Nominations morning for any awards show is a cauldron of outrage and glee with people raving over their personal favorite actors and projects either scoring nods or getting, in their minds, snubbed.
But the Emmys, especially this year, is an entirely different beast, with the age of #PeakTV meaning more people are watching more TV options than ever but there are so many options that none of us are watching the same thing—and all of us are pissed that our favorites weren’t deemed worthy by this arbitrary, though hallowed, awards organization.
And so we have this year’s somehow both predictable and utterly bizarre list, with Saturday Night Live and Westworld leading the nominees with 22 a piece.
Of course the Emmys went gaga for The Crown and Westworld, but who’d have thought they’d have that much love for Saturday Night Live or Stranger Things (Barb? Really?). And while there’s plenty to cheer about in terms of the diversity of the nominees—lots of love for Atlanta, Master of None, black-ish, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race!—it’s hard not to be bummed that dark horse contenders like Issa Rae’s Insecure or Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar couldn’t crack into the race.
You can see the full 65-page list of nominations here, or be glad that we perused that beast for you and have flagged the most surprising and most absurd nominees, annotated with exactly how you should react about them.
Listen, everyone loves SNL in an election year. But the 22 nods it got this year seems…excessive. The show positively dominated the acting races, with Leslie Jones and Vanessa Bayer shockingly joining former winner Kate McKinnon in Best Supporting Actress, Alec Baldwin a strong contender to win Best Supporting Actor, and hosts Dave Chappelle, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Hanks, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy all nominated in Guest Acting categories.
Where Is The Leftovers?
We’re not delusional. HBO’s phenomenal, surreal drama was always an outside contender in the major races. But we thought that maybe the sheer volume of critical accolades for the finale that aired right before voting cut off—not to mention creator Damon Lindelof’s cheeky promise to get Justin Theroux naked—would have buoyed the series, Theroux, and Carrie Coon to deserved nominations. (The sole nod is for Ann Dowd in Guest Actress, and we are here for that.)
They Really Loved This Is Us. (Milo Ventimiglia?!)
NBC’s blockbuster weepie cried its way to the first broadcast network Drama Series nomination since The Good Wife six years ago. Nominees Sterling K. Brown, Ron Cephas Jones and Chrissy Metz were expected, but that Milo Ventimiglia also found his way into the Best Actor race is a bit of a shock. The series is also running in the Guest Actor race, with Gerald McRaney, Denis O’Hare, and Brian Tyree Henry (who should have been nom’d for Atlanta) making up half the nominees.
This Delightfully Weird Best Supporting Actress Race
Have anyone who predicted this insane-but-kind-of-wonderful Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy race buy your next lottery tickets. It’s doubtful that the aforementioned Vanessa Bayer or Leslie Jones were on anyone’s radar for nods, with the always wonderful Kathryn Hahn is similarly a shock inclusion for Transparent over previously nominated co-star Gaby Hoffman. (Veep’s Anna Chlumsky and Transparent’s Judith Light round out the category.) We’re bummed that One Day at a Time’s Rita Moreno, our favorite actor from the entire last year, didn’t get in, but when the category is this crazy-ass fun, we can’t complain too much.
Bill Maher, goddammit.
It’s not entirely a shock that Real Time With Bill Maher found its way into the stacked talk show race—the show is a fixture in the category and Emmys love to rubberstamp the same contenders year after year. But pundits and critics were no doubt hoping that Maher’s N-word debacle would discredit him with voters this year.
Colbert over Fallon
Despite being nominated since 2010, back when he was hosting Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Fallon’s The Tonight Show was subbed out in favor of Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, which missed out on a nom in its first year of contention last year. With Full Frontal With Samantha Bee also scoring its first Variety Talk Series bid, should we chalk it up to Emmys politics—specifically the desire to see Trump skewered and not made to look adorable with noogies?
Modern Family over Insecure and Transparent
Nowhere is the Emmys’ penchant for lazy rubberstamping more evident than Modern Family’s inclusion yet again in Best Comedy Series instead of the far more deserving and inclusive Insecure and, in a bit of a shock exclusion, Transparent. Not a good look, Emmy voters.
