It seems obvious that, with 171 drama series, 118 comedy series, and 61 limited or anthology series in contention this year, there were bound to be a few shows or stars “shockingly” left on the sidelines when the Emmy nominations were announced, and yet, every single year, we’re still blindsided by a few staggering snubs that seemed unfathomable beforehand, rendering certain races entirely unpredictable and upending the season as we know it. Sure, there’s a lot to celebrate with the 2022 Emmy nominations (Severance! Yellowjackets! Abbott Elementary!) but there’s a lot to mourn as well (pour one out for the Sadie Sink stans), and below, I do my best to summarize the biggest snubs and surprises from yesterday’s announcement (with some additional insight on why I feel certain shows succeeded where others stumbled).
Sadie Sink (and Millie Bobby Brown) – Stranger Things
If you follow me on social media, you probably knew this is how I’d start this list, but come on, can you blame me? Whether or not you personally felt that Sadie Sink deserved awards recognition for her performance in this season of Stranger Things (and specifically, the episode “Dear Billy”), there’s no denying that the “Running Up That Hill” scene has become one of the defining pop culture moments of 2022 – and not just for Kate Bush’s brilliant melody. No, it was Sink’s poignant portrayal of a traumatized teen reconciling with the guilt she still felt over her brother’s death and ultimately choosing to run “towards the light” and towards her friends that made that moment as moving as it was, and her performance was one of the strongest we’ve ever seen on Stranger Things period, save for Winona Ryder’s work in season 1 and Noah Schnapp’s in season 2.
One can blame the strength of the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series field for Sink’s (and co-star Millie Bobby Brown’s) omission, but that doesn’t make their snubs sting any less – particularly for Brown, who has missed nominations two seasons in a row now, after receiving Emmy recognition for season 1 and 2 of Stranger Things. Is the sheen wearing off of Stranger Things? Is there a growing genre bias against actors in sci-fi/fantasy properties (which could perhaps explain snubs for Loki’s Tom Hiddleston and Moon Knight’s Oscar Isaac as well)? We’ll only really know when Stranger Things 5 is up for the Emmys two years from now, and we see how the Television Academy chooses to bid farewell to Netflix’s flagship franchise.
Maid (and specifically Andie MacDowell and Nick Robinson)
Subjectively, I felt that Maid was not only one of the strongest miniseries I’ve seen this year, but perhaps many years, stretching back to the start of the last decade. It’s an emotional knockout, offering one of the most empathetic and empowering explorations of the strength of the female spirit and the might of mothers that I’ve ever seen in film or television, and I never envisioned a world in which it would be overlooked by the Television Academy. And even when I take my own opinion out of it, the numbers don’t lie: it earned a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes (with a 8.2/10 average rating) and an 82 on Metacritic, and it was a huge hit for Netflix, being watched 470 million hours in its first 28 days of release.
Additionally, the miniseries performed very well at precursors, earning nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Golden Globe Awards for Best Limited Series, and even winning the Writers Guild Award for Television: Long Form – Adapted. However, when it came to the Emmys, only Margaret Qualley, director John Wells, and writer Molly Smith Metzler were singled out, with no nomination for the show itself, or critically lauded co-stars Andie MacDowell and Nick Robinson, despite the former earning a Golden Globe nomination for her work earlier this year. What happened? Perhaps Maid premiered too early by debuting on Netflix on October 1st, and despite the streamer’s best efforts to keep it in the conversation, it got overshadowed by an even bigger miniseries hit on the service, Inventing Anna.
Sarah Goldberg – Barry
Color me confused. How does Barry deliver one of the strongest seasons of television we’ve seen all year – with all four major players (Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan, and Sarah Goldberg) receiving nearly equal acclaim – and go on to receive 14 Emmy nominations, but none of them are for Sarah Goldberg in Best Supporting Actress?! Granted, it was a strong field this year (something you’ll hear me saying often throughout this article), with Goldberg having to compete with standouts like Abbott Elementary’s Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph and Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham, Juno Temple, and Sarah Niles, but Goldberg is a former nominee who should’ve easily stood above some newcomers, especially thanks to her show’s strength.
