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Emmy Predictions 2017: Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

Updated August 9: "Saturday Night Live" tied for the most Emmy nominations of any show in 2017, but a number of buzzy sketch series stand in its way.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Alec Baldwin" Episode 1718 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump and Beck Bennett as Russian President Vladimir Putin during the "Trump People's Court" sketch on February 11, 2017 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

Will Heath/NBC

Last Year’s Winner: “Key & Peele”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: This is only the third year of the category’s existence, but “Saturday Night Live” has been nominated in either Variety Sketch or the category’s previous, all-encompassing iteration, Variety Series, every year since 2008.
Fun Fact: “Saturday Night Live” has not won in either category since 1993.

Since 1977, “Saturday Night Live” has accrued 221 Emmy nominations and 45 wins. That includes 22 nods in 2017 alone, shattering the 200-mark with authority. But how many trophies will it win? “Saturday Night Live” got quite a boost in its 42nd season thanks to the tumultuous political landscape, and the TV Academy was certainly paying as close attention as the rest of us. It’s the leader in the clubhouse and likely will be until the winner is formally announced.

That doesn’t mean there can’t be a few surprises. “Documentary Now!”, “Drunk History,” and “Portlandia” were all nominated last year, and the latter two have landed spots three years in a row. Any one of them could make a run, given voters’ affinity for each of them, and each series forged new ground in its own way in their nominated seasons.

The new entries are “Billy on the Street” and “Tracey Ullman’s Show.” Billy Eichner’s truTV series has captured the hearts of viewers everywhere. His aggressive antics while interviewing the pedestrians of New York (alongside a variety of famous faces) are so damn charming it’s hard to imagine he won’t snag a few votes while Academy members binge his videos.

But Tracey Ullman’s nod came as a bit of a surprise, and the sketch category does favor the hot hand. “Key & Peele” won last year for its final season. “Inside Amy Schumer” took home the prize after the Comedy Central star’s breakout year. Ullman has won six Emmys in the past, and her latest nomination could lead to her seventh. She’s just got to get by the all-powerful “SNL.”

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.

The Nominees:

  1. “Billy on the Street”
  2. “Documentary Now!”
  3. “Drunk History”
  4. “Portlandia”
  5. “Saturday Night Live”
  6. “Tracey Ullman’s Show”

Will Win: “Saturday Night Live”
Could Win: “Tracey Ullman’s Show”
Should Win: “Billy on the Street”

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