HBO’s “Watchmen” leads the pack with 11 nominations. Screenshot courtesy of Mark Hill/HBO.

In spite of the global game of Disaster Bingo this year has been, the 2020 Emmys are a go to air as planned on September 20th on ABC. The ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, saw its list of nominees announced early Tuesday morning, with many categories reflecting the new nominee selection rule changes announced earlier in June. But even the all-time high of eight nominees in the comedy and drama series and supporting acting categories has left room for a myriad of omissions and left field picks.

As a collective of media-hungry pop culture junkies, we can all be thankful this year for production’s long lead times saving us from a barren TV wasteland in the wake of COVID-19. With the potential television dry spell delayed another couple of months or so, 2020 is the most competitive group of nominations in years; in fact, overall nominations increased by a whopping 15% from 2019.

That leaves room for plenty of snubs, and of course the surprising Academy picks we love to gawk at every year. Time to put on our snobbiest hats.


Kaitlyn Dever (“Unbelievable”), “Pose,” Reese Witherspoon (“The Morning Show”). Screenshots courtesy of Netflix/FX/Apple TV.

Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies, The Morning Show, Little Fires Everywhere)

While it’s fairly easy to argue that Reese Witherspoon has been typecast in recent years as the “well meaning white woman,” you can’t say she doesn’t play the part really damn well. It’s her more nuanced take in The Morning Show however that truly is worthy of the nom.

Zoë Kravitz (Big Little Lies)

Most people have been decrying Nicole Kidman’s omission from the Outstanding Supporting Actress category for her role in Big Little Lies, but we’d argue Zoë Kravitz, who also had a well-received turn in Hulu’s revamp of High Fidelity, was the real dark horse this Emmy season

Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder)

Most people won’t defend How to Get Away with Murder’s exclusion from the Outstanding Drama Series category; the convoluted show has certainly seen its fair share of criticism. Viola Davis’ performance however, has been awarded before, and the Academy has a habit of sending off iconic roles like that with the statue following their final season.

Pose (Outstanding Drama Series) and its entire trans cast

It is frankly a little disheartening to not see Ryan Murphy’s groundbreaking drama series Pose on the nominations list, especially following its 2019 nomination and surprise acting win for the amazing Billy Porter. In a year that has pleasantly surprised us with increased diversity, the rejection of Pose seems like an unfortunate oversight. And while Porter’s nomination is amazing, the shining stars that are the amazing trans women like MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, and so many others deserve to represent the trans community at the ceremony.

Bob Odenkirk & Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul)

Nobody is calling Saul or Kim Wexler this award season, and that’ a real shame. It is certainly a little jarring to see Odenkirk’s often-nominated name missing from the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama list, but the just as deserving Seehorn certainly deserved better this year as well.

Jane Lynch (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

This one may not come as a hugely shocking snub, per se, but Jane Lynch’s scene-stealing role as aristocrat-in-disguise standup comic Sophie Lennon was certainly a fan favorite character on the Amazon Prime hit.

Ramy (Outstanding Comedy Series)

Another unfortunate casualty of an incredibly competitive year, Ramy was truly deserving of some recognition. Following its creator Ramy Youssef’s come-from-behind win at last year’s Golden Globes, many expected to see the show make the big leap to the Emmys. At least Youssef himself scored a nom for lead actor.

Hollywood (Outstanding Limited Series)

Ryan Murphy really got no love this year. From Pose to his often-rewarded American Horror Story anthology series, to Netflix’s alternate history take on the golden age of Hollywood, none of Murphy’s programs scored any non-acting noms.

Kaitlyn Dever & Merritt Wever (Unbelievable)

In the era of #MeToo, stories like those told in Netflix’s Unbelievable are those that should be held up high. That is why, with the exception of the always outstanding Toni Collette, the lack of acting nominations for the show’s leading figures is absolutely bewildering. Let’s hope the Academy can redeem themselves next year with Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You.   

