Happy Emmy Nomination Week!
This week’s announcement was great for new series (such as series nominees “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “GLOW,” and “Barry”) and returning series who were absent from last year’s Emmys (hello nomination leader “Game of Thrones” with 22 nominations). On the surface, things didn’t seem all that different. Last year’s nomination leaders – “Westworld” and “Saturday Night Live” – dipped only one nomination, each receiving 21 nominations.
However, we saw the Emmys move away from some of their old favorites quietly. “Modern Family” didn’t just drop out of Comedy Series for the first time. It got 0 nominations. More so, reboots didn’t catch on fire in the ways they were expected to. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” did the best with four nominations – Comedy Series, Comedy Actor (Larry David) and Comedy Guest Actors (Lin Manuel Miranda, Bryan Cranston). However, high profile reboots “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne” only walked away with a Supporting Actress nomination a piece for frequent winners Megan Mullally and Laurie Metcalf. They also brought in some tech nominations and a guest actress spot for Molly Shannon on “Will & Grace.” Still, this wasn’t the triumphant return some were predicting. Even “Twin Peaks” only squeaked writing, directing and tech nominations.
Still, there was plenty to celebrate. See below for our top ten favorite surprise nominations from this morning:
Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”) for Best Actress in a Comedy
Yes, Pamela Adlon was the big surprise at last year’s Emmys. Her small FX show managed to crack the competitive Best Actress in a Comedy race. Adlon plays Sam, an actress and mother of three struggling to maintain her sanity. Season two improves on season one. It’s darker, more poignant, and gives Adlon a winning episode where her children eulogize her. The fact that she beat out past nominees, such as Jane Fonda (“Grace & Frankie”) and Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) proves the show is staying on people’s radar.
“Jane” for Exceptional Merit for Documentary Filmmaking
The Oscars may have missed on “Jane,” but the Emmys sure didn’t. “Jane” was once the frontrunner for Oscar’s documentary category, but missed out on making it into the nominee lineup. The documentary uses never before seen footage from Jane Goodall’s early explorations to form a portrait of the legendary primatologist. Now, “Jane” joins Oscar nominee “Strong Island,” A&E’s “City of Ghosts” and Starz’s “What Haunts Us” in the category.
Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”) for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Only Donald Glover received an acting nod last year for “Atlanta’s” first season. Luckily, both Bryan Tyree Henry and Zazie Beetz received their own nominations. Yes, Paper Boi is a riot. However, Beetz emerges this season as “Atlanta’s” secret weapon. A stand-out episode involves her character, Vanessa, bringing her boyfriend, Earn (Glover), to a German festival she loves to participate in. This season gives us more of Vanessa’s internal life, which enhances Beetz’s performance. This plus a starring role in “Deadpool 2” proves it’s the summer of Zazie Beetz.
Merritt Wever (“Godless”) for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Made for Television Movie
Emmy’s greatest spoiler returns. Merritt Wever became Emmy infamous when she surprised everyone and won Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Nurse Jackie.” A stunned Wever made her way to a stage for a legendary short speech that basically amounted to “Thank you. I’ve gotta go. Bye.” Wever’s return isn’t in vain. She’s quite amazing in “Godless” as Mary Agnes, a brash woman who takes control of a western town when all the men die. If she pulls another upset again this year, it will not be unwarranted.
“American Vandal” for Best Writing for a Miniseries of Made for Television Movie
Who would’ve thought Netflix’s investigative piece on dick vandalism would be an Emmy nominee. Not just any Emmy nominee, but a nominee for writing. It’s true. Netflix’s satirical docu-miniseries nabbed a well-deserved writing nomination. The nomination stands out as particularly cool because the show is meticulously done from a storytelling standpoint. It succeeds in conveying the high stakes of a relatively low brow prank. The show goes up against much more stoic competition, including “Godless,” “Assassination of Gianni Versace,” “Patrick Melrose,” “Twin Peaks” and “Black Mirror.”
Tony Shaloub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
It’s hard to call three-time Emmy award winner Tony Shaloub an underdog. Yet, it was unclear how far Emmy’s love for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” would extend. We’re very thankful they chose to honor his hilariously fiery performance as Abe Weissman, the Father of the titular Mrs. Maisel. A professor and respected member of the Jewish community, Abe tends to stray from conflict. However, that’s exactly where he finds himself when his daughter gets divorced and performs stand-up comedy. Shaloub steals every scene he’s in and reminds us of why he won three Emmys for “Monk” on USA. Could this year bring him Emmy #4?
