When the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations were last announced, in December 2019, the narrative that developed in the aftermath surrounded snubs and how the organization’s lack of support for two HBO Emmy players — “Succession” and “Watchmen” — might reflect something of an enthusiasm gap between critical acclaim and industry regard.
Of course, by the time the Primetime Emmy Awards rolled around, both projects were proven to be in fine form, with “Succession” earning 18 nominations and seven wins and “Watchmen” scoring 11 wins from 26 nominations.
The story percolating after this year’s batch of nominees, announced this morning, could not be more different.
On Thursday, the actors branch revealed the nominations for the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Netflix again far outscored competitors, nabbing 17 mentions, compared to seven for HBO, five for Pop TV, and four for Hulu. The streamer’s display was particularly dominant with regards to the drama categories, where Netflix captured 11 of the 15 possible slots.
But before we go all in on Netflix, let’s take a moment to pull back and appreciate some of the smaller revelations coming out of actors fêting other actors, particularly in light of the Golden Globe Award nominations and Writers Guild of America Award nominations, both announced on Wednesday.
In just over 48 hours, the comedy awards race seemed to crystallize, for the rest of the Winter TV Awards season, at least, and likely well into Emmy season lurking just beyond.
One thing to keep in mind with the comedy competition is just how many of last year’s challengers are now out of commission. “Fleabag” is gone and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Barry,” and “The Kominsky Method” are all ineligible. Of 2019 contenders, that leaves only Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek” which did its part to take up as many of those open slots as possible, expanding its two previous nominations for Catherine O’Hara and ensemble, and this year adding nominations for the Levys (Eugene and Dan), as well as Annie Murphy.
Also having a stronger showing than last year is Netflix’s “Dead to Me” which expanded beyond just a Christina Applegate nomination and added an actress nomination for Linda Cardellini, as well as an ensemble nomination for the series as a whole.
Which is all interesting and influential as far as the Winter TV awards go, but neither of the series will be eligible for the Emmys when they roll around later this year, further suggesting an absolute free-for-all waiting in the wings.
But a few frontrunners have emerged for the upcoming Emmy race, including HBO Max’s “Flight Attendant” and Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso,” both freshman comedies that nabbed nominations for their lead performances — Kaley Cuoco and Jason Sudeikis, respectively — and ensembles. It’s two strong showings for the projects, which come after already promising beginnings at both the Golden Globe and WGA nominations earlier in the week.
Phil Caruso / HBO Max
That said, the real story of the SAG Award nominations is Netflix, their unyielding dominance, and the age old question: Can you have too much of a good thing?
On the surface no, of course it’s not a problem that Netflix completely swept the female actor in a drama series category, splitting the nominations with three for “The Crown” — Gillian Anderson, Olivia Colman, and Emma Corrin — and “Ozark” — Julia Garner and Laura Linney.
In fact, it’s a detail that is a very SAG-specific issue, given the awards lack of separate supporting performance categories. All five of the women were nominated at the Golden Globes, plus an additional nomination for “The Crown” actress Helena Bonham Carter, and no one blinked an eye.
But it’s not unthinkable that Netflix’s success could cause complications down the line. Two years ago Amazon Prime Video found itself in a similar situation in comedy categories, where “Fleabag” served as a powerhouse performer that’s primary competition was always coming from inside the house. That is, was always vying for the same awards oxygen as cablemate “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” In the end it resulted in the two series largely splitting the bulk of comedy awards, but internally, it was likely a difficult balance to split support between a sturdy performer and an unpredictable upstart.
As if Netflix doesn’t have enough on its dramatic plate, there’s also “Bridgerton,” its own promising upstart that could pick up serious awards momentum as the months pass, getting its first nominations at SAG for the show’s ensemble, as well as lead actor Regé-Jean Page.
Admittedly, “Ozark” won’t be in contention at the upcoming Emmys, but the streamer’s slate remains full of awards potential and thus leave this drama still percolating under the surface, threatening to revisit the most wonderful of crisis on Netflix: too much talent, not enough time.