The Leslie Jones-hosted nomination ceremony for the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards was this morning, with many expected names being honored once again. The Kominsky Method (a show I still have not seen and refuse to ever watch) secured multiple nods, while mainstays like Black-ish, The Handmaid's Tale, and This Is Us maintained their spots in the race, even though they've all waned in quality as the seasons have gone by. (The Handmaid's Tale nominated over Pose? What layer of hell are we living in?)
Then, of course, there were the nominations that were technically new, but not at all surprising: Watchmen's Regina King going head-to-head with Mrs. America's Cate Blanchett in the Outstanding Lead Actress In a Limited Series category? Of course. Billy Crudup getting acknowledgment as the best thing about The Morning Show? Naturally.
But there were also a few exciting highlights, some of which could even qualify as genuine surprises. Across categories, there was appreciation for shows and performances that, without a doubt, deserve their nomination, but could have easily floated under the radar another year. From Zendaya's drugged-out performance in Euphoria to Netflix's unexpected sweep in the reality/documentary categories, here are NYLON's top ten highlights and surprises for the 2020 Emmys nomination ceremony.
Zendaya Nominated For Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Because of the weird awards season calendar, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that Euphoria was even eligible for Emmy nominations this year. (After all, the HBO series's first season aired over a year ago.) Luckily, the voters didn't forget about Zendaya's magnetic performance as Rue, a recovering drug addict struggling to get over the recent death of her father. It was a career-making performance for an actress who has always shown tons of promise, but hadn't been given a role meaty enough to show off her chops — until now. Although the show failed to earn an overall nomination in the Outstanding Drama Series category (which it deserved), acknowledgement for Zendaya's breakout performance is definitely the next best thing.
The Entire Succession Squad Sweeps The Acting Categories
The second season of Succession was my third favorite show of last year (after Fleabag and Russian Doll, of course), and a large part of that had to do with its impeccable cast. A show about a billionaire family frivolously toying with the lives of people who are much less fortunate should not be as enjoyable as it is during a time when...billionaires are actually frivolously toying with the lives of people who are much less fortunate. And yet, watching Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Nicholas Braun, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, and Sarah Snook do precisely that quickly became my favorite Sunday evening activity. Which is why I was ecstatic to find that, after missing out on all acting categories last year, almost the entire cast was nominated this year. Cox and Strong will face-off for Lead Actor, while Braun, Culkin, and Macfadyen all duke it out for Supporting. Add in Snook's nomination for Supporting Actress and additional Guest Actor nominations for James Cromwell, Cherry Jones, and Harriet Walter, and it's clear that The Television Academy is finally ready to acknowledge how much talent this incomparable cast boasts.
Jeremy Pope Nominated For Outstanding Lead Actor In a Limited Series or Movie
After being nominated for two Tonys at the same ceremony, one Emmy nomination might not mean much to Jeremy Pope, but it does mean a lot to me personally. The talented gay Black actor comes from the world of theater (hence his Tony nominations for Choir Boy and Ain't Too Proud), but if his terrific performance as aspiring gay screenwriter Archie Coleman in Ryan Murphy's Hollywood is anything to go by, Pope will find just as much success in Hollywood as he has on The Great White Way. And, yes, he would absolutely deserve it.
Paul Mescal Nominated For Outstanding Lead Actor In a Limited Series or Movie
If you've been on Twitter at all during the past few months, chances are you've stumbled across pictures of Paul Mescal in very flattering short-shorts. The Irish actor has become quite the internet heartthrob since his breakout performance in Hulu's critically-acclaimed Normal People, where he played Connell, the silver chain necklace-wearing love interest to Daisy Edgar-Jones' Marianne. And while my refusal to engage with the show prevents me from actually confirming whether or not the young actor deserves his very first award show nomination, it is comforting to see The Television Academy willing to embrace young actors and new series.
Insecure Finally Gets Its Flowers
Over the course of its four seasons, Insecure's track record with The Television Academy has been spotty at best. In 2018, after its second season, the HBO comedy earned creator and star Issa Rae an Outstanding Lead Actress nomination (which she lost to Mrs. Maisel's Rachel Brosnahan), but besides that, the reliable hit has only been acknowledged for its cinematography (which, admittedly, is one of its strongest selling points). But not this year. After capping off its fourth (and, in my opinion, best) season, the beloved series has finally hit the Comedy Big Leagues, securing not only another nomination for Rae, but also an Outstanding Supporting Actress nomination for co-star Yvonne Orji and an all-important nomination in the overall Outstanding Comedy Series category.
Netflix Aims For Reality TV Gold
If you didn't know any better, you'd almost think that Netflix knew about the then-impending pandemic-induced lockdown. The release of their breakout reality hits, Love Is Blind and Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, were timed precisely to the period when viewers around the world have nothing better to do than sit at their TV and binge these completely batshit shows while saying, "What the fuck did I just watch?" But then I think back to the January release of Cheer — a heartfelt docuseries about a community college cheer team in Corsicana, Texas that has since made superstars of personalities like King of Mat Talk (and recent UTA signee) Jerry Harris — and say, maybe Netflix just has a lot of good reality content.
Either way, the streaming behemoth should be proud: all three of these shows have been nominated for Emmys. Love Is Blind will face-off against fellow Netflix mainstay Queer Eye in Outstanding Structured Reality Program, Cheer will compete with RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked and HBO's drag makeover series We're Here for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program, while Tiger King is up for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series against Hulu's Hillary, HBO's McMillion$, and ESPN's The Last Dance.
Billy Porter Is Still The Only Representative For the Pose Posse
After its first season was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series during the 2019 Emmys, Pose fans around the world hoped that the groundbreaking series would receive more acclaim for its equally engrossing second season. Instead, it received less. No longer a nominee for the overall Drama Series category, Pose was shut out of most other categories (including technical ones), with its sole nomination going to Billy Porter for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Already an Emmy winner (and a two-time Golden Globe nominee) for his compelling portrayal of ball emcee Pray-Tell, Porter's nomination is more than warranted. But for a show whose primary focus is on trans women of color, it is admittedly disheartening to see the main cast's sole male be singled out as the only actor worthy of Emmy recognition.
Shira Haas Nominated For Outstanding Lead Actress In a Limited Series or Movie
Every now and then, a relatively unknown actor is cast in a series that unexpectedly blows up, turning them into a hot Hollywood commodity in the process. That's certainly the case for Shira Haas, who worked largely in Israel prior to being cast in Netflix's critically-acclaimed miniseries Unorthodox. As Esther Shapiro, Haas, a five-feet-two 25-year-old, successfully carried the entire show on her shoulders, effectively bringing the transformation of a formerly Orthodox Jewish wife-cum-freewheeling Berlin performer to life. Granted, Haas has some stiff competition in a category that will inevitably come down to a battle between Watchmen's Regina King and Mrs. America's Cate Blanchett (not to mention well-known wildcards like Little Fires Everywhere's Kerry Washington and Self Made's Octavia Spencer), but as the old adage goes...it's an honor just to be nominated.
Bobby Berk Nominated For Outstanding Host For a Reality or Competition Program
Sure, Queer Eye may be hosted by the "Fab Five," but finally, someone is ready to admit that Design Expert Bobby Berk carries the entire show by doing the bulk of the (manual) labor. Take that, Buzzcut Antoni!
Brad Pitt Nominated For Playing Dr. Anthony Fauci on Saturday Night Live