Last Year’s Winner: “Rick and Morty”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Out of 29 eligible seasons, “The Simpsons” has been nominated 26 times and won 10 times. In comparison, “South Park” has been nominated 17 times and one five times out of 21 eligible seasons. Those are high batting averages, but not the highest among multiple winners. “Bob’s Burgers” (which has won twice) has been nominated seven times in eight seasons, and “Futurama” (another two-time winner) technically has eight nominations for just seven seasons — Comedy Central split the final two seasons into halves, qualifying four times, but still only counting as two full seasons.
Fun Fact: Here are a few need-to-know rules about the Best Animated Series category: Animated series are nominated for a single episode, but air three episodes in the eligibility period to qualify as a series; the episode’s writer can choose to be part of the animation team honored in this category or submit their episode for series writing categories, but they cannot submit to both; an animated program may be entered in a category either according to medium (animation) or content (comedy, children’s).
Notable Ineligible Series: “Rick and Morty,” “Archer”
Update: On Saturday, September 14, the award for Outstanding Animated Program was given out at the first Creative Arts Emmy ceremony. The 2019 trophy went to “The Simpsons,” extending the Fox comedy’s records in the category.
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At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Animated Series (listed in alphabetical order). This article will be updated throughout the season, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz from the 2019 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, September 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.
The State of the Race
For the first time since 2012, there are more first-time nominees in the Outstanding Animated Program category than returning contenders. Coincidentally that year was also the last time “South Park” wasn’t nominated, and the exclusion of Comedy Central’s five-time winner made from for newcomers to takeover the vote.
But can any of them win? “The Simpsons” and “Bob’s Burgers” are still popular amongst the TV Academy and are almost certainly the most widely seen nominees. Matt Groening’s all-time wins leader in the category hasn’t taken home the trophy since 2008 (and has done little this season to elevate its stature), while “Bob’s Burgers” snagged the top animated Emmy just two years ago, has a movie in the works, and remains at the top of its creative game. Loren Bouchard’s beloved family comedy is a favorite, for sure.
Still, it will be challenged by the newcomers. “BoJack Horseman” has built up a ton of goodwill after four years of snubs, a boatload of critical support, and a consistently inventive approach to its eye-popping, ear-catching episodes. Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s adult comedy is as beautifully written as it is strikingly animated, which has always made it seem like the perfect fit for a long run in the category.
And yet its Netflix counterpart, “Big Mouth,” is the program poised to dominate the animated category for years to come. As “BoJack” eyes an endgame, Nick Kroll’s puberty-set series just landed a three-season renewal from Netflix, and — given how impressive reviews were in both seasons — it could very well stay in this category for quite a while. The key is breaking in, and “Big Mouth” has broken down the door now.
But the sleeper pick this year is “Come Along With Me,” the “Adventure Time” series finale was made as a 44-minute episode and released as a special screening, which allowed it to qualify for Outstanding Animated Program instead of Short-Form Animated Program — which it’s dominated for the past decade. It won twice in eight years, but it won eight total Emmys in that same span. That means the Cartoon Network series has quite a fanbase within the TV Academy, and it’s unlikely those fans will be lost from the category switch. If anything, this is their last chance to honor the show, and they can do it on a more prominent platform. Keep an eye on “Adventure Time.”
The 2019 Winner: “The Simpsons” (read more)