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Emmy Nominations 2022: Snubs & Surprises

Earlier today, The Television Academy released their nominations for the 2022 Emmy Awards. Honoring the perceived best in television over the past year, the sprawling list of nominees included many expected names: as many predicted, buzzy series Succession, Ted Lasso, and The White Lotus nabbed the most nominations for their individual categories (Drama, Comedy, and Limited Series, respectively), while new series like Squid Game and Only Murders in the Building made great debuts. But as is the case every year, there were also some surprising additions to the crop, as well as some truly shocking (dare I say devastating) exclusions.

So, without further ado, here are NYLON’s 15 biggest snubs and surprises.

Surprise: The Television Academy really likes Euphoria now.

Zendaya’s shocking win against more established, past-winning heavyweights like Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, and Jodie Comer at the 2020 Emmy Awards will forever go down in the history books — not just because it made her the youngest actress to ever win in a leading category, but also because Euphoria, a sensational show about so-called “teenage issues,” just wasn’t the type of program The Television Academy typically acknowledged, let alone awarded.

So if Zendaya’s groundbreaking win two years ago served as a hint that you actually can teach an old dog new tricks, then this year’s 16 noms-strong Emmys haul for Euphoria should serve as definitive proof. In addition to netting another acting nomination for Zendaya, some more technical nominations (in areas like editing, cinematography, and hair/makeup), and a guest acting nomination for Colman Domingo, the HBO series also received a completely unexpected overall nomination for Outstanding Drama Series. (For a very polarizing season, at that!)

And then, there was the most astonishing reveal of them all…

Surprise: Sydney Sweeney is officially an Emmy darling.

It was only a matter of time. One of the strongest actors in a cast chock-full of formidable performers, Sydney Sweeney has always brought a fraught intensity to her performance as Euphoria’s Cassie — and in season two, creator/director Sam Levinson showered the actress with endless opportunities to show off her chops. The performance ignited a viral internet campaign to get her nominated, but until today, no one knew if her “momentum” solely existed online or not. Thankfully, it didn’t. And now, she’s a two-time Emmy nominee, thanks to The Television Academy’s (totally correct) decision to toss the actress a second nomination for her chilling performance in Limited Series ringleader The White Lotus. (It’s an especially impressive feat considering that she’s competing against four of her costars in the same category.)

Surprise: Class is officially in session for Abbott Elementary.

Coming into today’s nominations, all eyes were pointed towards Abbott Elementary. Quinta Brunson’s charming ABC comedy, about a group of dedicated teachers (and one hilariously selfish principal) in an underfunded Philadelphia public school, has widely been hailed as the “savior” of the network sitcom, with both the series and lead Brunson expected to nab noms. What was not expected, however, was the five additional nominations — for fellow actors Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tyler James Williams, and of course, scene-stealer Janelle James (all nominated for the first time in their respective careers), for the show’s casting, and for Brunson’s writing in the pilot. Seven nominations for a freshman network series? Quinta Brunson is unstoppable.

Snub: Selena Gomez is the only murder in The Television Academy’s building.

There are those snubs that only feel like snubs to me (just keep reading), and then there are those snubs that feel so universally snubby that it starts to feel almost troubling in a wider cultural context. Today, I can’t help but feel the latter about Only Murders in the Building’s Selena Gomez and her tragic absence in Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy. As one of three stars in one of this year’s most-nominated comedies, it feels oddly pointed that she would be the only one to miss out on a nomination. Sure, her costars Martin Short and Steve Martin both deliver more broadly “comic” performances (in addition to both being previous Emmy winners with undeniable name recognition), but without her stone-faced deadpan to even things out, this widely beloved Hulu breakout might not have ever caught on the way it did.

Snub: Poor Britt Lower, severed from a nomination.

Less egregious than Gomez’s snub but no less disheartening, Britt Lower was passed over for a Lead Actress in a Drama nomination despite giving one of the most memorable performances in Severance. Like Only Murders, Severance is one of the most-nominated series of the year. Also like Murders, Severance earned a nomination for one of its leads (Adam Scott), as well as for several of its supporting performances. Alas, also like Murders, the standout female lead is ignored entirely. Did The Television Academy not watch the show? How could you finish that riveting finale and not nominate the performance that silently controls it all? I know you weren’t just saving room for Reese Witherspoon after…whatever The Morning Show season two was.

Snub: No (Reservation) Dogs Allowed!

Reservation Dogs was one of last year’s most acclaimed series and a winner for Best New Series at both the Gotham Awards and the Film Independent Spirits. (It was also a nominee for Best Comedy at the Golden Globes, but let’s just ignore that.) But apparently, none of that was enough for this compelling FX dramedy, about a group of friends struggling to raise and save money for an eventual trip away from their Oklahoma reservation and towards their dream home of Los Angeles, to nab a single nomination. Groundbreaking for its Indigenous cast and crew and beloved for its sharply-observed writing and acting, Reservation Dogs could have easily replaced something like Curb Your Enthusiasm in the Outstanding Comedy Series category. Sure, we already have some Taika Waititi representation here with another nomination for What We Do in the Shadows, but it would have been nice to see some new blood too.

Snub: Hacks is not the only comedy on HBO Max.

Speaking of new blood… When Hacks won three Emmys for its first season last year, it felt exciting. At the time, the show was the new kid on the block. A year later, however, Hacks can’t help but feel like the new Big Man On Campus — the second comedy, after Ted Lasso, to really feel like it could eventually become a Veep-level Emmy fixture. Given how much the show has continued to dazzle in its second round (especially ih Jean Smart’s performance), I’m all for that. But not if it completely takes the spotlight away from other, slightly smaller HBO Max shows.

