Emmys 2017 Snubs and Surprises: ‘Transparent,’ ‘The Leftovers,’ and Pamela Adlon(!)

"Insecure" joined "Fleabag" and "BoJack Horseman" as the unfortunate exclusions, but there was good news: "The Leftovers" is Emmy-nominated!
Snubs Surprises Emmys

A “snub” implies a conscious dismissal; a knowing exclusion; a willful act of disdainful rebuffing. And in the era of “too much TV,” the idea of Emmy voters purposefully boxing out anyone other than Donald Trump is a bit nutty. Those who don’t make the cut aren’t “snubs” so much as they’re… leftovers.

But the 2017 nomination list sure was filled with surprises, good and bad. And while we’d like to refer to the surprising exclusions as leftovers, that’s just too darn confusing when so many of the excluded came from a show called “The Leftovers.” So we’re sticking with snubs. Just know that we know the TV Academy didn’t mean anything by it.

The Snubs

“The Americans”
After breaking into the major categories for the first time last year, FX’s critically acclaimed drama was kicked right back out of the Drama Series race. Too much new blood — “The Crown,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Stranger Things,” “This Is Us,” and “Westworld” — meant someone had to leave. We just thought it would be “House of Cards.”

We knew there was going to be turnover in the Outstanding Comedy Series category, but a) we expected more, and b) we didn’t expect Jill Soloway’s twice-nominated Amazon comedy to get kicked out. Only “Atlanta” broke in for the new shows, and that didn’t come at the expense of say, “Modern Family.” It edged out “Transparent,” which had a beautiful Season 3.

“Mr. Robot”
Last year’s hot new show cooled off considerably in its second Emmys outing, as the USA Network brand builder not only missed out on the Drama Series category many thought it could win in 2016, but last year’s winner for Best Actor, Rami Malek, was also kept out of the race. With Season 3 still a ways off, rather than airing as votes were being taken, perhaps Season 2 was too distant from voters’ minds.

“The Leftovers”
It’s not that we failed to see this coming, it’s just that it hurts so much more now that it’s official. The best reviewed drama of 2017 and the most inventive series in recent memory didn’t land a Drama Series nod, a writing nod, or any recognition for its outstanding cast. Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta’s series was almost entirely snubbed at the Emmys — praise be to Ann Dowd — and that’s a reality we’d hoped to leave behind.

Justin Theroux – “The Leftovers”
In years to come, we’re going to look back on Theroux’s zero Emmy nominations for “The Leftovers” and wonder… “How?” Like virtually every actor on “The Wire” — but certainly Dominic West and Idris Elba — Theroux’s turn will be remembered forever. He is Kevin Garvey, and Kevin Garvey is all of us. His work was nuanced and relatable despite the extreme circumstances faced by his character, and never was that clearer than in Episode 7, “The Most Powerful Man in the World (And His Identical Twin Brother).” History will differ with the Emmys, and I guess we’ll be OK with that.

Kyle Chandler – “Bloodline”
“Bloodline” Season 3 didn’t make a lot of waves when it was released at the end of May, just in time for Emmy consideration, and it looks like Chandler, a two-time nominee for the show, paid the price. Mendelsohn being absent from the supporting role that won him a trophy in 2016 certainly didn’t help either.

Rupert Friend – “Homeland”
Friend earned a nod for Guest Actor in 2013, and while we’re happy he was recognized for his role as Peter Quinn, perhaps that’s why the TV Academy had a hard time seeing him as a series lead. A juicy role in an Emmys’ favorite show couldn’t net him another nod, meaning Friend’s on- and off-screen “Homeland” journey has officially ended.

Carrie Coon – “The Leftovers”
How. Did. This. Happen. Of all the snubs handed to HBO’s best drama, this one stings the most. Coon dominated the first half of 2017 with dual roles on “Fargo” and “The Leftovers,” with her work earning an unprecedented joint TCA nomination and a flood of praise from critics, fans, and the industry at large. The only explanation is that not enough voters saw her turn as Nora Durst, which puts the onus very firmly on them.

