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Emmy Predictions 2018: Outstanding Variety Talk Series

Late night series do battle in another wide-open race. [Updated: July 9 — Final Predictions]

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Season 5

Eric Liebowitz/HBO

Last Year’s Winner: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Though the category has only been in existence for three years, only “The Daily Show” or “Daily Show” alumni have won: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Fun Fact: To that end, only men named Jon/John have won.

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” has won two years running, and the hit HBO late night series isn’t slowing down in 2018; it’s a major threat to take home the trophy again. But before we get to Phase Two, there are only a few slots up for grabs and quite a few shows looking to fill them.

Of last year’s nominees, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” have only strengthened their cases. “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” has a bit of a controversy to contend with, but her fans don’t seem all that perturbed by it, and Bee herself has handled it gracefully. (Plus, that moment constitutes less than 1 percent of the show, and the other 99.9 percent is freaking brilliant.)

It could come down to a battle between late, late shows, as two-time nominee “The Late, Late Show with James Corden” tries to keep the streak going against the increasingly popular “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” The former has history on its side, but Meyers’ NBC hit has been striking the right chord night in, night out for a while now. It could be time the TV Academy picks up what he’s putting down.

Of course, that would also mean ignoring “Real Time with Bill Maher,” another series that’s proven popular with the Academy (and weathered its own controversy last year). “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” may not have made the cut last year, but the popular series could still make its way back into the Emmys’ good graces. “The Jim Jefferies Show” has been on for two seasons, but this is it’s first year of eligibility — can the extra time on-air help it crack into the race? And while cult favorites like “The Chris Gethard Show,” “Desus and Mero,” and “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas” aren’t odds-on favorites, perhaps one of them caught enough views to work its way into the final list.

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Variety Talk 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.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”
  2. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
  3. “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
  4. “Late Night with Seth Meyers”
  5. “The Late, Late Show with James Corden”
  6. “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

Spoilers: “”The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

In a Perfect World: “The Chris Gethard Show,” “Conan,” “Desus and Mero,” “The Rundown with Robin Thede,” “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas”

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