From ‘Abbott Elementary’ Sweeping To The Lack Of ‘Pachinko’: The Biggest Surprises And Snubs From The Emmy Nominations

The 74th Emmy nominations season is beginning to ramp up. After their careful consideration of what series or TV movies they deemed worthy of nomination, the TV Academy have, of course, snubbed some fan favorites. Here are the biggest surprises and snubs of the Emmys 2022. 

History making surprises and niche series rewarded

The first surprise is the amount of history made during the Emmys nomination ceremony. 

As Just Add Color’s Monique Jones wrote for Shadow and Act, Abbott Elementary‘s creator and star Quinta Brunson earned nominations for writing and lead actress in a comedy, while Sheryl Lee Ralph and Janelle James earned their first Emmys nominations for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Tyler James Williams was also nominated for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and the show itself was nominated as one of the year’s best comedies. The stack of noms led to Brunson becoming the first Black woman to receive comedy nominations for a series, acting and writing. 

As Brunson wrote on Twitter, “Crying shaking and throwing up has new meaning to me because I real life did all three.”

“Still speechless,” she continued. “Congrats to the entire staff and cast of Abbott Elementary.  And I want to share this moment with all of the people who watch and love the show. Emmy nominated, baby!”

Zendaya also made more history after becoming the first Black woman to be nominated twice in the dramatic lead actress category for her role in Euphoria. This time, became the first Black woman and the second Black person ever to be nominated for both songwriting and acting. She’s also the youngest woman nominated for producing (she serves as an executive producer on Euphoria). 

Squid Game became the first non-English series to be nominated at the Emmys, with the cast and crew all receiving nominations along with the series itself. As Jones wrote:

“Lee Jung-jae is in the running for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Jung Ho-yeon has been nominated for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Park Hae-soo and Oh Yeong-su have both been nominated in the Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category and Lee You-mi is in the running for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. The series’ theme music has also been nominated and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk earned a writing nomination. In terms of Emmys noms, it ranks with Abbott Elementary as a favorite for Emmys voters.”

Another surprise nomination is Hulu’s 18th  century-set comedy The Great. This show was, indeed, great as a result of Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, who were nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Lead Actor, respectively. The AV Club’s Saloni Gajjar wrote how their nominations are earned. 

“it’s a happy surprise to see Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult sneak in with their first, and well-deserved, nominations for their electrifying performances in the Hulu series,” wrote Gajjar. “Fanning’s luminous work as Queen Catherine the Great elevates what could’ve been a subpar historical parody. She brings a crushing intensity to the role, and it’s only matched by Hoult’s bold, vigorous turn as her cruel husband, Peter. In season two, as their relationship deepens, both actors found new ground to explore in their roles. But The Great has been overshadowed by Ted Lasso, Hacks, and other comedies that get far more press. Good for the Emmy voters to see these performances and rightly think, ‘Huzzah! They deserve the spotlight.’”

Next is NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, which was nominated for Outstanding Variety Talk Series. The series beat out The Late Late Show with James Corden, and while many fans of Meyers would probably be able to give you a list of reasons as to why that’s possible, Gajjar wrote how Meyers has been able to blend politics, “insightful discussions with wide-ranging guests” and terrific performances in his various segments. “The Academy finally realized he’s a superior host, and for that, we’re thankful,” she wrote. beating out The Late Late Show with James Corden with Gajiaar describing 

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A welcome surprise is the amount of female directors who have been nominated for Emmys this year. Among the female directors include Hacks’ Lucia Aniello, Only Murders in the Building’s Cherien Dabis and Jamie Babbet, Ted Lasso’s MJ Delany and The Ms. Pat Show’s Mary Lou Belli. In drama, Succession’s Lorene Scafaria (who directed breakout hit film Hustlers) and Cathy Yan (the director behind Birds of Prey), and Yellowjackets’ Karyn Kusama join the list of women nominated for directorial prowess. 

Does this mean that women are given directorial jobs just as frequently as men nowadays? Of course not, as The AV Club’s Manuel Betancourt wrote. Hollywood is far from gender parity, regardless of if it’s in the director’s chair or within the payscale for actors. But, with the Emmys recognizing more women, it’s providing more of a spotlight for female directors, normalizing the idea that a woman can be behind the camera.

Last in the surprise box is HBO’s The White Lotus, which earned seven nominations. Betancourt wrote how the series has all but swept the limited or anthology categories.  

“…[W]e know Mike White’s limited-turned-anthology series is a hit, but the ensemble cast accounted for five of the seven slots in the Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie category and for three of seven in Outstanding Supporting Actor,” he wrote. “That’s practically a nomination sweep that, to be fair, occurred in other categories as well.”

Better Call Saul fans were probably excited to see Rhea Seehorn make the nominations list for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Gajjar described her performance as one that transforms her character Kim from a “side player” into “one of the most pivotal characters in the Breaking Bad universe.” 

Snubs include diverse shows, fan favorites

Starting off with the first snub of 2022 is the apple+ TV series Pachinko based on the international best-selling novel whose synopsis is as follows, according to author Min Jin Lee’s website:

“Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.”

