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Emmy nominations snubs and surprises: 'Roseanne,' Issa Rae, 'Modern Family,' John Legend, and 'Fuller House'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

In years past, big ratings have generally been a ticket to large numbers of Emmy nominations, but 2018 is proving to be a year when voters made a point of sharing the wealth between blockbuster shows like Game of Thrones and critical darlings like Killing Eve. It should be noted that some of those critical darlings were likely helped by the fact that awards-friendly series like Better Call SaulHouse of Cards, and Master of None weren’t eligible this year. Their absence meant that we were treated to a number of pleasant surprises among the nominees, with the spotlight being shone on previously neglected performers like Issa Rae and Jesse Plemons. But a number of equally deserving shows and performers slipped between the cracks, while real-life reports contributed to some high-profile snubs. Here’s our roundup of this year’s biggest Emmy snubs and surprises.

Snubs

Roseanne (Outstanding Comedy Series)

Roseanne was canceled in May by ABC after star Roseanne Barr’s much-publicized racist Twitter rant. (Photo: ABC)

If Emmy voters filled out their ballots immediately after Roseanne returned to record ratings in March, it likely would have challenged Game of Thrones as the year’s most-nominated series. But Roseanne Barr’s Twitter habits torpedoed the show’s Emmy chances along with the show itself. One person did emerge from the Roseanne wreckage, though: Laurie Metcalf, whose popularity within the industry — and recent Oscar nomination for Lady Bird — powered her to a well-deserved Supporting Actress nomination.

Jeffrey Tambor (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Transparent; Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, Arrested Development)

From Louis C.K. to James Franco, Emmy voters made a point of not honoring those men whose misdeeds have been brought to light by the #MeToo movement. That almost certainly played a role in Jeffrey Tambor‘s absence from both the Lead Actor and Supporting Actor races for roles that have previously brought him acclaim and awards. Amazon actually declined to submit the actor in consideration for Transparent — for which he’s been nominated three times and won twice — in the wake of reports about his on-set behavior and subsequent departure from the show. While Netflix did enter him in the Supporting Actor category for Arrested Development, his treatment of co-star Jessica Walter quickly overshadowed the series.

Modern Family (Outstanding Comedy Series)

For the first time since its 2009 launch, ABC’s Modern Family failed to land a comedy series or acting nomination for its most recent ninth season. (Photo: ABC)

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. For the first time in its nine-season history, Modern Family failed to score a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, and the cast similarly went empty-handed. Now that it’s an underdog, though, don’t be surprised if the show stages a comeback in its 10th — and final — season.

Kristen Bell (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, The Good Place)

Ted Danson and Kristen Bell in The Good Place. (Photo: NBC)

Don’t get us wrong: We’re forkin’ thrilled that Ted Danson is in Lead Actor contention for NBC’s heavenly comedy. But leading lady Kristen Bell is equally essential to The Good Place‘s success, particularly in Season 2, where she had to navigate multiple tones and versions of herself. If the Emmys ignore her again next year, they’ll be in a very Bad Place.

Kyle MacLachlan (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Twin Peaks: The Return)

The belated return of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s groundbreaking series didn’t exactly go unrecognized: Twin Peaks picked up 13 nominations in technical categories. But we’re crying into our coffee and cherry pie about Kyle MacLachlan‘s omission from the Lead Actor category for his virtuoso portrayal of three versions of the same man: Agent Cooper, Bad Coop, and the immortal Dougie Jones. The actor himself told us how much this experience affected him as a performer — it’s a shame it didn’t make an impact on voters in the same way.

Alison Brie (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, GLOW)

Betty Gilpin and Alison Brie in  GLOW. (Photo: Netflix)

Netflix’s delightful wrestling comedy wrestled 10 nominations out of voters, including nods for Outstanding Comedy and Betty Gilpin for Supporting Actress, who thanked the Television Academy for recognizing a show “where women are allowed to be their weirdest, loudest, bravest selves.” Given all the love for GLOW, we were genuinely shocked that its weird, loud, and brave star — Alison Brie — didn’t receive a Lead Actress nomination. Someone needs to be put in a headlock for that oversight.

