Welp, apparently the Emmys hate Westerns.
The stunning lack of nominations for the popular and acclaimed series “Yellowstone” and “1883” were far from the only surprises in Tuesday morning’s Emmy nominations announcement, of course. Between the return of Emmy juggernaut “Succession” and the lack of previous winners like “The Crown” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” this year’s race was already primed for some unexpected nominations — and some surprising omissions.
Two shows weren’t overlooked, however: Season 3 of “Sex Education” and the inaugural season of “Heartstopper.” While both series earned wide acclaim and major buzz, Netflix elected not to submit either for Primetime Emmy consideration, given the steep competition they were respectively facing in the comedy and drama categories. Instead, “Sex Education” is being submitted for the upcoming International Emmys, and “Heartstopper” will be vie for recognition in the Children’s & Family Emmys. (Meanwhile, the latest “Star Wars” series, “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” and previous best drama nominee “The Boys” were both ineligible for this year’s Emmys.)
Here is Variety‘s assessment of the biggest surprises among the nominees for the 74th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
“Yellowstone” and “1883” Shut Out of Major Categories
This was thought to be the year of Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone,” which would then extend to its Paramount+ prequel spinoff “1883” in the limited series category. And yet, Taylor Sheridan’s Western, the most popular scripted series on television (among the networks that publicly release ratings, that is) didn’t receive any nominations. No Kevin Costner for actor, no Kelly Reilly for actress, no Sheridan for anything, and no nominations in below-the-line categories, either. It’s honestly a shock! “1883” did receive three below-the-line nominations: two for cinematography and one for music composition.
No Selena Gomez Nomination for “Only Murders in the Building”
While Hulu’s freshman comedy favorite earned a total of 17 nominations, including for leads Steve Martin and Martin Short, their partner in crime-solving, Selena Gomez, missed out on a nomination for lead actress. Perhaps Emmy voters thought her deadpan, straight-woman delivery was lower on laughs than Short and Martin’s antics — and it is, that’s the point! Without Gomez in their podcasting trio, “Only Murders” would be missing a limb.
Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh Nominated for “Killing Eve” Final Season
The audience and critical consensus about the final season of the once-beloved “Killing Eve” — especially its series finale — was that it was an utter catastrophe. It was thought to be so terrible that even Luke Jennings, who wrote the novellas on which the show was based, repudiated its ending in the Guardian. And yet, Television Academy voters are such habitual creatures that they nominated both Oh and Comer (a surprise winner in the category for the BBC America show’s first season).
“Black-ish” and “This Is Us” Shut Out of Major Categories in Their Final Seasons
Both top nominees in previous seasons, ABC’s “Black-ish” and NBC’s “This Is Us” finished their runs with strong finales that landed the plane with style and grace (and many tears). And yet neither show earned any top nominations this year — especially surprising for the career-best work by “This Is Us” star Mandy Moore. “Black-ish” earned nods for contemporary hairstyling and contemporary costumes, while “This Is Us” nabbed just one nomination for original music and lyrics — for a song co-written by star Moore’s husband, Taylor Goldsmith (with Siddhartha Khosla).
Genre Shows That Aren’t “Stranger Things” Shut Out of Top Categories
Last year, “WandaVision” and “The Boys” led to an unprecedented wave of top-tier nominations for comic book adaptations, after the back-to-back best drama nods for the first “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian,” and a historic Emmy win for the HBO limited series “Watchmen.”
This year? “Loki” and “The Book of Boba Fett” missed in the top drama categories, “Hawkeye” and “Peacemaker” couldn’t hit the best comedy target, and “Moon Knight” was shut out of the limited series category. Of those titles, “Loki” arguably had the best shot at a top-tier nom, but its June 2021 premiere meant it was overshadowed by the likes of eventual nominees “Squid Game,” “Yellowjackets” and “Stranger Things.”
The Marvel Studios series did pick up several nominations for technical and artisan categories, but none of the shows’ acting, writing or direction earned any Emmy love, and “Peacemaker” only earned a nomination for stunt coordination for a comedy.
Some Unexpected Love for “The Great”
Elle Fanning delivered a nuanced performance this Emmy season as the tortured Michelle Carter in the Hulu limited series “The Girl From Plainville,” but it turns out that voters really want to see her in a comedy. She received her first Emmy nomination ever in comedy lead actress for her turn as Catherine the Great in “The Great.” Her scene partner Nicholas Hoult was nominated for lead actor in a comedy for his portrayal as Peter. (The Hulu comedy received four nominations total, for costumes and production design as well.)
Several Big Surprises in the Supporting Actor/Actress Categories: Only Two “SNL” Nods, No Sarah Goldberg for “Barry,” and Lots of Love for “Abbott Elementary,” “Squid Game” and Especially “The White Lotus”
It’s become something of an Emmy tradition of late for several members of the “Saturday Night Live” cast to earn nominations in the supporting actor and actress in a comedy categories. Kate McKinnon, who won the award two years in a row, was nominated again on Tuesday. But co-stars Aidy Bryant and Pete Davidson (also in their final seasons) were ovelooked, as was regular nominee Kenan Thompson. Bowen Yang also repeated his nomination from last year among the “SNL” cast. (Similarly surprising, only Jerrod Carmichael was nominated for hosting “SNL,” for guest actor in a comedy.)
