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29 July 2020 00:31

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Emmy nominations 2020: All the snubs and surprises

(The most nominations for a network in a year before this was HBO's 137 nominations in 2019, when it was bolstered by the final season of Game of Thrones.) HBO netted just 107 nominations, but it boasted the year's most-nominated program in the 26-times-nominated Watchmen. Both HBO and Netflix had drama series that received 18 nominations (the most in the category), thanks to Succession and Ozark. And Amazon Prime Video's Marvelous Mrs. Maisel once again drew 20 nominations to lead the comedy categories. It got three nominations, including Best Comedy Series. That's the fewest the show has ever garnered when eligible, but hey, it still cracked Best Drama Series, and Netflix will gladly add those eight nominations to its pile.

And that's before you even get to something like 18 nominations for Ozark or the out-of-nowhere nine nominations for Limited Series Unorthodox, alongside four for Unbelievable. (Netflix was the home of any limited series starting with "un," apparently.) It's impossible to look at this nominees list and not be impressed by Netflix's dominance. What's more, it saw strong support for shows like Ramy and The Great, which just missed the Comedy Series category but got major nominations in acting, writing, and directing. Prime Video fell substantially to 30 nominations from 47, but it didn't have Fleabag this year, and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel got another 20 nominations for a season I had all but forgotten existed, so call it a wash. And Disney+ did one better than that with 19 nominations, including a groundbreaking Drama Series nomination for The Mandalorian.

No streaming platform has ever cracked the Drama Series race in its first year eligible. But the network fell out of the Drama Series running when Pose was snubbed, and all in all, it felt like FX had a bit of an off year at the awards. And, yeah, Showtime collapsed to four nominations from 2019's 18, but it also didn't have anything as Emmy-friendly as the limited series Escape at Dannemora, which was eligible last year. It seems like the strong favorite to win Limited Series and probably the most awards on Emmy night. Here's an even better comparison: Both Netflix's Ozark and HBO's Succession received 18 nominations, making them the prohibitive favorites in Drama Series.

All of this is to say: Netflix's nomination game is strong, but HBO has better positioned itself for wins, particularly in major categories. Just a year ago, Schitt's Creek's surprise handful of Emmy nominations (including three in the big-name Comedy Series, Actor in a Comedy, and Actress in a Comedy categories) seemed like they had come out of nowhere. Yet in 2020, for the show's final season, Schitt's Creek garnered 15 total nominations, including nominations for its four main stars, its directing, and its writing (twice). Its better-than-expected performance suggests it and Maisel will battle for the Comedy Series crown — and honestly, who would have thought that possible as recently as 18 months ago? But this is a show that received double-digit nominations and won Comedy Series across its first five seasons.

Among the most surprising snubs of Emmy morning were Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks of Better Call Saul and Elisabeth Moss of The Handmaid's Tale. But Watchmen, Damon Lindelof's limited series sequel to the graphic novel, nabbed 26 nominations total, making it the awards juggernaut of the moment. And though HBO's Succession and Netflix's Ozark tied for second with 18 nominations apiece, Succession led in marquee nominations—practically every single member of the cast was nominated, from Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox for lead actor (reenacting their characters' duel for supremacy!) to Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, and even Nicholas Braun, as Cousin Greg, in supporting. Another win for HBO was one of the nominations' biggest surprises: Zendaya got a lead-actress-in-a-drama nomination, after teenage psychedelic drama Euphoria had been mostly discounted by awards-watchers. And Insecure rallied with a nomination for best comedy and nominations for both creator and lead Issa Rae and supporting actress Yvonne Orji.

Netflix managed to steamroll HBO by pulling in handfuls of nominations over a much broader spread of shows, including Ozark, The Crown, Stranger Things, The Kominsky Method, and Dead to Me, which the Academy liked so much it nominated both previous honoree Christina Applegate and longtime TV fave Linda Cardellini for lead actress. Hollywood, the mega-expensive Ryan Murphy production, scored nominations including lead actor for first-time nominee Jeremy Pope. (Toni Collette, at least, was nominated for supporting actress in a limited series.) Netflix won't be complaining, but it is, as usual, bizarre where the industry's attention ends up during voting. Apple TV+ got eight for The Morning Show, including a plum lead-actress nomination for Jennifer Aniston. Even behemoth Disney+ got a foot in the door, with a surprise best-drama nomination for the Star Wars TV spin-off The Mandalorian. Hulu picked up several nominations as well, but the streamer faced notable snubs too: While The Handmaid's Tale picked up its typical best-drama nod, lead actress Elisabeth Moss was notably snubbed; Paul Mescal got a nod for Normal People, but not costar Daisy Edgar-Jones; Ramy Youssef got a best-comedy-actor nod, but not a best-comedy nod; and The Great, starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, was ignored almost entirely, earning just a pair of nominations for writing and directing. Steve Carell didn't get a comedy-actor nomination for Space Force, but he might be mollified by his Morning Show nomination, which puts him in contention for lead actor in a drama series. Big Little Lies, an awards behemoth in its first season, only got two top of the line nominations—and both in the same category: Laura Dern and Meryl Streep for best supporting actress. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Little Fires Everywhere, "Find a Way" Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Mrs. America, "Shirley" Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series "CONGRATULATIONS, OCTAVIA, I loved your project!" Emmy nomination host Leslie Jones screamed after the announcement of Octavia Spencer's nod for Self Made, her Netflix series about the life of Black entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker. Meanwhile, A Black Lady Sketch Show is up for an award, one of only three shows nominated in the sketch-comedy category this year, and Insecure finally made the list for best comedy series in its fourth season. Heading into an Emmys season eclipsed by both Black Lives Matters protests and the Covid-19 pandemic, the question was whether we would see new trends in the nominations or business as usual.