Emily in Paris but no Small Axe? This year’s Emmys snubs and surprises

An exciting selection of newcomers can’t fully take away the sting of some egregious snubs, such as Steve McQueen’s acclaimed anthology series

I just have to point this out upfront: there is a chance that Emily in Paris is going to win an Emmy this year. Emily in Paris, for crying out loud. A show so mesmerisingly awful that, when it was nominated for a Golden Globe this year, it caused such a crisis that it almost permanently ended the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as an entity. At least that nomination could be racked up to good old-fashioned jury manipulation. But this one – an Emmy nomination for best comedy series, no less – can’t be written off so easily. Did … did people actually like Emily in Paris? If so, this is not a world I want to live in.

But then again, this is the Emmys. The Emmys rarely get comedy right, as evidenced by The Kominsky Method’s continued recognition. Once again it received a best comedy series nod, despite being as much of a creaking, listless laughter vacuum as it was when it first started. Still, at least in a clear and rational world we know that neither The Kominsky Method or Emily in Paris can actually win, because the competition is too great. Black-ish has to be the favourite of the category, having lately taken on the warm patina of easy familiarity that only truly great shows achieve, but it faces stiff competition in the form of Pen15, Hacks, The Flight Attendant and Cobra Kai, itself a surprise entry.

The Kominsky Method and Emily in Paris set the pattern for the Emmy nominations this year. The overwhelming takeaway leant more heavily on surprises than snubs; less “Where’s their nomination?” and more “What are they doing here?” Small Axe probably deserved something, especially for John Boyega, but the series generally failed to capture the imagination in the manner everyone assumed. Perhaps, in retrospect, its form failed to fit too neatly into the neat awards season categories. Was it a series? An anthology? Television? Film? None of this matters in the big scheme of things – Small Axe is exactly the sort of bold, boundary-pushing content that we need to see more of, and it’s going to be talked about for years – but it appears to have come at the cost of silverware.

Personally I would have liked to see Fargo recognised too, since its most recent season shook off a shaky beginning to become something that genuinely stays with you long after the credits roll. And while Girls5Eva never quite managed to hit as hard as Tina Fey’s other shows, you suspect that it probably deserved something. And it seems weird that Late Night with Seth Meyers didn’t get nominated for best variety talk series, given that Meyers is really the only one of the late-night crop to have actively thrived during the audience-free lockdown months.

Lily Collins in Emily in Paris
Lily Collins in Emily in Paris. Photograph: Stephanie Branchu/Netflix

On paper, the biggest snub of all goes to The Undoing, with Hugh Grant alone receiving a nod. But that’s probably because, while very clearly designed from the ground up to be as prestigious as possible, it was also very bad and stupid.

But that’s about it. The rest of the nominations were firm surprises. I honestly wasn’t expecting to see The Boys nominated for best drama series, especially when its nomination clip (shown very early in the morning in Los Angeles) involved a bunch of men driving a speedboat through the side of a whale, but I very much welcome its inclusion. If it wins, and somehow beats out tired old shows like The Crown and The Handmaid’s Tale, nobody will cheer louder than me. Also, what a delight to see MJ Rodriguez become the first trans woman ever to be nominated for a best actress Emmy.

And in retrospect, although I had assumed that Emmy voters would be sniffy about a superhero show that was brazenly designed as a bolt-on to a never-ending series of films, it makes perfect sense that WandaVision was as warmly received as it was. After all, what was WandaVision if not a lovingly crafted, perfectly realised love letter to the history of television? The fact that it was also spectacularly performed helped – Katherine Hahn must surely win best supporting actress in a limited series, and Elizabeth Olsen would probably win as well were it not for the full-steam juggernaut of Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown – but the fact that it received three of the six available nomination slots in the best writing category speaks volumes of its chances.

Come September it’s going to be very interesting to see which way the Emmys blow. On a bad night, the same knackered old shows – The Crown, The Kominsky Method – might clean up. But maybe, just maybe, if fortune favours the underdogs, it might be the most exciting ceremony in years.

Contributor

Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Emmys 2021: The Crown and The Mandalorian lead nominations
Netflix drama and Disney+ adventure lead the way with an impressive showing for I May Destroy You and Mare of Easttown

Benjamin Lee

13, Jul, 2021 @4:38 PM

Article image
Emmys 2021: The Crown and Ted Lasso triumph – as it happened
The biggest night in television has seen major wins for Kate Winslet, the stars of The Crown and breakout football comedy Ted Lasso

Benjamin Lee

20, Sep, 2021 @4:23 AM

Article image
Emmys 2021 predictions: who will win and who should win?
Will Ted Lasso sweep the comedy awards? Will it finally be I May Destroy You’s time? How will The Crown, with 24 nominations, fare?

Adrian Horton

17, Sep, 2021 @1:36 PM

Article image
No Reese Witherspoon! Lots of Mandalorian! This year's Emmys snubs and surprises
Watchmen is on top with 26 nominations but there are some big stars and shows that didn’t impress the television academy

Stuart Heritage

28, Jul, 2020 @5:44 PM

Article image
Emmys 2021: the full list of winners
The Crown and The Mandalorian lead nominations with 24 apiece at the 73rd Emmy awards.

Adrian Horton

20, Sep, 2021 @4:36 AM

Article image
Emmys 2021: Ted Lasso and The Crown triumph
The big night for TV saw triumphs for Brits – including Olivia Colman, Kate Winslet and Michaela Coel – yet a diversity problem remains

Adrian Horton

20, Sep, 2021 @4:23 PM

Article image
What about Twin Peaks? The 2018 Emmys' bizarre snubs
While Game of Thrones takes the lead, Twin Peaks: The Return was stuck with just technical recognition and Mindhunter was nowhere to be seen

Stuart Heritage

12, Jul, 2018 @5:17 PM

Article image
2016 Emmys: the snubs, shocks and the show set to sweep the board
The Good Wife lost out, Game of Thrones affirmed its supremacy and RuPaul got a welcome nod – but The People v OJ Simpson is set to be the story of the night

Brian Moylan

14, Jul, 2016 @7:05 PM

Article image
What will this year's Emmys red carpet look like?
A virtual ceremony, a rumoured loungewear dress code and 140 cameras in different locations – this could be the weirdest awards ceremony so far

Priya Elan

19, Sep, 2020 @6:26 AM

Article image
Emmys 2016 winners: the full list
Game of Thrones scooped the top drama prize for the second year running, while Veep did the same in the comedy award, but there were surprise wins for Mr Robot and Orphan Black too

Guardian staff

19, Sep, 2016 @6:27 AM