This year’s Emmy nominations reflect a trend of increasing TV production and higher-quality programs. With a record number of entries, the Television Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma noted that many categories were dominated by performers from a handful of shows. This reflects the growing trend of excellent television being produced by fewer, larger studios.
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Five takeaways from the 2022 Emmy nominations
This tendency was often seen in the supporting acting categories, as if academy voters couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the full casts of all eligible shows. Consider the supporting actress category for limited series, where seven out of the ten nomination slots were filled by actresses from just two shows: HBO’s The White Lotus and Hulu’s Dopesick. (The supporting actor category found room for a performer from one more show: Seth Rogen of Hulu’s Pam & Tommy).
Awards show experts have fretted about this tendency for years, because it hints that TV academy voters haven’t sampled a wide enough array of potential Emmy nominees and winners. Instead, there’s a narrow band of shows which get multiple nominations in each category.
This year, the most-nominated show is Succession, with 25 nods. Among the eight slots for supporting actor in a drama, three are taken by actors from Succession.
Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso and The White Lotus are the next most-nominated shows, with 20 nods each. As the most-nominated comedy, Ted Lasso also looms large in supporting categories, with a total six nominees among the slots for best-supporting actor and actress in a comedy.
The Emmys have announced their nominations for 2021, and there are some surprises among the list!
Among the most notable nominees is ABC’s breakout comedy Abbott Elementary, which has scored seven nominations, including best comedy series and best actress in a comedy for star/creator Quinta Brunson. Other series new to the Emmys which scored important nods include Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building and its limited series Dopesick, Pam & Tommy and The Dropout; Apple TV+’s oddball triumph Severance; and Showtime’s Yellowjackets.
The Emmys even made a little history, advancing Netflix’s blockbuster hit from South Korea, Squid Game, as the first non-English language TV series nominated for best drama series (the show got 14 nods overall, including five acting nominations).
Emmy favorites weren’t punished for lackluster seasons
Even though the most recent seasons of some shows didn’t quite live up to past seasons, key nominations for new shows like Abbott Elementary, Severance, Squid Game, Yellowjackets and What We Do in the Shadows, and returning favorites show that voters still love them.
Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel racked up nominations for best comedy as well as for stars Rachael Brosnahan, Tony Shaloub and Alex Borstein – despite a recent season that didn’t quite measure up to past seasons. Similarly, the stars of AMC’s Killing Eve – Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer – were both nominated as best actress in a drama, though the finale season didn’t quite live up to past seasons. Crushing reviews for the finale of Netflix’s Ozark didn’t keep voters from giving it a nod as best drama series, along with nominating stars Jason Bateman, Laura Linney and Julia Garner.
And I’m still trying to figure out how Larry David’s HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm can get nominated as best comedy series but score.
Diversity was a mixed bag
The 2021 Golden Globe nominations were announced on Wednesday, and there were some surprises among the nominees.
For one, several Asian performers and shows centered on Asian characters did well this year, thanks to the success of Squid Game and actors like Sandra Oh and Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang.
But with shows that featured lots of non-white characters either snubbed or not eligible – including This Is Us, Black-ish, Lovecraft Country, Bridgerton, and Hamilton – the overall numbers of non-white nominees dipped significantly.
I counted 25 non-white nominees among the acting categories this year, down from 41 non-white nominees last year. In particular, this year we saw fewer Latino and Black nominees, which pulled down the numbers. That’s a sad trend, given how many opportunities the TV academy had to highlight the work of non-white performers.
Controversy didn’t make much difference
Despite the backlash he received for his standup special, Dave Chappelle has been nominated for an Emmy for his show The Closer. Critics have called the show transphobic and homophobic, but Chappelle has defended it, saying that it is a true reflection of his comedy. Some viewers may find the show exploitative, but its raw portrayal of teenage life has earned it critical acclaim.
Epic snubs, especially for shows on broadcast and cable TV
It was disappointing to see that series finale seasons for broadcast shows like ABC’s Black-ish and NBC’s This Is Us didn’t get major nominations – especially because they were past Emmy darlings. Mandy Moore certainly deserved some recognition for her textured, complex and expansive portrayal of matriarch Rebecca Pearson on NBC’s family drama. It was also odd to see one of TV’s most popular shows, the Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, snubbed here, especially star Kevin Costner.
Pamela Adlon’s personal, insightful family dramedy for FX, Better Things, also was snubbed after its finale season, alongside the channel’s groundbreaking comedy centered on Native American characters, Reservation Dogs.
Other stars who didn’t fare so well: Jennifer Aniston, who saw co-star Reese Witherspoon snag up the only best actress in a drama nomination for Apple TV+’s confused The Morning Show; Saturday Night Live stalwart Kenan Thompson (who got two nominations last year); David Hyde Pierce, who was