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Emmy Nominations Analysis: Lots Of Old, But Something New

Updated 2:14 p.m. ET

To see the best stories inside the Emmy nominations, you often have to look past the ones that often make headlines. The big nomination numbers were raked in by familiar nominees: Game of Throneswas the leader with 22 nominations, Saturday Night Liveand Westworldhad 21, The Handmaid's Tale20. In comedy, Atlanta led with 16, but the next two spots went to first-year series: Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maiselwith 14 and Barryright behind at 13.

This year, five of the drama series nominations are exactly the same as last year: The Handmaid's Tale, Westworld, The Crown, This is Us, and Stranger Things. The two that didn't repeat, Better Call Sauland House of Cards, were both ineligible. Taking their spots are Game of Thrones, which wasn't eligible last year, and The Americans, which missed out last year but had been nominated in 2016. In other words, the big drama series nominees are just about as similar as they could have been to recent history.

On the comedy side, there are four repeats from last year: Silicon Valley, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Black-ish, and Atlanta. Veepand Master of Noneweren't eligible to repeat; the additional nominees are Curb Your Enthusiasm, which has been around forever; Barry, HBO's very dark comedy about a hit man starring Bill Hader; The Marvelous Mrs. Maiselfrom Amazon; and GLOWfrom Netflix. The last three of those are all nominated in their first year of eligibility, which is where comedy shows itself to be a much more open field than drama. The other big story, though, is that Modern Family, which has been nominated eight years in a row and won the first five times in a row, finally fell off the list. Its actors did, too, ending a long residence that sometimes dominated the comedic acting nominations.

As some actors left the stage, others surged forward: Issa Rae is a first-time nominee for lead actress in her comedy series Insecure. Ted Danson hasn't been nominated for a comedy series since Cheers(he was nominated a few times for the drama series Damages), but he was recognized for his work on NBC's inventive The Good Place. Zazie Beetz won her first nomination as Van on Atlanta. John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Brandon Victor Dixon are all first-time nominees for the NBC telecast of Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. Letitia Wright, who broke out huge in Black Pantheras Shuri, was nominated for her Black Mirrorepisode, "Black Museum." And Sterling K. Brown has now been nominated for very different performances in three different categories on three different shows in three years: The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Storyin 2016, This is Usin 2017 and again this year, and now also a guest shot on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where he was very funny as an interrogated suspect.

As is often the case, you'll find some fun stories in less publicized categories. Netflix's Black Mirrorinstallment "U.S.S. Callister," which is fun, strange, scary and painfully timely, pulled a nomination for best TV movie (last year's winner was Black Mirror's "San Junipero"), and for its busy lead actor Jesse Plemons. Megan Amram, a writer on The Good Placewho's known on Twitter for tweeting "Today is the day Donald Trump finally became president" every single day, made a comedy web series called An Emmy For Megan, which explicitly parodied overwrought awards-friendly cliches and was made only to try to land her an Emmy nomination for outstanding actress in a short-form comedy or drama series. She was nominated. So was her series.

There are certainly nominations that many hoped for that didn't come through. While Sandra Oh was nominated for her leading role on BBC America's excellent Killing Eve, the series itself wasn't nominated. Neither was any aspect of Netflix's well-loved One Day At A Time, other than multi-camera editing. Those hoping for a big showing for the return of Twin Peaksgot directing and writing nominations plus seven other more technical awards, but the series and acting categories left the show out. There was nothing at all for either Crazy Ex-Girlfriendor Jane The Virgin, the CW's pair of smart, unique comedy-dramas about women.

Approaching the Emmy nominations in particular — because of their sheer volume — as a reliable list of bests is a losing game. It will always end in disappointment over what wasn't recognized. But a lot of these nominees are well worth watching for those who haven't seen them, and the upside of the overstuffed TV landscape is that we'll never lack worthy options.

Below is the list of this year's Emmy nominees.

