Oprah, Emmy, Emmy, Oprah: the strange and surprising from the nominations


Michael Idato
Snubs, snubs everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Listening to the complaints and tears for the overlooked, you could be forgiven for thinking that this year’s Emmy Awards are a tangled mess of missed opportunities and shattered dreams.

In truth, they get it right more than they get it wrong.

Just look at the three big categories – drama, comedy and limited series: The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, Master of None, Veep, Big Little Lies, Fargo and The Night Of.

That’s a boxed set owners fantasy football team right there.

But there are plenty of glitches, oversights and examples of bad aim. No Fleabag, nothing for Bates Motel in a fantastic final season, nothing for Better Call Saul’s Michael McKean and nothing for Rectify.

Emmy voters, there’s a special place in hell for people like you.

So let’s pull it all apart.

Five out of seven drama nominees are first season shows?

Correct, which is some kind of record given the category has, for decades, been a cobweb-filled box of predictable. The absence of Game of Thrones (not a slight; the season launched after the deadline for Emmy qualification) opens up the field here so the sight of so many rookie dramas is refreshing. Still, that said …

Justin Theroux wanders through Hosier Lane, Melbourne, in The Leftovers. Photo: HBO

Snubbed, big time: The Leftovers

One of HBO’s sharpest dramas turned in a final season that was ambitious, original and unpredictable and got slapped down by the Emmy voters. Not a lot of love is one thing, but this is fairly comprehensive snub from the key categories on the night. It’s a double blow for Australia, as the final season was filmed on our fair shores.

And double snubbed, The Americans

What gives here? This is one of the US schedule’s most solid shows and while it took some time to warm its way into the awards circuit there seems to finally be some acknowledgement of that. Nods for its stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell is right, but nothing for the show itself?

Girls missing out on Emmy nominations is a bruising finish for the series. Photo: Showcase

Triple snubbed, Girls

Okay, this is getting serious? Where’s the love? Lena Dunham’s series, a sort of in a mirror, darkly, evisceration of the Sex and the City worldview was properly bold, properly clever and magnificently girly. And it deserves line honours for its final season, so to be excluded is a bruising finish for one of HBO’s best.

Quadruple snubbed, with cherries on top, The Walking Dead

You’d think with Game of Thrones out of the picture, there’d be a little bit of genre love coming TWD’s way in the drama series category, but no luck. And it comes as Game of Thrones is edging The Walking Dead out of the frame in raw media noise terms. That burns. Dragons are fine, but not zombies apparently.

Mr Robot is a rock solid show but the Emmy’s voters didn’t agree. Photo: AP

Okay, we’re running out of lines here, but no Transparent, Insecure, Mr Robot or Homeland either?

Fair enough, there are only so many slots in the drama category, and in the new golden age of television, things aren’t so golden when you’re trying to squeeze 34 great shows into seven slots. But these are all rock solid shows, particularly Mr Robot, whose star took last year’s best actor Emmy but this year has come up empty handed.

Oprah, Emmy, Emmy, Oprah

A nomination for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in the television movie category, but no nomination for its star Oprah Winfrey? It’s true the Foreign Press-voted Golden Globes would be more easily swayed by the A-list charms of Winfrey, but for a woman who is mostly a talk show queen, Winfrey has some substantial acting chops.

When good children’s programs go bad …

At first glance the outstanding children’s program category looks fine: Girl Meets World, Star Wars Rebels, School of Rock and Once Upon A Sesame Street Christmas … and then you hit the final nominee: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 90th Celebration. Er, right. That’s a children’s program? Come on, someone is asleep at the wheel.

Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impression is responsible for much of the affection for Saturday Night Life. Photo: Will Heath

Is Saturday Night Live really the funniest show on TV?

Based on it performance in nomination terms it must be, but the brutal truth is that SNL has never quite lived up to its hilarious reputation. This year it is awash with love largely off the back of Alec Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy’s viral video-creating turns as Donald Trump and Sean Spicer but its huge pile of nominations does seem excessive.

How on earth is Ben Mendelsohn a guest star in his own show?

This one isn’t so much category mischief as a paperwork issue. Mendelsohn, who starred in Netflix’s Bloodline, was indeed a guest star in the show’s last season having stepped down from weekly duties at the end of season two. The “guest star” nomination jags a little given how central he was to Bloodline’s story but he’s an Aussie and we’ll take it.

HBO vs Netflix

So, this is really the Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn of television, but the outcome still keeps you guessing. HBO is the boxing legend and Netflix the young usurper but with 110 nominations across the categories, HBO’s dominance of the Emmy Awards is still rock solid, and with 91 nominations, the gap has narrowed but it’s no cigar for Netflix.


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