Emmys 2020: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Is on the Board and Five Other Snubs and Surprises

Phew. Congratulations, we’ve made it through four full Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremonies and can finally graduate to the main-er stage, by which I mean FXX. Thursday night saw the final streaming ceremony from the Television Academy, featuring Scripted Programming: Part Deux, and including a potluck of categories regarding animation, short-form content, music, and more.

After giving us all Friday off, the Creative Arts Emmys will conclude on Saturday with a ceremony on FXX, where they will prime the pump for the Primetime Emmy Awards on ABC the following night.

As for the winners, voters spread the love widely, with 12 different productions receiving trophies from the 14 categories, with only Netflix’s “Big Mouth” and Quibi’s “#FreeRayshawn” earning two awards each.

The Television Academy also honored the winners of juried categories at the event. A full list of the 2020 juried Emmy recipients can be found here.

But even when the Emmys are spreading the love, there are still snubs and surprises aplenty. Below are just a few:

Surprise: Quibi, Apparently

Listen, I’m as surprised as anyone. But here we are, six months into quarantine, and Quibi has now collectively won two Emmys. Do you know how many Emmys that is? That’s as many Emmys as “Game of Thrones” won in its first season. (Acceptable alternative answer: “Two more Emmys than Apple TV+ has won.” Unacceptable alternative answer: “Two more Emmys than HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’ won.”)

Both Laurence Fishburne and Jasmine Cephas Jones won Emmys for their performances on #FreeRayshawn, which would appear to make it the frontrunner for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, except it wasn’t nominated. (We’ll talk about the show that won a little later on.)

Anyway, great job, Quibi. You had four nominees in each acting category and managed to win both of them. That has to count for something.

Surprise: Emmy-winning Series “Schitt’s Creek”

Less a surprise, more an inevitability, Pop TV’s fan favorite “Schitt’s Creek” won its first-ever Emmy Award on Thursday for casting in a comedy series. But more than just the show’s first Emmy, it may serve as an important barometer for how welcoming voters are for the series in its final season.

At the Oscars, it used to be that Best Editing would often serve as a good indicator as to what film would end up taking home Best Picture at the end of the evening. In the 1990s and 2000s it was accurate 60 percent of the time, which isn’t great, but also isn’t terrible. (In the 2010s this entire system went out the window, with only “Argo” (lol) syncing up.)

With regards to TV comedies, for the last five years the series that won the casting award ultimately went on to win best comedy series (“Fleabag,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Veep,” “Veep,” and, uh, “Veep”). By that metric, “Schitt’s Creek” may be well positioned to take home the crown, but, as mentioned above, systems can start up and break down at a moment’s notice. After all, before “Veep,” “Modern Family” won best comedy series five consecutive years, but only won casting once.

Oops

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Of course, “Schitt’s Creek” probably would have appreciated the TV Academy spelling the show’s name correctly in the chyron announcing its victory, but you can’t win them all.

Surprise: Fixing in Post

Speaking of tweaking things after the fact, credit must be given to the TV Academy for fixing several issues some viewers had earlier in the week, including a spelling error made on Wilford Brimley’s name, as well as the inclusion of a potentially controversial mask during a behind-the-scenes segment on “The Voice.” Making mistakes happens, but fixing them is dope.

Surprise: Kim Wexler Love

Big congrats to the extended family of AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” who won the Emmy in Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for “Better Call Saul Employee Training: Legal Ethics with Kim Wexler.” The series is a delightful companion piece to its parent show centered around Kim Wexler (the incomparable Rhea Seehorn) featuring adorably animated illustrations of legal follies. It’s great. Well deserved, all!

Snub: Rhea Seehorn Indifference

Are you kidding me?! “Employee Training” is great, but it would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the short form series that received an Emmy tonight is built around a performance that has never once been recognized with an Emmy nomination.

Seehorn is a treasure and it makes no sense that voters don’t see that and beyond that, that the voting body’s interest in “Better Call Saul” as a whole seems to be waning, even as the series does nothing but improve.

I give up.

Surprise: Emmy Winner Maya Rudolph

But it was really, super, great to see “Saturday Night Live” alum and all around effervescent person Maya Rudolph win for her voice work on “Big Mouth.” It’s confoundingly rare that the Emmys get a category 100 percent right, but Rudolph is giving arguably the best voice performance on TV right now and the fact that she was recognized as such is edifying.

Bubble bath.