Even more perplexing is the fact that Goldberg’s Sally was given even more to do this season than last season (when she earned her first Emmy nomination), taking audiences along with her on a wild arc that saw Sally have her first brush with superstardom before having the rug pulled out from beneath her and tumbling back right where she started, at square one. Barry may be named after Bill Hader’s character, but Goldberg easily went toe-to-toe with him and her other male co-stars this season, and it’s such a shame that her brave and brilliant evolution in the role will go unrecognized this year.
This Is Us (and Mandy Moore)
This Is Us has never struggled when it comes to Emmy love – earning Outstanding Drama Series nominations in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021, and winning acting awards for Sterling K. Brown, Ron Cephas Jones, and Gerald McRaney – and coming off such an acclaimed final season (100% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 9.15/10 average rating), it seemed like a sure thing that the Television Academy would find some way to honor the conclusion of this pop culture phenomenon. However, when the nominations were announced, it could only muster up one measly nomination (Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics).
This meant that Mandy Moore – who is a former Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series nominee, having been nominated in 2019 – was also snubbed for her final performance as Rebecca Pearson, despite receiving some of the best reviews of her career (and for any actor on the show) particularly for the affecting way in which she closed out Rebecca’s arc. Whether this was the Television Academy saying “been there, done that” to This Is Us or sticking their nose up at all network fare (save for Abbott Elementary), we’ll never know, but one thing is certain: the Pearsons deserved better.
Black-ish (and Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross)
Speaking of overlooking shows in their final seasons, Black-ish also got a raw deal from the Television Academy yesterday morning, despite four previous nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series (in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021), seven previous acting nominations for Anthony Anderson, and five previous acting nominations for Tracee Ellis Ross. Ultimately, it only earned nominations for Outstanding Contemporary Costumes and Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling, left out of any and all major above-the-line categories.
Alongside This Is Us’ omission in the drama categories, this continued the troubling trend of the Television Academy ignoring most network shows completely – even those they’ve honored before! Curb Your Enthusiasm managed to sneak back into the Outstanding Comedy Series line-up in its eleventh season with little fanfare, but there wasn’t enough room to recognize Black-ish one last time? Make it make sense, Academy.
Selena Gomez – Only Murders in the Building
Now this one stings. Despite Only Murders in the Building earning 17 Emmy nominations overall – including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series nods for Steve Martin and Martin Short – the female lead in their trio was left on the outside looking in on Tuesday morning, despite being just as essential to the show’s success as the two comic titans who headline it alongside her. Are Martin and Short just more respected in the industry? Is it because Gomez’s Mabel often plays the “straight man” when this trio gets into their absurdist antics?
Who knows, but it sucks to see Gomez miss out on what would’ve been a history-making nod, becoming only the third Latina to ever be nominated in the lead actress comedy category at the Emmys. (However, she did still make history in another way, as her inclusion among the producing nominees for Only Murders in the Building’s Outstanding Comedy Series nod marks only the second time a Latina has ever been nominated there, after Salma Hayek for “Ugly Betty” in 2007).
Jessica Chastain – Scenes from a Marriage
Sometimes, Emmy attention can occur for an Oscar winner either right before or right after they prevail at the Academy Awards (look no further than Laura Dern’s second nomination for Big Little Lies in fall 2020 on the heels of her Oscar victory for Marriage Story at the start of that year). However, Jessica Chastain can’t say the same this year, despite her Scenes from a Marriage co-star Oscar Isaac earning an Emmy nomination and her receiving a nod herself for this same role earlier this year at the Golden Globes.
Chalk it up to tough competition, as Chastain wasn’t the only big name to be left out of the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie line-up (Julia Roberts and Viola Davis say hello), and despite being moderately received, Scenes from a Marriage wasn’t enough of a critical juggernaut to remain in voters’ minds since its September release last year.
Rothaniel received a massive amount of media attention when it premiered at the start of April on HBO Max, most notably for the fact that star Jerrod Carmichael used the special to come out as gay, but those who saw the pre-recorded performance in its entirety were exposed to an even more moving experience than those headlines would lead you to believe, with Carmichael comically and considerately investigating his own identity and his family’s impact on the man he’d come to be.
