Emmy Awards 2020: From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian, the snubs and the surprises

Heading into an Emmys season eclipsed by both Black Lives Matters protests and the COVID-19 pandemic, the question was whether we would see new trends.

The New York Times July 29, 2020 11:41:33 IST
Emmy Awards 2020: From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian, the snubs and the surprises

Heading into an Emmys season eclipsed by both Black Lives Matters protests and the COVID-19 pandemic, the question was whether we would see new trends in the nominations or business as usual. The announcement on Tuesday was not stuffed with surprises, but you could read a few signs of the times into the nominees, beginning with…

Surprise: The Mandalorian

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

Everyone loved the Disney+ Star Wars series, and its beatific Baby Yoda, but no one was predicting it would be nominated for an Emmy as best drama series. Maybe the coronavirus really has made us susceptible to comfort-food TV, a possibility supported by another at least slightly surprising nominee in the category, Netflix’s Stranger Things. More socially engaged shows that did not make the field included Pose, The Good Fight, and The Morning Show.

Surprise: Zendaya

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

If you were looking for signs of an uptick in diversity, you could find them in the acting categories, although reading anything into a particular nomination is unwise. But still: Zendaya’s nomination for Euphoria, William Jackson Harper’s for The Good Place, Andre Braugher’s for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Octavia Spencer’s for Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madame C.J. Walker, Jeremy Pope’s for Hollywood, and Samira Wiley’s for The Handmaid’s Tale (beating out her castmate Ann Dowd) add up to a lot of less-than-expected names in the running.

Snub: Reese Witherspoon

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

Ubiquitous as a producer and performer in high-toned television drama, Witherspoon did not get a nomination as an actress for Little Fires Everywhere, The Morning Show or Big Little Lies, and the latter two shows were shut out of the drama race. She will have plenty of reason to pay attention on Emmys night, though, with a limited-series nomination for Little Fires Everywhere, and a raft of acting nominations for other performers in her series.

Snub: Jane Lynch

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

Lynch was considered a lock for a comedy supporting-actress nod for her now regular role as the poseur comic Sophie Lennon on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Taking her place was probably Cecily Strong, nabbing a second nomination in the category (along with Kate McKinnon) for Saturday Night Live.

Surprise: What We Do in the Shadows

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

The droll FX vampire comedy is a critical favourite but was not thought to have much of a chance at the Emmys. Most likely paying the price for the unexpected appearance of What We Do In The Shadows in the comedy-series field: Hulu’s Ramy.

Snub: The Late Late Show With James Corden

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

A nominee in the variety talk category in each of the past four years, Corden was replaced among the usual suspects (John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah) by Full Frontal With Samantha Bee.

Surprise: Steve Carell and Mark Duplass

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

Jennifer Aniston’s and Billy Crudup’s acting nominations for The Morning Show were no surprise, but it was a little startling to see Carell and Duplass join them, particularly when the series itself was left out of the drama category.

Snub: At Home With Amy Sedaris

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

The Television Academy had announced that the variety sketch series category would be reduced to four nominees, but on Tuesday, only three names were read, leaving out Sedaris’ superb parody of a small-time home-improvement show.

Snub (sort of): Better Call Saul

Emmy Awards 2020 From Reese Witherspoon to The Mandalorian the snubs and the surprises

Yes, the AMC series was nominated for best drama, and Giancarlo Esposito was in the field for supporting actor. But it was noticeable that Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, and Jonathan Banks, all solid favourites in their categories, were shut out.

Critic’s Corner

A small selection of shows and people I thought were better than most or all of the nominees in their categories: The Good Fight, CBS All Access; Our Boys, HBO; Bosch and Titus Welliver, Amazon; Zoe Kazan in The Plot Against America, HBO; Quiz and Matthew Macfadyen, AMC; Nicholas Pinnock and Indira Varma in For Life, ABC; My Brilliant Friend: A New Name, HBO; The Conners, ABC; Tamsin Greig and Harriet Walter in Belgravia, Epix; Sophina Brown in Twenties, BET. And any TV awards that do not include John Goodman’s perpetually marvelous performance in The Conners do not really need to be held.

Mike Hale c.2020 The New York Times Company

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