news Emmys on Autopilot: 5 Takeaways Including ‘Ted Lasso,’ Dave Chappelle, and More

The 2022 Emmy nominations are finally here, and beneath the snubs and surprises are some very interesting insights into the minds of voters. Among the questions answered: Does everyone still really love “Ted Lasso” that much now that other great comedies like “Atlanta” and “Barry” are back? (Yes.) Of the dozens of Limited Series that premiered in the spring, which shows did people actually watch? (Mostly “Inventing Anna,” we guess.) Has the Emmys made any strides in recognizing a diverse group of nominees? (It’s complicated.)

Below, we break down five key takeaways from the 2022 Primetime Emmy nominations.

1. The Uniformity of Shows Nominated Isn’t All That Surprising or Bad​

One major aspect of the Emmys that separates it from the Oscars is that it actually helps contenders a great deal if their show is extremely popular. While it is ideal to see a variety of shows make the final cut, it is not too much of a shock to see series like “Ted Lasso” or “The White Lotus” fill up the Comedy and Limited Series categories, respectively. These are shows that have kept over a year of momentum, meaning voters have had a lot more time to visit and revisit performances from actors like Toheeb Jimoh and Sydney Sweeney, as opposed to say the supporting casts of “Hacks” and “The Dropout,” which both premiered toward the end of the Emmys eligibility window. Plus, the increase of racial diversity some of these surprise nominees like Natasha Rothwell (who was long overlooked for her work on “Insecure”) bring is a silver lining.

2. True Crime Pays Dividends for Three Female Leads​

Taking a closer look at the Limited Series race, it was easily predicted that “Dopesick” and “The White Lotus” would make the cut based on the amount of awards the two shows already won after being eligible for many of the winter awards shows that took place earlier in the year. A bigger question was if the spring trend of series based on recent true crime stories, many serving as star vehicles for their lead actresses, have any kind of impact on the Emmys race. Many thought that not to be the case, instead counting on Serial Position Effect to boost latecomers “The Staircase” and “Under the Banner of Heaven” (plus early season Netflix hit “Maid”), but they were wrong. From the looks of it, going-for-broke paid off. Not only is Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie now a race between Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”), Lily James (“Pam & Tommy”), and Julia Garner (“Inventing Anna”), but one can only assume great favor for their highly committed performances is what sent their shows over the edge into Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series nominations.

3. Selena Gomez’s Historic Nomination Reflects Harshly on the Emmys​

Call it a symptom of an overall issue within the industry, but there is little to celebrate about the history Selena Gomez made this Emmy nominations morning. The former Disney star is now only the second-ever Latina producer to receive a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, with the first being Salma Hayek for “Ugly Betty” in 2007. However, while the ABC sitcom also received an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nomination for star America Ferrera, who went on to become the first and only Latina to win a Lead Actress Emmy in any major category, Gomez’s sly performance as Mabel on the Hulu hit was overlooked. Should “Only Murders in the Building” win Outstanding Comedy Series, the young mogul would be the second Latina producer to win in any of the top series categories in history (the first was Celia D. Costas for “Angels in America” in 2004). While it’s true that awarding art is highly subjective, it is nevertheless frustrating to see how much work there is still to be done in recognizing the work of Latina artists, who are not only making strides in representation, but are making a breadth of innovative television like “Jane the Virgin,” “The Carmichael Show,” “One Day at a Time,” and “Pose.”

4. “Yellowstone” Proves Voters Are Still Hesitant to Explore Outer Range of Channel Offerings​

Anyone paying attention to Emmy prognosticators would see that there was a strong faction absolutely convinced that 2022 would be the year that the “Yellowstone” TV universe would finally break into the Outstanding Drama Series race (and the Limited Series race to a lesser extent with spin-off “1883”). I personally could not tell what I was missing seeing the show appear high up on the predictions list of other colleagues. This is not at all qualitative criticism of the series itself; performances like that of star Kelly Reilly would actually be a welcome addition in the acting categories, but if “Yellowstone” was meant to be nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, it probably would’ve happened already.

The Paramount Network show helmed by Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan has not had any drastic increase in viewers in the past year. The show has always been popular, hence all the spin-offs and the fact that both Paramount Network and Paramount+ have put the show front-and-center in their marketing. If the show was ever to be nominated for the major categories, it would have been last year when a large number of steadfast Drama contenders like “Succession,” “Ozark,” and “Better Call Saul” had to sit out due to production being delayed by the pandemic. Even with the field open wider for the western to finally be recognized, it still only received one below the line nomination last year. Ultimately, it is likely an issue of its network homes not being on the radar of Emmy voters, because even other big shows like “Gaslit,” which starred Oscar winners Julia Roberts and Sean Penn,” suffered in part by being on Starz, another network that has never been nominated for Outstanding Drama Series despite the popularity of its shows.

5. Dave Chappelle’s Controversial “Closer” Highlights a Primary Criticism of Emmy Voters​

Probably the most common accusation Television Academy voters face is that they vote on autopilot. It’s not the worst thing in the world. While the most recent seasons of “Killing Eve” and “The Flight Attendant” did not receive glowing reviews, it is fair to say Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, and Kaley Cuoco all give reliably great performances. Where this quirk becomes perverse is in a situation like Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer” being nominated for Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded), a category he has been nominated for four times in five years, over a highly-publicized, critically acclaimed comedy special like Jerrod Carmichael’s “Rothaniel.”

It would be one thing to say Chappelle’s controversial special, where he sinks in even deeper on claims he is a transphobe to the horror of many former fans of his, is just a comedy special most voters deem superior, but looking at the Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special categories, “Rothaniel” is nominated for both while only “The Closer” director Stan Lathan is recognized. It is pretty fair to draw the conclusion, and is almost giving folks the benefit of the doubt, that many voters just casually picked Chappelle again in the main category with the thought that he is a dependable choice, and those who took time to watch the specials and hear the jokes actually preferred the nominees in the Writing category like Carmichael or Ali Wong. It would be a much bigger point of frustration if voter sentiment this year is to join Chappelle’s misguided quest to uphold free speech by silencing all his detractors.

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