The series has gained well-rounded reviews and was made for an increasingly global audience and to have Asian representation in the mainstream. Sadly, the show was snubbed from the Best Outstanding Drama category to being nominated for a cool looking title card. 

The next snub came in the form of Selena Gomez not getting a nomination for her role in Hulu series Only Murders in the Building. Many felt Gomez should have been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy. 

“With each passing episode in season one, Gomez fleshed out Mabel Mora’s many sarcastic layers to deliver an impressive, multidimensional performance, nailing the dry delivery and throwing gut punches as needed,” wrote Gajjar. ”OMITB simply wouldn’t land if Gomez wasn’t lighting up the screen, ready to take Charles and Oliver down a peg. The Academy honored Short and Martin but unfortunately skipped Gomez. Let’s hope they rectify that next year for her continued terrific performance in season two.”

NBC’s This is Us had a hugely successful final season. Fans were blown away by Mandy Moore’s performance as matriarch Rebecca Pearson. But she wasn’t nominated in the dramatic Outstanding Lead Actress category. Gajjar said that for Moore to play a character from youth to death, she should have been given more recognition from the TV Academy. 

“She plays Rebecca across generations—from being newly in love with Jack to giving a speech to her adult children about letting her diagnosis be a lesson to pursue their dreams. There’s nothing Moore didn’t accomplish here, quietly sustaining This Is Us with a career-best performance. It’s a shame the Academy overlooked it,” she wrote. 

Two comedies that were intensely overlooked are FX’s Reservation Dogs and Peacock’s We Are Lady Parts. Betancourt wrote how Reservation Dogs, which broke ground as the second Native American comedy on American television, showcased a ragtag group of Native teens, while We Are Lady Parts gave a more insightful, wide-ranging look at Muslim female identity. He also wrote about Somebody Somewhere, which he called “HBO’s quiet meditation on grief guided by comedic genius and songstress extraordinaire Bridget Everett.” He said that perhaps these shows proved to be too niche for the TV Academy, but they still served their intended purpose–to broaden the audience’s horizons. 

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Another comedy whose fanbase are up in arms over? Our Flag Means Death. Just Add Color has written about Our Flag Means Death quite a bit, and its popularity makes a ton of sense–not only is it hilarious and charming, but its warmth extends to its treatment of its characters, allowing them to express themselves fully. 

Part of that fullness of expression is the fact that all of the characters are canonically queer in some shape or form, most notably the two main characters, Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and Blackbeard, aka Edward Teach (Taika Waititi). While the two were on the shortlist for directing (Waititi), lead actor in a comedy (Darby) and supporting actor in a comedy (Waititi), they didn’t make the final cut, which led their fans to express their outrage on Twitter. However, as show creator David Jenkins tweeted in response to the snub, “It’s cool. We know it’s good.”

Fans of The Dropout expected Naveen Andrews to get a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series after transforming into the character Sunny Balwani. But alas, that didn’t come to be. Gajjar called his transformation “alarmingly disturbing” and “[f]ull of paranoia,” which helped sell the idea that he was helping Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) steal from their investors. 

“Andrews is menacing from the first scene to the last[,] she wrote. “How he didn’t get a nomination, we’ll never know.”

Several shows were missed entirely, including  Netflix’s Maid, HBO’s We Own This City, and HBO Max’s Station Eleven, as Gajjar covered for the AV Club. These three shows focused on much more culturally meaningful and relevant topics, such as police corruption (We Own This City), overcoming abuse (Maid), and the effects of a ravaging pandemic (Station Eleven). However, Netflix’s Inventing Anna won, despite being generally panned by critics and written off as a show that was another navel-gazing look at white privilege being romanticized, even in the midst of criminality. While Maid’s Margaret Qualley and Station Eleven’s Himesh Patel did garner nominations, their noms weren’t enough to overcome the sting of seeing Inventing Anna get much more Emmy praise. 

Another snub was Yellowstone, which fans felt like should have gotten recognized, but instead of blaming the TV Academy, some felt like Rutherford Falls (which was also snubbed, and wrongly so) was to blame. 

The argument stemmed from an article written by Deadline’s Lynette Rice, who put some of the blame of Yellowstone‘s snub on Adirondack, a meta-show within Rutherford Falls’ second season. 

“There are widespread theories about Yellowstone‘s MIA status during awards season. Voters may continue to see the Kevin Costner drama as a red state western, a show about the other part of America that only your dad watches,” she wrote. “And it certainly doesn’t help that Peacock’s Rutherford Falls likes to mock Yellowstone with its show-within-a-show Adirondack, an adult drama about cowboys that features stereotypically drawn Native American characters.”

Several of Rutherford Falls‘ crew responded to the fan uproar, with show showrunner Sierra Ornelas writing, “So funny to be called out for keeping Yellowstone [from] an Emmy, when we’ve never even heard of that show.”

Jana Schmieding, writer and star in the series, also tweeted, “Wow. My only episode of tv is getting blamed for aiding and abetting the non nomination of Yellowstone. What next – NO MORE THANKSGIVING?!!”

Which surprises and upsets were you stunned by?

Monique Jones contributed to this report. 

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