The Biggest Surprises And Snubs Of The 2020 Emmy Nominations

Ah, yes. Another major awards show, another chance to pick apart the nominations! The 2020 Emmy Nominations were announced this morning and, as usual, there were a number of surprises (some positive, some negative). And of course, there were plenty of folks who were left out of the party.

So let's dispense with the pleasantries and wade into the muck of it all. Let's break down the biggest 2020 Emmy surprises and snubs, from The Mandalorian to Watchmen to What We Do in the Shadows to Reese Witherspoon and more.

Surprise: The Mandalorian Got a Best Drama Series Nomination

No. I'm sorry, but no. I know this show has a vocal fan base, but popularity does not always equate to quality. And there is simply no way that The Mandalorian is among the best dramatic television shows of the past year. The most Star Wars show of the year? Sure. The most innovative from a technical standpoint? Yes. This show has a number of standout moments and impressive aspects (that theme song, for one), but one of the best dramatic series of the entire year? The Emmy voters that made this happen should jump into a Sarlacc pit. (Ben Pearson)

Snub: No Rhea Seehorn for Better Call Saul

At this point, Rhea Seehorn should sue for being overlooked every year by the Emmys for her consistently stellar performance in Better Call Saul. The breakout star of AMC's Breaking Bad spin-off series, Seehorn is constantly praised by critics for her powerhouse performance as the principled and complex attorney Kim Wexler, the love interest and confidant of Bob Odenkirk's Jimmy McGill, and is often the character through which the show explores its most interesting moral quandaries. Seehorn has long been considered one of the most overdue for a nomination for best actress in a drama series, but it has unjustly evaded her once again. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Surprise: Schitt's Creek Getting 15 Nominations for Its Final Season

Schitt's Creek is the very definition of a sleeper a hit: a character-driven, humane, hysterically funny Canadian comedy series that took its sweet time finding an audience in the United States. At least the sixth and final season got the love and attention the rest of the series has always deserved. In addition to that coveted Best Comedy Series nod, all four series leads were nominated, with Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Daniel Levy, and Annie Murphy landing across all four acting categories. With 15 nominations total, the feel-good show of the past decade has a chance to truly triumph. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: Modern Family and Silicon Valley Shut Out of Best Comedy Series for Their Final Seasons

Modern Family and Silicon Valley have earned plenty of Emmy nominations over the years. In fact, Modern Family was an Emmy darling, getting nominated eight times for Best Comedy Series, and winning five times, not to mention several other nominations and wins in other categories. But even though each of these shows just ended their final seasons, they didn't walk away with a nomination in the Best Comedy Series category. For Modern Family, it's mostly because of a drop in quality over the years, and the same could be said for Silicon Valley, which started to overstay its welcome. Perhaps the more important factor is the steep comedy competition there was this year, as evidenced by the shows nominated. (Ethan Anderton)

Surprise: What We Do in the Shadows Got a Best Comedy Series Nomination

Last year, FX's outstanding horror/comedy series What We Do in the Shadows received two technical nominations. This year, it landed Best Comedy Series and seven others, including nods for writing and directing. It certainly seems like voters are finally realizing that this hysterical show has staying power – and that it's second season represents an incredible amount of growth from everyone involved. Let's hope it stays this good. And let's hope the Emmys continue to recognize it. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: The What We Do in the Shadows Cast Was Shut Out

Even though What We Do in the Shadows received plenty of Emmys love, it's hard to forget that its incredible cast was completely shutout. Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, and Mark Proksch turn in incredible performances, presenting outrageous characters who feel so real that they complement the show's faux documentary style with every step. But maybe that's why they were snubbed. In a high concept series like this, it's easy to heap praise on the writing and directing, thinking that the actors are just pieces to be shuffled from one outrageous set piece to another when they are a vital component of making every oddball choice sing. (Jacob Hall)

Surprise: Double Guest Actress Nominations for Maya Rudolph

With only six slots in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category, the fact that a single performer locked down two of those slots is impressive. But it's Maya Rudolph, so it's understandable. She's the best. Her return to Saturday Night Live as a host was a welcome one, and she fit into the hilarious ensemble cast of The Good Place as if she'd been on board since the pilot. (Ben Pearson)

Snub: Westworld Almost Completely Shut Out of the Main Categories

Aside from Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton's nods in the supporting acting categories, the Emmys had no love for HBO's Westworld this year in the main categories. Series star Evan Rachel Wood has been nominated multiple times in the past but was shut out this year, and since it didn't get a Best Drama nomination this year, maybe the voters are growing a little wary of the show's mystery box approach. (Ben Pearson)

Surprise: Adam Driver, Brad Pitt, and Eddie Murphy All Nominated in the Same Category

Saturday Night Live had a big showing in both of the guest star categories on the comedy side of TV, but perhaps the most stacked side comes in Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, where Adam Diver, Eddie Murphy and Brad Pitt are all nominated for their hosting duties on the sketch show. Driver and Murphy both had the privilege of hosting two fantastic episodes of SNL, so their nominations are rightly deserved. But Pitt's inclusion feels out of left field.

