Black Actors and Netflix Break Records at the 2020 Emmy Nominations

Surprises, snubs, and more from the 2020 Emmy nominations
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Broadcast from an undisclosed L.A. studio with host Leslie Jones joined digitally by co-presenters Laverne Cox, Josh Gad, and Tatiana Maslany, the Emmy nominations looked a little different this year—but some things never change.

Once again, it’s a battle between Netflix and HBO. After slipping behind HBO last year, the streamer was ascendant with an unprecedented 160 nominations across all categories. The premium cable giant, which no longer has Game of Thrones to reel in the noms, scored 107 nods, thanks in large part to Watchmen, which got 26 nods, including one for Regina King for Best Actress and Best Limited Series.

Disney+ made history with 15 nominations, the most ever for any first-year network, thanks to The Mandalorian, which was among its very set first shows to debut last December. And once again, streaming services topped the networks in terms of total noms: in the limited series category, streamers took 41 noms (last year, 35); in drama, 197 (165 last year); and in comedy, 111, up from 108 last year.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is already getting kudos for the diverse slate of nominees. Ramy Youssef’s eponymous Hulu sitcom became the first Muslim American nominated for an Emmy (Youssef was recognized in the Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series category), and Kerry Washington made history with nominations for acting and her own production company. In all, 35 of the 102 acting nominees are Black, including Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, Mahershala Ali, Isa Rae, Octavia Spencer, and Zendaya—were nominated. That stat—34.3 percent—constitutes a record, according to Variety.

Before the nominations, academy chairman and CEO Frank Scherma nodded to the current political moment, saying, “Television is seeing the greatest wave of social justice in fifty years…Television is a medium for change. This is the responsibility of television. It connects all of us.”

Sadly, as Indie Wire points out, Latinx talent was woefully underrepresented.

As usual, snubs abounded. Variety’s picks for the most egregious include FX’s Pose (though Billy Porter scored a nod), Reese Witherspoon for Apple+’s The Morning Show (Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell landed noms), and Little Fires Everywhere (although Washington got a nod for her role). Russell Crowe, who played Fox News founder Roger Ailes in Showtime’s The Loudest Voice, was passed over, as was Aaron Paul for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

Amid the pandemic, no in-person FYC events—lunches, screenings, dinners—were held this year, and that’ll probably be the case for the usual events in the run-up to the awards too. Members of the TV academy will be voting—but without all the good meals and cocktails.

See nominees in the main categories below; for the full list, visit Emmys.com.


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)

Best Variety Talk Series

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (CBS)

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)

Best Competition Series

The Masked Singer
Nailed It
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Top Chef
The Voice

Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Jeremy Irons (Watchmen)
Hugh Jackman (Bad Education)
Paul Mescal (Normal People)
Jeremy Pope (Hollywood)
Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True)

Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America)
Shira Haas (Unorthodox)
Regina King (Watchmen)
Octavia Spencer (Self Made)
Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere)

Best Limited Series

Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
Mrs. America (FX on Hulu)
Unbelievable (Netflix)
Unorthodox (Netflix)
Watchmen (HBO)

Best Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Dead to Me (Netflix)
The Good Place (NBC)
Insecure (HBO)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Best Drama Series

Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Killing Eve (BBC America)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Ozark (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
Succession (HBO)