Surprise! The Emmy nominations (kind of) got it right for 2017

It's "Handmaid's" vs. "Westworld" and Martha & Snoop vs. RuPaul — The Emmys are going to be interesting this year

By Melanie McFarland

Senior Critic

Published July 13, 2017 2:02PM (EDT)

Thandie Newton in "Westworld," Elisabeth Moss in "The Handmaid's Tale," Sterling K. Brown in "This Is Us"   (HBO/Netflix/NBC)
Thandie Newton in "Westworld," Elisabeth Moss in "The Handmaid's Tale," Sterling K. Brown in "This Is Us" (HBO/Netflix/NBC)

At long last, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences voters gave us a slate of Emmy nominations that could make even the most dispassionate of award show viewers sit up and take notice.

You love "Stranger Things," right? It got a nod. Not only that, Shannon Purser — Barb! — received a nomination. Emmy night also stands to be an exciting one for "This Is Us" viewers. On Thursday morning, when the nominations for the 69th annual Emmy Awards were revealed Los Angeles by Anna Chlumsky of "Veep" and "S.W.A.T." star Shemar Moore, the series became first broadcast drama to appear in the Outstanding Drama Series category since “The Good Wife”  slid into that race in 2011.

And if "This Is Us" wins, it'll become the first broadcast show to pull that off since 2006, when "24" won the prize.

The list included the usual suspects, because it always does, with Chlumsky's HBO series and ABC's "Modern Family" in the top comedy category, "House of Cards" for top drama (why?) and Ryan Murphy's flooding of the miniseries field with a bevy of nods for "Feud: Bette and Joan." “Westworld” and “Saturday Night Live” received the most nominations out of all the contenders, scoring 22 each.

Despite this, the fact that voters gave nods to deserving series that captured the zeitgeist such "Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale" deserves applause. "Handmaid's" netted Hulu first-time nominations in several top categories, including Outstanding Drama and a Lead Actress in a Drama Series nod for Elisabeth Moss.

It was also a fine morning for comedy series and hosts who have won over audiences by thumbing their noses at the Trump administration. "Saturday Night Live" received more nominations in a single year than it has in its 42-year history. In the Variety Talk category, "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee," "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" all received nominations. Notably, "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" did not. (Neither did "The Daily Show," for that matter.)

If you're wondering where all the "Game of Thrones" nominations went, this is the cost of its late start in 2017. HBO is well represented nevertheless thanks to "Westworld," "Veep," "Silicon Valley" and its miniseries "Big Little Lies" and "The Night Of." One noticeable snub in the top drama category — to critics, anyway — is the failure to cite the final season of "The Leftovers."

Having said that, Ann Dowd scored one of her two nominations for the HBO drama, the second being for "Handmaid's." Carrie Coon, who starred in "The Leftovers" and "Fargo" at the same time, received a nod for her work in the FX series.

But among the individual nods, no category may be more entertaining this year than the race for Outstanding Reality Host, which pits Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn against W.Kamau Bell, Gordon Ramsay, Alec Baldwin (who also received a nomination for his work on "Saturday Night Live"), RuPaul and,  yes, Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg.

The 69th annual Emmy Awards will be hosted by Stephen Colbert and airs live from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 17 on CBS.

Here's the list of the major category nominations.

Outstanding Drama Series

"Stranger Things"  (Netflix)
"House of Cards" (Netflix)
"This Is Us" (NBC)
"Better Call Saul" (AMC)
"The Crown" (Netflix)
"The Handmaid’s Tale" (Hulu)
"Westworld" (HBO)

Outstanding Comedy Series

"Veep" (HBO)
"Atlanta" (FX)
"Silicon Valley" (HBO)
"Modern Family" (ABC)
"Master of None" (Netflix)
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
"Black-ish" (ABC)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown, "This Is Us" (NBC)
Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards" (Netflix)
Matthew Rhys, "The Americans" (FX)
Milo Ventimiglia, "This Is  Us "(NBC)
Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan" (Showtime)
Anthony Hopkins, "Westworld" (HBO)
Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul" (AMC)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Viola Davis, "How to Get Away With Murder" (ABC)
Claire Foy, "The Crown" (Netflix)
Keri Russell, "The Americans" (FX)
Elisabeth Moss, "The Handmaid’s Tale" (Hulu)
Robin Wright, "House of Cards" (Netflix)
Evan Rachel Wood, "Westworld" (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent" (Amazon)
Zach Galifiniakis, "Baskets" (FX)
Aziz Ansari, "Master of None" (Netflix)
Anthony Anderson, "Black-ish" (ABC)
William H. Macy, "Shameless" (Showtime)
Donald Glover, "Atlanta" (FX)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep" (HBO)
Pamela Adlon, "Better Things" (FX)
Ellie Kemper, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
Tracee Ellis Ross, "Black-ish"(ABC)
Jane Fonda, "Grace and Frankie" (Netflix)
Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie" (Netflix)
Allison Janney, "Mom" (CBS)