Outstanding drama series

The Americans (FX)

The Crown(Netflix)

Game Of Thrones(HBO)

The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)

Stranger Things(Netflix)

This Is Us(NBC)


Outstanding comedy series

Atlanta (FX)



Curb Your Enthusiasm(HBO)


The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel(Amazon)

Silicon Valley(HBO)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt(Netflix)

Outstanding limited series

The Alienist (TNT)

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)

Genius: Picasso (National Geographic)


Patrick Melrose(Showtime)

Outstanding lead actress in a drama series

Claire Foy (The Crown)

Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)

Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale)

Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)

Keri Russell (The Americans)

Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)

Outstanding lead actor in a drama series

Jason Bateman (Ozark)

Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)

Ed Harris (Westworld)

Matthew Rhys (The Americans)

Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)

Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series

Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid's Tale)

Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)

Ann Dowd (The Handmaid's Tale)

Lena Headey (Game Of Thrones)

Vanessa Kirby (The Crown)

Thandie Newton (Westworld)

Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid's Tale)

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game Of Thrones)

Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones)

Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid's Tale)

David Harbour (Stranger Things)

Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)

Matt Smith (The Crown)

Outstanding guest actress in a drama series

Viola Davis (Scandal)

Kelly Jenrette (The Handmaid's Tale)

Cherry Jones (The Handmaid's Tale)

Diana Rigg (Game Of Thrones)

Cicely Tyson (How To Get Away With Murder)

Samira Wiley (The Handmaid's Tale)

Outstanding guest actor in a drama series

F. Murray Abraham (Homeland)

Cameron Britton (Mindhunter)

Matthew Goode (The Crown)

Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us)

Gerald McRaney (This Is Us)

Jimmi Simpson (Westworld)

Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series

Pamela Adlon (Better Things)

Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Allison Janney (Mom)

Issa Rae (Insecure)

Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)

Lily Tomlin (Grace And Frankie)

Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series

Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)

Ted Danson (The Good Place)

Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Donald Glover (Atlanta)

Bill Hader (Barry)

William H. Macy (Shameless)

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series

Zazie Beetz (Atlanta)

Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live)

Betty Gilpin (GLOW)

Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live)

Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)

Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne)

Megan Mullally (Will And Grace)

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series

Louie Anderson (Baskets)

Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live)

Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta)

Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)

Henry Winkler (Barry)

Outstanding guest actress in a comedy series

Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live)

Tiffany Haddish (Saturday Night Live)

Jane Lynch (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Maya Rudolph (The Good Place)

Molly Shannon (Will And Grace)

Wanda Sykes (Black-ish)

Outstanding guest actor in a comedy series

Sterling K. Brown (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

Bryan Cranston (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Donald Glover (Saturday Night Live)

Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live)

Lin-Manuel Miranda (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Katt Williams (Atlanta)

Outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie

Jessica Biel (The Sinner)

Laura Dern (The Tale)

Michelle Dockery (Godless)

Edie Falco (The Menendez Murders)

Regina King (Seven Seconds)

Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Cult)

Outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie

Antonio Banderas (Genius: Picasso)

Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Benedict Cumberbatch (Patrick Melrose)

Jeff Daniels (The Looming Tower)

John Legend (Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert)

Jesse Plemons (USS Callister: Black Mirror)

Outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or movie

Sara Bareilles (Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert)

Penelope Cruz (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Judith Light (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Adina Porter (American Horror Story: Cult)

Merritt Wever (Godless)

Letitia Wright (Black Mirror (Black Museum))

Outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie

Jeff Daniels (Godless)

Brandon Victor Dixon (Jesus Christ Superstar)

John Leguizamo (Waco)

Finn Wittrock (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Ricky Martin (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Edgar Ramirez (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Michael Stuhlbarg (The Looming Tower)

Outstanding variety talk series

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee(TBS)

Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver(HBO)

The Late Late Show With James Corden(CBS)

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert(CBS)

Outstanding variety sketch series

At Home With Amy Sedaris (TruTV)

Drunk History (Comedy Central)

I Love You, America With Sarah Silverman (Hulu)

Portlandia (IFC)

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Tracey Ullman's Show(HBO)

Outstanding reality competition series

American Ninja Warrior(NBC)

The Amazing Race(CBS)

Project Runway (Lifetime)

RuPaul's Drag Race(VH1)

Top Chef(Bravo)