Will & Grace (Outstanding Comedy)

Back in the ’90s, Will & Grace and its quartet of stars were perennial Emmy nominees. Not so this recent revival season, which scored a Supporting Actress nomination for Megan Mullally but notably snubbed the rest of the foursome. The show was also absent in the Outstanding Comedy category. But hey, at least creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan can have a great drinking game on Emmy night!

Surprises

Jesse Plemons (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Black Mirror: “USS Callister”)

Jesse Plemons in  Black Mirror. (Photo: Netflix via AP)

The breakout episode of Black Mirror‘s fourth season is a treatise on toxic fanboys and internet misogyny in the guise of a Star Trek spoof. Friday Night Lights favorite Jesse Plemons isn’t the first name that springs to mind when you’re thinking of Captain Krik-esque starship commanders, which actually makes him the perfect person for the part. Voters agreed, handing the actor his first-ever Emmy nomination. With clear eyes and full hearts, he can’t lose.

Larry David (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy, Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Larry David waited a long time to bring his signature series back to HBO, and the general consensus seemed to be that maybe he should have stayed away. Despite Curb‘s less-than-stellar reception, the star and his show still received nominations, as did Lin-Manuel Miranda for his two-episode guest spot. OK, that nomination we’re totally on board with.

Issa Rae (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, Insecure)

Issa Rae in Insecure. (Photo: HBO via AP)

Emmy voters overlooked Issa Rae and her terrific series in 2017 but thankfully made up for that mistake this year. The Insecure star becomes only the seventh African-American woman nominated for a Lead Actress in a Comedy statue in Emmy history, taking her place alongside three-time Black-ish nominee Tracee Ellis Ross, the sixth person to achieve that goal.

Godless (Outstanding Limited Series)

As anticipated, The Crown and Stranger Things were big Emmy baubles for Netflix, earning 13 and 12 nominations respectively. But the streaming service’s western series Godless muscled its way into the awards race in a big way as well, picking up 12 nods in the limited-series categories, including directing, cinematography (the landscape photography is truly stunning), and lead actress for Michelle Dockery. Yee-haw!

John Legend (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Jesus Christ Superstar)

John Legend could earn an EGOT with Jesus Christ Superstar nod. (Photo: NBC)

With a Grammy, Oscar, and Tony already on his awards shelf at home, John Legend needs only an Emmy to cement his EGOT status. And voters aren’t about to let him throw away his shot, rewarding the multi-platinum recording artist’s first-ever lead performance with an Emmy nomination. Considering that his competition includes Darren Criss and Jeff Daniels, he’ll likely need a miracle to win, but either way he’ll always be a superstar to us.

Barry (Outstanding Comedy)

It’s been on the air for only one season, but Emmy voters are already wild about Barry. Bill Hader‘s HBO series picked up 13 nominations, making it the network’s most-lauded comedy series this year. Besides joining Atlanta and GLOW among the Outstanding Comedy nominees, the series also received a lead actor nod for Hader, a supporting actor nod for co-star Henry Winkler, and directing and writing nods.

Pamela Adlon (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, Better Things)

Pamela Adlon in Better Things. (Photo: Liane Hentscher/FX via AP)

Fans of Pamela Adlon‘s searingly funny FX series can breathe a sigh of relief that the actress thankfully didn’t become collateral damage in co-creator Louis C.K.’s very public downfall. “I am completely over the moon and so happy,” Adlon said in a heartfelt statement. “This recognition from my peers for my life’s work and my show, Better Things. Filled with gratitude. Thank you.”

Kenan Thompson (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy, Saturday Night Live)

It took only 15 seasons, but Kenan Thompson is finally being celebrated like the national treasure that he is. In a delightful surprise, the SNL veteran finally joined Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Aidy Bryant, and Alec Baldwin in the supporting performer categories. We can only hope he submitted this sketch as his “For Your Consideration” reel.

Fuller House (Outstanding Children’s Program)

A scene from  Fuller House. (Photo: Netflix)

If you had predicted when it premiered that Fuller House would be an Emmy-nominated series, we would have told you to cut it out. But here we are three seasons later and the sequel series to the ’80s family favorite — which didn’t receive a single Emmy nomination in its entire eight-season run — is among the nominees for Outstanding Children’s Program. “On behalf of the cast, crew, and staff of Fuller House, we are beyond honored and thrilled by today’s Emmy nomination,” said executive producer Bryan Behar in a statement. “For many members of this team, it is a dream thirty years in the making.”

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