With the final few days of the 2021-22 TV season upon us, focus is soon to turn to July's Emmy nominations. But before we go making any predictions or breaking down the categories, it's worth taking a step back and considering what's at stake for the shows and performers who've just completed their final seasons. For them, the 2022 Emmy Awards are a last chance to be recognized. Some have been nominated before but ended up the bridesmaid, while others have been ignored by the Television Academy altogether. For these 14 worthy performers, it's the end of the line. Academy voters, please take note!
With Better Things having completed its fifth and final season in April, this year will be the last chance for its star and creator, Pamela Adlon, to land the Emmy that the show's fans so adamantly feel she deserves. Adlon was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy after each of the show's first two seasons, but she missed the cut the last two times. With the final season hailed as a "masterpiece" in some corners, and with two of last season's five nominees in Comedy Actress no longer eligible, this could be the year Adlon scores a much-deserved upset victory.
Nearly a dozen This Is Us performers have been Emmy-nominated over the show's six year run, but it's only happened once for pop star-turned-actress Mandy Moore (she lost in 2019 to Jodie Comer from Killing Eve). That was already an oversight, but she did some especially heavy lifting this farewell season, and there's been a huge push to honor her performance, coming not only from the usual publicity circles but also from her fellow cast members. In April, star and three-time Emmy-winner Sterling K. Brown took to Instagram to evangelize Moore's performance, calling on Emmy voters to take notice: "Anybody who votes in the Academy, anybody who’s got a say in what happens, Mandy Moore is killing the game, son. She is killing the game and she deserves to be recognized."
Let's be clear: Laura Linney is a four-time Emmy-winner, for her work on Frasier, The Big C, John Adams, and Wild Iris. She doesn't need another Emmy, but that doesn't mean she doesn't deserve one for her performance as Wendy Byrde, which got across-the-board raves even as the Ozark finale itself was a bit more divisive. Linney has been nominated the last two times she was eligible, so expect her to make the cut yet again. But after falling to Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) and Zendaya (Euphoria), this is her last chance to take home trophy #5.
Through its first four acclaimed seasons, Search Party wasn't been nominated for a single Emmy award, a grave injustice for a show whose creative evolution kept both critics and fans on their toes. As lead character Dory, Alia Shawkat is overdue for Emmy recognition, and with her character's final-season descent into culty madness, she's got as strong a showcase for her talents as she's ever had. The Emmys don't always explore the corners you'd hope they would, but we've got a few more weeks to make the case for Alia Shawkat as loudly as possible.
Over the course of Black-ish's eight seasons, its two main stars have garnered a total of 12 Emmy nominations for playing Dre and Rainbow Johnson, parents trying to raise a proud and happy Black family in a modern world that makes that incredibly complicated. Ross's five Lead Actress in a Comedy nominations place her in the company of Debra Messing, Blair Brown, and Elizabeth Montgomery, while Anderson's seven nominations have him tied with John Goodman, Hal Linden, and Matt LeBlanc for most Lead Actor in a Comedy nominations without a win. Now that Black-ish has taken its final bow, the Academy has one last shot to give these actors their due.
While Andy Samberg has amassed nine Primetime Emmy nominations over the years, including six in the Outstanding Music and Lyrics category for his Saturday Night Live work with the Lonely Island, he's never been nominated for his acting — not on SNL or in the previous seven seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He even hosted the Emmys in 2015 — quite entertainingly, for that matter. With B99 ending its run last fall with more of a whimper than a bang, it's unlikely that long-awaited nod will come this year, and what a shame that will be.
Yvonne Orji at long last got her first Emmy nomination for her performance as Molly on Insecure in 2020. She lost that night to Schitt's Creek's Annie Murphy, but Emmy voters have one more shot to show Orji some love, especially after a series finale that saw Molly getting married and have that wonderful final moment with Issa. Although the series ended back in December, Emmy voters ought to have long enough memories to include her among their Supporting Actress contenders.
Between them, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have been nominated for five Emmys for their performances as Grace and Frankie. But what about the men who played their ex-husbands — and freshly gay companions — over the show's seven seasons? No, we were never quite as invested in Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen's characters as we were in our titular queens, but over the years these two built a complicated, persnickety, and loving relationship, especially in the final season as the pair dealt with Robert beginning to lose his memory. It would be a fine gesture to grant these two longtime Emmy faves a pair of final nods.
In 2021, PEN15 got an incredibly richly deserved Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, a validation for the exquisite, funny, touching work the show had been doing for its first two seasons. For its third and final affair (officially the second half of Season 2), it would only be right to nominate the show's creators, writers, and stars, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. It's bound to be a crowded field in Lead Actress in a Comedy, but you can't rightly name many actresses giving funnier or more emotionally on-target performances as these two. Last chance, voters!
Don't worry, The Good Fight isn't going anywhere, but after a one-season performance playing the increasingly unhinged Judge Hal Wackner, Patinkin is riding his only shot at a nomination. And he deserves it, too. While Wackner initially presents as harmless (if hilarious) comic relief — a mode Patinkin excels in — he ended up becoming more extreme in his extralegal means, ultimately presenting as a pretty terrifying allegory for American lawlessness. Nominate him or face him in his office-supply court!
Somehow Andrew Rannells has yet to be nominated for a single Emmy award for his screamingly funny work as Wall Street finance goon turned closeted politician in Showtime's Black Monday, which wrapped up its three-season run last August. That's a ways back for Emmy voters to remember, but while it'd be worth it to nominate just about anybody from that cast — Regina Hall, Paul Scheer, Casey Wilson, and June Diane Raphael also deserve recognition — Rannells worked at an especially high gear throughout the series, and he'd be a credit to the Supporting Actor in a Comedy category.
Finally, yes. We hear you, Better Call Saul fans and nearly every working television critic. Although she technically will still be eligible in 2023, we'd never think of leaving off Saul's perpetually underrated Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler. Yes, the second half of Saul's 6th season begins airing in July, but it would be beyond foolish to leave things up to chance next year when we'll all be nearly a year removed from the Better Call Saul finale. Television Academy, listen up: you've nominated EVERY male cast member on this show at some point. This is looking really bad for you. Seehorn is doing impeccable work, and she's pretty much the consensus critical fave at this point. Save yourselves a lot of grief and give her the nomination already.
Nominations for the 74th Emmy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, with the ceremony to follow in September.
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, Alia Shawkat, Andrew Rannells, Andy Samberg, Anna Konkle, Anthony Anderson, Laura Linney, Mandy Moore, Mandy Patinkin, Martin Sheen, Maya Erskine, Pamela Adlon, Rhea Seehorn, Sam Waterston, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yvonne Orji