The Voice (NBC)

Outstanding structured reality program

Antiques Roadshow (PBS)

Fixer Upper (HGTV)

Lip Sync Battle (Paramount Network)

Queer Eye(Netflix)

Shark Tank (ABC)

Who Do You Think You Are?(TLC)

Outstanding unstructured reality program

Born This Way(A&E)

Deadliest Catch(Discovery Channel)


Naked And Afraid(Discovery Channel)

RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked(VH1)

United Shades Of America W. Kamau Bell(CNN)

Outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program

W. Kamau Bell (United Shades Of America W. Kamau Bell)

Ellen Degeneres (Ellen's Game Of Games)

RuPaul (Rupaul's Drag Race)

Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (Project Runway)

Jane Lynch (Hollywood Game Night)

Outstanding TV movie

Fahrenheit 451 (HBO)

Flint (Lifetime)

Paterno (HBO)

The Tale (HBO)

USS Callister (Black Mirror) (Netflix)

Outstanding variety special (live)

The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards (NBC)

60th Annual Grammy Awards(CBS)

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert(NBC)

Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs (HBO)

The Oscars (ABC)

Outstanding variety special (pre-recorded)

Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special(CBS)

Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2018(CBS)

Dave Chappelle: Equanimity (Netflix)

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American* Puerto Rico (*It's Complicated) (TBS)

Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life(Netflix)

Outstanding informational series or special

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown(CNN)

Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath(A&E)

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman(Netflix)

StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson(National Geographic)


Outstanding documentary or nonfiction series

American Masters (PBS)

Blue Planet II(BBC America)

The Defiant Ones (HBO)

The Fourth Estate (Showtime)

Wild Wild Country (Netflix)

Outstanding animated series

Baymax Returns (Disney XD)

Bob's Burgers (FOX)

Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)

The Simpsons (FOX)

South Park (Comedy Central)

Outstanding children's program

Alexa & Katie (Netflix)

Fuller House(Netflix)

The Magical Wand Chase: A Sesame Street Special (HBO)

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix)

Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD)

Outstanding directing in a drama series

Jason Bateman (Ozark)

Stephen Daldry (The Crown)

The Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things)

Jeremy Podeswa (Game Of Thrones)

Daniel Sackheim (Ozark)

Kari Skogland (The Handmaid's Tale)

Alan Taylor (Game Of Thrones)

Outstanding directing in a comedy series

Donald Glover (Atlanta)

Bill Hader (Barry)

Mike Judge (Silicon Valley)

Hiro Murai (Atlanta)

Jesse Peretz (GLOW)

Amy Sherman-Palladino (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Outstanding directing in a variety series

Andre Allen (Full Frontal With Samantha Bee)

Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia)

Jim Hoskinson (The Late Show With Stephen Colbert)

Don Roy King (Saturday Night Live)

Tim Mancinelli (The Late Late Show With James Corden)

Paul Pennolino (Last Week Tonight With John Oliver)

Outstanding directing in a limited series or movie

Scott Frank (Godless)

David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski (Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert)

Barry Levinson (Paterno)

Edward Berger (Patrick Melrose)

Ryan Murphy (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

Craig Zisk (The Looming Tower)

David Lynch (Twin Peaks)

Outstanding writing in a drama series

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game Of Thrones)

The Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things)

Bruce Miller (The Handmaid's Tale)

Peter Morgan (The Crown)

Joe Fields and Joe Weisberg (The Americans)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve)

Outstanding writing in a comedy series

Alec Berg (Silicon Valley)

Alec Berg and Bill Hader (Barry)

Donald Glover (Atlanta)

Sefani Robinson (Atlanta)

Liz Sarnoff (Barry)

Amy Sherman-Palladino (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

Outstanding writing in a variety series

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Late Night With Seth Meyers

Saturday Night Live

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Outstanding writing in a limited series or movie

Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus (American Vandal)

Scott Frank (Godless)

David Nicholls (Patrick Melrose)

Tob Rob Smith (The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story)

David Lynch and Mark Frost (Twin Peaks)

William Bridgers and Charlie Brooker (USS Callister (Black Mirror))

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.