2017 Emmy nominations list: The year of the freshman show, deserving nods and inevitable snubs
Eleven got one. Chief Hopper got one too. But Joyce Byers, despite her visibly incredible motherly turmoil in the face of the unknown, didn’t. As a hardcore Winona Ryder fan, I’m super disappointed that her character from Netflix’s monster hit from last year Stranger Things, didn’t get an Emmy nod in the just-a-while-back announced 2017 Emmy nominations. On the other hand, almost every prestige deserving TV show got multiple nominations (some, like Westworld and Saturday Night Live got a staggering 22 nominations each!). Here’s a round-up of all the top categories, some immediate observations/reactions, and the snubs (sob).
Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul (AMC)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
This Is Us (NBC)
Observations — We’re not calling it the “year of the freshman” for nothing! Five new shows found themselves in this coveted category. Of course, the absence of a small show called Game of Thrones (GoT)...ha, I can’t even kid about this with a straight face! HBO’s colossal megahit didn’t qualify for this year’s nominations because of its late premiere date (three days to go!), although worry not — another massive HBO hit (Westworld) has gladly taken its place. GoT’s absence also made room for a host of new (and totally deserving) shows, besides Westworld. Incidentally, This Is Us is the first network drama to land a nomination in this super-elite category since 2011 — all those tears seem to have paid off!
A very annoying snub here is The Leftovers (I mean, did they not watch the final season?) and while nothing will make up for that, I’m still grinning from all the Emmy love Stranger Things has garnered. And of course, The Handmaid’s Tale — the modern-day retelling of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian feminist classic is probably the most deserving nod in this category. After Stranger Things, that is. Between these two shows and their multiple nominations, it’s been a great day for the '80s!
Outstanding Comedy Series
Master of None (Netflix)
Modern Family (ABC)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Observations — I can’t get over how happy I am with the nominations in this category, where each show is more path-breaking in its story and narrative than the previous one. Between Donald Glover’s trippy neoteric look at Atlanta’s rap scene to Veep’s reinvention of crazy in the age of Trump — the Academy voters have their job cut out. And don’t even get me started on Master of None’s exquisite second season — possibly one of the single most perfect seasons of any show ever!
I’m disappointed that Glover-fan Issa Rae’s sensationally good Insecure didn’t find itself on this list, and that shows like Younger continue to be overlooked every year — all while Modern Family continues to be an Emmy darling. Don’t get me wrong — I love, love, love Modern Family, but in its eighth season, I feel like the show has finally plateaued. It’s been nominated every single year its been in the running (and it won in this category five times in a row); maybe next year, the Academy will look beyond the obvious favourites to other deserving shows?
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Foy, The Crown (Netflix)
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld (HBO)
Keri Russell, The Americans (FX)
Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
Observations — There’s always a Claire! Claire Danes, who was nominated for Homeland every year since its debut in 2011 (and won twice), found herself being given the cold shoulder this year. I wouldn’t call that a snub, per se, because the competition in this category is insanely tough — the “other” Claire (sorry!) — Claire Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, got a well-deserved nod.
“We see your Queen, and we raise you..,” said Elisabeth Moss and Evan Rachel Wood, who play a handmaid in a dystopian future and a robot (in The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld respectively), and we can officially term this the closest this category has been in a while!
Once again, The Leftovers was the biggest snub here — Carrie Coon (as incredible as she was in her nominated role of Gloria Burgle in Fargo) should have been nominated for The Leftovers. Not cool, Academy, not cool at all.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Anthony Hopkins, Westworld (HBO)
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan (Showtime)
Matthew Rhys, The Americans (FX)
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us (NBC)
Sterling K Brown, This Is Us (NBC)
Observations — Well, well, well NBC... in a sea of cable and satellite or streaming networks boasting big name Oscar winners such as Anthony Hopkins (Westworld) and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), NBC’s family tear-jerker seems to have struck all the right nerves — not just with viewers, but with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as well. Milo Ventimiglia’s nomination is a surprise, although it’s great to see the Gilmore Girls and Heroes actor move on to more “adult” roles with such aplomb. As for Sterling K Brown — is there any role this guy doesn’t do justice to! On the heels of last year’s American Crime Story (for which Brown won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie), he has gotten himself a totally well-deserved Emmy nod, once again.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Justin Theroux’s snub for The Leftovers hurts. Hurts bad. Also, Rupert Friend’s transformation of his character Quinn (Homeland) from kickass assassin to drugged-up has-been suffering from PTSD, who ultimately gave up his life for the woman he loves (and, well, also the President of the US), was more than deserving of an Emmy nomination. Ugh Academy, what’re you smoking!
