While one could argue that the best drama and the best comedy of the year is unfolding live on cable news as you read this, Donald Trump Jr.’s collusion-palooza was somehow not nominated for an Emmy this morning.
Also out of the running this year was Game of Thrones—this year’s Emmy voting period landed between GoT seasons. With the reigning outstanding drama series winner for the past two years benched on a technicality, the categories usually monopolized by the massive cast and crew of the HBO powerhouse were blown as wide open as Oberyn Martell’s head.
So with ‘Game of Thrones’ out of the way…
It’s anybody’s guess who will take home outstanding drama series: Scrappy spin-off Better Call Saul, House of Cards, which is honestly so absurd it could qualify as a comedy, Westworld (was the whole first season basically an overlong pilot episode? Emmy voters don’t think so!), The Handmaid’s Tale, The Crown, super-popular sobfest This is Us, or the sleeper hit of last summer, Stranger Things.
Welcome to the Emmys, Hulu
Hulu’s first successful go at a splashy prestige drama came this year with The Handmaid’s Tale, an all-too-timely adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic that essentially relies on the news cycle to provide a free, if chilling, ad campaign. Nominations went to critically-adored lead and Mad Men alum Elisabeth Moss (lead actress), Ann Dowd (supporting), Samira Wiley (also supporting), Alexis Bledel (guest actress), a handful of technical categories, and the biggie: Outstanding drama series. The streaming site has come quite a long way from last year, when it scored only two nominations, both in technical categories.
Handmaid’s costumes really are having a moment
In addition to being spotted at protests across the United States and around the world, the red capes and bonnets of The Handmaid’s Tale earned costume designer Ane Crabtree an Emmy nomination for outstanding period/fantasy costumes.
‘Saturday Night Live’ continues to enjoy its best year in ages
Not only is SNL raking in its highest ratings in over 20 years, but it’s also up for more Emmy hardware than any other series, save for HBO’s Westworld. The two tied at the top with 22 nominations across all categories.
In drama, look out for politics past, present, and dystopian future
Viola Davis is nominated for How to Get Away With Murder; when she won this category — outstanding lead actress in a drama series — for the same role in 2015, she became the first African American woman ever to achieve the honor. And Evan Rachel Wood is a contender for her turn as an android dreaming of humanity on Westworld. The other three nominees are all up for roles in political arenas (and, sometimes, landmines): Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown, Keri Russell as a deep undercover Soviet spy on The Americans, and Robin Wright as sometime-FLOTUS, sometime-POTUS on House of Cards.
As for their male counterparts, the nominees are: Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan), Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us), and Anthony Hopkins (Westworld).
Good luck dethroning Julia Louis-Dreyfus
The Veep star has won in her category — outstanding lead actress in a comedy series — a stunning five times in a row, and is up yet again this year. A list of women who should probably start rehearsing their “no really, I’m so happy for you!” faces: Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie), Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie), Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish), and Pamela Adlon (Better Things). A potential wild card, though, is Allison Janney, who won in outstanding supporting actress for her role on Mom last year and the year before and decided, this year, to submit herself as a lead.
Emmy voters aren’t holding Bill Maher’s use of the n-word against him
Or maybe they’d already cast their votes (deadline: June 26) by the time Maher announced he couldn’t work in the fields because “I’m a house n — r!” (episode airdate: June 9). Real Time with Bill Maher scored a nomination for outstanding variety talk series, where it faces some formidable competition from karaoke king James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, and a trio of Daily Show alumni: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Speaking of the dominance of ‘Veep’
The winner of outstanding comedy series for the past two years is up again, against five-time winner Modern Family (which lost to Veep in 2015 and 2016), Silicon Valley, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None, Black-ish, and Atlanta.
The best person to have sex with if you want an Emmy nomination: Hannah Horvath
Actually, you don’t have to have sex with her; just con her into touching your (prosthetic) penis! Both Riz Ahmed and Matthew Rhys earned nominations for their guest appearances on Girls’ farewell season.
Critical smash ‘Atlanta’ lands its creator his first nomination
Donald Glover scooped up a nomination for starring in his FX series, which premiered last fall. He’s the only newcomer in a category that includes Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent), William H. Macy (Shameless), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Aziz Ansari (Master of None), and Zach Galifianakis (Baskets).
The 69th Emmy Awards will air live on CBS on September 17, hosted by Stephen Colbert.