2017 Emmys Nominations: 5 Major Snubs and 5 Amazing Surprises
The nominations are in for the 2017 Emmy Awards and there’s picks to celebrate and picks to complain about. The 2016-2017 TV season was a huge year for the small screen, reaching the peak-iest of peak TV. It was full of more new series than you could keep track of, diverse casts, and many groundbreaking episodes in both the comedy and drama departments. A brief scan of the major categories may leave you feeling a little bummed over the nominations, with many of the usual suspecting making the cut yet again – can the Emmys even exist without Modern Family or Julia Louis-Dreyfus nods at this point? And critical and fan favorites like The Leftovers, Girls, and Legion were nowhere to be seen in the top categories.
The noms don’t look anything like our predictions (hey, we were dream real big here at ScreenCrush), but there’s still lots to celebrate. Plenty of newcomers made it in this year (Atlanta! Westworld! Better Things!). And when you dig a little deeper, the real spotlights stand out in the Supporting, Guest, Writing, and Directing categories. Here’s a breakdown of the most egregious snubs and the most exciting surprises.
The Table-Flipping, Rage-Inducing Snubs:
1. The Leftovers left out of every-damn-thing
I know, I know, The Leftovers Emmy chances have always been slim. It’s a niche show that immediately turned audiences off with a soul-destroyingly depressing freshman season. But in its third and final season The Leftovers became something truly magnificent, and in our opinion the best show of 2017 so far. You’d think with Drama staples like Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey out of the running this year that the TV Academy would toss The Leftovers some praise in the Outstanding Drama category, or at least recognize Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Amy Brenneman, or Christopher Eccleston’s phenomenal work, each of whom had standout episodes this year. Luckily Ann Dowd secured an overdue Guest Actress nomination for her surprise appearance in the penultimate episode. But I’m still mad Mimi Leder, an underappreciated director, didn’t get any love. Excuse me while I light my cigarette and protest in silence.
2. No love for Insecure or Issa Rae
Next to Atlanta, Issa Rae’s Insecure was one of the highlights of comedy television this season. Rae, the show’s creator, co-writer and star, brought a refreshing dose of humor and authenticity to her chronicle of a young black woman living in Los Angeles. Rae’s distinct voice and sense of humor are rarely see on TV, but I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that the TV Academy wasn’t into a show where each episode title ends with “as F---.” Granted, the Lead Actress in a Comedy category was bursting with worthy contenders this season, and the nominees were even expanded to seven slots. But even just a Writing nomination would’ve been nice to see.
3. Dear Academy voters, did you not watch Dear White People?
Justin Simien’s Netflix series, based on his 2014 movie of the same name, was a brilliantly acted and sharply directed indictment of racism. The 10-episode first season hopped between eight lead characters to tackle topics like white privilege, police brutality, and interracial dating in ways we almost never see on TV. The show might have been too politically-minded and too new to make it into the Comedy category, always dominated by Modern Family, Veep, and Silicon Valley, but the real snub is for Barry Jenkins‘ expertly directed fifth episode, a devastating 30-minutes that finds a black college student held at gunpoint by police at a party. It’s the type of heart-wrenching and evocative direction Jenkins brought to Moonlight, and a real shame that the Best Directing Comedy category was filled with three Veep episodes and two Silicons instead – I haven’t seen those episodes, but still, five nominations between two shows seems a little excessive.
4. The TV Academy does not love Dick
Jill Soloway got a good helping of praise for Transparent, but the creator’s latest series was nowhere to be seen on the nominations list. Amazon’s I Love Dick, an unapologetically feminist series about female sexuality, was nothing short of brilliant. Kathryn Hahn gave the performance of her career alongside a trio of talented women; Roberta Colindrez, India Menuez, and Lily Mojekwu. Sure, it might have been a stretch to see Dick get any series or acting nominations, but it’s a shame it was left out of the Writing and Directing categories. Like Transparent, I Love Dick featured a diverse writers room, and every episode except for one was directed by a woman. That’s important to recognize, especially for a series so much about the female experience and female gaze.
5. Legion too weird for the Emmys
Noah Hawley’s mind-bending series was one of the most visually and conceptually ambitious additions to the 2016-2017 TV season. Dan Stevens was endlessly entertaining as the all-powerful mutant David, and Aubrey Plaza was hands-down her best yet as the crazed, terrifying, and Nina Simone-dancing Lenny/The Yellow-Eyed Demon. The Outstanding Drama Series and performance categories might be too hard for a show as weird (not to mention downright complicated) as Legion, but to see it snubbed from the Outstanding Special Visual Effects categories (for reasons I do not understand, there is a main one and a Supporting one), is a real loss. Sure, X-Men and subconscious/alternate dimension demons might be too much for viewers to wrap their brains around, but even with the sound off this show is stunning to look at.
But the Surprises Are Great
1. Samantha Bee!
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee only secured a Writing nomination for its first season, but this year made it’s way into the Outstanding Variety Series category while also securing Writing and Directing nominations.
2. Thankful for the Master of None ‘Thanksgiving’ love
Master of None returned with another season of fantastic stand-alone episodes, but in addition to Aziz Ansari‘s Lead Actor nom and the series’ Outstanding Comedy nom are the Writing and Guest Actress nods for the eighth episode “Thanksgiving.” Ansari and Lena Waithe earned Writing nominations for the episode, a personal coming out episode about Denise’s (Waithe) relationship with her family and how they regard her queer identity. The episode was largely inspired by Waithe’s personal life and experiences and featured a stellar performance from Angela Bassett as Denise’s mother Catherine, who struggles to acknowledge her daughter’s sexuality. Bassett was nominated for American Horror Story for the last several years, but it’s especially rewarding to see her recognized here for a role where she isn’t amping up the camp factor in extravagant costumes.
3. A double dose of Transparent
Dreams do come true. The one thing I really wanted to see come out of the Emmy nominations was for both Hahn and Judith Light to get praise for their work on Transparent in Season 3. And it happened, with both women making it in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy category. As I said in our predictions, Hahn’s Rabbi Raquel opens the season with a stunning monologue about her crisis of faith, a theme that shapes the remainder of the season, while Light closes it out with a beautiful episode about Shelly’s past and the most phenomenal Alanis Morissette cover you ever did see.
4. Atlanta gets Donald Glover acting, writing, and directing nods
It’s beyond exciting to see Atlanta get Outstanding Comedy and Lead Actor nominations for the series and Donald Glover. But best of all, the FX show received Writing and Directing nominations for two of its sharpest and most ambitious episodes. The episode “B.A.N.” finds rapper Paper Boi (Bryan Tyree Henry who got snubbed, but earned a Guest nod for This is Us), caught in a heated PC-debate on an episode of fictional talk show Montague. Earning Writing and Directing nods for Glover, the episode satirically weaves through topics regarding race, transgender identity, and toxic masculinity, and while it isn’t perfect it pulls it off surprising well – honestly though, this episode deserves all the Emmys jjust for that Arizona Iced Tea commercial. The second episode “Streets on Lock,” which finds Glover’s Earn stuck in jail, also got Glover’s younger brother Stephen Glover a Writing nomination.
5. Heaven is a place on Earth (at the Emmys)
Black Mirror got its first Primetime Emmy nomination today with “San Junipero,” one of the best episodes of Charlie Brooker’s gut-wrenching dystopian series. (The second season from Channel 4 previously got an International Emmy nom.) “San Junipero,” the third episode of the third season blended Brooker’s futuristic imagination with a queer love story that was too delectable and clever not to love. The episode is nominated for Outstanding TV Movie and Outstanding Writing for Limited Series/TV Movie.