acclaimed shows, the Television Academy opted for Shonda Rhimes’ “Inventing Anna,” a poorly reviewed Netflix show. Even “Pam & Tommy,” a good show that deserves its acting recognition, knocked out much more prestigious content. Both “Maid” and “Station Eleven” scored writing and directing nominations, something “Inventing Anna” and “Pam & Tommy” failed to do but were neglected in the main category. Make it make sense!
“The White Lotus” Dominates
“The White Lotus” held on very firmly from its premiere last summer, scoring a whopping eight acting nominations. Just about everyone in the show was nominated, save Molly Shannon. It was also one of the few shows to score nominations for acting, writing, directing and casting, something incredibly crucial when looking for a potential winner in this category (something only this, “Dopesick” and “The Dropout” have).
“Dopesick” Poised For The Win
Despite not receiving quite as many nominations as “The White Lotus,” “Dopesick” scored everywhere it needed. The Hulu show should be in good shape for an Outstanding Limited Series win with writing, directing, casting, and five acting nominations. Michael Keaton’s emotional speech at the SAG Awards earlier this year should also help give him another triumph at the Emmys.
“Maid,” “Station Eleven,” And “Under The Banner Of Heaven” Underperform
As asked before, what the hell happened? While both “Maid” and “Station Eleven” scored writing, directing, and a leading performance nomination (Margaret Qualley in Lead Actress for “Maid,” and Himesh Patel in Lead Actor for “Station Eleven“), neither was able to snag an Outstanding Limited Series nomination. Numerous performances from each show were also missing, most notably Andie MacDowell for “Maid.” “Under the Banner of Heaven” severely underperformed, only scoring a single nomination for Andrew Garfield in Outstanding Lead Actor. Did they even watch it?
Only Three Shows Score Limited Series Supporting Acting Nominations
Fourteen nominees were in the two Outstanding Supporting categories for Limited Series, and only three shows snagged them. “The White Lotus” scored eight nominations, while “Dopesick” had five, and “Pam & Tommy” grabbed the last spot with Seth Rogen in Outstanding Supporting Actor. It’s remarkable to see so few shows represented here, especially given the considerable number of high-caliber contenders to choose from. No Andie MacDowell or Nick Robinson for “Maid.” No Wyatt Russell for “Under the Banner of Heaven.” No Naveen Andrews or William H. Macy for “The Dropout.” No one from “Station Eleven” or Juliette Binoche for “The Staircase,” either. The exclusions are numerous and somewhat tough to believe.
TV Movie Madness
While you can read my take on why the TV Movie category should be dismantled, the Television Academy made their own case for this by nominating “Reno 911! The Hunt for QAnon” in Outstanding Television Movie but overlooked “The Fallout,” one of the best, and most timely, movies of the year. HBO’s other contender, “The Survivor,” scored a nomination here, though star Ben Foster failed to grab what should’ve been a sure-fire acting nomination. Perhaps the film would’ve been better off as an Oscar contender after all.
This year’s Emmy season has been overly stuffed with terrific content, leading to some of these nominations being disappointing given who missed out. Still, there’s plenty of good to be found. Though some of this content overload was due to COVID-19 delays, it’s also a positive sign of things to come. More and more platforms are releasing more content. How will the Emmys adapt in the coming years? Only time will tell. For now, we’ll anticipate this year’s winners arriving at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 12th.
What were the biggest misses for you this morning? Did anything truly surprise you? Who do you think will take home the Outstanding Series awards? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account.
You can follow Daniel and hear more of his thoughts on the Emmys and TV on Twitter at @howatdk