Eva Green – “Penny Dreadful”
A surprise Golden Globe nomination in 2016 wasn’t enough to bolster Green’s exquisite performance in a long-retired series. “Penny Dreadful” wrapped over a year ago, and voters likely weren’t as primed to pick Green for the first time in 2017, even though it was her last shot.

Michael McKean – “Better Call Saul”
Named the best male performer on TV by Vulture and snagging an ever-increasing amount of critical acclaim, “Better Call Saul” remains a “Breaking Bad” fan favorite — meaning characters from Vince Gilligan’s original series are faring much better than new faces at the Emmys. Lead Bob Odenkirk and supporting star Jonathan Banks are now three-for-three with the TV Academy, leaving no room for the great work of Mr. McKean.

Historically, British comedies haven’t fared that well in major categories at the Emmys, but after “Catastrophe’s” surprise writing nod last year, we had hope voters were coming around to Amazon’s stable of brief but brilliant stories from across the pond. No dice for “Fleabag,” as Amazon had a tough year.

Yvonne Orji and Issa Rae in HBO's "Insecure"

Three HBO comedies were apparently one too many, as the defending champion, “Veep,” and former nominee “Silicon Valley” overshadowed the hot freshman series, “Insecure.” Issa Rae’s time will likely come, after more people discover her very funny new show, but it still stings a bit to see “Insecure” get snubbed. And hey, Season 2 is coming soon!

Rachel Bloom – “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Last year’s Emmys race factored in the Golden Globe winner much more than this year, in part because of the TV Academy’s history of ignoring sophomore contenders who missed out on a nomination the first time through. That seems to be the case for Bloom, whose second season on The CW at least rivaled the first, if not besting it.

Sarah Jessica Parker – “Divorce”
A long-time Emmy favorite during her run on “Sex and the City,” voters didn’t warm to Parker’s darker, matured turn on “Divorce.” The powerful turn may not have been enough to make up for the dour realism conveyed each week in a show largely marketed as a comedy. Carrie Bradshaw got more laughs, even if Parker’s conflicted wife and mother carries equal weight.

Ted Danson – “The Good Place”
Danson had the meatiest role of all in Michael Schur’s winning NBC series, and that’s saying something. Despite a stacked cast led by Kristen Bell, the twist given to Danson’s character in the Season 1 finale turned the whole season on its head — and the “Cheers” star played it perfectly. But even his past glory at the Academy couldn’t push this audience-starved show over the edge.

Will Forte – “The Last Man on Earth”
Nominated twice for acting (and once for writing) through two seasons of “The Last Man on Earth,” rumors of an early cancellation from Fox and falling ratings may have hurt his chances at going four-for-three with the TV Academy. It’s a shame, too, since his on- and off-camera work is only getting more layered.

Neil Patrick Harris – “A Series of Unfortunate Events”
Was it the kids’ show curse, an early 2017 debut on Netflix, or just crazy competition that ousted this actor-friendly performance from the Best Actor category? Netflix successfully appealed to have the hour-long series classified as a comedy, but not even that could get Harris the recognition he deserves. That, or Count Olaf rigged the ballot box.

Brian Tyree Henry – “Atlanta”
While Henry earned a much-deserved nod for his guest arc on “This Is Us” — alongside with best friend and fellow nominee Sterling K. Brown — there was no love for Paper Boi at the Emmys. One of “Atlanta’s” biggest breakouts was passed over in the Supporting Actor race. Perhaps Donald Glover’s star power was overwhelming, but odds seem higher that Henry fell just shy of making the cut.

Zazie Beetz – “Atlanta”
Beetz got an episode all to herself in Season 1, has a slew of hot projects on the way (including “Deadpool 2”), and was part of the hottest freshman series of the awards season. How did she not get a nod?