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
Pamela Adlon, Better Things (FX)
Tracee Ellis Ross, Blackish (ABC)
Observations — Okay so, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won for Veep in this category for the past five years; as far as winning streaks go, her’s is pretty astounding. This season of Veep was the first in which she wasn’t the Veep or the POTUS, and there was no one who could’ve handled that transition better than Louis-Dreyfus. That said, just look at her competition!
Disappointed at Issa Rae (Insecure) and Sutton Foster (Younger) not making this list.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, Blackish (ABC)
Aziz Ansari, Master of None (Netflix)
Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX)
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
William H Macy, Shameless (Showtime)
Zach Galifianakis, Baskets (FX)
Observations — This category has one of the most diverse batch of nominees, between the actors playing the roles to the characters they portray. I have my favourites (Ansari, Glover), but I would be neither surprised nor disappointed if any of the other brilliant actors won.
Outstanding Limited Series
Big Little Lies (HBO)
Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Genius (National Geographic)
The Night Of (HBO)
Observations — The geek in me would love to see Genius (National Geographic’s Albert Einstein biopic and the network’s first scripted drama series) win big in this category, but let’s face it — with Big Little Lies and Feud, that’s unlikely. Fargo, despite an “ish” third season, was obviously well-deserving enough to be on this list, and The Night Of (while a bit unsteady in its amazing-ness) is a great contender too!
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Carrie Coon, Fargo (FX)
Felicity Huffman, American Crime (ABC)
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Observations - This has to be one of my favourite categories this year, and most of it has to do with HBO’s so-much-more-than-just-chick-lit drama Big Little Lies. With four Oscar winners (Kidman, Witherspoon, Lange, and Sarandon), they’re calling it a race that’s too close to call, but my hard-earned money is on Nicole Kidman — her Celeste on Big Little Lies was beyond anything we’ve seen on television in a while. And in TV’s golden age, that’s saying something, I know!
A minor vindication was seeing Carrie Coon nominated for Fargo — her character on Fargo’s third season was the show’s sturdy, no-nonsense moral compass, and Coon was exceptionally good in her role. Doesn’t quite make up for her not being nominated for The Leftovers, but well, small wins.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective (PBS)
Ewan McGregor, Fargo (FX)
Geoffrey Rush, Genius (National Geographic)
John Turturro, The Night Of (HBO)
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of (HBO)
Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies (HBO)
Observations — Too many favourites! Too many deserving actors!
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us (NBC)
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things (Netflix)
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Thandie Newton, Westworld (HBO)
Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Observations — Ugh, this is the category with the worst snub for me personally. I’m sorry — 18 nominations (all deserving) for Stranger Things, but not for Winona Ryder? Le sacrilège! Did the Academy members not see the scene with the Christmas lights? I mean, the woman emotes more on stage just listening to her co-star accept an award on behalf of the entire team, than most actors do in an entire season of television!
Dowd and Wiley were scary and strong (respectively) in their roles, and Aduba’s Crazy Eyes is always fascinating to watch. But take a bow, Millie Bobby Brown — 11 years old (when they filmed the first season of Stranger Things) and to play a now-iconic role to near-perfection is something special. That said, Thandie Newton’s impervious-to-humans robot Maeve in Westworld was so impeccable, it’s hard to look beyond her after a point.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
David Harbour, Stranger Things (Netflix)
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld (HBO)
John Lithgow, The Crown (Netflix)
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland (Showtime)
Michael Kelly, House Of Cards (Netflix)
Ron Cephas, This Is Us (NBC)
Observations — As happy as I am for Chief Hopper (David Harbour’s character on Stranger Things) and as much as I love Mandy Patinkin in any role he plays (including his role as Saul on Homeland), I’m afraid that Lithgow’s Winston Churchill (The Crown) and Jeffrey Wright’s humane robot Bernard (Westworld), are arguably, too darn superior!
This is Lithgow’s first Emmy nomination since 2010, when he won for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Dexter (his Trinity was one of the most menacing villains in recent history, his delivery of “Hello, Dexter Morgan” the most bone-chilling!), and unsurprisingly, he brought all his aces to the table in this role. When I reviewed The Crown last year, I remember I wrote this about Lithgow - “John Lithgow..is utterly splendid as Winston Churchill, magnificently brutish and intimidating as the "British Bulldog" and remarkably vulnerable in moments where he’s reflecting on his young daughter Marigold’s death.” Wright, in his role as Bernard Lowe was, like Thandie Newton’s Maeve, stoic and sublime as a robot who has believed far too long, that he’s human.
This is one tough category!
