These Are the Most Surprising 2019 Emmy Nominations

Try as we might, we never can predict the Emmy nominations perfectly. Legacy HBO series that are coming to a close, like Game of Thrones and Veep, are a given, and some of the first-time entries, like Fosse/Verdon and The Kominsky Method, were expected. But there were some big surprises this year. Check them out here. 

The little comedy that could, Schitt’s Creek

Chances are, you know someone who watches Schitt’s Creek. They’re probably told you about the hilariously subversive comedy about a wealthy family, the Roses, who loses everything and has to start over in a tiny town full of characters. But unless you pay for Pop TV, you didn’t encounter this series until Netflix picked it up 2017 — or, more likely, even later.

But once you watch the show, which stars Eugene Levy and his real-life son, Dan, as two members of the central family (they also created it), you’re hooked. Now, after airing its sixth and final season, Schitt’s Creek has finally been recognized. In addition to Best Comedy Series, Levy and his on-screen wife, Catherine O’Hara, are nominated in the Lead Actor and Actress in a Comedy categories, respectively. 

The critically (but audience-ignored) Amazon series Fleabag

Fleabag is yet another Amazon series that got little to no promotion from its home studio. But critics got the word out, pleading with fans to take a chance on this uniquely entertaining series from Killing Eve writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And those who did were hooked, disappointed to find that after its second season began airing in 2019, there was no more Fleabag in the pipeline.

Waller-Bridge, who also stars in the series, was nominated both as the show’s Lead Actress and for her writing. Fleabag is up for Outstanding Comedy Series, and newcomer Sian Clifford, who plays one of the series’ few named characters, Claire, is nominated for her supporting role, alongside Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (who’s nomination is much less of a surprise).

The weird, darkly funny hit, Russian Doll

No one really knew what they were getting into when they started Russian Doll, a Netflix mystery comedy that’s first season dropped in February. This was, not coincidentally, just in time for Groundhog’s Day — you know, like the film, which is alluded to in the series’ time loop storyline. Only this take is quite a bit darker.

Russian Doll was a big hit for Netflix, but it’s a little out of place with the usual Emmy fare. Co-creator and star Natasha Lyonne certainly helped up its credibility, and she’s nominated for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The series is also on the list of Outstanding Comedy Series nominees, and two episodes are nominated for their writing (including the pilot, which was co-written by Lyonne and her fellow creators Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler).

Joey King’s career-making turn in The Act

You may know young actress Joey King from her appearances in a variety of films, from big-budget flicks like Battle: Los Angeles and The Dark Knight Rises to Netflix rom-com The Kissing Booth and its upcoming sequel. Her work on TV has also been well-received, but nothing compared to her turn as Gypsy Blanchard in the Hulu true-crime series The Act.

At just 19, King was, understandably, happy and surprised to receive a nomination for Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie — she’s up against Oscar-nominees Patricia Arquette, Amy Adams, and Michelle Williams. Arquette actually portrayed her mother in the show but is nominated for her performance in Escape at Dannemora

Mandy Moore is finally acknowledged for This Is Us

This one is less of a surprise because it happened at all, but because it just happened. Mandy Moore has starred on the acclaimed NBC drama This Is Us since 2016 — the series’ third season finished airing in the spring. 

But Moore, unlike some of her co-stars has only just received her first nomination. For comparison, Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia (who portray her son and husband, respectively) were both nominated for Lead Actor for Season 1 and 2 (with Brown winning in 2017). Both are nominated again alongside Moore, and, for the third year in a row, This Is Us is up for Outstanding Drama Series. 

Netflix’s experimental film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

The TV Movie category is a strange one. In the past, it has been merged with miniseries, though that has changed in recent years with the surge in miniseries. A new rule further clarifies this, stating that an entry must have at least a 75-minute runtime to be eligible.

This year, HBO is dominating the category. Alongside more standard fare is Netflix’s interactive Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch, which has been categorized as a film. In addition to having a runtime that depends on the user’s choices, this just feels like a very out-there choice for the Television Academy. It seems to safe to say that it likely won’t win.

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