Dragons and zombies and Jedi, oh my.
Once forced to sit at the kids’ table when awards time rolled around, fantasy, science fiction and horror made a significant impression on the 75th annual Emmy nominations, in a ceremony that – mired in uncertainty about when we’ll actually see it – otherwise tilted heavily toward sentimental farewells to popular shows.
HBO’s gaudy show of force – with half the best-drama nominees and 127 bids overall, the highest total of any individual network or service – featured a combination of both. The network claimed outstanding drama series nominations for two muscular newcomers, “House of the Dragon” and “The Last of Us,” to go with the final seasons of “Succession” and the dark comedy “Barry,” the former surely being the perceived frontrunner given the hoopla that surrounded its sendoff.
“House of the Dragon” extends the awards tradition of predecessor “Game of Thrones,” while the post-apocalyptic “Last of Us” – which also earned nominations for stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, and a half-dozen of its guest actors – represents the first adaptation of a video game to garner such significant awards recognition. (Like CNN, HBO is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.)
Disney+ and Lucasfilm, meanwhile, amassed 22 nominations for their trio of “Star Wars” series, with “Andor” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” nabbing slots in drama and limited series, respectively, and nine bids for the latest journeys of “The Mandalorian.”
Other significant players from genres that haven’t received much love in the past include the horror-tinged “Yellowjackets” and “Wednesday,” with Jenna Ortega lending some youthful appeal to the acting field as the Addams Family’s murderous daughter.
Serial killers also found a perhaps surprisingly receptive audience from Emmy voters, with the retitled “Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” and its star, Evan Peters, among the limited-series nominees, joined by Dominique Fishback for the Amazon Prime series “Swarm.”
The Emmys always face a formidable challenge when it comes to mixing the old and new, a tension that appeared particularly evident this year, fueled in part by the “series finale” onslaught of high-profile shows.
In addition to “Succession” and “Barry,” those contenders include “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Ted Lasso” (at least in its current form) and “Better Call Saul,” which, having finished its run last August, will have been off the air a very long time by the time the Emmys finally air.
Trevor Noah also landed a nomination for his final season on “The Daily Show,” a race thrown wide open by the move of “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” into a different category (now opposite “Saturday Night Live”), after seven consecutive wins against his latenight brethren.
The diversity of this year’s lineup extended to comedy, with the reality hybrid “Jury Duty” earning a best series nomination, on Amazon’s relatively low-profile Freevee channel.
The attention showered on a handful of shows means that plenty of actors will duke it out against co-stars, with a trio of “Succession” stars (Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong) in the lead-drama category and five of their former colleagues joining supporting-actor rosters that include eight players from “The White Lotus,” having shifted this year from limited series to drama.
When those nominees need to begin rehearsing their acceptance speeches is itself a source of mystery as of now. Announcing the nominations, Television Academy chair Frank Scherma was careful to say “currently planned” in referring to the scheduled September 18 broadcast on Fox, following a report in Variety that the date would likely be postponed because of the ongoing writers strike and threat of an actors walkout.
The last time a delay of the Emmys happened: 2001, after the September 11 terror attacks.