The 2018 Emmy nominations are in, and, there’s slightly less cause to be angry this year.
With so much TV to choose from, there are bound to be snubs every single year, and it only gets worse as TV explodes with new networks and streaming services. But sometimes, the TV Academy voters get it right.
This year’s nominations, announced Thursday, were a mix of the good, the bad, the surprising and the boring, with the Emmys getting it just a little more right than wrong, a rare occurrence.
Although many of the nominees were returning favorites, the Academy was far more willing to honor newer, diverse and quirky entrants into the TV landscape.
Sandra Oh became the first woman of Asian descent to be nominated for best actress in a drama in Emmy history for her tour de force performance in BBC America’s “Killing Eve.” Netflix’s beloved but very out-there true crime parody “American Vandal” managed a writing nomination. Bill Hader’s rich and unconventional HBO comedy “Barry,” a mashup of Hollywood fairy tale and crime drama, earned a comedy nod and two for performances by Hader and Henry Winkler. For the first time in its nine-year history, ABC’s “Modern Family” was left out of the nominations, making room for new comedy series like “Barry,” Netflix’s “GLOW” and Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” re-entered the fray after taking last year off, and still managed to walk away with the most nominations of any show, 22 for its seventh season. However, its time away might have contributed to a shutout in the lead acting categories, in which stars Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke had competed. Instead, the second seasons of HBO’s “Westworld” and NBC’s “This Is Us” snared spots. Last year’s “Thrones” season feels like it aired a century ago in TV time, and with no new season airing in 2018 to generate buzz, it might have a hard time competing against the dramas that took center stage last year.
Overall, the nominees truly reflect the changing landscape of television. Last year, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” became the first streaming series to win best drama, and this year, for the first time, Netflix collected the most nominations overall. The service walked away with 112 while HBO, which has claimed this honor for 18 years, got 108. NBC followed far behind with 78, and FX even further down with 50.
Despite the Emmys’ willingness to embrace the new and the diverse, there is still plenty to complain about. Although Oh made it in for “Killing Eve,” voters failed to acknowledge the stunning performance by her foil, Jodie Comer, or the series int he best drama category. The so-so second seasons of “Handmaid’s” and “Stranger Things” likely took the spot from “Eve.” And while it’s exciting to see new shows in the mix, new isn’t always better, and the inclusion of Netflix’s derivative and hammy “Ozark” feels more about the star power of Jason Bateman and Laura Linney than the series.
On the comedy side, Netflix’s aging “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” still managed to worm its way in, despite the fact that the streaming service has a far better and more deserving candidate in “One Day at a Time.” That Rita Moreno, a genuine Hollywood treasure, couldn’t even break into the supporting actress category is a testament to how the Emmys have overlooked this beautiful show.
“Kimmy” is a prime example of one of the biggest problems with the Emmys. The Academy tends to have favorites that get nominated over and over again, despite downturns in quality (sorry, William H. Macy and “Shameless.”) This includes actors who get nominated for the wrong parts. Regina King, Sarah Paulson and Edie Falco are all fantastic performers, but “Seven Seconds,” “American Horror Story: Cult” and “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” all ranged from mediocre to awful, and their nominations took spots in the best actress in a limited series category that could have gone to Sarah Gadon, who turned in an impeccable performance in the equally impeccable “Alias Grace” on Netflix.
The most gratifying thing about this year’s crop of nominees is the long list of deserving actors who have made it on the list for the very first time, including Issa Rae, the heart and soul of HBO’s dynamite “Insecure,” or Letitia Wright, who became a near-household name in this year’s superhero blockbusters “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” but still turned in a quieter performance in an episode of Netflix’s sci-fi anthology, “Black Mirror.”
Even if the ultimate winners are more disappointing (and they’re likely to be, given the Emmys’ track record), it’s exciting to see the breadth of television recognized more than usual. And one can hope that next year, the Emmy voters will keep their willingness to try something new.