Sadly, it was snubbed by the Emmys in the Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) category, but that’s not even the worst part. It makes sense that hit specials like Adele: One Night Only and Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts made it in, yet the inclusion of Dave Chappelle: The Closer is a real head scratcher. Did voters forget about all of the relentless transphobia present in that special? Did they just not care? For Rothaniel to miss out to a horrifically anti-LGBTQ+ special is almost unbearably brutal.
Atlanta had extremely strong showings at the Emmys throughout its first two seasons, but given that reception to Season 3 was far more muted, there were some worries headed into yesterday morning that it could underperform this year, and as it turns out, those worries proved to be correct, as the series ultimately only earned nods for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series above the line.
Perhaps it’s because FX and Hulu were too busy promoting other shows like Outstanding Comedy Series nominee What We Do in the Shadows or miniseries Dopesick and The Dropout, or perhaps it’s that the Television Academy feels that they’ve already given Earn and his buddies their due, but it remains to be seen if Atlanta’s stumble this season is a mere blip for the show, or a sign of worse things to come.
Many in the industry had the feeling that Season 4 was going to be Yellowstone’s big breakthrough at the major awards ceremonies. And, since it did earn a PGA nomination for Episodic Television – Drama, and its cast was nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series at this year’s SAG Awards, those beliefs weren’t exactly unfounded.
But when the Emmy nominations were revealed, those hopes proved to be for naught, as it wound up with a grand total of zero nominations. What happened here? Some would like to say it was pushed out for political reasons, with the series still seen as a “red state” show due to its neo-conservative aesthetic, but it’s more likely that the drama category was simply too crowded this year, and hot new streaming shows Severance and Yellowjackets became higher – and more widely-liked – priorities.
Reservation Dogs was quite a critical darling last fall – earning a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes (with a 8.2 average rating) and an 83 on Metacritic before winning Breakthrough Series – Short Form at the Gotham Awards and Best New Scripted Series at the Independent Spirit Awards, alongside nominations for Best Comedy Series at the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Awards – but, much like its FX/Hulu stablemate, Atlanta, it found itself on the outside looking in at the Emmys.
The show could’ve been another victim of FX/Hulu having to prioritize what contenders to push hardest, or perhaps it was just deemed too “low profile” for Emmy voters, who opted to nominate shows with bigger names and larger followings. Regardless of what the reason for its snub was, it was a disappointing blow to those hoping to see more Indigenous representation in mainstream entertainment, and here’s hoping that Season 2 – premiering this August – doesn’t endure the same fate.
Speaking of shows with revolutionary representation, many had hoped that the critically acclaimed Pachinko (98% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 9.2/10, 87 on Metacritic) would surprise with a big breakthrough at the Emmys, but such an outcome did not occur, as, in the end, the show could only earn one nomination, and not even in a major above-the-line category, but instead in Outstanding Main Title Design.
That means no love for lead breakout Lee Min-ho and no love for Oscar winner Yuh-jung Youn, who was continually cited in all of the praise for Pachinko all season long. Once again, we see another casualty of the crowded drama categories, but one also has to assume that Apple TV perhaps concentrated on Ted Lasso and Severance at the expense of nearly all their other shows this season, and what would’ve happened if Pachinko received the same level of support, since the quality was clearly there.
Succession receiving a record-breaking 14 acting noms
You don’t need me to tell you that Succession has an exceptional ensemble (let the show’s recent SAG win speak for itself), but even operating under the assumption that nearly everyone views it as perhaps the most well-acted show on television today, it’s still astounding to see it break the record for the most acting nominations in a single year with 14 total, beating previous record holders “Roots” and “Rich Man, Poor Man.”
That meant Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong were both nominated in Lead Actor in a Drama Series; Nicholas Braun, Kieran Culkin, and Matthew Macfadyen were all nominated for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series; J. Smith-Cameron and Sarah Snook were both nominated for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series; Adrien Brody, James Cromwell, Arian Moayed, and Alexander Skargård were all nominated for Guest Actor in a Drama Series; and Hope Davis, Sanaa Lathan, and Harriet Walter were all nominated for Guest Actress in a Drama Series. With a showing like this, it’s hard to imagine that Succession isn’t the frontrunner for Outstanding Drama Series – which would be its second win in the category.
