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Biggest Snubs and Surprises from the 2020 Emmy Nominations

The Mandalorian scores a shock nom, Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn miss out, What We Do in the Shadows sneaks in, Zendaya gets good news, and more big surprises and snubs.

by and | July 28, 2020 | Comments

The nominations for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Tuesday morning, and many of the categories went just as the pundits had predicted. Plenty of noms for Watchmen? Yep, it got more than any other title. Lots of love for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? The show will have 20 chances to win come September. Ozark is also now officially – as it was expected to be this year – an Emmys favorite.

Of course, along with the expected came the shocks – and there seemed to be more of them than usual as Leslie Jones, Laverne Cox, Josh Gad, and Tatiana Maslany read out the names. Acting “locks” like Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul or Russell Crowe for The Loudest Voice missed out on nominations, while critically favored genre shows like The Mandalorian and What We Do In the Shadows snatched up spots in the Outstanding Drama and Comedy Series categories, respectively. And then there was Zendaya’s surprise nom for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – a surprise that, frankly, we saw coming.

Read on for our full list of snubs and surprises then let us know which nomination – or lack thereof – had you spit-taking your cereal Tuesday morning.


SURPRISE: Anthony Anderson and Don Cheadle Defy Odds

Anthony Anderson in BLACK-ISH; Don Cheadle in BLACK MONDAY
(Photo by ABC/Ali Goldstein; Nicole Wilder/Showtime)

Both Anderson (black-ish) and Cheadle (Black Monday) were on the cusp when it came to odds-on favorites in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category. The surprise here is that the black-ish and Black Monday stars both landed nominations, leading to one of the biggest snubs of the morning…


SNUB: Larry David Left Out, Though Curb Your Enthusiasm Recognized

Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm
(Photo by HBO)

Curb Your Enthusiasm landed a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, but series star David found himself locked out of the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category. Season 10 of the show is Certified Fresh at 95% on the Tomatometer, and, as the series’ centerpiece, the credit due would normally be given to six-time nominee David.


SURPRISE: Tracee Ellis Ross Lands Her Fourth Comedy Lead Actress Nomination

Tracee Ellis Ross in BLACK-ISH
(Photo by ABC/Mitch Haaseth)

Ross’ nomination on Tuesday makes her a four-time nominee in the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category for her role as Rainbow Johnson on black-ish. She was previously nominated in 2016, 2017, and 2018, but has not won in the category. Pamela Adlon (Better Things), Merritt Wever (Run), Awkwafina (Nora From Queens), Elle Fanning (The Great), Kristen Bell (The Good Place), and Zoë Kravitz (High Fidelity) are among the actresses who were thought to have better odds of landing the nomination.


SNUB: Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn Overlooked for Better Call Saul

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 5, Episode 10
(Photo by Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

Though Better Call Saul was recognized in the Outstanding Drama Series category, outrage over Odenkirk and Seehorn’s exclusion in the nominations quickly rippled across social media. Odenkirk lost the Lead Actor in a Drama Series nomination to surprise nominee Steve Carell (The Morning Show), while Seehorn, who was not a favorite to win a nomination, saw unexpected nominees Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve) and Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale) take spots in the Supporting Actress category instead.


SURPRISE: Zendaya May Have Been a Surprise for Some…

Euphoria Season 1, episode 1 (debut 6/16/19): Zendaya. photo: Eddy Chen/HBO
(Photo by Eddy Chen/HBO)

Rotten Tomatoes bet on Zendaya as Lead Actress in a Drama for her expert turn as Rue Bennett in Euphoria. The young star trailed previous winners in the category Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) in odds for a nomination, but prevailed.


SURPRISE: What We Do in the Shadows Sucks Up a Nomination for Top Comedy Series

The cast of What We Do in the Shadows
(Photo by Russ Martin/©FX)

FX vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows was another long shot for a nomination that Rotten Tomatoes bet on. With 100/1 odds on Gold Derby, the comedy spoiled the chances of so many other titles, including Better Things, Run, The Great, Modern Family, and more.


SNUB: Ramy Loses Out to the Bloodsuckers for Comedy Series

Ramy Youssef in Ramy -- "frank in the future" - Episode 208
(Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)

Among those knocked out of contention by What We Do in the Shadows’ surprise showing, Ramy was a top-10 favorite to win a nomination in the category. The series’ star Ramy Youssef did land nominations for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and for Directing for a Comedy Series, however.


SURPRISE: The Mandalorian Lands Best Drama Series Nod

The Child and Pedro Pascal as The Mandalorian (Disney+)
(Photo by Disney+)

Rotten Tomatoes argued for drama–adventure–space opera series The Mandalorian to win all the awards for its moving introduction to the cutest Star Wars hero ever, but it still came as a huge surprise that enough Television Academy voters would feel the same and give the series an unexpected spot in the Best Drama Series nominations. Pose, The Morning Show, Big Little Lies, This Is Us, The Outsider, Euphoria, and Homeland were all seen as favorites ahead of The Mandalorian, which ended the day tied with Schitt’s Creek and Saturday Night Live with 15 nominations each, behind only Watchmen, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Ozark, and Succession. Even though he can’t talk, can Baby Yoda still present an award in September?


