Emmy Nominations: The Biggest Snubs, Surprises, and Snooze-Worthy Picks
Once again, what’s most surprising about the 2017 Emmy nominations is how unsurprising they really are — in both good and bad ways. In a Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey-less world (due to its schedule, Game of Thrones is ineligible for the Emmys this year), the drama field was wide-open for some new blood, and we got it. There was even some light inspiration among the comedy nominations, though not nearly as much as there should have been. As for limited series, well, it wasn’t hard to guess who would get the nods there (almost all of which aligned with my Wish List).
My thoughts on the nominations are below, but let us know in the comments what inclusions or omissions made you happy, sad, angry, etc.
Let’s talk about the good stuff first, though they may not all be specifically surprises. FX’s weirdo comedies all were recognized: Zach Galifianakis and Louie Anderson for Baskets, Pamela Adlon for Better Things, and a slew of awards for Donald Glover’s Atlanta (though there were some snubs there — I’ll come back to it), showing that innovation is still valued at some level at the Emmys.
With the acting noms, it’s always great to see actors who really give a lot to a role getting awards-related attention for it, even if the material sometimes let them down. This year, that led to a few quasi-surprise noms like Ellie Kemper for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and all of the great Westworld folks like Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jeffrey Wright (No one is surprised by Anthony Hopkins). And though we knew Sterling K. Brown was a shoo-in for This Is Us, I’m happy to see Milo Ventimiglia and Chrissy Metz get nods as well. If we’re going to all board the This Is Us train, we might as well note that it’s a pretty great ensemble as well.
The biggest surprise in the best of ways was BD Wong for Mr. Robot. I love it, it’s inspired, but it also reminds me that Mr. Robot got zilch for the rest of Season 2. The mighty have certainly fallen! It’s a shame, because Rami Malek was still great, and Grace Gummer was a particular stand-out, but sometimes auteur’s need oversight … and the actors paid the price for that mistake this year.
There was some creative categorization this year as well, with Alexis Bledel being named as a guest actor rather than supporting on The Handmaid’s Tale (Corrected from earlier: Samira Wiley was nominated as in the Supporting category, rightfully!) Both were fantastic, and Hulu must have thought it had a better chance there for Bledel (and they probably do). But I’m also very happy to see Alison Wright recognized for The Americans as a (surprise) guest on this last season. Those women made a significant impact on the shows they’re nominated for, which is what the guest category should be about (whereas Shannon Purser as Barb is more controversial). Lord knows I love Ben Mendelsohn, but being nominated for Bloodline (again) this year was a joke. We get it, you guys missed the boat on him being incredible in Season 1 but … give up the ghost. Literally.
There’s also the little oddity of Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” being nominated in the “TV Movie” category, which was split off from Limited Series this year (since limited series are now a big thing again). So that, evidently, is how we’re dealing with episodic anthologies. However, I’m not mad — “San Junipero” was better than a lot of theatrical releases last year, not to mention traditional TV movies.
Quick note on other people I’m happy to see nominated: Everything Americans, Hugh Laurie (Veep), David Harbor (Stranger Things), John Lithgow (The Crown), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), David Thewlis (Fargo), everyone from Feud: Bette and Joan and Big Little Lies.
Miscellaneous nominations that I’m ok with: Tom Hanks for David S. Pumpkins, essentially. Matthew Rhys for Girls (he was very good!), but Riz Ahmed for Girls is definitely a stretch. Also, congrats to NatGeo for its Emmy-bait Genius series which I thought was just ok, but did what it was designed to do.
Ok :cracks knuckles: now it’s time to rage. I’ll start with comedy and with Fleabag. Not only one of the best comedies, but one of the best series of last year, with a star (Phoebe Waller-Coates) who was hilarious and devastating and in need of a nomination for Lead Actress. Then there is Zazie Beetz, who absolutely deserved to be in Supporting Actress category for her relatable performance on Atlanta. The women of SNL are great, but arguably not as great as Beetz and Jane Krakowski, who stole the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt with some of her best and funniest work since 30 Rock. I’m also mad that Brian Tyree Henry didn’t get a Supporting Actor nod for Atlanta, though I’m slightly appeased that he got a random nomination for This Is Us as a Guest Actor. Sure, fine. And while I love every Veep actor, Timothy Simons has been killing it these last two seasons, yes maybe even more than Matt Walsh which I hate to say, but I guess we can’t have a list full of Veep stars. Or can we?
Now onto drama. No Michael McKean for Best Supporting Actor? The episode “Chicanery” gets nominated, but nothing for McKean? That episode doesn’t doesn’t exist without him. McKean was stunning this season as a man at war not only with his brother but with himself, which led to a show-stopping finale. Huge miss on that one. And I know Vera Farmiga mostly played her own corpse on Bates Motel, but by golly she was fabulous doing it. That series really came into its own in these last two seasons, especially for Freddie Highmore. Nothing for them?
We now come to The Carrie Coon Issue, where Leftovers fans are going to be screaming about her lack of a nomination (or any nominations for that show). She was good in Fargo, and probably better in The Leftovers, but two nominations in major acting categories was probably too much to hope for. The choice was made for Fargo, but the truth is that there’s no way she wins it — the limited series category for Lead Actress is exceptionally stacked with better roles.
Speaking of full shutouts like The Leftovers, Rectify didn’t see anything either. One of the most finely wrought and best-acted dramas on television that has never gotten its proper due, I was hoping that in its final season it might get some Emmy love. Nope. Nothing major for the visually stunning Legion, either, which was anchored by great performances. And nada for the also overlooked White Princess miniseries on Starz, which deserved to be recognized in every limited series category.
Miscellaneous thought: I also just want to say that I feel a little bad for Mandy Moore. It’s tough year for the Lead Actress category, and I won’t go so far as to say she was snubbed (because I think a lot of This Is Us — the first broadcast show to be nominated in many, many years, got way too much play in these Emmys), but the fact that literally every other major actor on that show was given something and she got nothing is unfortunate for her, because she was certainly on par with their performances.
Is Silicon Valley becoming the new Modern Family? Speaking of, enough with Modern Family. There were so many great, bold, inspired comedies this year that deserved more recognition, but Modern Family and Silicon Valley were not two of them. Yes they are consistently ok, but this isn’t a category that was jonesin’ for good nominees (Baskets, Detroiters, Man Seeking Woman, Speechless, Catastrophe, Fleabag, and Search Party to name but a few).
And then there’s House of Cards, which just faced down its own uninspired season, taking on the mantle of Downton Abbey or other “legacy” dramas that Emmy voters feel like they should vote for, but probably don’t still really watch or care about. I mean no Legion, really? And I’ll grant this wasn’t the best season of The Americans, but This Is Us instead? I get that you want to rewards broadcast dramas for actually being decent, but I don’t forget how you shut Hannibal out for so many years. The drama category this year feels like “well, I hear people like it!” And if you’re going to go that route, maybe actually consider a superhero show or two — there were some good opportunities with Legion and Luke Cage (the latter of which had some great actors even if the material wasn’t great).
Also, Sherlock … come on. Benedict Cumberbatch I get and I’m on board with, but this was one of the worst and most poorly plotted (and executed) seasons of that show. The White Princess demands a recount.
The Emmy Awards air live on CBS on September 17th, with Stephen Colbert hosting.