With the announcement of the nominees for the 75th Emmy Awards comes several shocks, upsets and major takeaways about the state of the industry. Diversity is flourishing across acting categories. Streaming continues to reign supreme, but network and cable aren’t quite dead yet (thank you, Abbott Elementary). And many nominees, from Succession and Better Call Saul to Ted Lasso and Barry, are being lauded for their final seasons, meaning that it’s the last chance that the likes of Bob Odenkirk or Sarah Snook have to win for their iconic roles.
Of course, the Emmys now also have to contend with strikes from both writers (repped by the WGA) and actors (SAG-Aftra). Strike terms largely bar actors from promoting projects, so any awards show taking place during this period of turmoil would likely be sparsely attended. It’s an odd and uncertain time in the industry, but we can be sure of a few things.
Takeaway: HBO and Max are on top
The network and streaming platform dominated the nominations, with Succession, The Last of Us, and The White Lotus being the three most nominated shows this year. Succession is king in its last season, raking in a whopping 27 nominations. In multiple categories, HBO was the only network represented—all of the nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series came from either Succession or The White Lotus, while Succession and The Last of Us held a monopoly over both Outstanding Guest Actor and Actress in a Drama Series.
Surprise: big names get their first nominations
Jessica Chastain, Michael Shannon, Jon Bernthal, James Marsden, Daniel Radcliffe, and Ryan Reynolds are among the flashier names on the first-time nominee list. Even more surprising, Reynolds’ nomination isn’t for acting; it’s for his work on the sports documentary series Welcome to Wrexham, a must-watch for any football fan.
Snub: Harrison Ford
Ahead of the announcement, it appeared as though one name was a lock for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Harrison Ford. His performance in Shrinking was lauded, and between that hype and the attention surrounding his last outing as the iconic Indiana Jones, he seemed like a safe bet for a nomination, potentially even a win.
Takeaway: Outstanding Television Movies?
In the era of streaming, the concept of the television movie feels murky at best. The category of Outstanding Television Movie includes the 20th Century Studios film Prey as well as NBC’s Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival before being distributed by The Roku Channel. Suffice it to say, there are several TV movies in the category that feel a bit more like movie movies, but it’s good to see genre fare like Prey and a celebration of LGBTQ identity like Fire Island get recognized nonetheless. The category remains nebulous, but at least it honors good content.
Surprise: “Scandoval” gets a nod
Though Bravo is (in)famous for its Real Housewives franchise and its many, many spin-offs, the reality television juggernaut had yet to score a nomination. That is, until former housewife Lisa Vanderpump’s Vanderpump Rules went through the epic saga of “Scandoval”—the name given to the scandal surrounding an off-camera affair shared by two on-camera talents (one of whom was cheating on another cast member). It’s reality TV drama at its peak, and it’s a welcome shake up in the Outstanding Unstructured Reality Series category.
Snub: the Yellowstone Cinematic Universe
With Kevin Costner departing the Paramount (PARA)+ hit after its most recent season and Dame Helen Mirren starring in the recent spin-off 1923, Yellowstone and its offshoots looked to be in decent shape to rack up the odd nomination or two. However, the rustic series did not make an impact with Emmy voters, perhaps because of series creator Taylor Sheridan’s questionable comments relating to the ongoing writer’s strike.
Takeaway: making new strides in diversity
Race, gender, age, language and disability all factor into the conversation around diversity in this year’s batch of nominees, marking a welcome series of steps in the ongoing process of expanding representation. Bella Ramsey, lead actress of The Last of Us, is now the third non-binary performer to be nominated for an Emmy, after Emma Corrin (The Crown) and Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hacks). The Last of Us also boasts the youngest-ever nominee for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, 10-year-old Keivonn Montreal Woodard, who is also the first Black Deaf actor to be nominated. Ali Wong is the first Asian woman to be nominated for her work as a lead actress in a limited or anthology series or movie, and The White Lotus nominees Sabrina Impacciatore and Simona Tabasco build on Squid Game’s precedent of being nominated for primarily non-English language performances.
Surprise: Elton John could EGOT!
Elton John’s Farewell From Dodger Stadium, a live special on Disney Plus, has been nominated for Outstanding Variety Special, meaning that the legendary musician is in the running to win his first ever Emmy and become the 19th person to secure EGOT status. John’s previous wins include fives Grammys, two Oscars for Best Original Song (thanks to The Lion King and Rocketman), and a Tony for the score to Aida.
Snub: prequel fantasy series
Last fall’s fantasy hits House of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power were expected to go toe-to-toe in the ring this Emmys season, but that fight fizzled on both ends. While the Game of Thrones prequel did get a nod in the coveted Outstanding Drama Series category, that was the only major nomination it secured. Rings of Power did worse, failing to make a name for itself in any series, acting, writing or directing categories. Though both received a sizable amount of critical acclaim when they premiered last fall, the two big brands ended up as relative duds.