Emmys 2017

Emmys 2017: And the Award for the Year's Most Ridiculously Competitive Acting Category Goes to...

TV-MAWhen I first screened Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life last November — and marveled at Lauren Graham‘s career-best performance — I was certain her long, inexplicable Emmy nomination drought was about to come to an end.

Now, three months later, my confidence is disappearing faster than Emily Gilmore’s patience for bulls–t. The reason? The Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie category has emerged as the year’s most insanely competitive race. 

Like, it’s a total clusterfrak.

The first obstacle to Graham’s inaugural Emmy nod arrives this Sunday with the debut of HBO’s Big Little Lies, a seven-part dramedy that is so stacked with strong, A-list female performances that it could easily secure half of the category’s six slots. I’ve seen the first five episodes and rest assured that Oscar winner Reese Withersoon, who turns in her strongest comedic work since Legally Blonde, is a lock. And fellow Oscar champ Nicole Kidman should probably go ahead and block off Sept. 17 on her calendar because her nomination is essentially a fait accompli. The mini-series’ third lead, Shailene Woodley, is less of a sure thing, but that has less to do with her performance (which is strong, if not revelatory) and more to do with the latest Emmy ace up FX’s sleeve.

On March 5, the cabler behind last year’s deserving kudos hog The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story will debut the first installment of Ryan Murphy’s newest anthology series FEUD, which stars Oscar winners (sensing a trend here?) Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as sworn enemies Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, respectively. I have yet to screen any of FEUD‘s eight episodes, but several of my colleagues have and they report that FX and

the-immortal-life-of-henrietta-lacks-01-1024Murphy have another major awards contender on their hands. The early buzz slightly favors Sarandon over Lange, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which both of them don’t get nominated.

The embarrassment of lead-actress riches doesn’t end there. Also sure to be part of the 2017 Limited Series/Movie Emmy conversation: Fargo‘s Carrie Coon, American Crime‘s Felicity Huffman, Shots Fired‘s Sanaa Lathan and an up-and-coming performer by the name of Oprah Winfrey, who this spring will star in the HBO movie The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

So, where does this logjam leave an actress with no Oscars to her credit and who historically has never been able to catch a break with Emmy voters and who already is batting 0-2 (see Golden Globe and SAG snubs) this awards season? Hardly out of the running, but definitely among the dark-horses. In other words, familiar territory.

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  1. Kris Mascarenas says:

    I thought the Emmy’s changed the rules that if you are portraying a character on a show that is now revived, they are placed in your original category the show was eligible for. I think Gilmore Girls was considering a comedy in the Emmy eyes, so wouldn’t she be nominated for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series?

  2. I’ve said it before…until they revamp the categories to differentiate between cable vs. streaming vs. network, then the awards are going to be completely pointless. Network performances should not be graded against cable or streaming. Audience, budgets, Broadcast Standards & Practices, reliance on advertisers, etc. make for a much different product between the three.

    • Adam says:

      All the series mentioned are either streaming (Gilmore Girls) or cable (Big Little Lies, FEUD, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks).

      • Exactly. And it will remain that way if networks are required to compete in the same categories.

      • Brian says:

        American Crime (which manages to get a lot of Emmy nominations and 2 consecutive supporting wins for Regina King) and Shots Fired are on broadcast. But definitely a bad topic to make this argument. If they gave broadcast limited series their own category it would barren.

    • Ally Oop says:

      I agree with everything you said although I don’t think there should be more than one award for limited event series. Here are the categories I think there should be:
      Best Comedy (Network)
      Best Comedy (Cable)
      Best Drama (Network)
      Best Drama (Cable)
      Best Dramedy or Musical (Network or Cable)
      Best Miniseries or Telemovie (Network or Cable)
      Best Leading Dramatic Actress
      Best Leading Dramatic Actor
      Best Supporting Dramatic Actress
      Best Supporting Dramatic Actor
      Best Leading Comedic Actress
      Best Leading Comedic Actor
      Best Supporting Comedic Actress
      Best Supporting Comedic Actor
      Best Ensemble Dramatic Cast
      Best Ensemble Comedic Cast
      I realize that will mean a lot more awards but just have less of the time wasting mid-acts between the award presentations. I don’t know about anyone else, but I stopped watching the awards ceremonies because they spend to much time on comedy schtick or musical performances. Another possibility is to have separate nights for comedies and dramas/dramedies/miniseries.