Snub: Three Strikes and Reese Is Out

Reese Witherspoon in “The Morning Show,” season 1
(Photo by Apple TV+)

Well, we officially live in a world in which Reese Witherspoon can star in three prestige series in a single year and not get a single Emmy nomination for her efforts. Witherspoon was considered, if not a shoo-in, than a highly likely contender for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for FX’s drama Little Fires Everywhere, but failed to get a nod; her co-star Kerry Washington was among the five nominees, though. Elsewhere, Witherspoon was an outside chance for an upset in the Lead Actress Drama category for Apple TV+’s The Morning Show and for HBO’s Big Little Lies, the latter of which she was nominated for in 2017 when it was categorized as a “limited series.” She was recognized for neither role this year, but Morning Show co-star Jennifer Aniston is among those still in the game for Lead Actress come September.


SNUB: Academy Goes Quiet on Russell Crowe’s Loudest Voice

Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes in THE LOUDEST VOICE
(Photo by Saeed Adyani/Netflix)

On paper, Showtime’s Fox News–focused limited series looked like the kind of thing that would sweep the Emmys: A topical series about TV co-created by the director of Spotlight and starring Russell Crowe and Naomi Watts? Start engraving those statuettes! And yet, when it premiered in mid 2019, critics were decidedly mixed on what was seen as a pretty shallow read of a complex workplace story. One thing no one was mixed on, though, was Crowe’s portrayal of late Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, which was described as a triumph and reason enough to tune in. Yet, a year after the series began, it seems voters mostly forgot about the Gladiator star’s work, with fresh faces Jeremy Pope (Hollywood) and Paul Mescal (Normal People) edging Crowe out of the category.


SURPRISE: Octavia Spencer Is In, the Unbelievable Duo Is Out

Octavia Spencer stars as Madam C.J. Walker in SELF MADE: INSPIRED BY THE LIFE OF MADAM C.J. WALKER (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

Another category full of surprises was Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, where Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever were expected to be nominated for their work in Netflix’s acclaimed Unbelievable. (Toni Collette received a nod for her supporting work in the limited series.) With Wever and Dever missing out, the doors opened for Unorthodox’s Shira Haas – not a huge shock, she was always considered a strong chance – and Spencer for Self Made. While Spencer’s work as Madam C.J. Walker, the country’s first African American self-made millionaire, has been heralded by critics, the series itself was considered just a minor success, scoring 68% on the Tomatometer. Going into nominations morning, Spencer’s odds in the category were 100/1 over at Gold Derby. Her nomination makes this one of several categories where Black nominees make up the majority of nominations: in this case, Spencer is joined by Regina King (Watchmen) and Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere).


SNUB: The Morning Show and Pose Pushed Aside for Killing Eve

The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell
(Photo by Apple TV+)

Despite airing its weakest season yet, according to the Tomatometer, spy thriller Killing Eve managed to scrape into the Outstanding Drama list, pushing aside more favored titles like Apple TV+’s splashy The Morning Show and FX’s groundbreaking Pose. The former, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, was never a critical darling, but star power and a strong awards campaign were expected to give it an edge; the latter is one of the most celebrated series on TV, coming off a 97% Certified Fresh second season. It was a good morning for Killing Eve overall, with both Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer earning lead actress nods and Fiona Shaw picking up a nom for her supporting work.


SURPRISE: Hollywood’s Jeremy Pope Outpaces El Camino’s Aaron Paul

HOLLYWOOD: JEREMY POPE
(Photo by Saeed Adyani/Netflix)

As noted above, the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie category produced some of the biggest shocks of the morning. Not only was Russell Crowe left off the list, but Paul missed out for his return to Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad sequel movie, El Camino. Into those voids stepped Broadway star Pope, whom critics cited as a standout in the Ryan Murphy–produced Hollywood, about the Golden Age of America’s movie industry. Pope played screenwriter Archie Coleman in the series, which imagined an old-school Hollywood in which a major studio cast a Black actress in the lead role for a big-budget production. In 2019, Pope became just the sixth person ever to be nominated for Tony awards in two separate categories in the one year, for his work in Choir Boy and Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.


SURPRISE: Steve Carrell Misses Out for Space Force, But Launches Into the Drama Big Leagues

Steve Carell stars in Netflix series SPACE FORCE
(Photo by Netflix)

Prior to Tuesday morning, many thought Carell’s best chance of Emmy love lied with Space Force, but Netflix’s big-budget comedy went mostly unnoticed by the Academy and Carell missed out. His consolation prize: a surprise nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for The Morning Show, in which he plays the lecherous and newly unemployed breakfast TV host Mitch Kessler. Gold Derby’s experts had Carell at 100/1 odds for the category. No doubt fans of Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk are furious right now.


SNUB: Better Things and Creator and Star Pamela Adlon

Pamela Adlon in Better Things
(Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX)

Largely considered one the best comedies on TV, FX’s Better Things is coming off two 100% Fresh seasons. Its star, Adlon, writes and directs every single episode. (At least every episode since season 1.) Sheer degree of difficulty would suggest that Adlon would be among the nominees this morning for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and the show recognized overall, and many felt it was its time. And yet, Better Things scored not one single nomination. It may not be the most headline-grabbing snub, but it’s perhaps the one that hits hardest.

Thumbnail image: Disney+

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