Ted Danson (“The Good Place”) for Best Actor in a Comedy
Despite an impressive pedigree and great reviews, NBC’s “The Good Place” couldn’t break through at the Emmys last year. Thankfully, the show has only gotten more daring and entertaining in its second season. Much of that is due to Ted Danson’s performance as Michael on the show. Originally, he was just the architect of “the Good Place,” ensuring a happy afterlife for all. Season two, however, showed more mischievous sides to Michael, which made him an endless joy to see on screen. Danson appears to be having the time of his life on screen and it’s great to see him rewarded in the lead actor category.
Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”) for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
The first season of “GLOW” was billed as Allison Brie’s show. She was the serious actress who finds herself at the center of a ladies wrestling show. However, Betty Gilpin’s Debbie Egan walks away with the show the minute she clocks Brie in the face. Debbie balances being a working mother trying to salvage her marriage and a fearless lady wrestler. She has the most fun on the show. However, she also plays the most dramatic role of the ensemble. It’s a tough tonal act to pull off. Luckily, Gilpin, an underrated character actress, has finally found a role where she can shine.
Henry Winkler (“Barry”) for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
No one has made me laugh more this year than Henry Winkler’s Gene Cousineau. Winkler’s deluded acting teacher made his way into our hearts. It seems he also made his way into the hearts of Emmy voters. Winkler is an established TV actor dating back to his days as Fonzi on “Happy Days.” However, in his over 40 years of acting, Winkler has never won an Emmy. Hopefully, his performance in “Barry” can right this wrong. The HBO show was a surprise hit with voters. Overall, it nabbed ten nominations, including two writing nominations, directing, lead actor (Bill Hader) and series. Perhaps the show can replace “Veep” to be HBO’s new Emmy hit.
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”) for Best Actress in a Drama
Oh makes Emmy history in becoming the first Asian female nominated for a lead acting award at the Emmys. That it has taken the Emmys this long to nominate an Asian woman in a lead category is problematic enough. Setting that aside, it’s stellar that Oh, an incredibly talented character actor, has finally got the chance to show that she can headline a TV show. Her performance as Eve Polastri hits every note with perfection. Oh completely embodies Eve’s boredom with her job as it stands and her obsession with a killer that constantly evades her. Not only that, she manages to do this while being both funny and heartbreaking. It’s a high wire performance that more than deserves this nomination.
Now that we’ve celebrated the good, let’s pour one out for some of the snubs that stung the hardest.
Worst Emmy Snubs of 2018
5. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” goes back down to 0 Nominations
What will it take for the Emmys to like the CW? “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” represents a high watermark for network television. This season was particularly haunting as Rebecca’s (Rachel Bloom) mental illness leads to startling consequences. At least in the past, the show has been recognized for choreography and music. This year, nothing.
4. “Dear White People” misses out again
Justin Simien’s comedy only got stronger in season two. However, Emmys still didn’t take notice. Perhaps it was the late release it got in May? Nope. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” also from Netflix, managed a Comedy Series nomination despite being released on the final day of eligibility. As the show hopefully continues to grow in terms of popularity, maybe we will see it show up in future years.
3. “The Tale” misses out on Best Directing & Writing for a Miniseries or TV Movie
Jennifer Fox’s docudrama “The Tale” had its sights set on theatrical release. Then HBO bid an unprecedented sum of money to bring it to TV. The film remains a masterpiece. Luckily, it received nominations in Best TV Movie and Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for Laura Dern. Still, Fox laid bare some of the most traumatizing moments of her past with such honesty and complexity. It’s a shame she isn’t among the Writing or Directing nominees.
2. “One Day at a Time” shut out
The Norman Lear remake hit creative strides in its second season. Netflix’s comedy about a Cuban American family in East Los Angeles touched upon immigration, LGBTQ+ rights and the treatment of our veterans. Even harder, it made us laugh while doing it. Comedy Series always seemed like a stretch for the little show that could. However, snubbing EGOT champion Rita Moreno two years in a row is criminal. Netflix ousted HBO from the mantle of having the most Emmy nominations this year. Still, there is more they could have nominated from the streaming service.
“Killing Eve” misses in Best Drama Series
The Emmys definitely saw “Killing Eve.” Sandra Oh made it into a competitive Best Actress lineup. The show was among the few nominated for Best Writing for a Drama. Yet, when the time came, the show missed in the Best Drama Series race. Perhaps this is because that category was comprised solely of shows that were nominated in the past. However, last year saw five new shows enter the category. Why couldn’t they let just one new one in this year?