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Women Won Big at the 2017 Emmys

This year’s top awards went to Big Little Lies, Veep, and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Women were the big winners at the Emmys Sunday night—with major trophies in every category going to shows centered on female characters, from established hits like Veep to critically acclaimed new series like The Handmaid’s Tale. In many categories, the Television Academy largely ignored old favorites and didn’t play it safe, mostly snubbing HBO’s prestige dramas (like Westworld) and Netflix’s period piece The Crown, considered a solid frontrunner for Outstanding Drama Series.

Instead, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale ran the table, winning for Drama Series, Lead Actress (Elisabeth Moss), Supporting Actress (Ann Dowd), Writing, and Directing (along with a previously won Guest Actress trophy for Alexis Bledel). A dystopian drama set in a totalitarian society that brutally subjugates women, the series resonated with critics and voters in this politically charged moment, jumping ahead of works from more established networks. Sterling K. Brown was named Best Actor for This Is Us, a rare network-TV hit airing on NBC, while Best Supporting Actor went to John Lithgow for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Crown.

On the comedy side, HBO’s old favorite Veep won its third consecutive award for Comedy Series, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus winning her sixth Lead Actress trophy for the show. But other than that, the Emmys spread the love around, with Donald Glover’s acclaimed new FX series Atlanta winning Best Actor and Best Writing (both going to Glover), the Supporting Actor awards going to Saturday Night Live (Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon), and Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe taking Best Writing for their outstanding “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None.

The miniseries categories, more star-studded than ever, were completely dominated by HBO’s Big Little Lies, which won Best Miniseries, Best Director, Best Actress (for Nicole Kidman), Best Supporting Actor (Alexander Skarsgard) and Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern). Best Actor was Riz Ahmed for The Night Of, while the Best Made for TV Movie and Best Writing trophies went to Charlie Brooker for his Black Mirror opus “San Junipero.”

In taking the stage for their final award of the night, Big Little Lies stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon said they had moved into TV because of the lackluster parts being offered in the cinema world, and urged the industry to keep writing more dynamic roles for women. The host Stephen Colbert championed the increased diversity of the nominees, and with this 2017 slate of winners (where, among other things, every Lead Actor award went to a man of color), the Emmys remain far ahead of the Academy Awards on the issue, reflecting encouraging progress in the ever-changing medium.


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Best Drama Series and Actress to 'The Handmaid's Tale,' While Sterling K. Brown Wins Best Actor

Phil McCarten / Invision / AP

As it raced toward its 11 p.m. deadline, the Emmys rushed through three of its most important awards, particularly Best Actor in a Drama, which went to Sterling K. Brown for This Is Us. It was Brown’s second win in two years—he was Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries for The People vs. OJ Simpson last year—but this win had more significance, as it was the first time an African American performer had won Lead Actor in a Drama since Andre Braugher, who won for Homicide: Life on the Street in 1998.

Phil McCarten / Invision / AP

“Walter White held this joint? Dick Whitman held this joint? I may have lost some of y'all, but, y'know, Google it,” said Brown, referring to Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm’s wins in the category. “And 19 years ago, Frank Pembleton won this joint, as impeccably played by Andre Braugher. ...It is my supreme honor to follow in your footsteps.” Brown paid tribute to his This Is Us cast, calling them “the best white TV family that a brother has ever had,” but then was played off by the Emmy orchestra before he’d completed his speech, an awkward conclusion to a heartening win.

Best Actress in a Drama Series went to Elisabeth Moss for The Handmaid’s Tale, the first win in nine tries for the veteran of TV (who has also been nominated for Mad Men and Top of the Lake and also has The West Wing in her hall-of-fame credentials). “Margaret Atwood, thank you for what you did in 1985, and thank you for what you continue to do for all of us,” Moss said, before having her tribute to her mother in the audience bleeped out by CBS’s live censor.