Brad Pitt only briefly appeared as the "host" of one of the remotely produced Saturday Night Live at Home episodes that unfolded during the coronavirus quarantine. He famously played Dr. Anthony Fauci, something the doctor himself suggested to the media during the height of the pandemic, but that was pretty much all he had to do besides introduced the musical guest remotely. If anything, this feels like a gesture by the Television Academy members to stick it to Donald Trump and celebrate Dr. Anthony Fauci. But hey, we're down for celebrating SNL's quarantine efforts, so huzzah! (Ethan Anderton)

Snub: Big Little Lies Shut Out of Drama Series

Big Little Lies will not not be forgotten as a pop culture phenomenon, but it seems the Emmy's have. The second season of the acclaimed HBO drama was almost completely shut out of major categories, failing to get a Best Drama nomination and only earning two supporting acting nominations for stars Laura Dern and Meryl Streep. It's a far cry from 2017, when the limited series swept the Emmys with nine nominations and six wins. But perhaps it's not totally surprise, considering the second season's middling reception from critics and behind-the-scenes troubles. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Surprise: Watchmen Actually Got Everything It Deserved

HBO's Watchmen earned 26 nominations, the most out of anything nominated at the 2020 Emmy Awards. This is the rare case of the actual best thing of the year actually getting the recognition it deserves. Damon Lindelof's terrifying, hilarious, razor-sharp blend of satire, superheroics, social commentary, and big sci-fi ideas was the most ambitious and impressive thing we've seen in a long, long time. No other show better prepared us for 2020 while also wryly peeling apart the past 30 years of American culture and politics. What an amazing thing to happen for an amazing show. Now give it every award. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: Reese Witherspoon Not Nominated for The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere

Not only was her work on Big Little Lies almost completely shut out of the Emmys, Reese Witherspoon is going home empty-handed for her roles in The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere, the latter of which featured one of the Oscar winner's most monstrous performances she's delivered to date. This despite her costars in The Morning Show, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell earning nominations for their turns in the Apple TV+ series, and Kerry Washington getting a nod for Little Fires Everywhere. It's a shame that Witherspoon is getting overlooked when she's delivering some of her most layered, and interesting work in her career. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Surprise: D’Arcy Carden Nominated for The Good Place

D'Arcy Carden has been an incredible part of the ensemble cast of The Good Place from the beginning, but every single year, her performance went unnoticed by the Emmys. For the show's final season, we're happy to see that she's finally being given her due diligence as Janet, the all-knowing, helpful assistant who had one of the most satisfying and funny character arcs throughout the full series run. Fun Fact: D'Arcy Carden was previously employed as Kristen Bell's nanny, and now she's an Emmy nominee.  Dreams really can come true. (Ethan Anderton)

Snub: Al Pacino and Bob Odenkirk are Nowhere to be Seen

Like his Better Call Saul co-star Rhea Seehorn, series lead Bob Odenkirk is sitting on the sidelines again this year when it comes to an acting nomination. I haven't caught up with the latest few seasons, but plenty of people I know are saying Odenkirk has been doing career-best work for years now, so this lack of recognition stings. And a few years ago, it would have been a slam dunk that Al Pacino, formerly considered one of America's finest actors, would have gotten a token nomination just for showing up on the Amazon Prime Video series Hunters. But the fact that he was left in the dust speaks to how much the bar has been raised in the past decade, and to how stacked these particular categories were this year. (Ben Pearson)

Surprise: Some Love for John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch

John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch is a hilarious parody of classic children's television programs featuring wonderful musical sequences, some surprisingly honest and mature observations about life and death, and Jake Gyllenhaal in an uproarious cameo as special guest Mr. Music. It's a delightfully weird comedy special on Netflix, which will soon have more installments at Comedy Central, and we're glad the Emmys also recognized its brilliance alongside the usual stand-up specials. If you haven't seen it, watch it on Netflix now. (Ethan Anderton)