Throughout Emmy season, IndieWire will be evaluating the top contenders for TV’s most prestigious prize, and it all starts here. At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Best Animated Series (or, as it’s more formally known, Outstanding Animated Program). This article will be updated throughout the coming months, along with all our predictions, to reflect an up-to-the-minute state of the race. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest coverage on the 2020 Emmys, including breaking news, analysis, interviews, podcasts, FYC event coverage, reviews of all the awards contenders, and more. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out the week of September 14. The 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place virtually on Sunday, September 20. (See our awards calendar for a more detailed breakdown of important dates.) ABC is broadcasting the ceremony.
Last Year’s Winner: “The Simpsons”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: It’s “The Simpsons.” Though last year marked the legendary Fox comedy’s first win in the category since 2008, the series has 28 nominations, 11 wins, and counting — and counting is the key word. Plenty thought the classic show was running out of steam and bound to be cast aside for newer, fresher, and plenty strong animated series. Instead, it not only keeps adding nominations to its high mark, but it’s got another win, too.
Fun Fact: While “The Simpsons” has a pretty good batting average in terms of wins-to-nominations (.392) — better than the second highest winner, “South Park” (.294), as well as “Bob’s Burgers” and “Futurama” (.250) — but of all the series with more than one win, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is batting 1.000, winning in 2004 and 2005, back when the category was split between half-hour animated series and hourlong animated series.
Notable Ineligible Series: “Adventure Time” (HBO Max did not release the new episodes in time for 2020 eligibility.)
The State of the Race
Fewer categories are harder to predict than the race for Best Animated Program. Last year saw “The Simpsons” upset favorites like “BoJack Horseman” and “Big Mouth”; the year before, “Rick & Morty” won over defending champion “Bob’s Burgers.” Now, all those shows are back in the running, and it’s difficult to mine momentum when few precursors serve as bellwethers, and each show has relatively few other 2020 nominations.
Technically, “Big Mouth” has the most nominations spread across multiple categories. The Netflix original series earned its second nod for Best Animated Program, along with nominations in Character Voice-Over Performance (for Maya Rudolph) and Derivative Interactive Program. “Big Mouth” also scored a 2019 nomination for Outstanding Music and Lyrics, so it’s got fans across the TV Academy — that could help it this year, but two years worth of nominations can’t really compete with 30 years. “The Simpsons” has fans spread across multiple generations, let alone branches, and last year proved it could pull off a win at virtually any moment. Defending its title is far from an upset proposition in 2020.
Though it’s been airing for a shorter period (and what hasn’t?), “Bob’s Burgers” has a similar stronghold on the Emmys. Loren Bouchard’s Fox comedy is one of only five shows to ever win the category more than once, and it has the third-highest nomination tally in history. If voters liked this year’s batch of episodes, there’s no counting “Bob’s” out either. Meanwhile, “Rick and Morty” is technically a defending champion itself; the Adult Swim favorite took last year off after winning in 2018, so there’s reason to believe it has momentum.
That leaves “BoJack Horseman.” Long held up by critics as one of the best animated series ever made — if not one of the best series, period — the Emmys only came around relatively recently. Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s Netflix comedy received its second nomination for its final season, so it’s now or never: Will “BoJack” go down in history as one of the all-time worst snubs, or will the TV Academy rally around an innovative, intelligent, and deeply felt genre-bender and pay it the honor it so richly deserves? We have to believe they will, even if there’s really no telling until the envelope is opened.
Power Ranking the Nominees:
1. “BoJack Horseman” (Netflix)
2. “Rick & Morty” (Adult Swim)
3. “The Simpsons” (Fox)
3. “Big Mouth” (Netflix)
4. “Bob’s Burgers” (Fox)
Predicted Winner: “BoJack Horseman”
Actual Winner: “Rick and Morty”
- September 20