But she was back onstage shortly thereafter with the cast and crew of The Handmaid’s Tale after it was named Best Drama Series, a first for its fledgling streaming network, Hulu. “Go home, get to work, we have a lot of things to fight for. Goodnight!” said the creator Bruce Miller, after paying homage to the Handmaid’s Tale novelist Margaret Atwood (who joined him onstage).

'Black Mirror' Is Best TV Movie, 'Big Little Lies' Best Miniseries

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

After winning a writing Emmy for the same episode, Charlie Brooker accepted the award for Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” when it was named Best Made-for-Television Movie, a huge win for Netflix that demonstrated the immense popularity of that more optimistic edition of the dystopian sci-fi show. “I've heard 2017 as being described as like being trapped in one long unending Black Mirror episode. But I’d like to think if I had written it it wouldn't be quite so on the nose,” Brooker quipped, adding “Love will defeat hate, and love will win, but it might need a bit of help.”

Then, Big Little Lies completed its grand sweep with a Best Miniseries trophy, accepted by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman (who starred in, and produced, the series). “Bring women to the front of their own stories and make them the hero of their own stories! Thank you for that opportunity for audiences to wrap their arms around us,” Witherspoon said.

“Thank you to the people that embraced this, the power of television, it has astounded us,” Kidman added. “This was an opportunity, created because we weren't getting offered great roles. So, now, more great roles for women, please!”

HBO Sweeps the Miniseries Acting Categories

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

HBO swept both lead performer categories in the limited series/movie category, with Riz Ahmed winning for his turn in The Night Of and Nicole Kidman for her work in Big Little Lies.

Both winners took the opportunity to talk about the social messages underlying their shows. “It’s always strange reaping the rewards of a story based on real-world suffering,” Ahmed said before plugging The Innocence Project and South Asian Youth Action. Kidman issued an emotional thanks to her family but also praised Big Little Lies for spotlighting the problem of domestic violence: “It is a complicated, insidious disease. It exists far more than we allow ourselves to know.”

'Veep' Gets Outstanding Comedy and Actress, 'Atlanta' Wins Best Actor

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

The lead acting awards in comedy went to one new winner and one old hand—Donald Glover won Best Lead Actor for Atlanta, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her umpteenth Best Actress prize for Veep (her eleventh trophy overall, when you include the show’s Comedy Series win tonight and her wins for Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine).

“I'm so happy, wow! Thank you guys so much, this is nuts,” said Glover, who beat out Jeffrey Tambor (who won the last two years for Transparent), Aziz Ansari, Anthony Anderson, and Zach Galifianakis, among others. “I wanna thank Trump for making black people number one on the most oppressed list,” he joked. “He's the reason I'm probably up here." Atlanta took two major Emmys in its freshman season and seemed like a plausible threat for Comedy Series.

But that went to Veep, which won for the third year in a row. Louis-Dreyfus took her sixth Emmy in a row for playing Selina Meyer, a new record for consecutive wins playing the same character (beating out Candice Bergen and Don Knotts). “We have a great final season that we're about to start filming,” she said, offering a light at the end of the tunnel to her competitors in the category. “We did have a whole storyline about an impeachment, but we abandoned that because we were worried someone else might get to it first,” she added jokingly. “This is, and it continues to be, the role of a lifetime and an adventure of utter joy!”

John Oliver, King of Late-Night Talk

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

In a year when late-night talk shows have gained renewed attention for annotating the national political drama, the Emmys gave HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver the Outstanding Variety Talk Series award over Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, The Late Late Show With James Corden, and Real Time With Bill Maher.

Oliver kept it light with his speech, mostly focusing on Oprah’s seat filler in the audience—perhaps because he’d recently been onstage after winning Outstanding Writing in a Variety Series and trying to get #DCPublicSchools trending on Twitter. But afterwards, fellow nominees Colbert and Kimmel commiserated over a cocktail entitled “The Last Week Tonight”—a “dry, British” drink, as Kimmel said. Colbert shot back, “It’s so high quality, they can only make one a week.”