Rita Moreno – “One Day at a Time”
Many expected the two-time Emmy winner and six-time nominee to earn her first nomination since 1983 for her humorous and heartwarming turn on “One Day at a Time,” but alas, it was not to be. Since we don’t know how many people were watching, it’s hard to tell how much impact the Netflix revival series had, but we do know the campaigning and reviews were strong. With Season 2 picked up, Moreno will have to take the Emmys one year at a time.

Lauren Graham – “Gilmore Girls”
The revival couldn’t revive interest with the TV Academy, as Lauren Graham was again denied her first Emmy nomination. “A Year in the Life” was blanked overall, so if this is really the end of “Gilmore Girls,” it will go down as one of the Emmy’s biggest omissions.

“The Young Pope”
Yeah, yeah. “The Night Of” was very good and “Big Little Lies” was truly outstanding, but where’s the love for Lenny? Jude Law’s turn on Paolo Sorrentino’s gorgeous limited series certainly deserved a nod, as did a drama that managed to be both challenging and hysterical — often at the same time. “The Young Pope” proved itself to be far more than meme fodder, but the Academy apparently only saw the jokes.

“American Crime”
Does cancellation equal banishment? “American Crime,” despite low ratings, earned Emmy nominations and wins for its first two seasons, but after ABC axed it following Season 3, so did the TV Academy.

“BoJack Horseman”
Three unparalleled seasons of animated comedy, zero Emmys: That’s the track record for “BoJack Horseman,” as the best TV show of 2016 still couldn’t crack the Animated Series race. Stunned doesn’t begin to describe our anger on behalf of Raphael Bob-Waksberg and the detail-orientated animators, but we’ll use that rage to fuel more coverage of the upcoming fourth season.

The Leftovers POST-AIR Season 3 Episode 7 Ann Dowd Justin Theroux

The Surprises

Ann Freaking Dowd – “The Leftovers,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”

“The Handmaid’s Tale”
The Hulu curse is broken! After years of exclusion despite well-reviewed series like “The Path” and “Casual,” the streaming giant landed its first major award nominations with the critically acclaimed adaptation, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Now, rather than ask if they’ll ever be recognized, the network gets to entertain a much more exciting question: Can it win?

Milo Ventimiglia – “This Is Us”
While an obvious fan favorite, Ventimiglia entered a Lead Actor race where he was far from the favorite. Fraught with competition — including his co-star, Sterling K. Brown, who won an Emmy just last year — the face of “This Is Us” faced an uphill battle for his first Emmy nomination. But Ventimiglia overcame every challenge, just like fans hope Jack can do in Season 2.

Pamela Adlon – “Better Things”
The creative mind behind “Better Things” was honored for her work in front of the camera, in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy category. Adlon has been a tremendous character actress for so long, it’s fantastic to see her honored for her first starring role on her own TV show.

Kathryn Hahn – “Transparent”
Everyone’s favorite rabbi snagged her first Emmy nomination this year. We’d like to think her exquisite work in “I Love Dick” contributed, but her turn in “Transparent” is more than deserving — and clearly the show needed a little extra love from the Emmys.

Allison Janney – “Mom”
It’s never a surprise to see Janney’s name on the ballot — she’s been an Emmy favorite since “The West Wing” — but her category shift this year put her at risk of being shut out. She won as in the supporting category just two years ago, and now she’s up for as the lead of the same show. Congratulations.

A new show from a young originals network is often a tough sell at the Emmys, but Nat Geo’s Albert Einstein limited series beat the odds and snagged 10 nominations, including in the limited series category. Geoffrey Rush also scored a nomination for his lead performance. Nat Geo has to be pretty pleased with this one.

Zach Galifianakis, “Baskets”
“Baskets” did very well for Louie Anderson last year, but that was it. Anderson is nominated again in 2017, but it’s doubly exciting to see Galifianakis honored for his two tricky — and very different — lead roles.

“Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love”
The TV Movie category is a tough one this year, but not for its stark competition. There were quite a few questionable movies up for contention, so seeing Dolly Parton’s fun and lively Christmas special make the cut instead is a welcome surprise.

Shannon Purser, a.k.a. Barb on “Stranger Things”
She did come back! Just not in the way we thought.

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