The White Lotus nearly getting its entire cast nominated
Speaking of shows with an insane number of acting nominations, The White Lotus nearly gave Succession a run for its money, earning eight in total, with only Fred Hechinger, Brittany O’Grady, and (most shockingly) Molly Shannon being left out of their respective line-ups, while Murray Bartlett, Jake Lacy, and Steve Zahn were nominated for Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, and Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell, and Sydney Sweeney were nominated for Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.
Bartlett and Coolidge remain the ones to beat in their categories, while this strong showing for The White Lotus overall speaks to its potential to prevail in the Limited or Anthology Series, and perhaps net wins for Mike White in Directing and Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series (or Movie) as well. Heading into the nominations, many pegged Dopesick as the likely winner, but you can’t argue with these numbers.
Toheeb Jimoh and Sarah Niles – Ted Lasso
No matter if you thought season 2 of Ted Lasso was as strong as season 1 or not, chances are you came out singing the praises of supporting standouts Toheeb Jimoh and Sarah Niles nonetheless (as the sensitive Sam Obisanya and distinguished Dr. Fieldstone, respectively), as each often stole the spotlight from last year’s Emmy winners Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham in the scenes they shared and left a massive impression on viewers.
And yet, for some reason, neither were taken seriously as threats for Emmy nominations, with most prediction attention going to co-stars Brett Goldstein and Nick Mohammed (for Jimoh) or Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple (for Niles). However, Jimoh and Niles had the last laugh, as their performances spoke for themselves, and against all pundits’ beliefs, they earned Emmy recognition despite voters’ penchant for name-checking, as this was one instance where they thought outside of the box to honor newcomers who deserved nominations on merit.
Rhea Seehorn – Better Call Saul
At long last, after five seasons of snubs, Rhea Seehorn finally received her first Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series nomination for Better Call Saul, for the first part of the sixth – and final – season of the show. (And it certainly wasn’t an easy battle either, as she had to edge out some hot contenders all jockeying for those final spots in the category, such as our two aforementioned Stranger Things stars).
While Seehorn likely isn’t in contention to win this time around (with that war being waged between Julia Garner and Sarah Snook), this is an “it’s just an honor to be here” nomination, and who knows what may happen next year, given that she’s now “in the club,” and the second part of Better Call Saul’s final season will be eligible for the 2023 Emmys.
Heading into Emmy nomination morning, most would’ve bet on Maid being the sole Netflix representative in the Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series category, but it was actually the more-watched (512 million hours in its first 28 days of release) – if vastly less acclaimed (63% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 6.1/10, 57 on Metacritic) – Inventing Anna that made it in in the end, to almost every pundit’s shock.
Many expected Julia Garner to crack the Best Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie line-up (even if her performance too wasn’t universally adored), but few foresaw this strong a showing for the scammer series. That goes to show the power of Shondaland and of Julia Garner, who is quickly becoming one of the hottest stars of her generation (and her success here likely gained her even more fans in the mainstream who will be lined up for her Madonna biopic).
Pam and Tommy
Dopesick and The Dropout were both widely expected to break into the Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series line-up and represent Hulu in the field, while Pam and Tommy was mostly being positioned as an acting play for stars Lily James, Sebastian Stan, and Seth Rogen (all of whom predictably netted Emmy noms). However, it overperformed drastically by joining its Hulu miniseries stablemates in the highest miniseries category of all, going to show how strong true celebrity stories are in this field.
However, it does remain shocking that Pam and Tommy usurped what was widely seen as Hulu’s actual third-strongest miniseries play behind Dopesick and The Dropout, which was the Andrew Garfield-led Under the Banner of Heaven. Garfield himself netted an acting nom for the show, but it failed to show up in a major way anywhere else, with Pam and Tommy likely siphoning off some of its buzz.
Adam Scott – Severance
It finally happened! After years of taking part in Emmy-beloved projects like Parks and Recreation and Big Little Lies, Adam Scott finally earned his first Emmy nomination himself for leading the hit Apple TV+ drama series Severance – a show that wouldn’t workly nearly as well as it does without its exceptional ensemble, but so much of that is due to the tricky tonal tightrope act Scott walks as protagonist Mark, oscillating between drama and comedy on a dime.