  3. kmw says:

    That’s exactly it. Familiar territory. A great actress’s work( in the case you just described Lauren Graham) will most likely be shut out because of all the bigger names out there and the bigger series. We have been griping about this for years and it wont ever change. The niche and most talked about shows get the attention( as well as the actors on those shows) and the ones who do steady work every year and even spectacular work wont get noticed. More television means less room for really good actors to get noticed and rewarded for it. To me not fair but it is unfortunately the way things are

    • jj. says:

      I agree kmw, there seem to be many repeat nominations and/or wins year after year. And while the performances may still be great are they really THAT different year after year to warrent a win? An example of this would be julia louis dreyfus and veep. I’m a big fan of the show and she is great in it but has she really been leagues ahead of any other actress in the past 5 years? It is truly a shame that lauren graham has never won a major award for gilmore girls and while I would love to see her *finally* get a nomination it just may not be in the cards

  4. Al says:


    Isn’t it funny though that many of these cable shows minus GOT/TWD are so niche they don’t get the ratings that most broadcast shows get

  5. Cas says:

    I like Lauren Graham and I think she did good but I have a feeling once I see the performances of others I personally won’t feel she is in the same category. I could be wrong though.

  6. april-ann says:

    It is egregious that Lauren Graham did not win an Emmy for each and every season of GG’s original run. Ditto Kelly Bishop. However, A Year in the Life was so bad – it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen – I don’t think it or anyone associated with such garbage should be nominated. I agree that it’s fiercely competitive but I don’t think room should not be made for something that’s awful just because we like the actors in it, when there is so much that’s truly great and deserving out there. But who knows? She could still be nominated and could win.

  7. lindsay says:

    After watching the GG miniseries, I walked away certain Kelly Bishop was deserving of nomination. Lauren Graham, not so much.

    • Steven says:

      I agree, Lauren’s a great actor, but none of her work in the revival was Emmy worthy. I think Ausiello is too biased here. Kelly Bishop, on the other hand, was amazing.

      • cordelia says:

        Glad to read this. I was starting to feel alone.
        I’ve been wondering why Lauren is getting so much talk about it. Yes she’s good, and i love seeing her play, but especially for the mini-series she doesn’t deserve an emmy nod.
        Agree on Kelly Bischop though.

  8. DJ says:

    Lauren won’t get it. The problem is by the time voting starts A Year in The Life will be forgotten. They should have waited and maybe premiered it in March/April to keep in fresh in everyone’s mind. But instead premiered it in Black Friday 2016 and after a few days talk of the show nearly disappeared. Netflix would really really have to push strong for her which they might not do because they already have Cards, Black, Grace and Frankie, Kimmy, and The Crown along with stranger things.

    I do think a strong possibility is that Kelly Bishop gets in simply because shes a vet.

    • april-ann says:

      Timing isn’t the reason Lauren won’t get it. If Kelly Bishop gets in it won’t be simply because she’s a vet. It will be because she’s simply a brilliant actress.

    • Brian says:

      That reminds me Black Mirror is another show that is in contention for this category. Particularly the San Junipero leads.

  9. HAP says:

    Justina Machado. Hands down So awesome

  10. Ty Freedman says:

    But the mountain Birthday monologue! The kitchen scene! But her watching a musical!!!

  11. geegee says:

    How was her performance Emmy-worthy, except by fanboi standards?

  12. Saly_Mout says:

    Whilst Lauren G’s performance was solid, it was not Emmy worthy.
    For instance just to compare with past nominees; 2016 nominations in the same category….Sarah Paulson, Kerry Washington- Confirmation, Kirsten Dunst -Fargo, Felicity Huffman & Lili Taylor American Crime.
    Lauren G’s performance in the revival was nowhere near the greatness of what the 2016 nominees delivered. If 2016/2017 provides such great content again in this category then it’s a given, she will be nominated.

  13. Jared says:

    I think Lauren Graham deserved Emmy love during GG’s original run, not so much for the Netflix revival. Not that she was bad, she’s an amazing actress especially on this but Kelly Bishop I think stole the show. Unfortunately neither will probably get a nomination considering the competition.

  14. Mary sullivan says:

    Lauren Graham deserves the Emmy!

  15. Donna Dykema says:

    Lauren Graham DESERVES the Emmy for sure. Not many actors can memorize THAT much dialogue! She is terrific!!!