Outstanding Limited Series

"Big Little Lies" (HBO)
"Fargo" (FX)
"Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)
"Genius" (NatGeo)
"The Night Of" (HBO)

Outstanding Television Movie

"Black Mirror: San Junipero" (Netflix)
"Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love" (NBC)
"Sherlock: The Lying Detective" (PBS)
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" (HBO)
"The Wizard of Lies" (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie

Ewan McGregor, "Fargo" (FX)
Benedict Cumberbatch,  "Sherlock: The Lying Detective" (Masterpiece/PBS)
John Turturro, "The Night Of "(HBO)
Riz Ahmed,  "The Night Of "(HBO)
Geoffrey Rush, "Genius" (NatGeo)
Robert DeNiro, "The Wizard of Lies" (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie

Jessica Lange, "Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)
Susan Sarandon, "Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)
Carrie Coon,  "Fargo" (FX)
Felicity Huffman, "American Crime" (ABC)
Nicole Kidman, "Big Little Lies" (HBO)
Reese Witherspoon, "Big Little Lies" (HBO)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

"Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" (TBS)
"The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" (CBS)
"Last Week Tonight With John Oliver" (HBO)
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (ABC)
"The Late Late Show With James Corden" (CBS)
"Real Time With Bill Maher" (HBO)

Outstanding Reality Competition Series

"The Amazing Race" (CBS)
"The Voice" (NBC)
"RuPaul’s Drag Race" (VH1)
"Top Chef" (Bravo)
"American Ninja Warrior" (NBC)
"Project Runway" (Lifetime)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Louie Anderson, "Baskets" (FX)
Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)
Alec Baldwin, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Tituss Burgess, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
Tony Hale, "Veep" (HBO)
Matt Walsh, "Veep" (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Leslie Jones, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Kate McKinnon "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Vanessa Bayer "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Kathryn Hahn, "Transparent" (Amazon)
Judith Light, "Transparent" (Amazon)
Anna Chlumsky, "Veep" (HBO)

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Dave Chappelle, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Tom Hanks, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Matthew Rhys, "Girls" (HBO)
Riz Ahmed, "Girls" (HBO)
Hugh Laurie, "Veep" (HBO)

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Kristin Wiig, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Melissa McCarthy, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Becky Ann Baker, "Girls" (HBO)
Angela Bassett, "Master of None" (Netflix)
Carrie Fisher, "Catastrophe" (Amazon)
Wanda Sykes, "Black-ish" (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland" (Showtime)
Jonathan Banks, "Better Call Saul" (AMC)
Michael Kelly, "House of Cards" (Netflix)
David Harbour, "Stranger Things" (Netflix)
John Lithgow, "The Crown" (Netflix)
Ron Cephas Jones, "This Is Us" (NBC)
Jeffrey Wright, "Westworld" (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Uzo Aduba, "Orange Is the New Black" (Netflix)
Millie Bobby Brown, "Stranger Things" (Netflix)
Ann Dowd, "The Handmaid’s Tale" (Hulu)
Samira Wiley, "The Handmaid’s Tale" (Hulu)
Chrissy Metz, "This Is Us" (NBC)
Thandie Newton, "Westworld" (HBO)

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Ben Mendelsohn, "Bloodline" (Netflix)
B.D. Wong, "Mr. Robot" (USA)
Brian Tyree Henry, "This Is Us" (NBC)
Gerald McRaney, "This Is Us" (NBC)
Denis O’Hare, "This Is Us" (NBC)
Hank Azaria, "Ray Donovan" (Showtime)

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Cicely Tyson, "How to Get Away with Murder" (ABC)
Laverne Cox, "Orange Is the New Black" (Netflix)
Shannon Purser, "Stranger Things" (Netflix)
Alison Wright, "The Americans" (FX)
Alexis Bledel, "The Handmaid’s Tale" (Hulu)
Ann Dowd, "The Leftovers" (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie

Alexander Skarsgard, "Big Little Lies" (HBO)
Michael Kenneth Williams, "The Night Of" (HBO)
Bill Camp, "The Night Of" (HBO)
David Thewlis, "Fargo" (FX)
Alfred Molina, "Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)
Stanley Tucci, "Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Regina King, "American Crime" (ABC)
Shailene Woodley, "Big Little Lies" (HBO)
Laura Dern, "Big Little Lies" (HBO)
Judy Davis, "Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)
Jackie Hoffman, "Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)
Michelle Pfeiffer, "The Wizard of Lies" (HBO)

Outstanding Reality Host

W.Kamau Bell, "United Shades of America" (CNN)
Gordon Ramsay, "MasterChef Junior" (Fox)
Alec Baldwin, "Match Game" (ABC)
Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, "Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party" (VH1)
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, "Project Runway" (Lifetime)
RuPaul, "RuPaul’s Drag Race" (VH1)


By Melanie McFarland

Melanie McFarland is Salon's award-winning senior culture critic. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

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