'The Things That Make Us Different, Those Are Our Superpowers,' Says Lena Waithe of 'Master of None'

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

Lena Waithe and Aziz Ansari, actors and writers for the Netflix comedy Master of None, won Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the second season’s “Thanksgiving” installment. The episode told of the years-long process for Waithe’s character, Denise, to be accepted as gay by her family, and Waithe’s Emmys speech emphasized the story was rooted in her own life. “My LGBTQIA family, I see each and every one of you,” said Waithe, who is the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. “The things that make us different—those are our superpowers.” She added, “Thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the south side of Chicago.”

In August, Waithe spoke to The Atlantic’s Adrienne Green about her Emmy nomination: “Writing that episode was ... the difference in going from being a slave to being free.”

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Ann Dowd, 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

Ann Dowd, a celebrated character actress, was barely known just five years ago when she delivered a breakout performance in the indie film Compliance, generating some Oscar buzz and landing her bigger roles in TV like Masters of Sex and The Leftovers. She’s drawn acclaim for all of them, and for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, where she plays the imperious Aunt Lydia. Still, she seemed bowled over by her Best Supporting Actress victory, accepting the trophy tearfully and stringing together a few oddly poetic sentences. “I've been acting for a long time, and that this should happen now, I don't have the words, so I thank you,” she said, thanking her manager, her agent, her network (“they’re very lovely, Hulu”), and then her husband—“I love him so, his name is Larry Arancio.”

Alexander Skarsgård: 'Thank You for Making This Boy Feel Like One of the Girls'

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

Sporting a sure-to-be-controversial new mustache, Alexander Skarsgård accepted Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his work on Big Little Lies, besting nominees from Feud, The Night Of, and Fargo. Possibly recognizing the irony of winning for playing the misogynistic villain in a formidable female ensemble, Skarsgård shouted out his castmates: “Thank you for making this boy feel like one of the girls.”

A '9 to 5' Reunion, 37 Years in the Making

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

In 1980, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda co-starred in the movie 9 to 5, a dark-comic fantasy that found three women taking murder-y revenge on their terrible boss. The IMDB entry for the film, borrowing a line from Fonda’s character, Judy Bernly, describes its plot like so: “Three female employees of a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot find a way to turn the tables on him.”

Thirty-seven years later, the three actors reunited, as a trio, on the Emmys stage, to present the evening’s award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. And Parton, Tomlin, and Fonda—in keeping with what seems to be the unofficial theme of the evening—used the occasion to make another comment about the president. “In 1980,” Fonda began, “we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot boss.”

Tomlin continued: “And in 2017 we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot boss.”

The crowd cheered. Then Dolly Parton, taking a cue from the “supporting” element of the award being presented, made a joke about her breasts. And then she made a joke about the “Grace and Frankie vibrators” in the show’s swag bags. And then she, with Tomlin and Fonda, presented the award to Alexander Skarsgård, for his performance in Big Little Lies—in which he played something of a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot. And in which a group of strong women refused to be controlled by him.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, 'Saturday Night Live'

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

In the least surprising win of the night, Emmy favorite Alec Baldwin (already a two-time winner for 30 Rock) won Best Supporting Actor for his year on Saturday Night Live playing Donald Trump. Baldwin’s Trump impression has helped revitalize the show in the ratings and surely aided in its Variety Sketch Series victory (its first since 1993). In accepting the award, he referenced Colbert’s jokes about the president’s obsession with never winning an Emmy, which he even brought up at one of last year’s presidential debates. “I suppose I should say, at long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy,” Baldwin quipped. He mocked the orange wig and costume he dons for SNL, calling it a form of “birth control,” then switched gears to encourage filmmakers and TV programmers to keep making art in troubled times, saying, “Don't stop doing what you’re doing; the audience is counting on you.”

