God bless the Emmys for never quite getting it right. Last year it drafted D’Arcy Carden in to present the nominations, after her incredible multi-part turn as Janet in The Good Place, only to snub her senseless in full view of the world. This year, a portion of the nominations were announced by Laverne Cox. Turns out she actually was nominated for an Emmy, but host Leslie Jones couldn’t remember her category or the name of her show (guest actress, Orange is the New Black), instead choosing to shout “YOU WERE NOMINATED!” over and over again while Cox visibly struggled to see her way clear of the chaos.
It was a mess, but at least it kept things interesting. And thank heavens that something did, because as far as the nominations are concerned, the Emmys are absolutely business as usual. There were nods for The Kominsky Method and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel – two shows that I could swear are watched by nobody but Emmy voters – and more for a markedly off-the-boil season of Killing Eve. Once again, you sense that everyone hedged their bets with safe choices.
That said, if I were Reese Witherspoon, I would be hopping mad today. Few actors have made the transition from film to TV like Witherspoon, who consistently demonstrates incredible taste when it comes to picking projects. This year alone, she has been front and centre in three of them; HBO’s Big Little Lies, Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere and Apple’s The Morning Show. In each of them she played big, meaty, complex roles that any other actor would kill for. And yet she came up completely short on Tuesday. Laura Dern and Meryl Streep got nominated for Big Little Lies. Kerry Washington got nominated for Little Fires Everywhere. Jennifer Aniston, Billy Crudup, Steve Carell, Mark Duplass and Martin Short – of all people – all got nominated for The Morning Show. But nothing for Witherspoon. It almost feels deliberate.
Similarly overt was the disappearance of Bob Odenkirk from the best drama actor category, since perennial nominee Better Call Saul just completed the greatest season of its entire run, and Odenkirk’s increasingly deranged performance propelled much of that. Rhea Seehorn wasn’t nominated either, although her absence felt thuddingly familiar. I maintain that the comprehensive snubbing of Rhea Seehorn will be seen as an extraordinary oversight in years to come. Seehorn has, to my mind, consistently delivered the single most compelling performance on television since Better Call Saul began. If there was any fairness in the world, she would be a multiple Emmy winner by now. The fact that she has never so much as been nominated is as extraordinary as it is shameful.
Compared with this comprehensive freezing out, the other snubs feel relatively minor. Thomas Middleditch probably deserved something for his performance in Silicon Valley. Pamela Adlon and Better Things were conspicuous by their absence. Betty Gilpin was the sole – if deserved – representative of Glow, and it turns out the Emmys weren’t nearly as enthralled with Normal People as any of you sex-starved lockdown millennials were in the spring (only Paul Mescal squeaked in). Elisabeth Moss didn’t get nominated for The Handmaid’s Tale, and nor did anyone from Homeland, arguably because both shows lost their momentum a long time ago. Russell Crowe didn’t get nominated for the Loudest Voice, arguably because Bombshell stole its thunder. Pose, The Plot Against America and Unbelievable also failed to score the hauls expected of them.
There were also a few surprise inclusions. Happily, Zendaya’s bold role in Euphoria was rewarded with a nomination, and What We Do in the Shadows received a brilliantly unexpected nod in the best comedy category. There is a chance, albeit an outside one, that The Mandalorian will win best drama come September. It’s an incredibly long shot, because it’ll have to barge past the colossus that is Succession, but the fact that something as slight could be nominated at all should raise a few eyebrows. And Westworld barely got a look in too. Usually I’d call that a snub, but Westworld has been terrible lately, so mainly I’m surprised that the Emmys got something right.
Still, at least D’Arcy Carden finally got her nomination this year. There is a god, after all.