The Great (Outstanding Comedy Series)

Hulu’s surprise hit The Great, starring the hilarious Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult (two actors not necessarily previously known for their comedy chops), only scored a single nomination at this year’s ceremony for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. It seems the Academy just didn’t take to the alternate history trend of this year’s television.

Sir Patrick Stewart (Picard)

Sir Patrick Steward has been around the acting block a few times, and is no stranger to award’s season. That’s why the reprisal of his career-defining role of Captain Picard in the long awaited Star Trek spin-off, the kind of thing the Academy usually eats up, should have been a no-brainer.

The Morning Show (Outstanding Drama Series)

Apple TV’s most promising award bait show may have initially been divisive among critics, but over time fans have certainly lauded the drama as provocative and well-crafted. That’s why many expected to see it recognized here, but unfortunately the Academy seemed to go off of initial opinions.


Zendaya (“Euphoria”), “The Mandalorian,” Issa Rae (“Insecure”). Screenshots courtesy of HBO/Disney+/Merie W. Wallace.

Zendaya (Euphoria)

Euphoria has certainly proved itself a hit among both young and old viewers, yet it is still a pleasant surprise to see lead actress Zendaya recognized in an acting category over more obvious predictions like Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. In many ways Zendaya’s nomination could signal a turning of the tides towards young millennials and Gen-Z during future awards seasons.

Annie Murphy & Daniel Levy (Schitt’s Creek)

While not necessarily the biggest shock of the nominations, it is certainly gratifying to see Annie Murphy and Dan Levy’s fan favorite roles on Pop Network’s sleeper hit Schitt’s Creek finally recognized. While frequent collaborators Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara have been previously nominated, the on-screen brother/sister duo hasn’t been.

Shira Haas (Unorthodox)

Shira Haas’ fascinating portrayal of a Jewish woman on the run from her ultra-orthodox community in Brooklyn shone a light on a group of people not often shown on mainstream western television. The first Netflix series aired primarily in Yiddish, Unorthodox was really helmed by Haas’ gripping performance.

The Mandalorian (Outstanding Drama Series)

With The Mandalorian, Disney have finally broken into awards season outside of their animated blockbusters. It seems that Disney+ has been nothing but a success for the media giant, and this Star Wars spin-off (one among many) has finally cemented them as Emmy threats. Though we doubt they will take the win.

Steve Carell (The Morning Show)

It seems the Academy reversed everyone’s expectations about The Morning Show this year. In place of their expected nomination in the the Outstanding Drama category, we instead have typical funny man Steve Carell nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama. Still, we will take it over a potential nod for Netflix’s flop Space Force.

This Is Us (Outstanding Drama Series)

We wouldn’t exactly argue that this NBC juggernaut was snubbed this year, especially given the extraordinary talent in the field, but it is surprising nonetheless to see the critical darling off the nominations list. Again, not necessarily a glaring mistake, just strange to see it gone after so many years in the spotlight.

Insecure (Outstanding Comedy Series)

It is incredibly refreshing to see the rise in diversity amongst acting nominations this year, and Issa Rae’s criminally under-nominated HBO comedy Insecure is just one great example. With Rae racking up an acting nom for the series as well, it would be incredible to see a win for someone depicting the life of a black woman looking for love.

What We Do In the Shadows (Outstanding Comedy Series)

Probably the most unexpected choice of the entire nomination roster, FX’s vampire mockumentary comedy-horror What We Do in the Shadows racked up not only a surprise nom for Outstanding Comedy Series, but a mighty three nominations for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. We surely aren’t expecting a win, but then again we weren’t expecting the nom either.

Love Is Blind (Structured Reality Program)

It might not surprise everyone to see Netflix’s Love Is Blind nominated, but it is worth noting that dating shows like The Bachelor are often infamously snubbed at the Emmys. That said, Love Is Blind has broken the mold with its innovative premise and ability to keep everyone hooked.