The Election 2016 'SNL' Season Takes Best Variety Sketch

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

The season of SNL that brought the world Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, and Tom Hanks as a consummately sympathetic Trump voter, won out over Billy on the Street, Documentary Now! Drunk History, Portlandia, and Tracey Ullman's Show for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.

Accepting the award alongside much of his cast, show creator Lorne Michaels thought back to SNL’s win for the legendary show’s first outing in 1976. He said he remembered thinking, “This was the high point. There would never be another season as crazy, as unpredictable, as frightening, as exhausting, or as exhilarating.”

“Turns out … I was wrong.”

Donald Glover: Best Director for 'Atlanta'

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

Donald Glover was nominated for four Emmys this year, all for his critically-acclaimed FX series Atlanta, and he won in the first category—Best Directing in a Comedy Series, for the wonderful and bizarre anthology episode “B.A.N.” We called it one of the most versatile TV episodes of the year when it aired, but Glover used most of his stage time to thank Hiro Murai, who directed several of Atlanta’s episodes this season. “He taught me everything about directing,” said Glover, who is also nominated tonight for Best Actor, Best Writing, and for producing Atlanta.

Laura Dern Takes a Feminist Stand With Her 'Big Little Lies' Win

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

“I’ve been acting since I was 11 years old, and I think I’ve worked with maybe 12 women,” Laura Dern said, accepting the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie trophy for her antiheroic turn as Renata Klein in HBO’s Big Little Lies. It was a competitive category, pitting Dern against her Lies castmate Shailene Woodley as well as exceptional talents like Regina King in American Crime. “I share this with my tribe of ladies,” Dern said in her speech, which thanked her show’s writers for creating “vulnerable flowers like Renata.”

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Kate McKinnon, 'Saturday Night Live'

Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP

Three Saturday Night Live actors were nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series this year, but in the end the trophy went to last year’s winner, Kate McKinnon, who collected her second career Emmy. She gave thanks to her co-stars Leslie Jones and Vanessa Bayer, also nominated, along with Veep’s Anna Chlumsky and Transparent’s Judith Light and Kathryn Hahn, but her biggest thank-you went to her biggest subject. "Being part of this season of SNL was the most meaningful thing I will ever do, so I should probably stop now,” she joked. “On a very personal note, I want to say thank you Hillary Clinton for your grace.”

John Lithgow Wins Best Supporting Actor for 'The Crown'

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

The first statue of the night was hardly surprising. Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series went to John Lithgow for Netflix’s The Crown, the period piece that saw him play Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his later years. It’s Lithgow’s sixth Emmy—he won three for Third Rock From the Sun, one for Amazing Stories, and one for his terrifying guest role on Dexter before. "The Crown just keeps on giving, and this is the last of its gifts," he said, adding that the role, “reminds us what courage and leadership in government looks like” and thanking Churchill for the honor. Among the actors Lithgow beat out for the trophy were Jeffrey Wright for Westworld, David Harbour for Stranger Things, Jonathan Banks for Better Call Saul (he’s still never won!), and Ron Cephas Jones for This Is Us.

Stephen Colbert Dubs the Emmys an Evening of 'Us, Celebrating Us'

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

In April of 2006, an up-and-coming comedian named Stephen Colbert delivered the keynote speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. His performance was immediately controversial. Some pundits dismissed Colbert’s speech as “rude” and disrespectful, and Colbert himself as a “bully.” Others praised him for speaking truth to power. The discrepancy came from the fact that Colbert had used the Correspondents’ Dinner speech to do what his character did every evening on The Colbert Report—to pointedly criticize George W. Bush and the institutions of Washington, with the inside-out posture of satire—except that, this time, he had mocked the people behind those institutions to their faces. As they supped on par-cooked meat.

Tonight, Colbert—as himself, or at least as the late-night host he now plays—brought a gentler interpretation of that in-your-face mockery to the Emmy Awards. “This is TV’s highest honors—us, celebrating us,” the show’s host said, during his monologue.

“Tonight,” he added, “we binge ourselves.”

