In the past, the Television Academy has often been slow to recognize quirkier or off-the-beaten-track fare. Not so in the 72nd annual edition of its awards, which might be the most web-traffic-friendly lineup of Emmy nominees ever. It’s like someone (or really, a whole lot of someones) finally got the memo that we live in the age of the internet.
Without “Game of Thrones” in its quiver, the nomination total for HBO not surprisingly dropped — from 137 nominations last year to 107. Netflix, meanwhile, exploded to a staggering 160 nominations overall — shattering the record HBO set in 2019 — despite the encroachment of new services like Disney+ (19, all but four of those for “The Mandalorian”), Apple TV+ (18) and Quibi (10).
Of course, sheer tonnage in nominations doesn’t always translate into wins, and HBO would still appear to be well positioned to make considerable noise on awards night. The nework’s heavyweights include this year’s most-nominated program in “Watchmen” — competing in an absolutely loaded limited-series category — and drama nominee “Succession,” which tied “Ozark” in its category.
Award nominations can never please everybody, and wading through the dozens of categories, it’s a virtual certainty that any TV viewer will find some teeth-gnashing “snub” or oversight about which to gripe. In late night alone, for example, Bill Maher, Jimmy Fallon and James Corden’s shows were overlooked, while “The Daily Show” alums Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and John Oliver all made the cut, along with Jimmy Kimmel.
Still, this was that rare year when the Emmys delivered plenty of surprises, in mostly admirable ways. That certainly provides the ingredients for an interesting show, with the slightly sobering reality that in the age of coronavirus, it’s not going to look like the telecasts of the past in more ways than one.
The 72nd Emmys will air Sept. 20 on ABC.