Emmy Nominations 2019: Who Were the Biggest Snubs & Surprises?

It’s that time of year again: the 2019 Emmy nominations are out, and the TV shows we’ve dutifully watched all year are finally being rewarded (or not). We’re breaking down the biggest Emmy nominations 2019 snubs and surprises, but there’s some key information you need before we dive in. Several hit shows were not eligible for nominations this year due to the time they aired, including the new Big Little Lies, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld. So no, those shows weren’t snubbed — but some of the surprises and new arrivals on this year’s list are likely grateful they’re not going up against those heavy hitters.

It’s no surprise that Game of Thrones dominated the 2019 nominations, of course — but even the most optimistic fans didn’t predict the extent of GoT‘s success. With a total of 32 nominations, the HBO drama snagged the highest number of nominations in a single year by any show, ever. For a season that over a million people wanted rewritten, that’s not bad at all. On the disappointing side, this year’s list marked a decline in the diversity of its nominations, with only 24 acting nominations for people of color. Last year’s count was a record-breaking 38; but even the 2017 nominations outplayed this year’s list, at 27. Award shows have always had a problem with diversity, but recent years made it seem as though the issue was being addressed and taken seriously within the industry. This year’s nominations may tell a different story.

So, two big surprises (that weren’t really surprises at all). Up next: the biggest snubs and real surprises from the 2019 Emmy nominations.

Snub: The Good Fight 

Many were surprised to see The Good Fight left off this year’s list — especially Christine Baranski’s superb performance as Diane Lockhart. While critics have lavished Baranski with praise this season, apparently she just didn’t do it for Emmy voters to earn a nod for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. The show was also left off the nominations for Outstanding Drama Series.

Surprise: When They See Us

The amount of diversity in this year’s nominations was disappointingly sparse, as we mentioned. Without Ava DuVernay’s breakout hit When They See Us, however, it would have been criminally low. Snagging an impressive 16 nominations, the list of When They See Us‘s nods includes Best Director for DuVernay and eight acting nominations, six of which are for people of color — and all of which are for exceptionally moving performances.

Snub: Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us)

Where oh where was Beth on this list?! While critical interest in This Is Us has waned with the latest season, many felt Susan Kelechi Watson was finally given the meaty storyline she deserved this year, exploring new depths of an always-complex, if under-utilized character. Show leads Sterling K. Brown, Milo Ventimiglia,and Mandy Moore were all nominated, but it’s a toss-up whether that makes Watson’s exclusion for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series worse or better.

Surprise: Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Look: We all love us some Robin Wright (almost as much as we do not love us some Kevin Spacey). But the last season of House of Cards doesn’t entirely seem worth celebrating. With viewership dropping to new lows, and the show (rightfully) restructuring to work around Frank Underwood’s absence, reception among fans was mixed — at best. Robin Wright  — who was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in House of Cards — is such a powerhouse. Couldn’t we nominate a performance of hers that deserves it more?

Snub: The Big Bang Theory

Out with a bang? Not so much. The Big Bang Theory series finale aired on May 16 and was issued a tearful goodbye by longstanding fans. But with the exception of a few technical nods for the final episode, the former CBS hit was notably absent from major categories. Jim Parsons, who won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series four times for his performance, was not nominated, and the show itself was also left off the Outstanding Comedy Series list.

Surprise: Schitt’s Creek

Schitt’s Creek had a big showing this year, earning both its own and the network’s (Pop TV’s) first-ever Emmy nominations. Stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara were nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series, respectively, and the show’s fifth season was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. Given the relatively low budget and reach of Pop TV (compared to behemoths like HBO and Netflix), it’s pretty impressive for the show to be getting so much attention, especially in these high-profile categories.

Snub: Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)

After being nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series three years in a row, Tracee Ellis Ross was left off this year’s list. Ross’s nomination was historic at the time, as the first Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nomination for a Black woman in 30 years. Black-ish was largely ignored as a whole this year: Anthony Anderson got a Lead Actor nod, but the show itself lost a three-year streak of Outstanding Comedy Series nominations, and had no other mentions.

Surprise: Fleabag

It’s no secret that Fleabag is beloved — but to say it swept this year’s Emmy nominations would be an understatement. With five actress nominations, an Outstanding Comedy Series nomination, and directing and writing nominations to boot, it’s shaping up to be an exceptional awards season for creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The show’s second season scored 11 nominations in total, while the first season was totally snubbed back in 2017.

Snub: Catch-22

A TV show based on a beloved book and directed by America’s sweetheart, George Clooney: What could go wrong? Apparently, quite a bit, as the show didn’t place in any expected categories (including a director nomination for Clooney). It’s unclear whether the show’s reach or content was the issue (it certainly had less audience engagement than other shows included on this year’s list), but either way — Hulu will need to step up its game going forward.

Surprise: Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)

Yes, we know, we said that none of the GoT nominations were a surprise. But this one really is! Gwendoline Christie got her first-ever Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Lady — excuse us, Ser — Brienne of Tarth. After her emotional knighting (and long-awaited romance with a certain blond Lannister), we certainly think she deserves it. And frankly, TV needs more female characters like Brienne, so let’s hope her nomination is a push in the right direction.


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