Wednesday, September 17

“The Handmaid’s Tale”

Sophie Giraud/Hulu

It’s hump day, so it’s only appropriate that the conclusion of Wednesday’s Creative Arts Emmy program felt as though a certain burden had been lifted. Mere days ago we had four full webcasts to power through before the weekend’s two televised events. Now, Thursday’s ceremony is the only thing standing between viewers and the weekend. Rarely has the passage of time felt more miraculous.

For people who haven’t attended the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in person before, the Television Academy had recently shifted the event to span two separate nights of a single weekend, generally the weekend before the Primetime Emmy Awards were scheduled. The press rooms were crowded and jockeying for outlet space could get vicious, but food was provided and the pace of the show languorous enough to allow for brief constitutionals about the room, if necessary.

So sitting down and watching those events manipulated into five separate presentations has taken a lot of getting used to. Not only do I have to pay for my own food, but my apartment has way more cats than typically found wandering around the Microsoft Theater adjacent press room. And beyond that, the pace of the webcasts has been simultaneously frenetic and overstuffed, with hardly enough time to sneeze, unless it’s during one of the multitude of segments already featured (sometimes multiple times) this week at which point you have plenty of time to kill.

In short, it’s weird. Everyone’s trying their best, but it’s still weird. Regardless, it wouldn’t be the Emmys without some snubs and surprises, and Wednesday had plenty:

Surprise: Emmy Award-winning Series “Vikings”

The History channel mainstay has just 10 episodes left to air before it concludes, so it would appear the series saved the best for last. Nominated 13 times since it debuted in 2013, “Vikings” finally broke its cold streak and won its first-ever Emmy. The award in question honored Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role and was earned for the midseason finale of Season 6, titled “The Best Laid Plans.”

Fun fact: Of the five nominees, only Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has previous Emmy wins. Of the rest of the field, Prime Video’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” has never won, “Tales From the Loop” has only aired one season, and FX’s “Devs” was a limited series.

Olivia Colman in “The Crown”

Courtesy of Des Willie / Netflix

Surprise: The Costumes on “The Crown” are Unstoppable

Three seasons, three Emmys. That’s just about as good as a show can expect to do when it comes to consistency at TV’s premiere awards show and Netflix’s “The Crown” has done just that. There’s just something about that royal family and the show’s continual march through history towards the present day that serves as catnip for costume aficionados, and they’re not wrong. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more sumptuous batch of wardrobes than in the (evolving) period piece, which even when they smack of the 1970s prove to be fit for a queen.

Surprise: “The Handmaid’s Tale” Uses Rules to Defy Math

Of course, if you want to get technical about it, there are absolutely ways that a series could end up with more awards in a category than they have seasons to compete in and I’m not talking about ties. “The Handmaid’s Tale” has now done just that in Outstanding Production Design For A Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour Or More), taking home four trophies in the category, despite having only aired three seasons.

It’s a little inside baseball, but the explanation is thus: The Television Academy includes a hanging episodes rule that allowed episodes to compete in categories the following year if they did not meet the eligibility deadline for the Emmy Awards for the bulk of its season. Which is to say that while most of “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 2 competed at the 2018 Emmy Awards, the final three episodes of the season were in competition at the 2019 Emmy Awards.

The Child, AKA Baby Yoda, in “The Mandalorian.”

Disney

Surprise: Disney+ Looms Large

Blame it all on Baby Yoda, but Disney+ has become the clear-cut leader when it comes to the new generation of streamers. The streaming house of mouse won five awards on Wednesday, as “The Mandalorian” went five-for-10 on the evening, a fine showing for the freshman series. It’s something of a surprising turn for a streaming platform originally thought to be the place for populism rather than prestige, but time will tell if Mickey can make his mark at the Primetime show on Sunday.

Snub: We Need to Talk About “GLOW”

This seems like just as good a time as any to sit down and discuss the real life ramifications of people not appreciating Netflix’s “GLOW,” a terrific comedy about an inclusive group of women banding together and bouncing around inside the fabulous environs that was “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.” While the series consistently scores a Supporting Actress nomination for Betty Gilpin (deserved) and has twice won for its stunt coordination (super deserved) it has fallen well short of the amount of praise and accolades it deserves.

Watch this show. There’s a pandemic on. I know you’re running out of things to do. It’s weird and hilarious and deeply touching and if none of that does it for you, well, there’s a lot of women in 1980s-style leotards. It’s coming back for one more season, and I better not be back here then talking about how all y’all apparently didn’t take this time to get caught up.

