With few exceptions, the major categories were filled in expected ways when the 2023 Primetime Emmys nominations were announced on Wednesday. A few surprises appeared further down the page, where the members of the Television Academy apparently began checking every name they saw from favorite shows like “Ted Lasso” and “The White Lotus.”
Snub: Taylor Sheridan
He may be the most successful producer on television currently working, but Sheridan gets no respect at the Emmys. His monster hit “Yellowstone” kept getting snubbed (it got one Primetime Emmy nomination, for production design in 2021), and his other series “1923,” “Tulsa King” and “The Mayor of Kingstown” got one nod between them, for stunt coordination in “Tulsa King.” Particularly infuriating: no nomination for Helen Mirren as the matriarch in the western period “1923”.
Surprise: ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’
Greater acceptance of genre shows fueled by existing intellectual property was anticipated, and “Andor” and “The Last of Us” met expectations with their nominations for best drama. But it was a mild shock to see a second Disney+ “Star Wars” show (along with “Andor”) make it through in the limited series category. Ewan McGregor, who reprized his Obi-Wan role from the prequel films, seems to be attracting a lot of goodwill. The nomination for “Obi-Wan” came at the expense of heavier series like “Black Bird” or “Little Light”.
The long, slow fading of traditional standards of television humor was evident during the announcement of the best comedy nominees, during which the clips for “Abbott Elementary,” “Barry,” “The Bear,” “Jury Duty,” “The “Marvellous Mrs.” Maisel,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Ted Lasso” and “Wednesday” contained no jokes and hardly any laughs. The fusion of television comedy in satirical drama is almost complete.
Surprise: ‘Jury Duty’
Freevee’s mix of sitcom and real-life mind game attracted a lot of attention, but that wasn’t expected to translate into nominations for comedy series, writing and supporting actor (James Marsden, playing himself).
Snub: “What We Do in the Shadows”
FX’s raunchy vampire comedy received four nominations in technical categories, but failed to get a nod for comedy series, an honor it garnered in two of its first three seasons.
Surprise: Kumail Nanjiani
Nanjiani’s performance as Indian immigrant and male stripping entrepreneur Steve Banerjee on Hulu’s “Welcome to Chippendales” was well-reviewed, but Steve Carell (for FX on Hulu’s “The Patient”) and Jesse Eisenberg (for FX on “Fleishman Is in Trouble” from Hulu. “) were considered stronger contenders for best actor in a limited series.
Snubs: Harrison Ford, Steve Martin, Fiona Shaw, Imelda Staunton
You can’t feel too bad for people with careers as long and successful as those four had, but everyone expected to hear their names called: Ford for comedy supporting actor in “Shrinking” (and, perhaps, dramatic lead in “1923”); Martin for comedy lead actor in “Just Murders in the Building” (where his castmate Martin Short was nominated); Shaw for dramatic guest actress in “Andor”; and – probably the most notable omission – Staunton for dramatic lead actress in “The Crown”.
Surprise: “The White Lotus” supporting cast
Sabrina Impacciatore, Theo James, Will Sharpe and Simona Tabasco all received unexpected supporting actress and actor nominations, in categories where better-known and quite worthy performers such as Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”), John Lithgow (“The Old Man”) and, especially , Carol Burnett (“Better Call Saul”) were expected to be on the list.
Surprise: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”
Okay, no one was actually surprised that Oliver’s flagship sitcom series was nominated in the scripted variety series category. But there was at least a little more room than usual for doubt after the show was moved out of the talk category it had dominated for the past seven years. (The move opened up room on a talk show for Oliver’s old boss, the host of “The Trouble With Jon Stewart.”)