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Expect an Emmy Bloodbath in the Overcrowded Drama and Comedy Series Races

Between returning nominees, new shows and past series back in eligibility, these high-profile categories are unbelievably packed

AWARDS BEAT

If you look at the shows in the running for the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, some things seem pretty obvious.

“Ted Lasso” is the reigning champion, and of course it’ll be nominated again this year. “Hacks” won three Emmys in 2021 and will definitely be back. “black-ish” is a four-time nominee, and it’s hard to see its final season not getting in. And Emmy voters have always been creatures of habit, which is good news for last year’s nominees “Cobra Kai,” “Emily in Paris,” “The Flight Attendant” and “PEN15.”

Of course, a couple of new shows have to break into the list. “Only Murders in the Building,” for sure. “Abbott Elementary,” ditto. “Reservation Dogs” and “The Afterparty,” possibly.

And then there are the substantial shows that have been nominated before and are returning to the race after not being eligible last year: “Barry,” “Atlanta,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and maybe “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Insecure” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” All likely, right?

But there’s a big problem with all those “obvious” nominees. I just mentioned 17 shows, which is more than twice as many as can be nominated in a category with only eight slots.

Welcome to one of the most crowded seasons in Emmy history. With the COVID pandemic delaying production schedules and pushing many shows out of the eligibility period last year, it allowed a whole new group of shows into the mix. And now those shows are back, competing with a strong group of high-profile new shows as well as a lot of the nominees that sat out last year.

And all of that is throwing the main comedy and drama series races into disarray. The majority of those 17 comedy series will be left out, and more if other shows like “The Great,” “Ghosts,” “Peacemaker” and “Minx” appeal to voters.

On the drama side, the math is similarly forbidding. Granted, fewer of last year’s nominees are eligible, with “The Boys,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Lovecraft Country,” “The Mandalorian,” “Pose” and the Emmy winner “The Crown” all absent during the eligibility period. But that still leaves two convincing contenders, “Bridgerton” and the final season of “This Is Us.”

Then there are the new shows that warrant attention, beginning with the Netflix phenomenon “Squid Game” as well as “Severance,” “Yellowjackets” and “Pachinko.” And there’s a ridiculous array of past nominees returning to the race, including 2020 winner “Succession,” “Ozark,” “Better Call Saul,” “Euphoria,” “Stranger Things” and “Killing Eve.” Plus, “Yellowstone” has gone from an Emmy oversight to a likely nominee.

And that doesn’t even take into account “Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” “The Gilded Age,” “The Morning Show,” “The Good Fight” and many more.  

What does that mean? It means a bloodbath when voters begin to cast their ballots on June 16, and some shocking exclusions when nominations are announced on July 12.

At one point, the phrase “Peak TV” seemed like a celebration; these days, if you’re a voter, it sounds like a threat.   

If I had to guess right now, I’d say that in comedy, at least two new shows (“Abbot Elementary” and “Only Murders in the Building”) and three returning ones (“Barry,” “Atlanta” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) will be too alluring for voters to resist. That means that several of last year’s nominees, most likely “Cobra Kai” and “Emily in Paris” among them, just won’t be able to find room in the final eight.

In drama, “Succession” and “Squid Game” are unstoppable, and then it’s a question of how many other new shows will join the latter series on the roster of nominees. I’m thinking that “Severance” and “Yellowjackets” will make the cut, but it’s also likely that, say, “Bridgerton” and “Yellowstone” will claim spots instead.

Here are my best guesses, absolutely subject to change as this horror show unfolds.

Outstanding Comedy Series
“Ted Lasso” (Apple)
“Hacks” (HBO Max)
“Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)
“Barry” (HBO)
“Atlanta” (FX)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
“Abbott Elementary” (ABC)
“black-ish” (ABC)

Watch out for: “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX), “Reservation Dogs” (FX), “Russian Doll” (Netflix) “The Great” (Hulu), “The Afterparty” (Apple)

Outstanding Drama Series
“Succession” (HBO)
“Squid Game” (Netflix)
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“Severance” (Apple)
“Ozark” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“Yellowjackets” (Showtime)

Watch out for: “Yellowstone” (Paramount), “Euphoria” (HBO), “Bridgerton” (Netflix), “The Morning Show” (Apple), “Pachinko” (Apple)

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