It’s a familiar theme in any awards show: the powerful, gathered together, made mockable by the host meant to entertain them. Colbert, though, has made a career out of such satirical self-puncturing. He doubled down on it in his monologue. “Can you feel it?” he asked the room, after a song-and-dance routine that had alternately celebrated and poked fun at the notion of television’s escapism. “This room is crackling with the collective energy of people who, for the last 48 hours, have consumed nothing but distilled water and Crest White Strips.”

Colbert’s monologue also poked fun at current events: Donald Trump, Joe Arpaio, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump. It featured Sean Spicer making a surprise-but-also-not-terribly-surprising appearance, rolling onstage by way of a Melissa McCarthy-esque, wheeled podium. Even in poking fun at the president, though, Colbert also poked fun at his audience—often, in the guise of celebrating them. “I thought you people loved morally compromised anti-heroes,” Colbert said, blaming the Hollywood powerful for enabling Trump’s candidacy-turned-presidency. “You liked Walter White,” Colbert said—“he’s just Walter Much Whiter.”

'Everything Is Better on TV,' Stephen Colbert and Chance the Rapper Sing

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP Images

The opening number of the night toured through the hits of the year—Black-ish, This is Us, The Handmaid’s Tale. But it also hit on the inescapable television topic of the year: the Trump era and the anxieties that’ve come with it. “Everything is better on TV,” host Stephen Colbert sang, not entirely in earnest.

Allison Janney set the topic in the intro: "Sea levels are rising. Our leaders are fighting. I hear HBO is bringing back the Confederacy." Then Colbert launched into his song-and-dance number that married escapism with serious headlines. He rhymed “the Middle East” with “the recently deceased” while hanging out with a Walking Dead zombie. Standing behind Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, he sang, “The Americans has hotter spies than the Russian inquiry / even treason’s better on TV!”

Eventually he ceded the segment to a professional musician, Chance the Rapper, who said that television is a great distraction yet—rhyme alert—was no substitute for action. “I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in fact it’s an addiction,” he said. “But where’s the cop show where one gets convicted?”

It wasn’t a super-innovative idea for a show-opening segment, but it also felt like the inevitable one. The most controversy-courting moment may have come not from any punchline about Trump but rather from when Colbert ended the song on the Emmys stage with a host of dancers done up like the sex slaves from The Handmaid’s Tale, shimmying joyfully.

Issa Rae Pays Tribute to Shonda Rhimes

Danny Moloshok / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

“There’s just too much talent here,” Issa Rae, the creator and star of Insecure, told Giuliana Rancic on E!’s red carpet.

But Rancic, aware of the selfie-taking that would soon be happening inside the Microsoft Theater, asked Rae to play favorites. “If you could have just one picture tonight,” Rancic said, “with just one person here, who you admire… I’m sure there’d be a lot of people. But just one person.”

Who would it be?

Shonda Rhimes, Rae replied. Because Rhimes, she said, “has just really paved the way for so many women of color, so many black women. So that’s hands down a picture that I would love to take.”

'This Is Us' Will Soon Put 'the Big Three' in a New Decade


Regina King, star of American Crime and The Leftovers, recently directed an episode of the NBC drama This Is Us. (According to Variety, her episode will be the sixth of the show’s second season.)

“I need to know everything about the episode that you’re not supposed to tell me,” E!’s Jason Kennedy told King, as the two talked on the Emmys’s red carpet.

“So I think there’s one thing that I can tell you without getting in trouble with NBC,” King replied, “is that, in my episode, you get to meet the Big Three in a decade that you’ve never seen them in before.”

Does this mean that we’ll see Randall, Kate, and Kevin—the triplets at the center of the show’s story—as they were in the early aughts? Or at some distant point in the future, in an episode titled This Will Be Us? Either way, King’s episode will likely provide fertile new ground for a show that has already gotten so much artistic mileage out of its time-hopping premise.  

