Matt Roush on the 2018 Emmy Nominations — What Did & Didn’t Surprise?


Too much TV, too few slots for so many shows and stars hoping for Emmy attention.

While the competition is only going to get worse as the amount of content escalates, somehow new contenders did break through in this year’s nominations. (Results will be announced September 17 on NBC.) Some first impressions:


With Veep out of the running, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (14 nominations), HBO’s Barry (13) and Netflix’s GLOW (10) bring new vigor to the category, which for the first time shut out former champ Modern Family. (ABC’s black-ish is the sole broadcast nominee.) Donald Glover’s boldly experimental Atlanta, with 16 nods, is the presumed front-runner.

Breaking through in acting categories: Insecure’s Issa Rae, The Good Place’s Ted Danson and, along with Bill Hader, Barry’s Henry Winkler. Biggest snub: the Will & Grace revival, with only Megan Mullally singled out from the ensemble.

THE LOOMING TOWER -- "Now it Begins..." - Episode 101 - The chief of the FBI’s counter-terrorism unit, John O’Neill, invites rookie Muslim-American agent, Ali Soufan, onto his squad. Fighting to get information from the CIA, they soon realize their work is just beginning as two American embassies are bombed. John O'Neill (Jeff Daniels), shown. (Photo by: JoJo Whilden/Hulu)

Jeff Daniels as John O’Neill in The Looming Tower. (Photo: JoJo Whilden/Hulu)


As expected, Game of Thrones (the most nominated show, with 22) and The Handmaid’s Tale (20) dominate the field, with Westworld also claiming 21 nods, leaving little room for others. The Americans scored in four major categories (actor, actress, series, writing) for its final season.

This Is Us is the only broadcast drama in the mix, and Freddie Highmore, the star of ABC’s hit new drama The Good Doctor, was ignored.

The Handmaid's Tale -- "Women's Work" - Episode 208 - A sick baby tests Offred and Serena. Janine finally faces Naomi. The Commander struggles to recover from a terrifying ordeal. Ofrobert (Nina Kiri) and Offred (Elisabeth Moss), shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)

Nina Kiri and Elisabeth moss in The Handmaid’s Tale. (Photo: George Kraychyk/Hulu)

Limited series/movie

Kudos to Jeff Daniels, who scored a twofer: as lead actor for the hero of The Looming Tower, and in the supporting category as a Western villain in Godless. With 18 nominations, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story leads the limited-series pack, while Black Mirror’s USS Callister (seven) is favored for movie.

NBC’s concert production of Jesus Christ Superstar soared with 13, including Live Variety Special and for John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Brandon Victor Dixon. Shocking snubs: Al Pacino in Paterno, the Twin Peaks revival and star Kyle MacLachlan.

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Variety Talk

In this hotly contested category, The Daily Show With Trevor Noah made the cut for the first time since Jon Stewart’s departure. Left out: Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight, Seth Meyers’s Late Night and Bill Maher’s Real Time.

Variety sketch

Saturday Night Live once again rules, with 21 nominations. Ensemble and guest performers account for nine, including Kenan Thompson’s first after 15 seasons.