Joe Reid isn't just Primetimer's managing editor. He's also an awards expert and one half of the popular podcast, This Had Oscar Buzz. Today Joe breaks down this year's Emmy nominations with an eye to the storylines we'll be following leading up to the 74th Annual Emmy Awards in September.
Tuesday's nominations for the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards felt more than ever like an impossible task, trying to recognize the best in television at a time when it's impossible to get a grasp on how much TV there is out there, much less watch it all. This was especially true this season, when so many shows were returned from extended COVID hiatuses, trying to pick up where they left off in terms of Emmy success. A lot of shows did just that — Succession, Ted Lasso, and Barry, we're looking at you. But not every show was as fortunate.
How to sum up a set of nominations with so many winners, losers, delightful first-time nominees, and a few head scratchers to boot? Here are nine major takeaways.
No matter how much the TV landscape changes, one thing has remained constant for decades now: HBO will clean up at the Emmys. This year, 140 nominations were showered upon the shows from HBO and HBO Max, leading all other networks/streaming platforms by a healthy margin. Succession led all series — regardless of genre or format — with a hefty 25 nominations, including a record-breaking 14 acting nods.
Not too far behind in the Drama category was Euphoria, which followed up Zendaya's surprise Emmy win in 2020 with 17 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, Lead Actress in a Drama for Zendaya, and Supporting Actress in a Drama for meme queen Sydney Sweeney.
The White Lotus was similarly dominant in the Limited Series categories, scoring nominations in Outstanding Limited Series, Writing, Directing, and landing an eye-popping eight acting nominations from a cast of eleven main cast members (including double-nominee Sydney Sweeney). HBO Max's Station Eleven scored a robust 7 nominations itself, although it was shut out of the Limited Series lineup.
In comedy, as expected, Hacks was a major player, with nods for Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, writing and directing.
While HBO pulled out ever farther into the lead position, Netflix fell back, with a mere 105 nominations, which sounds like an insane thing to say, but that total is down from 160 nominations just two years ago, and in general things did not go as well as Netflix may have hoped.
Of course, those hopes were somewhat muted by the fact that the streamer's traditional major Emmys player, The Crown, didn't release new episodes this year, but even among the shows that were thought to be contenders, results were mixed. Granted, a 14-nomination haul for Squid Game is nothing to sneeze at, nor are 13 noms apiece for Ozark and Stranger Things. But despite scoring a few high-placing nominations, Inventing Anna and MAID both underperformed in total nominations, and a whole parade of former Outstanding Series nominees like Bridgerton, Russian Doll, and Emily in Paris were all but blanked.
Meanwhile, it was a good day to be wearing green, as Hulu's 58 total nominations more than doubled their previous high-water mark and placed them solidly in third place among networks/platforms. Only Murders in the Building brought in 17 total nominations, and the trio of Dopesick, The Dropout, and Pam & Tommy gave Hulu a majority of Limited Series nominees.
As mentioned above with regard to Netflix series, a whole bunch of shows that found their way to the Emmy ballot over the last two years were all but ignored this year. Part of the reason for that was the return of quite a few Emmy-friendly shows that hadn't been Emmy-eligible last year (including Succession, Barry, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Better Call Saul), but part is also the due to the massively expanded size of the TV landscape, which makes it that much harder for series to maintain their cultural stickiness.
Buzzy first seasons did not lead to prosperous second seasons for shows like Bridgerton (12 nominations in 2021; 3 nominations in 2022), The Flight Attendant (9 nominations in 2021; 3 nominations in 2022), Russian Doll (13 nominations in 2019; only one in 2022), and Emily in Paris (Outstanding Comedy Series nominee in 2021; Outstanding Production Design nominee in 2022).
Meanwhile, longtime Emmy faves on their way out were not given very fond send-offs. After scoring Outstanding Drama Series nominations in four of its first five seasons and 24 acting nominations over that same span, NBC's This Is Us went very quietly (well, maybe not that quietly) into that good night, with just one Emmy nomination, for Outstanding Music and Lyrics, despite a robust Emmy campaign, particularly for Mandy Moore's performance.