Laverne Cox Agrees to Guest-Star on 'Black-ish'

Richard Shotwell / Invision / AP

Should you ever find yourself in the position to find this advice useful, here’s one way to get a celebrity to agree to guest-star on your hit TV show: ask that celebrity to make the cameo on live television.

That’s how Anthony Anderson, star of Black-ish, got Laverne Cox, star of Orange Is the New Black, to say yes to a future appearance on the ABC show. It went like this: Cox was up after Anderson for her E! red carpet interview. And when Anderson realized that Cox was following him, rather than cede the platform to her and to Giuliana Rancic, Anderson stuck around—and jokingly conducted Cox’s interview himself. “Laverne Cox is now joining us here at E!,” he announced, ad-libbing to the camera. “Laverne, how do you feel this evening?”

“I feel incredible,” she replied. “How do you feel, Anthony?”

“I feel wonderful,” he answered. And then: “Is there a reason we haven’t had you on my television show, Black-ish? Are you that busy?”

“I’ve not been invited, darling,” Cox replied. “I would gladly come and join you on Black-ish.”

And, with that, Anderson sealed the deal: “Laverne Cox, I am inviting you to come play with us and be a guest star on Black-ish on ABC right now.”

“I’ll be there,” she replied. “I just have to do this interview and I’ll be right there, babe.”

Rachel Bloom Would Like to Remind You: 'We're All at Work Right Now'

Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP

On the Emmy’s red carpet, the E! host Giuliana Rancic interviewed Rachel Bloom—and the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator and star got the conversation started by puncturing the glitz of the evening.

“I think what people at home have to understand is: This looks very glamorous, but we’re all at work right now,” Bloom told Rancic. Participating in an awards show, she added, is “really cool but also it’s very high-stress. People are stepping on dresses, publicists are wondering if they’re gonna get fired.” She added, to drive the point home: “I’m at work! You’re at work! This is work!”

Rancic resisted what must have been a pretty strong desire to make a This Is Us joke. “But it’s good work,” Rancic countered.

“Oh, it’s wonderful work,” Bloom replied. “It’s fun work. But it’s work.”

“It is work,” Rancic agreed.

What to Expect at the 2017 Emmy Awards

Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy / AP

Once a fairly staid affair that favored repeat winners year after year, the Emmy Awards are now as unpredictable as the era of “Peak TV” being awarded, with several hot new shows breaking through with major nominations every year and old favorites falling off far more quickly. (See our full list of the nominees here or my colleague Sophie Gilbert’s more in-depth breakdown of the contenders.)

The Drama Series category seems divided between three eras of television. There’s the old-fashioned network hit This Is Us, which drew big audiences and warm reviews for NBC this year with its sweeping family drama, replete with plot twists and weepy storytelling. There’s the giant of premium cable, with HBO’s Westworld garnering plenty of nominations (the winner for the last two years, Game of Thrones, took a long break between seasons and will be back for the next Emmys). And there are the mighty streaming networks, with Netflix nominated for House of Cards and Stranger Things, and Hulu acknowledged for The Handmaid’s Tale. With Thrones gone, voters may spread the love around.

In the Comedy Series category, HBO’s Veep (winner of the last two trophies) probably remains the frontrunner in this charged political moment, though voters will have noted the serious critical acclaim lavished on FX’s Atlanta (the only new nominee this year). Still, the Emmys tend to be more conservative with the comedy categories, giving Modern Family the top award for five years running before switching tracks to Veep.

Perhaps the most exciting, and certainly the most star-studded, categories will be for Limited Series and TV Movies, a shocking turnaround considering how unfashionable the miniseries was just a few years ago (before shows like True Detective revived viewer interest). Among the nominees are the third edition of FX’s Fargo (starring Ewan McGregor), Feud: Bette and Joan (with Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange), and the obvious frontrunner, HBO’s smash hit Big Little Lies (with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon). Big Little Lies might have the most wattage, but the Emmys have delivered plenty of surprises in recent years, and 2017’s ceremony seems like the most wide-open in ages.