Because let’s face it. HBO Max is producing some of the best comedies around, even if The Television Academy refuses to notice. After releasing its fifth and final season earlier this year, Search Party has ended its run with not even a single nomination to show for it. While this final outing might have had one too many big ideas, the peerless supporting performances delivered by John Early and Meredith Hagner were as piercingly hilarious as they always have been. And what about The Other Two, my favorite comedy of 2021, which was even better in season two? Drew Tarver, Heléne Yorke, Molly Shannon, and Wanda Sykes could all easily squeeze into their respective acting categories, and I know some of these sharp episodes are worthy of writing acknowledgement. And don’t get me started on the subversive Our Flag Means Death

Snub: Being holy isn’t enough to get The Righteous Gemstones to Emmy heaven.

Outside the Max umbrella, there are also several shows on HBO proper that have, somehow, gone ignored by The Television Academy for multiple seasons. At the top of this list? The Righteous Gemstones, which should actually be the heir apparent to Veep, thanks to its similarly irreverent comedy style. With hilarious jokes, insightful critique of prosperity gospel and capitalism, and winning performances from creator Danny McBride and especially Edi Patterson, I’m personally offended that it’s been shut out yet again. Maybe third time’s the charm?

Surprise: Inventing Anna gets to rest easy on The Staircase lying Under the Banner of Heaven.

If you had told me months ago that Inventing Anna, a barely bearable waste of what was initially a surefire hit of a story, would soon be occupying a coveted space in the highly competitive Outstanding Limited Series category, I would have laughed. That the talented Julia Garner could make a space for herself amongst the other lead actors made sense; already a two-time winner, she admittedly does admirable work as the titular character. But an overall nomination? No. Not that. Well. Yes. Unfortunately, exactly that. Next to expected nominees like The White Lotus, Dopesick, and The Dropout, Inventing Anna grabbed a spot that could have just as easily gone to any of the more deserving limited series — namely, Hulu’s immersive Mormon detective story, Under the Banner of Heaven, or HBO’s indescribable semi-recreation of The Staircase.

Snub: Justice For Zach Cherry!

You know what, let’s pour one out for Zach Cherry too. Easily the most lovable character in Severance, he should have been there right alongside John Turturro and Christopher Walken in the Supporting Actor category. If The Television Academy can make room for three different Succession actors in the same category, they can do the same for Severance. Don’t argue.

Snub: Brian Tyree Henry is Atlanta. Not Donald Glover.

Now, for a snub that’s much more…personal. In another instance of one star getting nominated while the other is ignored, may I present to you: Donald Glover vs. Brian Tyree Henry. While Atlanta’s long-awaited third season was its worst by far, I was not surprised to see it nominated for the evocative cinematography of season opener “Three Slaps” or the beautiful direction of “New Jazz” (the season’s strongest episode). Where I didn’t expect it to pop up? In Outstanding Lead Actor. Not because Atlanta doesn’t feature an outstanding lead performance, but rather, because Atlanta’s lead performance is given by Brian Tyree Henry, as now-successful rapper Earn. Not by Donald Glover. I get it: Atlanta is Glover’s show; as the creator and writer, he is considered the show’s center — much like Insecure’s Issa Rae, Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Barry’s Bill Hader. But in Atlanta, Henry is as much a lead as Glover, if not more. And when it comes to performances, his is much more demanding, and consequently, more impressive. Why else would “New Jazz,” a Henry-centric episode, get special recognition?

Surprise: Lizzo got everyone to Watch Out for her Big Grrrls.

Though I am growing increasingly bored with the continued dominance of RuPaul’s Drag Race here, I am always impressed by The Television Academy’s diversity of taste when it comes to reality competition programs. I remember screaming the first time Netflix’s delectable Making It! broke through, and then, screaming once again when the show’s delightful host Nicole Byer earned her own solo nomination for Outstanding Host the following year. (They both repeated this year). This year, I’m doing the same for Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, which garnered enough acclaim over the past few months to earn a nomination for its first season. A fun yet heartfelt show about talent, teamwork, and self-love, this Prime Video original deserves its moment. And who knows, maybe Lizzo will be the host to finally unseat RuPaul next year?

Snub: The sweeping Pachinko is swept under the rug.

Apple TV+ made a strong showing today thanks to The Television Academy’s gleeful welcome to freshman series Severance and their continued ogling over sophomore comedy Ted Lasso. (How The Morning Show managed to squeeze Reese Witherspoon in for Lead Actress in a Drama is beyond me.) But the service failed to nab any recognition for what might be its actual best show, the sprawling, time-hopping, continent-jumping Pachinko. A beautifully directed, written, and acted drama, Pachinko should’ve been an all-around player. But I guess The Television Academy doesn’t really watch non-English TV shows until they’ve hit the top spot on Netflix.

Surprise: Sarah Paulson just can’t be stopped.

The name of the game is to never — and I mean, never — rule out Sarah Paulson. Though Impeachment, the Monica Lewinsky-centered season of American Crime Story, has not been discussed at all since it aired last fall, Paulson still managed to sneak in to nab her eighth nomination — this time, for donning a fatsuit to play historical villain Linda Tripp.

Snub: The Television Academy did not Love That for me (at least for now).

Okay, okay. I never really expected any nominations for I Love That For You. But that doesn’t mean this truly uproarious comedy didn’t deserve the same freshman welcoming as Abbott Elementary this year or Hacks last. Starring former SNL player Vanessa Bayer as an aspiring home shopping network saleswoman, Molly Shannon as her biggest inspiration, and Jenifer Lewis as their no-nonsense boss, this Showtime series really has it all. I’ll be waiting for The Television Academy to catch up before next year.

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