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Anna Chlumsky, Veep (HBO)
Judith Light, Transparent (Amazon)
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Kathryn Hahn, Transparent (Amazon)
Vanessa Bayer, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Observations — I love seeing actresses from TV shows and movies that I watched as a kid (Anna Chlumsky as the titular My Girl and Judith Light as Angela on Who’s the Boss?), being nominated for major awards together. And while I love both Jones and Bayer on SNL, can we just give this one to Kate McKinnon already?
I mean, just look at this (and the seven other parts that precede this one) -
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Louie Anderson, Baskets (FX)
Matt Walsh, Veep (HBO)
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)
Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)
Observations — Once again, there are too many of my personal favourites in here, and as much as I love Phil (Ty Burrell’s character on Modern Family) and Gary (Tony Hale’s amazing and two-time Emmy winning character on Veep), the 2016-17 season belonged to Alec Baldwin. He’s been pivotal to SNL’s most-watched season in 23 years and hands down the best Trump impersonator on prime-time television!
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Jackie Hoffman, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Judy Davis, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Michelle Pfeiffer, The Wizard of Lies (HBO)
Regina King, American Crime (ABC)
Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Observations — Normally, I’d root for Michelle Pfeiffer to win everything she’s nominated for (and boy, was she good in The Wizard of Lies!), but Laura Dern and Regina King were such standouts in their roles (what a stellar year for King, who also starred in The Leftovers) — this category is lit!
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
Alexander Skarsgard, Big Little Lies (HBO)
Alfred Molina, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Bill Camp, The Night Of (HBO)
David Thewlis, Fargo (FX)
Michael Kenneth Williams, The Night Of (HBO)
Stanley Tucci, Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Observations — Damn, that’s a stellar list! Personal favourites (Skarsgard, Thewlis, Tucci) included, I’m just glad we live in an age where we get to watch these actors portray such incredible roles on television.
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Alison Wright, The Americans (FX)
Ann Dowd, The Leftovers (HBO)
Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Shannon Purser, Stranger Things (Netflix)
Observations — I have two things to say about this: (1) Yay, Alexis Bledel (her portrayal of the handmaid “Ofglen” was incredibly moving) and (2) #justiceforbarb (Barb = Barbara = Purser’s short-lived yet beloved character on Stranger Things).
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline (Netflix)
Brian Tyree Henry, This Is Us (NBC)
BD Wong, Mr. Robot (USA)
Denis O’Hare, This Is Us (NBC)
Gerald McRaney, This Is Us (NBC)
Hank Azaria, Ray Donovan (Showtime)
Observations — Dayum, this list!
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Angela Bassett, Master Of None (Netflix)
Becky Ann Baker, Girls (HBO)
Carrie Fisher, Catastophe (Amazon)
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Wanda Sykes, Blackish (ABC)
Observations — Hmm, there’s the legend herself (the late Carrie Fisher), a living legend (Angela Bassett in Master of None — in a memorably nuanced role of a single black mother whose daughter comes out to her as lesbian), and there’s Sean Spicer himself Melissa McCarthy. Awesome list!
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy
Dave Chappelle, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Hugh Laurie, Veep (HBO)
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Matthew Rhys, Girls (HBO)
Riz Ahmed, Girls (HBO)
Tom Hanks, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Observations — Lin-Manuel Miranda! My crush on him notwithstanding, this is such a tough category with this batch of super-talented and deserving actors — Hugh Laurie was funny as only he can be in Veep, and Tom Hanks was funny as only Sully he can be. Rhys and Ahmed are nominated i other categories (both drama), which just goes to show their versatility. I’m just glad I get to watch these performances and not rate them.
Outstanding Variety Talk Series
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)
Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)
Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
Observations — Note to every talk show host: ruffling Donald Trump’s hair as if he’s a naughty child instead of the joke of a POTUS that he is, is a good way to ensure you’re snubbed for an Emmy. I’m not saying that’s what cost Jimmy Fallon (and The Tonight Show) a spot on this list, although it probably did. Not to worry — between Samantha Bee and John Oliver, we get all our news of the week, Colbert covers the political chaos in the most fun way (while also interviewing celebrities), and James Corden makes us want to hug him affectionately as we, sometimes quite literally, ROTFL. And well, there’s Bill Maher as well.
Outstanding Reality-Competition Programme
American Ninja Warrior (NBC)
Project Runway (Lifetime)
RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo)
The Amazing Race (CBS)
The Voice (NBC)
Top Chef (Bravo)
Observations — I watch almost all of these shows (pretty regularly) and love most of them — especially American Ninja Warrior, Project Runway, and Top Chef. They’re all worthy contenders, although I do wish that a more relaxed, almost-therapeutic-but-equally-fun-and-enthralling low-stakes television show like The Great British Bake Off or Portrait Artist of the Year would make the cut next year!