Taking a first look at the 2022 Emmy nominations, we see that the Television Academy has fully embraced the biggest water cooler shows of the year (for better or worse) while also limiting the scope of shows to consider.
The 2022 Emmy nominations are finally here, and with them is a lot to be excited for. While going all out for their usual favorites, the Television Academy also made room for a handful of daring new shows like Abbott Elementary, Yellowjackets, Severance, and Only Murders in the Building.
Overall, it was a great morning for HBO as it took back the title of most nominated network with a whopping 140 nominations (across HBO and HBO Max) after narrowly being beaten out by Netflix the year before. In fact, this year, it wasn’t even close with the streaming giant only pulling in 105 total nominations. It was also a moderately good year for streaming services like Hulu (58 nominations) and Apple (52 nominations) with Severance and Ted Lasso helping the newer platform stay in the conversation.
Even though there weren’t as many clear surprises and omissions as there have been in years past, there was plenty for people to criticize. One of the most discussed factors of this year’s nominations is the increasingly confusing trend of voters to nominate a small pool of shows even in an era with endless programming to celebrate.
All but one of the limited series supporting nominees are represented by two shows, The White Lotus and Dopesick. 2/3s of the guest actress in a comedy series lineup is made up of actors from Hacks. Over a third of all drama acting nominees were from the Succession ensemble. Nearly a third of all comedy acting nominations went to Ted Lasso.
While down-ballot voting has brought some truly great first-time nominees (Natasha Rothwell, J. Smith-Cameron, Kaitlyn Dever), the unintended result is a large number of shows that are unfairly left out completely including the casts of The Other Two, Reservation Dogs, Yellowstone, The Gilded Age, and Pachinko (just to name a few).
More than ever, it has also become extremely clear that Emmy voters as a whole are much younger than they used to be, or at least much more comfortable nominating younger actors. Elle Fanning, Kaitlyn Dever, Will Poulter, Toheeb Jimoh, Margaret Qualley, Zendaya, and Sydney Sweeney were all nominated where in years past voters would have been much more likely to skip over them in favor of older character actors.
Overall, it was a strong year for nominations that highlights a changing demographic within the Television Academy. One that is more willing to embrace genre shows like Yellowjackets and Euphoria as well as international sensations in other languages than English like Squid Game.
For the second year in a row Ted Lasso has proven to be the most popular comedy of the year earning 20 nominations for a series total of 40 nominations across two seasons.
For Ted Lasso, it was also clear that this wasn’t a case of name checking their favorite show down the ballot. The ensemble continued to rake in acting nominations, but it instead of name checking last year’s nominees the actors branch brought in the actors with more interesting arcs like Sarah Niles and Toheeb Jimoh.
The big story coming out of the comedy categories is the overperformance of ABC’s Abbott Elementary. In an environment with massive streaming juggernauts taking over the Emmys, Abbott Elementary became the little show that could, earning seven overall nominations including four acting nominations, writing, casting, and series. It’s the best showing a broadcast comedy has had in eight years.
Overall this is one of the strongest comedy lineups we’ve ever seen at the Emmys. All eight nominees (Barry, Only Murders in the Building, Hacks, What We Do in the Shadows, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Curb Your Enthusiasm in addition to Ted Lasso and Abbott Elementary) are all strong nominees and for the most part did extremely well in nominations. The second season of Hacks exceeded expectations with 17 nominations while the third season of Barry pulled in 14 nominations. Both shows shouldn’t be counted out in any of the top categories.
This is also the worst showing Saturday Night Live has had at the Emmys in over a decade. On average, the iconic sketch comedy is used to earning well over 20+ nominations, but this year for the first time in recent memory, it only ended up with nine nominations. This is due to the fact that the actors branch largely abandoned the once beloved comedy in the supporting and guest categories. It’s hard to tell whether this is due to quality of the show dipping in recent years or if voters are going through political fatigue. Either way the change is extremely overdue, especially with many equally deserving sketch comedies in contention.
The third season of Succession returned to the Emmys stronger than ever before raking in 25 nominations proving that voters can’t get enough of the family drama. Improving on the season before, the Roy family picked up its first sound mixing nomination, an additional directing nomination, and five new acting nominations in addition to the seven actors already returning to their respective lineups.
Overall, it was a strong year for popular genre shows with Stranger Things having a strong showing with 13 nominations, Squid Game picking up 14 nominations including multiple acting nominations for actors virtually unknown to American audiences, and Euphoria shocked everyone by catapulting into 16 nominations. The biggest question was whether or not Yellowjackets would be remembered come voting time, and the survival drama ended up over-performing with seven nominations including series, acting, writing, directing, and casting nominations.
Still, many of this year’s nominees missed out on nominations in some surprising categories. Even though Stranger Things grew in nominations, it missed out on any acting nominations for the second time. Squid Game proved to be a hit with many voters, but it shockingly missed out on make-up, sound mixing, and sound editing.
In fact, what this year’s drama nominations have proven more than anything is that Emmy voters now tend to fully embrace the watercooler genre sensation over more typical awards fare that they would have gone for in years past (like The Gilded Age which was nearly shut out).
One of the biggest surprises of the year was how willing voters were to move on from former perennial nominees. After being nominated nearly every year voters completely abandoned the final season of This Is Us as well as Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks of Better Call Saul (although they finally nominated Rhea Seehorn after years of ignoring her). They also quickly moved on from Jennifer Aniston in favor of her Morning Show costar Reese Witherspoon.
The biggest headscratcher came with the complete shutout of Yellowstone. The Taylor Sheridan western had a breakout year captivating audiences across the country and even earning SAG and PGA nominations, a combination that almost always leads to major Emmy nominations. Instead, voters completely ignored the fan favorite even in the tech categories. More than any other factor this is probably due to the fact that Paramount+ still hasn’t found its way into the Emmy conversation.
Last year’s limited series categories were a true race of the best television had to offer with Mare of Easttown, I May Destroy You, The Queen’s Gambit, WandaVision, and The Underground Railroad all competing for the top awards. We really took that year for granted and instead find ourselves in a year where The White Lotus and Dopesick are going head to head in every major category with plenty of filler in between.
Even before the nominations were announced earlier today, we all assumed this was a two way race, but now we know just how strong the two frontrunners are. On top of over-performing with eight acting nominations for The White Lotus, the HBO anthology series earned a total of 20 nominations including craft recognition for casting, production design, sound mixing, costumes, writing directing, score, music supervision, main title theme music, and two nominations for editing.
Meanwhile, Hulu’s Dopesick earned six acting nominations and 14 total nominations including craft recognition for writing, directing, casting, cinematography, and picture editing.
The rest of this year’s limited series lineup was largely filled with popular “ripped from the headlines” hits that did well on streaming platforms and on Twitter while not being well received by critics like Inventing Anna and Pam & Tommy.
Even more surprising was the fact that voters instead largely ignored shows like MAID (a critical hit and ratings sensation for Netflix) and true-crime staples that used to do well at the Emmys like Under the Banner of Heaven and The Staircase.