We’re Here (Unstructured Reality Program)

On the other end of the reality spectrum is HBO’s We’re Here. Drag content has undoubtably hit the mainstream big in the last few years, with two drag-related shows nominated in reality categories (three if you count RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked separately from the main show). Unlike Drag Race however, We’re Here tugs at the heartstrings more genuinely, and brings the tears just as hard as tearjerkers like This is Us.


Outstanding Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Dead to Me

The Good Place


The Kominsky Method

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Schitt’s Creek

What We Do in the Shadows

Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul

The Crown

The Handmaid’s Tale

Killing Eve

The Mandalorian


Stranger Things


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, black-ish

Don Cheadle, Black Monday

Ted Danson, The Good Place

Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Ramy Youssef, Ramy

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate, Dead to Me

Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me

Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

Issa Rae, Insecure

Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman, Ozark

Sterling K. Brown, This is Us

Steve Carell, The Morning Show

Brian Cox, Succession

Billy Porter, Pose

Jeremy Strong, Succession

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show

Olivia Colman, The Crown

Jodie Comer, Killing Eve

Laura Linney, Ozark

Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Zendaya, Euphoria

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown

Laura Dern, Big Little Lies

Julia Garner, Ozark

Thandie Newton, Westworld

Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve

Sarah Snook, Succession

Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies

Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nicholas Braun, Succession

Billy Crudup, The Morning Show

Kieran Culkin, Succession

Mark Duplass, The Morning Show

Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul

Matthew Macfadyen, Succession

Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale

Jeffery Wright, Westworld

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place

Betty Gilpin, GLOW

Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek

Yvonne Orji, Insecure

Cecily Strong, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Mahershala Ali, Ramy

Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

William Jackson Harper, The Good Place

Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jeremy Irons, Watchmen

Hugh Jackman, Bad Education

Paul Mescal, Normal People

Jeremy Pope, Hollywood

Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much is True

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America

Shira Haas, Unorthodox

Regina King, Watchmen

Octavia Spencer, Self Made

Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Uzo Aduba, Mrs. America

Toni Collette, Unbelievable

Margo Martindale, Mrs. America

Jean Smart, Watchmen

Holland Taylor, Hollywood

Tracey Ullman, Mrs. America

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen

Jovan Adepo, Watchmen

Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy Vs. the Reverend

Louis Gossett Jr., Watchmen

Dylan McDermott, Hollywood

Jim Parsons, Hollywood

Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman, The Outsider

Ron Cephas Jones, This is Us

James Cromwell, Succession

Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian

Andrew Scott, Black Mirror

Martin Short, The Morning Show

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Alexis Biedel, The Handmaid’s Tale

Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black

Cherry Jones, Succession

Phylicia Rashad, This is Us

Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away With Murder

Harriet Walter, Succession

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Angela Bassett, A Black Lady Sketch Show

Bette Midler, The Politician

Maya Rudolph, The Good Place

Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live

Wanda Sykes, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver, Saturday Night Live

Luke Kirby, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Eddie Murphy, Saturday Night Live

Dev Patel, Modern Love

Brad Pitt, Saturday Night Live

Fred Willard, Modern Family

Outstanding Limited Series

Little Fires Everywhere

Mrs. America




Outstanding Variety Talk Series

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

A Black Lady Sketch Show

Drunk History

Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Competition Program

The Masked Singer

Nailed It!

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Top Chef

The Voice

Outstanding Animated Program

Big Mouth, “Disclosure: The Movie: The Musical”

Bob’s Burger’s, “Pig Trouble in Little Tina”

BoJack Horseman, “The View From Halfway Down”

Rick and Morty, “The Vat of Acid Episode”

The Simpsons, “Thanksgiving of Horror”

Outstanding Short Form Animated Program

Forky Asks a Question, “What is Love?”

Robot Chicken, “Santa’s Dead (Spoiler Alert) Holiday Murder Thing Special”

Steven Universe Future, “Fragments”

Outstanding Television Movie

American Son

Bad Education

Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend

Official poster for the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Click here for the full list of official nominations. 

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