Breakouts, Snubs, and Stars in the 2016 Emmy Nominations

The Television Academy was kind to Mr. Robot, Game of Thrones, The Americans, and The People v. O.J. Simpson, but less so to Orange Is the New Black.


In the age of Peak TV, the list of worthy contenders for the 2016 Emmy Awards was always going to be long, with even more inevitable snubs and omissions given how many worthy shows there are to choose from. But the nominations, announced on Thursday morning by Black-ish’s Anthony Anderson and Gilmore Girls’s Lauren Graham, seemed to show the growing importance of acclaim over ratings, with voters mainly rewarding critical hits over commercial ones.

On the drama side of things, the long-ignored but beloved FX series The Americans got three major nominations for its fourth season: one for Outstanding Drama Series, and one each for its lead actor and actress, Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell. The 2015 breakout USA hit Mr. Robot (which just started its second season) found its way into the outstanding drama category as well, alongside Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, and the (questionable) Emmys favorites House of Cards and Homeland. Meanwhile, the limited series category seems to only be growing in prestige, with not a single weak show in the bunch.

This year, streaming networks made up exactly half of the entrants for Outstanding Comedy Series, with Netflix’s Master of None getting a nomination for its debut season, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Transparent remaining in the running after their second seasons. Most shows nominated for best comedy also have strong showings in the performance categories. Silicon Valley has been a notable exception in this regard, but this year marked a turnaround with a lead actor nomination for Thomas Middleditch.

After two straight years of the Oscars being criticized for a stark lack of diversity, the Emmys have come out looking impressive in comparison—for the first time in the show’s history, every top acting category has at least one performer of color, if not multiple. One exception to the heartening trend came in the variety talk series category: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee got a nomination, where many critics expected (and hoped) the excellent newcomer Full Frontal With Samantha Bee would be recognized. Though Bee, Trevor Noah, and Larry Wilmore have been welcome additions in the last year to a field long exclusively dominated by white men, the Emmys nominations didn’t reflect that diversity in the top categories.

The list of snubs is virtually endless: HBO’s The Leftovers, which had a stunning second season, was left out of the best drama category again, as was its strong lead and supporting cast. Sophie Turner’s role as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones’s sixth season drew much acclaim, but she was ignored while her co-stars Peter Dinklage and Maisie Williams (who had much more minor roles this year) received honors. The Good Wife was shut out in its final year of eligibility, and neither Rhea Seehorn nor Uzo Aduba made the supporting-actress list for Better Call Saul and Orange Is the New Black, respectively. Given the vitality and creativity of television today, the roster of overlooked talent will only grow in the coming years. (On the bright side, Beyonce’s gorgeous visual album Lemonade won four nominations.)

The Emmys site has the complete list of nominees, all of whom will face off on September 18, when the awards ceremony takes place.

Outstanding Drama Series
The Americans
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mr. Robot

Outstanding Comedy Series
Master of None
Modern Family
Silicon Valley

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler (Bloodline)
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
Liev Schrieber (Ray Donovan)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder)
Taraji P. Henson (Empire)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Keri Russell (The Americans)
Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Aziz Ansari (Master of None)
Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth)
William H. Macy (Shameless)
Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley)
Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Julia Louis Dreyfus (Veep)
Laurie Metcalf (Getting On)
Tracee Ellis-Ross (Black-ish)
Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer)
Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie)

Limited Series
American Crime
The Night Manager
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Bryan Cranston (All the Way)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: The Abominable Bride)
Idris Elba (Luther)
Cuba Gooding Jr. (The People v. O.J.)
Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager)
Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J.)

Lead Actress in Limited Series
Kirsten Dunst (Fargo)
Felicity Huffman (American Crime)
Audra McDonald (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill)
Sarah Paulson (The People v. O.J.)
Lili Taylor (American Crime)
Kerry Washington (Confirmation)

Variety Talk Series
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Late Late Show With James Corden
Real Time With Bill Maher

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon