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Emmy Nominations: Snubs, Surprises, and ‘Game of Thrones’

71st Emmys promotional poster. (photo/Wikimedia Commons)

This is an installment of a regular thisistheBronX film/TV review series by Bronx film reviewer and writer Adam McPartlan. Check back every Friday for Adam’s film reviews.

TV REVIEW – by Adam McPartlan

July 19, 2019

The Emmy nominations were announced Wednesday, with plenty of surprises all around. Game of Thrones‘ final season broke the record (NYPD Blue, 26) for most nominations at a single Emmy ceremony with 32. The Good Place FINALLY got the recognition it has deserved since its inception, receiving its first nomination for Best Comedy Series. Maya Rudolph got her second nomination for her work on the show as did Ted Danson, marking his 17th Emmy nomination.

Perhaps the most contested fields of the night, though, will be in the Limited Series categories. It features a huge battle between When They See Us, Netflix’ 16-time nominated miniseries about the Central Park 5, and 19-time nominated Chernobyl, HBO’s critically acclaimed miniseries that was so good, it pissed off Russia into making its own series about the disaster that blames the CIA for the explosion. You can read my review of Chernobyl here.

With all those numbers flying at you, it can be hard to determine what categories matter more than others, which nominations were the 2019 version of ballot stuffing, and who got snubbed. Here is a rundown of which particular areas matter, what doesn’t matter, and what should have mattered.

What Matters

Ozark: Season one of the Netflix drama about a drug cartel’s money launderer and his family was rudely ignored in almost every category (except writing, directing, and lead actor). Jason Bateman, star of comedies like Arrested Development and Dodgeball stunned everyone, especially me, with his grounded, “scared to death yet refuses to let that control his actions” performance. This season builds on that performance, with his love of family controlling almost every move he makes. Laura Linney and Julia Garner also received nominations this year. This corrects one of the biggest snubs of last season, as Garner was arguably the best part of the entire season. It is depressing that the writing was ignored this year, but its nomination for Best Drama Series is a great consolation prize.

Best Limited Series: In addition to When They See Us and Chernobyl duking it out in virtually every category imaginable, Escape at Dannemora also makes appearances in a vast number of slots. There are so many ways the acting categories could go, it wouldn’t shock me to see everyone split the vote for some fourth party to come along and nab a win or two. I think it’s a safe bet that Lead Actor will go to Jared Harris (Chernobyl), Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us), or Benicio Del Toro (Escape at Dannemora). Every other miniseries acting category features multiple nominations from When They See Us, so look for that vote splitting to come up in at least one of those spots.

Game of Thrones (unfortunately): 32 nominations; cultural phenomenon. The TV academy loves its spectacles, and no show was a bigger topic of conversation this year than Game of Thrones. Alfie Allen got a much-earned nomination for Supporting Actor-Drama, Emilia Clarke played her character’s knee-jerk, psychotic change extremely well, and Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner were phenomenal this year. In its final season, look for the public outrage over the bad (horrendous) writing to leak into how the academy votes.

Veep: The vulgar, insult-comedy show has come to an end. Everyone who deserved a nomination got one; hopefully Anna Chlumsky finally gets her win. It will be interesting to see if it can defend the title it never technically lost, as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won last year when Veep was not airing. Who is the true king of comedy?

What Doesn’t Matter

Lena Headey, or her screen time: Headey had the privilege of playing an all-time great villain. Her reward? Approximately 30 minutes of air time, about seven sentences, and a death that befitted the most minor of characters. I can almost forgive the Supporting Actress-Drama nomination here; it’s kind of like half pity, half “we know how great you are; you just got screwed by the show runners.” Still, don’t expect her to factor into any award. Long live the queen, I guess…

Modern Family: After getting nominations every year of its run, Modern Family has finally faded into obscurity, with its second consecutive shutout year. Honestly, thank God for that; the series needs to end. After tying Frasier with five consecutive Best Comedy Series wins, Veep took over, and with the exception of last season when it didn’t air, has ruled America with an iron fist. Who needs family when you have the government?

HBO’s front office, apparently: HBO covered the nomination fees for basically everyone on the show except Gwendoline Christie, Alfie Allen, and Carice van Houten. They paid the $225 entry fee themselves, and they all walked away with nominations. Take that, protocol! But in all seriousness, how did HBO ignore Christie and Allen? They were maybe the best parts of the entire season. Christie’s Ser Brienne of Tarth absolutely dominated every scene she was in, and her knighting was inarguably the best part of this year. Allen’s Theon Greyjoy is the only character who’s story arc wasn’t completely thrown to the direwolves by the writers. Allen kept up the morose, apologetic, constantly trying to make amends performance beautifully, and should probably win in a perfect world.

What Should Have Mattered

Kristen Bell: She’s still looking for an Emmy nomination, and her performance this year in The Good Place deserved recognition.

Catch-22: How this show got no major nominations boggles my mind. George Clooney backed the adaptation of the novel, and usually that’s enough to get at least one. It’s also incredibly difficult to watch, because there is no good guy or bad guy (except the military hierarchy); just a lot of things happening to people in wartime, bringing about very human reactions. And Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights, Bloodline) was phenomenal.

Schitt’s Creek and Russian Doll…AND THEY DO!!!: In arguably the greatest surprise of the announcements, both series received multiple Emmy nominations, including the first ever in the career of Eugene Levy for Lead Actor-Comedy in Schitt’s Creek. This is one of those “it doesn’t matter who wins” moments; they both deserved the recognition of being nominated, and they did. Anything else is just icing on the already delicious cake.

Technical categories: This is a twist on the title; it’s not what should have mattered to the academy, it’s what should matter to the academy and everyone watching. For the first time ever this year, I paid attention to more than just a series’ acting, directing, and writing. As I wrote in my review of Chernobyl, the music, costumes, cinematography, and editing were all absolutely beautiful and on cinematic levels. Well, they are all aspects of the show that were Emmy-nominated. These kinds of sub-rosa pieces lend themselves, sometimes unnoticed, to the betterment (or detriment) of a great series. They help elevate those “good shows” to great pieces of art.


Adam McPartlan is a graduate student in the Sports Broadcasting Program at Sacred Heart University. He’s a life-long Bronxite with a deep love of film, television, and writing.

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1 thought on “Emmy Nominations: Snubs, Surprises, and ‘Game of Thrones’”

  1. This was THE most interesting and well written column on the Emmys I’ve ever read. I usually don’t care about the nominations but this writing really drew me in. Great work!

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