2023 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Scripted Variety Series

"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" began right after "Saturday Night Live" was placed in a different Emmy category. The two perennial winners now contend against each other in the new Outstanding Scripted Variety Series category.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- “Pedro Pascal, Coldplay” Episode 1838 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bowen Yang, Molly Kearney, host Pedro Pascal, Ego Nwodim as Lisa from Temecula, and Punkie Johnson during the “Lisa from Temecula” sketch on Saturday, February 4, 2023 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)
"Saturday Night Live"
Will Heath/NBC

We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be presented over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, with an edited presentation of the ceremonies to be broadcast on FXX at a later date. Finally, the 75th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards take place on Monday, September 18, and air live on FOX at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” versus “Saturday Night Live” might be the most interesting new match-up at this year’s Emmys. Both series have been on major winning streaks in wake of the Outstanding Variety Series category being split in two in 2015, but are now being pushed to be in contention against each other for the first time ever thanks to an Emmys rule change that’s sprouted the Outstanding Scripted Variety Series category.

Though one of their 6+ years winning streaks will come to an end because of the new designation, the more important part of the whole situation is that it allows for more shows to actually get nominated in the category. Though the TV sketch comedy space has had a really interesting few years, thinking of the range of shows from “How to With John Wilson” to “The Amber Ruffin Show,” the past three years at the Emmys have been this David and Goliath-esque showdown between HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

As of right now, it seems like the category will have four nomination slots, so there is a chance shows that have been doing steady, celebrated work like “Sherman’s Showcase” (IFC) and “Ziwe” (Showtime) could finally get some recognition at the Emmys. Or past winner “Inside Amy Schumer” could make it back in, after returning to Paramount+ last fall.

Plus there are two high-profile, cameo-filled series “Documentary Now!” (IFC) and “History of the World: Part II” (Hulu) in contention this year, and sure to attract a lot of interest from voters given the names that are attached to them. The former comes from Emmy winners Bill Hader and Seth Meyers, plus 14-time Emmy nominee Fred Armisen, while the latter is a long-awaited project from 96-year-old EGOT winner Mel Brooks.

Current Contenders (In Alphabetical Order):
“A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)
“The Amber Ruffin Show” (Peacock)
“Documentary Now!” (IFC)
“History of the World: Part II” (Hulu)
“Inside Amy Schumer” (Paramount+)
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)
“Pause with Sam Jay” (HBO Max)
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
“Sherman’s Showcase” (IFC)
“Ziwe” (Showtime)

More Category Predictions:
Outstanding Animated Program
Outstanding Talk Series
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: “Saturday Night Live”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: “Saturday Night Live” has a five year winning streak right now, benefitting from the split that happened in the Variety Series category in 2015 (it became the Variety Talk and Variety Sketch categories). However, when that split first happened, it was Comedy Central that had the initial winning streak with “Inside Amy Schumer” winning in 2015, and “Key & Peele” winning in 2016, so NBC’s long-running late night variety series is not unbeatable.
Notable Ineligible Series: “Murderville” (Season 2 was not eligible); “I Think You Should Leave” (submitted as a Short Form Series)

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