Last Year’s Winner: “Saturday Night Live”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Since the TV Academy split the Outstanding Variety Series category into two sections in 2015 (Sketch and Talk), no one show has won twice. Last year’s winner was “SNL,” which led the entire field in nominations.
Fun Fact: “Saturday Night Live,” “Portlandia,” and “Drunk History” have been been nominated every year since the category was created, and all three are eligible in 2018.
“Saturday Night Live” found success far beyond this category last year, and that helped solidify the win here. The long-running NBC sketch series isn’t quite as buzzy as it was a year ago, but few competitors have captured the public awareness like “SNL.” It’s primed to snag its second win in a row.
That being said, “Drunk History” and “Portlandia” could be adding gold to their trophy cases. Both are well-liked in the industry and the latter could benefit from its final season of eligibility. Personally, Fred Armisen has 11 nominations and zero wins and Carrie Brownstein has seven with the same number of victories. Perhaps this is the year TV Academy members rectify those long losing streaks.
Tracey Ullman already has seven wins over the course of her prestigious career, and her HBO series has snagged two nominations in two years. With the premium network’s backing and a strong contingency of Emmy voters, the odds voters watch “The Tracey Ullman Show” are high — and that helps crown winners. But there are a number of freshman series looking to leave their mark. Freshman series like “I Love You, America” (Hulu) and “At Home with Amy Sedaris” (truTV) both have a strong contingent of fans and well-liked stars at their center. Sarah Silverman has two Emmys, and Amy Sedaris has decades of goodwill that could push her over the edge.
That is, unless all the love for “Saturday Night Live” overwhelms everything else. Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series (listed in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2018 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well.
- “At Home with Amy Sedaris”
- “Drunk History”
- “I Love You, America”
- “Saturday Night Live”
- “Tracey Ullman’s Show”
Will Win: “Saturday Night Live”
Could Win: “Portlandia”
Should Win: “At Home with Amy Sedaris”