Similarly, after three Outstanding Series nominations, seven Lead Actor in a Comedy nominations for Anthony Anderson, and five Lead Actress nominations for Tracee Ellis-Ross, Black-ish's final season only managed two nominations in the Creative Arts categories and nothing up top.
Of course, all was not lost for shows limping off of the Emmys stage in their final seasons. Despite a wildly divisive finale and no other nominations, both Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh managed to hang on to their slots in the Lead Actress in a Drama category one last time.
As was the case last year, the expanded number of nominees in the Supporting Actor categories — which was intended to help reflect the increasingly wide breadth of available TV shows — has led to a small handful of shows utterly dominating these categories, with three, four, even five nominees in each category coming from the same show.
While last year's field was dominated by the quintet of The Crown, The Handmaid's Tale, Ted Lasso, Mare of Easttown, and Saturday Night Live, this year boasted a different, but no less dominant, set of shows. Ted Lasso (the lone holdover), Succession, Dopesick, Severance, Abbott Elementary, and The White Lotus combined to take 30 of the 46 available nominations in the six supporting acting categories.
It's hard to take issue with any one nomination for any of these shows — almost every nominated actor from those six shows was hugely deserving — but nevertheless, this feels like a pattern of lazy Emmy voting from people who simply don't have the bandwidth to watch all the worthy TV shows, and thus default to the literal handful of shows they like best. It's understandable, but it's also ultimately not good for the Emmys, and the Academy would be wise to look into capping the number of nominees a show can have in any given category.
While The White Lotus and its insane cadre of acting nominations stands tallest among the Limited Series nominees, taking a step back and looking at the category as a whole feels less impressive than it should. Last year, The Queen's Gambit's triumph over Mare of Easttown was the final award presented on Emmy night, an acknowledgment that the limited series had ascended to TV's most prestigious perch. But while limited series have only grown more plentiful, this year's Emmy nominees don't feel quite as prestigious this year.
This is no slight against The White Lotus, The Dropout, or Dopesick, three of the finest shows of the year. But how did Inventing Anna and Pam & Tommy crash this party? Part of the reason may be that the streamers flooded the box with prestige offerings in the final month of Emmy eligibility, with shows like Gaslit, WeCrashed, The First Lady, Candy, The Offer, Shining Girls, Outer Range, and many more. Not all — or even most — of those shows deserved big-time Emmy recognition, but some incredibly high-quality productions like FX's Under the Banner of Heaven, and HBO Max's The Staircase and Station Eleven were swept aside in favor of Pam, Tommy, and Anna Delvey.
Clearly Emmy voters saw something in Pam & Tommy, to the tune of 10 total nominations, and Netflix must have really hit the pavement to get their big Shonda Rhimes show nominated, but the end result is a Limited Series category that feels a little trashier this year than it could have been.
If Limited Series is looking a bit anemic this year, there is a ton of juice in an incredibly competitive Outstanding Comedy Series field. Last year's big head-to-head battle was Ted Lasso versus Hacks, and both of those shows returned with robust nomination totals this year. They will face a returning Barry, which got some of the best reviews of the entire TV season. Add to that mix the lauded first seasons of Only Murders in the Building and Abbott Elementary, and this category is the hottest it's been in years.
The Emmys often get crap — and deservedly so — for getting stuck in ruts and nominating the same people every year. Which is why it's great to shout out when the Television Academy names up as many first-time nominees as they did this year. So, happy first Emmy nominations to, among others, Yellowjackets's Melanie Lynskey, who was nominated alongside her co-star Christina Ricci (whose only other Emmy nomination came when she was holding onto that bomb inside a patient in the Grey's Anatomy Super Bowl episode); Station Eleven's lone acting nominee Himesh Patel; and Abbott Elementary's Sheryl Lee Ralph, whose first Emmy nomination in a 40-year acting career was one of four first-time nods for the ABC comedy, alongside Quinta Brunson, Janelle James, and Tyler James WIlliams.
With so many shows in contention, some snubs are inevitable, but these were the most surprising/disappointing:
The 74th Emmy Awards air Monday, September 12 on NBC and Peacock.
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, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Abbott Elementary, Dopesick, The Dropout, Euphoria, Hacks, Inventing Anna, Pam & Tommy, Severance, Succession, The White Lotus