10 Reasons to Tune Into the 73rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmys

Top Chef, Die Hart, Archer
Bravo, Roku Channel, FXX

The Creative Arts Emmys just might be the coolest awards show you’re not watching.

Yes, the Primetime Emmy Awards still mark the TV industry’s biggest night, and yes, we’ll be tuning in on Sunday, September 19, to see who takes home gold.

But the Creative Arts Emmy Awards boast fascinating categories, too, with a focus on behind-the-scenes magic—everything from choreography to costume design, makeup to music, sound mixing to special effects.

The Television Academy hosted this year’s Creative Arts Emmys at Los Angeles’ L.A. Live entertainment complex across three ceremonies last weekend. FXX will air a two-hour condensed version on Saturday, September 18, the eve of the Primetime Emmys.

Of course, this year’s Creative Arts Emmy recipients have already been announced, so you can also see our full list of winners—which might come in handy if the FXX broadcast skips over some categories.

If you’d like to remain in suspense until Saturday’s show, though, or if you just appreciate the sport of the Creative Emmys competition, check out some of this year’s more interesting categories below, spoiler-free.

Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series

The now-defunct Quibi dominated this category, with costars from two shows going head to head: Mapleworth Murders’ John Lutz and J.B. Smoove and Die Hart’s Kevin Hart and John Travolta. (Good news: Those series now stream on Roku Channel.) Rounding out the category: Brendan Scannell of Netflix’s Bonding.

Outstanding Animated Program

Animated stalwart The Simpsons, which is about to enter its 33rd season, is vying for this trophy against a bevy of series and specials that are decades younger: Big Mouth, Bob’s Burgers, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal, and South Park: The Pandemic Special.

Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program

Have you loved getting to know the Queer Eye subjects of late? The RuPaul’s Drag Race queens? The Shark Tank entrepreneurs? The Top Chef-testants? Or The Voice’s aspirants? You have the casting agents nominated in this category to thank.

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance

Archer’s Jessica Walter is up for a posthumous award in this category, but the late actress has stiff competition: Big Mouth’s Maya Rudolph, Central Park’s Tituss Burgess and Stanley Tucci, Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, and Black-ish’s Stacey Abrams (yes, the politician!).

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes

This is one of the newer categories, having been split from the period costume field—understandably—in 2017. This year’s nominees are the costume designers from The Handmaid’s Tale, Lovecraft Country, The Mandalorian, The Umbrella Academy, and WandaVision.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Saturday Night Live alums-turned-hosts Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig are in the running for a trophy here, as are A Black Lady Sketch Show’s Yvette Nicole Brown and Issa Rae, HacksJane Adams, and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’s Bernadette Peters.

Outstanding Individual Achievement In Animation

This juried category honors masters of animation, and this year’s honorees are Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal storyboard artists David Krentz, The Simpsons lead character layout artist Nik Ranieri, and four folks from Love, Death + Robots: production designer Robert Valley, background artist Patricio Betteo, stop motion animator Daniel Gill, and character designer Laurent Nicolas.

Outstanding Main Title Design

Opening title sequences have largely disappeared from ad-supported television, but they’re still going strong on premium cable channels and streaming platforms, which allow for longer episode runtimes. The title designers from Between the World and Me, The Good Lord Bird, Lovecraft Country, The Queen’s Gambit, Raised by Wolves, and WandaVision are the latest nominees in this category.

Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special

If you appreciated how Hollywood production designers turned Los Angeles’ Union Station into an Academy Awards venue, or put Grammy Awards performers on one multistage set, or re-created Central Perk for Friends: The Reunion, then check out this category. The other talented nominees are the production teams from the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards and Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand Building Back America Great Again Better 2020.

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Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program

Since 2014, unstructured reality programs have been competing separately from structured reality programs, meaning some delightfully lowbrow shows have a chance to shine. Below Deck, anyone? How about Naked and Afraid? And the other nominees are Deadliest Catch, Life Below Zero, and RuPaul’s Drag Race Untucked.

73rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Saturday, September 18, 8/7c, FXX