While Emmy nominations morning is bound to bring about its fair share of extreme exuberance and hurt feelings, always remember two things:
In the peak TV era, the idea of Emmy voters purposefully excluding someone is much harder to believe than the reality that 26,000-odd voters just couldn’t see everything. Those who don’t make the cut aren’t really snubs…so much as inevitable exclusions.
As always, the 2019 Emmy nomination list was filled with plenty of surprises, good and bad. And while it would be more accurate to refer to the unexpected exclusions as exactly that — surprises — the disappointment felt on Emmy morning demands a stronger descriptor. So we’re sticking with snubs. It’s the accepted nomenclature, after all. Just remember one more thing: The TV Academy didn’t mean anything by it. Now, on with the snubs (and surprises)!:
Does the TV Academy have a bias against half-hour dramas? Amazon dramas, which have never been nominated? Alfred Hitchcock? It’s hard to say, given how well-received “Homecoming” was, but all its advancements in storytelling were ignored in the major category of Best Drama — where many thought it had a good shot at breaking the Prime curse — as well as Best Actress for Julia Roberts.
Pamela Adlon’s excellent FX comedy was seen as climbing in recognition after two stellar seasons and raves for the third. Adlon had been nominated for acting two years running, but her work showrunning and directing every episode looked to be the next step for this adored series. Yet the Emmys shut it out. Ratings are the only thing to point to here, even when the competition in comedy was fierce.
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Though many suspected a lesser Emmy tally for Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s outgoing Netflix series, few expected it to be completely shut out. Yet that’s what happened, as a consistent drop in nomination totals over the last few years sent the series out with less than a whimper.
“The Good Fight”
Airing on CBS All Access and regular old CBS; starting a censor war with China; posting a near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score — none of this was enough to get one of TV’s most acclaimed dramas over the hump, even in a year that’s wide open for dramas.
Even George Clooney wasn’t enough to get Hulu’s limited series into the main competition, as stiff competition was too much to bear for the respected but not beloved new adaptation. This marks two years running where the streaming force couldn’t get an acclaimed miniseries into the race. (Last year’s snub was “The Looming Tower.”)
A return to form wasn’t enough for Nic Pizzolatto’s HBO anthology to earn its first limited series nod. Mahershala Ali landed a well-deserved (and expected) nod, but “Chernobyl” likely took its slot in the limited series category, but this was just a tight race, through and through.
“America to Me”
Steve James’ brilliant Starz docuseries was a longshot considering Starz has had a rough time cracking the Emmys, but its Sundance debut and critical praise gave hope to a well-deserving series. Alas, it wasn’t enough in the end.
HBO’s acclaimed Sundance favorite couldn’t follow in the footsteps of last year’s acclaimed Sundance acquisition, “The Tale,” getting cut from the category before it could even (unjustly) lose to “Black Mirror.”
There was the yearlong gap between airing and campaigning, but more significantly, “GLOW” didn’t have a new season debuting during the heart of the campaign push, as Season 3 won’t hit until August. Had the critically acclaimed comedy made the cut, that would’ve been a huge boon for its Phase 2 push. As is, it will at least appease angry fans.
2018 saw “Modern Family” finally miss out on significant nominations, and 2019 saw its ABC partner fall to the same fate. As everyone heads to streaming, broadcast viewers — and voters — are in shorter supply.
“The Big Bang Theory”
Final season? Big deal. Aside from a few technical nods for the multi-cam comedy, Emmy voters likely felt like they already rewarded this CBS hit, or the show’s massive ratings were reward enough. No matter what the Emmys did, people are going to remember “The Big Bang Theory.”
Hulu’s excellent debut series from Ramy Youssef didn’t click with voters — the competition was too strong, but boy does this show deserve more eyeballs.
“Late Night With Seth Meyers”
Another year of Emmy voting, another snub for what’s consistently been one of the top late night shows out there. The TV Academy’s preference for established picks is still alive and well in the Variety Talk category, as turnover remains small despite plenty of worthy new contenders. (“Desus and Mero” belongs on the shortlist, too.)
“Tuca & Bertie”
The best new show of the year couldn’t break into a stodgy old animation race, as Lisa Hanawalt’s Netflix gem got rebuffed in favor of comedies well past their prime.
Richard Madden, “Bodyguard”
Despite the Netflix-BBC series snagging a Best Drama nod, the lead actor — and Golden Globe winner — was shut out of the race. This one is hard to explain, aside from voters wanting to honor Kit Harington before “GoT” ended. Maybe Madden will get in next year?
Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant, “Deadwood”
When limited series and TV movies are grouped in the same acting competition, the latter usually loses out. There was hope that long-held love for HBO’s resurrected classic would carry over for one (if not both) of these two, but they were bumped in favor of performers with more tape to share.
Justin Theroux, Emma Stone, and “Maniac”
Netflix made a bigger push for “When They See Us,” perhaps at the cost of Patrick Somerville and Cary Fukunaga’s wild miniseries “Maniac.” Though it simply didn’t seem to have enough resonance to carry it through Emmy season following a fall release, there was hope for the cast — especially the long overdue Theroux, as well as Emma Stone and Sally Field — but there’s just not enough room for weirdos in this very populist race.
Sian Clifford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”
After getting nothing for its debut season – but that was before “Killing Eve.” Phoebe Waller-Bridge returned to the Emmys with a vengeance in 2019, clocking 11 nominations for a widely-hailed second season and snagging three nominations herself (writing, producing, and acting). Praise be.
Well, look at that. PopTV’s cult favorite capitalized on its underdog status in a big way, as a well-orchestrated campaign — with fun events around Los Angeles and prominent ads in the trades — paid off in four nominations, including Best Comedy Series, Best Actor (Eugene Levy), and Best Actress (Catherine O’Hara).
“BoJack Horseman” and “Big Mouth”
For years, “BoJack Horseman” has been forced out of the race in favor of old favorites like “The Simpsons” and “South Park.” Well, Netflix’s dominance is starting to show, as not only did this longtime favorite get its first nod, but so did “Big Mouth.” Way to go animation branch!
The entire “Barry” supporting cast
OK, so after Henry Winkler won last year, plenty of people were quick to point out that Anthony Carrigan and Stephen Root were also excellent, but few expected all three of them to break into the race this year. And yet here we are. “Barry” is officially a dominant Emmy player, and its appeal to actors especially can’t be underestimated.
The entire “When They See Us” supporting cast
That being said, the most amazing achievement by a cast goes to Netflix’s “When They See Us.” Many expected the late-arriving limited series to do well, but I doubt anyone predicted eight acting nominations for the ensemble. Not only did Jharrel Jerome get in for Lead Actor, but the series snagged two lead actress nods (Niecy Nash and Aunjanue Ellis) and multiple supporting nominations, as well.
Mandy Moore, “This Is Us”
After years playing second fiddle to her male colleagues at the Emmys, Mandy Moore finally broke in for the third season of NBC’s hit drama. Perhaps it was the FYC event where she sang to voters? Perhaps it was the focus on her character after spending so much time with Jack in past seasons? Perhaps it was just time. No matter what, she’s finally in the club.
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