Vot­ers did well at go­ing be­yond usual sus­pects

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - LIFE - Kelly Lawler

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 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 nineyear 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. Its time away, how­ever, 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.

Over­all, the nom­i­nees re­flect the chang­ing land­scape of tele­vi­sion. Last year, Hulu’s “The Hand­maid’s Tale” be­came the first stream­ing series to win best drama; 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 in the best­drama 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 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’s fa­vorites get nom­i­nated over and over again, de­spite down­turns

The 70th Prime­time Em­mys air Sept. 17 on NBC (5 p.m. PDT/8 EDT) with hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che.


❚ 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” ranged from medi­ocre to aw­ful, and their nom­i­na­tions took spots for best ac­tress in a lim­ited series 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 on the list for the first time, in­clud­ing Issa Rae, the heart and soul of HBO’s dy­na­mite “In­se­cure,” or Leti­tia Wright, who be­came a near­house­hold name in this year’s su­per­hero block­busters “Black Pan­ther” and “Avengers: In­fin­ity War. Wright turned in a qui­eter per­for­mance in an episode of Net­flix’s sci-fi an­thol­ogy “Black Mir­ror.”

Even if the ul­ti­mate win­ners are more dis­ap­point­ing (this is likely, 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, Emmy vot­ers will keep their will­ing­ness to try some­thing new.

San­dra Oh re­ceived a well-de­served nod for her star­ring role in “Killing Eve.” Sadly, co-star Jodie Comer was left be­hind.


No Emmy will pol­ish Sarah Gadon’s “Alias Grace” per­for­mance.


Vot­ers de­clared Bill Hader’s hit man “Barry” a hit with them.

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