No farewell for Girls
Regardless of how you feel about Lena Dunham or the full body of work that was Girls’ six-season run, there’s no denying the achievement that was its farewell season and its creator’s remarkable acting performance. It’s a shame the series and Dunham are missing from the comedy, acting, writing, and directing races, with its nods reserved for guest actors Riz Ahmed (huh?), Matthew Rhys, and Becky Ann Baker, as well as Music Supervision.
Barb for Stranger Things? Really?
Given the Emmys’ notorious distaste for genre shows, pundits weren’t sure how it would embrace Netflix’s monster hit Stranger Things. The answer, apparently, is wholeheartedly, with nominations coming not only for Drama Series and a slew of below-the-line races, but also, in a surprise, for David Harbour in Best Supporting Actor and, in maybe the biggest WTF nod of the morning, Shannon Purser, who plays doomed Barb, in Guest Acting. To further prove how far being a pop culture phenomenon can get you in the Emmys race, we can now call Millie Bobby Brown a Best Supporting Actress nominee—for her expert line readings of “Eleven”?—instead of, oddly, Winona Ryder.
God bless this RuPaul’s Drag Race love
After stunning everyone last year by voting RuPaul Charles Best Reality Host for RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Emmys extended the love by awarding the show eight nominations, including its first Best Reality Competition nomination and even a nod for its addendum web series Untucked. Can I get an amen?
Westworld somehow has the most nominations
Tying SNL’s leading 22 nominations is Westworld, a deeply imperfect HBO mess of a drama series that somehow conned its way into all of the marquee races (over its far more deserving network brother, The Leftovers). We’re all for rewarding ambition, and the acting certainly merited inclusion, especially nominees Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, and Evan Rachel Wood. But the Best Drama Series nominations, and an acting bid for Anthony Hopkins is a bit much.
At least The Handmaid’s Tale got a ton
The horrifyingly resonant, exquisitely crafted and acted Handmaid’s Tale deserves every nomination it gets, but because Hulu has never scored big Emmy nominations, no one was sure how it would be perceived. The answer is “better than anyone imagined,” with nominations not only in the predicted Best Drama, Best Actress (Elisabeth Moss), directing, and writing categories, but also in surprise nods for Ann Dowd (two noms for her this year!), Samira Wiley in Supporting Actress, and Alexis Bledel in Guest Actress. Praise be.
A list of pleasant surprises:
- Pamela Adlon in Best Actress in a Comedy for the superb, if little-seen, Better Things
- Jane Fonda no longer awkwardly excluded from all of Lily Tomlin’s Best Actress in a Comedy accolades for their two-hander Grace and Frankie
- TV’s joke-for-joke funniest series Billy on the Street scoring its first Variety Sketch Series nomination
- Zach Galifianakis’s deeply weird Baskets performance getting a Best Actor in a Comedy mention
- Late Night With Seth Meyers getting its first writing nomination for Variety Series
- The songs from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s homage to Beyoncé’s Lemonade getting Best Original Song nominations
- Carrie Fisher’s posthumous nod for her guest work on Catastrophe (which is sadly the outstanding comedy’s only nomination)
A list of annoying snubs and undeserved inclusions:
- The Best Actress in a Limited Series is incredibly crowded, but it’s outrageous that Oprah Winfrey’s towering Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks performance was snubbed in favor of Susan Sarandon’s ho-hum Bette Davis impression in Feud.
- How in the hell is Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love an Outstanding Television Movie nominee?
- Apparently Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a Children’s Program, because that’s where it’s nominated this year.
- The Leftovers, Insecure, and Transparent are the three biggest series snubs.
- Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are nominated for Best Reality Hosts for their Potluck Dinner Party, which is a stunt nomination more than anything.
- Rita Moreno gave the performance of the year on One Day at a Time and would’ve won if she was nominated in Best Supporting Actress.
- American Crime 500 percent deserved that Best Limited Series slot over the Einstein miniseries Genius.