Really, though, all of the supporting categories were rife with surprises. Yes, it was expected that practically the entire cast of “Succession” would be nominated in the drama categories (except for Alan Ruck, the most Connor thing that could ever happen). But no one was expecting the same to be true for the cast of limited series “The White Lotus”: Only Fred Hechinger (as the social media addicted Quinn Mossbacher) and Brittany O’Grady (as the conflicted guest of the Mossbachers) missed out among the main cast. Meanwhile, Sydney Sweeney earned supporting nominations for “The White Lotus” other “euphoria.”
“Abbott Elementary” stars Janelle James and Tyler James Williams were also surprise nominees, and the core cast of the South Korean sensation “Squid Game” also all earned nods: supporting actor nominees Park Hae-soo and Oh Yeong-su, and supporting actress nominee Jung Ho-yeon.
Alas, this surfeit of love for the casts of a few specific shows also meant that several other worthy nominees missed the cut, like Sarah Goldberg for “Barry,” Naveen Andrews for “The Dropout,” Chloë Sevigny for “The Girl From Plainville, ” and Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks for “Better Call Saul.”
No Comedy Series Love for “Cobra Kai”
For its first two seasons — which streamed on YouTube’s now-shuttered premium service, YouTube Red — “Cobra Kai” received two nominations in the same category, outstanding stunt coordination in a comedy, in 2018 and 2019. But after moving to Netflix in Season 3 (and beyond), “Cobra Kai” was honored with a coveted (and glorious!) comedy series nomination last year. But even after an excellent fourth season this year, “Cobra Kai” wasn’t included in the comedy series category. Perhaps fans should just assume it’s because the wondrous ongoing saga of Johnny (William Zabka) and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) is actually so dramatic that voters feel like it’s in the wrong category. (It did receive the stunt coordination nom again, though.)
“Pam & Tommy” In; “Maid” Mostly Out!
“Pam & Tommy,” the Hulu limited series about what happened to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee after their sex tape was stolen from them, got a ton of love on Emmy nominations morning. Not only was the show nominated in the very competitive limited series category, but it received 10 nominations overall, including for Lily James as Pam and Sebastian Stan as Tommy (neither was a sure bet). Oh, and of course it got nominated for hair!
“Maid,” its competitor proved to be a word-of-mouth sensation upon its fall release; it inhabited the Netflix Top 10 charts for weeks. Yet on Tuesday, the series itself was not nominated, though its star Margaret Qualley received a well-earned nominated for lead actress in a limited series, creator Molly Smith Metzler got a writing nomination and John Wells got one for directing.
Reese Witherspoon Nominated Over Jennifer Aniston for “The Morning Show”
That Bradley Jackson, you never can underestimate her! Although Reese Witherspoon’s character on “The Morning Show” seemed less to do in the Apple TV+ show’s second season than her rival and frenemy, Jennifer Aniston’s Alex Levy, Witherspoon was nominated for lead actress in a drama. Not to further pit these women against one another, but did Alex return to UBA, throw her back out, travel to Italy to get closure with Mitch (Steve Carell) and get freaking COVID for nothing? Apparently yes!
Sarah Paulson Nominated for “Impeachment: American Crime Story”
Ryan Murphy’s “Impeachment: American Crime Story” had been anticipated for years, with its premiere date at one point even causing concern that it could affect the 2020 election. And in order to play Linda Tripp, a central figure in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Sarah Paulson changed her entire physicality, gaining weight and donning prosthetics. She also perfected Tripp’s accent and flat manner of speaking. And yet, despite all the hype, when it premiered last year, the series barely made an impact. And though previous entries in Murphy’s anthology series — “The People v. OJ Simpson” and “Versace” — had been favorites, during Emmy’s campaigning season, it was as if “Impeachment” had never existed.
And yet! On Tuesday morning, Paulson received a surprise nomination in the ultra-competitive limited series lead actress category.
Go Back to the Oscars, Movie Stars!
For years now, actors best known for headlining feature films have turned to television and won acclaim and Emmys hardware for doing so, but this year, a great number of A-listers turned in awards-worthy work on TV that was conspicuously overlooked: Costner for “Yellowstone,” Samuel L. Jackson for “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey,” Jessica Chastain for “Scenes From a Marriage,” Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway for “WeCrashed,” Julia Roberts and Sean Penn for “Gaslit,” Tom Hiddleston for “Loki” and “The Essex Serpent,” Viola Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer for “The First Lady,” Josh Brolin for “Outer Range,” and Renée Zellweger for “The Thing About Pam.”
To be fair, a few movie stars did earn Emmy nods this year, including Oscar Isaac for “Scenes From a Marriage,” Michael Keaton for “Dopesick,” Seth Rogen for “Pam & Tommy” and Andrew Garfield for “Under the Banner of God.” But perhaps the divide between the worlds of film and television isn’t as porous as we’d previously thought.