Many thought that Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) or even Kevin Costner (Yellowstone) would take that sixth spot in Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, but it turns out that the star in the strongest show – and the only show of these three to get an Outstanding Drama Series nomination – was bound to prevail, and such a refreshing surprise couldn’t have happened to a better guy than Scott, a working actor who has been waiting for a moment like this his whole career.
Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult – The Great
In hindsight, it seems stupid to have doubted The Great as much as we did. Though Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult haven’t always been nominated alongside each other – with Hoult receiving a SAG nomination for the first season while Fanning didn’t, and vice versa for season 2 – there’s rarely an awards ceremony where the show is absent entirely, and that trend held true yesterday.
It made sense to predict Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross in Hoult’s and Fanning’s spots due to Black-ish airing its final season this year, but this is another sign of the Television Academy moving away from network shows – even those they previously loved and/or “made exceptions for” – and towards the surplus of strong streaming series available right now, which seems to be a shift that’ll only further continue in the future.
Sarah Paulson – Impeachment: American Crime Story
Never doubt Sarah Paulson, huh? Even though Impeachment: American Crime Story was far less critically acclaimed than The People v. O.J. Simpson and The Assassination of Gianni Versace – both of which won the Emmys for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, while Impeachment wasn’t even nominated – Impeachment still did far better than anticipated, earning a Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie nom for Sarah Paulson and a writing nod on top of that.
This marks the eighth Emmy nomination of Sarah Paulson’s career (beginning with her Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie nomination for Game Change), and though she likely won’t win this year as she did in 2016 for The People v. O.J. Simpson, she can find solace in the fact that she’s clearly been designated as one of the Television Academy’s faves, and they’ll seemingly always find room for her, no matter how crowded a line-up may be.
Reese Witherspoon over Jennifer Aniston for The Morning Show
Given that Jennifer Aniston has been seen as “the face” of The Morning Show since it premiered (despite Reese Witherspoon’s also prominent leading part and her status as a key producer of the series), most expected her to be the show’s representation in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category. But voters had other plans – out with Aniston, and in with Witherspoon, they said.
To be fair, Witherspoon did have a weighty (and mostly well-done) LGBTQ+ storyline this season with a new queer character played by Julianna Marguiles, giving her even meatier material than she had in season 1, so it’s not a total surprise to see her here – it’s just the absence of Aniston that’s most shocking, given that she wasn’t lacking any deep and dark dramatic moments either, and she was still out front for most of the campaign. Perhaps it was Reese’s omnipresence in the media lately promoting her Hello Sunshine-produced Where the Crawdads Sing that kept her at the top of voters’ minds.
Tyler James Williams – Abbott Elementary
Going into the Emmy nominations, most expected Abbott Elementary to do “pretty well.” It’d build up an overwhelming fanbase online almost entirely organically, and it was receiving new raves from within the industry on a daily basis, which gave us strong signs that series creator and star Quinta Brunson was in the running for key acting, writing, and producing noms, while comic supporting standouts Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph also seemed like solid bets in the Comedy Supporting Actress category.
However, in spite of how solid he is on the show, few foresaw Everybody Hates Chris alum Tyler James Williams joining these ladies, simply due to the acting acclaim for the show being more female centric and the fact that Comedy Supporting Actor was getting more crowded by the day. Still, Williams’ ability to break through speaks not just to love for him as a performer, but appreciation for Abbott Elementary overall, which bodes well for the show as it prepares to take on Ted Lasso in Outstanding Comedy Series.
Himesh Patel – Station Eleven
Station Eleven may have been sickeningly snubbed in the Best Limited or Anthology Series category, but fans of the show did get one sweet surprise on Emmy nomination morning, when Himesh Patel broke through the pack and nabbed a Best Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie nod, against all odds.
Many assumed that his spot would go to Ben Foster for The Survivor, but Patel – another contender from HBO Max – ultimately prevailed, despite not having near as much buzz as Foster, which seems to imply that there’s a lot of love for Patel himself as a performer, especially since he was the only Station Eleven actor to receive recognition, even though Mackenzie Davis, Danielle Deadwyler, and Matilda Lawler were equally as praised.