Voting for the 2020 Emmys began yesterday and for the next two weeks the 22,000+ Television Academy members will be voting for their favorites across 100+ categories.
As voting began the Television Academy also made the nominating ballots public. Every year the official nominating ballots clear up a lot of uncertainties across various races including offical category placements, what specific episodes were submitted for writing and directing, and what shows submitted too many episodes in a given category. This year the nominating ballots are particularly telling because of the new rules that dictate the direct correlation between the number of nominees to the number of submissions.
Category Breakdowns and Anticipating The Number of Nominees
Last month the Television Academy announced a new and incredibly confusing set of rules that determine how many nominees there will be in a given category. With the official nominating ballots available to the public we can now confirm just how many nominees there will be in each of the major categories. For a detailed explanation of the new rules check out our piece from earlier this month.
Outstanding Comedy Series – 8 Nominees (A Fixed Number)
Outstanding Drama Series – 8 Nominees (A Fixed Number
Outstanding Limited Series – 5 Nominees (41 submissions)
Outstanding TV Movie – 5 Nominees (28 submissions)
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series – 0-4 Nominees (14 Submissions)
Outstanding Variety Talk Series – 5 Nominees (24 submissions)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series – 6 Nominees (142 submissions)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series – 6 Nominees (136 submissions)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – 8 Nominees (455 submissions)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – 8 Nominees (394 submissions)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – 6 Nominees (88 submissions)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – 6 Nominees (86 submissions)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – 8 Nominees (251 submissions)
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – 8 Nominees (241 submissions)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series – 5 Nominees (45 submissions)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series – 5 Nominees (61 submissions)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series – 6 Nominees (123 submissions)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series – 6 Nominees (121 submissions)
Guest Actress in a Comedy Series – 6 Nominees (115 submissions)
Guest Actor in a Comedy Series – 6 Nominees (148 Submissions)
Guest Actress in a Drama Series – 6 Nominees (109 submissions)
Guest Actor in a Drama Series – 6 Nominees (137 submissions)
Directing for a Comedy Series – 7 Nominees (175 submissions)
Writing for a Comedy Series – 7 Nominees (213 submissions)
Directing for a Drama Series – 8 Nominees (295 submissions)
Writing for a Drama Series – 7 Nominees (240 submissions)
Directing for a Limited Series/TV Movie – 6 Nominees (95 submissions)
Writing for a Limited Series/TV Movie – 5 Nominees (75 submissions)
It is now confirmed that the number of nominees will now vastly differ across multiple categories. The lead acting races in the drama and comedy categories will both feature six nominees each this year while in the limited series lead acting categories there will only be five nominees each.
The new rules have also significantly hurt the limited series lead acting races where we’ll only see five nominees each. Who is going to be hurt most by less nominees? The odds for people like Kerry Washington, Octavia Spencer, Reese Witherspoon, Andre Holland, Morgan Spector, and Zoe Kazan have gone down drastically.
The categories that are going to benefit the most from the new rules are the supporting acting races for both comedy and drama where each of the four categories will feature eight nominees. The lineup for Outstanding Directing of a Drama Series will also feature eight nominees while the other comedy and drama writing/directing races will only have seven nominees.
Writing & Directing Submissions
One of the most telling elements of the yearly nominating ballots is that they give us insight on what shows might be stronger contenders in the writing and directing races. Producers and networks are allowed to submit as many episodes for a given series as they wish. Over the years we’ve seen shows that strategically submit one or two episodes become much more likely to be nominated as opposed to shows that submit a handful of episodes for consideration.
This year the ballots are even more complicated because the writing and directing categories will all feature a different number of nominees. The comedy writing and directing as well as the drama writing categories will all feature seven nominees each while the drama directing race will be allowed eight nominees. The limited series directing race will have six nominees while the limited series writing lineup will only feature five nominees.
For the most part the long lineup of drama contenders only submitted one-three episodes which only increases their chances. This is good news for dramas like Big Little Lies (1w, 0d), The Handmaid’s Tale (2w), Mindhunter (1w, 4d), Ozark (3w, 2d), Stranger Things (1w, 2d), Succession (1w, 2d), and Westworld (1w, 1d). In fact, the only major drama to completely botch their submissions was Better Call Saul with six episodes for writing and eight for directing. It will be interesting to see if any episodes are able to standout or if the show will unnecessarily be left out.
The comedy contenders also made wise decisions mostly submitting one or two episodes. The Good Place and Schitt’s Creek highlighted their season finales while The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel only submitted two episodes after being shut out of last year’s writing race. The only major comedy to over-submit was Insecure with three episodes for writing and five for directing. There is a lot of hope that this is the year that the Issa Rae comedy breaks out in a major way but now the show risks splitting the vote and preventing its first ever writing and directing nominations.
A couple of years ago the directors peer group of the Television Academy introduced a new rule dictating that one of the nominees for Outstanding Directing of a Comedy Series has to go to a multi-cam show. This is the second year where the rule will be in effect and 14 different multi-cam comedies submitted although only a couple of them seem like strong contenders. The final season of Will & Grace is the obvious frontrunner, especially because of their submitted I Love Lucy themed episode, but we should also keep an eye on The Conners, One Day at a Time, Mom, and the return of Mad About You.
The limited series and TV movie contenders all mainly submitted a single episode where applicable, especially in the writing categories. The only major contender to fumble was Mrs. America which submitted five episodes for writing and four for directing. In such a crowded year the perceived frontrunner now risks being shutout of these two important races, especially since the writing lineup will only feature five nominees. Watchmen also submitted four episodes for directing but after a very successful night at the DGA Awards (where it competed as a drama) it will still probably pull ahead with multiple nominations.
Every year the nominating ballots reveal plenty of surprises. This year plenty of things stood out:
Two-time Emmy winner Julie Bowen was NOT submitted for the final season of Modern Family.
Andrea Arnold was not submitted for directing Big Little Lies after the behind-the-scenes drama that plagued the season.
Curb Your Enthusiasm was submitted for its writing for the first time in its ten season run.
Reigning champ Cherry Jones is eligible for two different roles in Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Succession and The Handmaid’s Tale.
Valerie Mahaffey was the sole Dead to Me submission for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series while both Katey Sagal and Frances Conroy were left off the ballot.
Multiple second season shows were submitted for Outstanding Main Title Design including Big Little Lies and Succession.
Anna Faris was submitted as a supporting actress for Mom after years of submitting in the lead actress race.
Viral sensation “L to the O G” from the second season of Succession was not submitted in for Outstanding Music & Lyrics.
‘Music, Music Everywhere!” featuring Jake Gyllenhaal from John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch was not submitted for Outstanding Music & Lyrics. Instead Netflix submitted ‘Pay Attention!’ and ‘Grandma’s Boyfriend Paul.’
The viral sensation Gay Spirit (Or better known as the gay Laura Dern song from the Independent Spirit Awards) was submitted for Outstanding Music & Lyrics.