“GLOW”

Erica Parise/Netflix

Surprise: Reinventing Reruns.

Part of that unshakeable feeling of disinterest likely comes from the fact that even though this was only the second night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the ceremony was already well into reruns. Relatively early in the (47-minute) event, a segment about the TV Academy’s internship program ran. Or rather, ran again, as repeat viewers saw it for the first time last night. It felt a little gauche, but if you consider it as a form of in-house advertising, it was largely harmless.

However, it was when the event repeated the exact same In Memoriam segment that things got truly infuriating.

During Monday night’s ceremony, the In Memoriam segment was slightly confusing, featuring a continuous crawl made up of the names of people within the industry that had died in the past year, with only select breakouts featuring an individual’s name and photo and select credits. It was unclear why certain people were chosen over others, given the wide variety of their careers, but I had hoped the method of the madness would be made clear over consequent nights.

And it did. Because there is no method. Tuesday night’s In Memoriam was exactly the same, beginning with “Mythbusters” star Grant Imahara, including drag performer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumnus Chi Chi DeVayne, concluding with “Saturday Night Live” music producer Hal Willner.

This seems obvious, but if you have a series of events taking place over five separate nights, there is plenty of opportunity to create a unique segment for each celebrating the lives and legacies of lost creatives. It makes little sense to reuse the same clip, highlighting the same handful of individuals, and egregious to not even spellcheck the names that you’re including — even if they’re mired in the background.

Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah, I wrote this about yesterday’s show. Were you hoping for original content here about Wednesday’s Emmy program? So was I. Do not spread your awards over four nights if you only have enough material for one.

Tuesday, September 15

“Apollo 11”

CNN

Two down, three to go. The Television Academy hosted the second night of its Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Tuesday, celebrating 16 categories of Variety programming, with further installments of the awards show scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday of this week.

Expectations were (marginally) higher for the night celebrating Variety programming after Monday night’s show, the organization’s first attempt at a socially-distanced pseudo-ceremony, left plenty of room for improvement. While the bobbles were relatively minor — a presenter’s hand was in full view while self-recording, a two-time winner had their pre-taped acceptance speech aired back-to-back, the In Memoriam was confusing and potentially exclusionary — they gave the entire production a cobbled-together air, but one easily fixed with a little editorial oversight.

As for the latest batch of winners, there were very few snubs or surprises on paper. Perennial favorites including HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” both ended the evening with three awards, while VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” nabbed two more awards to add to its two from Monday night, and a pair of ABC productions “The Oscars” and “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times’” also scored two trophies.

In truth, the real surprises on Tuesday night came not from the winners, but the production itself, never an auspicious prospect. So without further ado, here’s the latest batch of the 2020 Emmy surprises and snubs:

Surprise: Somehow, Even Shorter.

If you watched Monday night’s Emmy event (you didn’t), you’d know that the entire affair lasted less than an hour, coming in at a cool 55 minutes. On Tuesday, the TV Academy apparently decided to “hold my beer” itself by giving out 16 awards, acceptance speeches and all, in 47 minutes. I’ve been in a drive-thru at In-N-Out for longer than this Emmy ceremony took.

While there’s something to be said about brevity, at some point it just feels like they aren’t taking the job of announcing the most prestigious awards in television seriously enough. And while I was willing to cut the Academy a lot of slack for the impossible situation they’re in — what with trying to put on six events in seven days — there’s no excuse for phoning in something that could very well serve as the pinnacle of someone’s professional career.

Nicole Byer

Courtesy of Netflix

Surprise: Reinventing Reruns.

Part of that unshakeable feeling of disinterest likely comes from the fact that even though this was only the second night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the ceremony was already well into reruns. Relatively early in the (47-minute) event, a segment about the TV Academy’s internship program ran. Or rather, ran again, as repeat viewers saw it for the first time last night. It felt a little gauche, but if you consider it as a form of in-house advertising, it was largely harmless.

However, it was when the event repeated the exact same In Memoriam segment that things got truly infuriating.

During Monday night’s ceremony, the In Memoriam segment was slightly confusing, featuring a continuous crawl made up of the names of people within the industry that had died in the past year, with only select breakouts featuring an individual’s name and photo and select credits. It was unclear why certain people were chosen over others, given the wide variety of their careers, but I had hoped the method of the madness would be made clear over consequent nights.

And it did. Because there is no method. Tuesday night’s In Memoriam was exactly the same, beginning with “Mythbusters” star Grant Imahara, including drag performer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumnus Chi Chi DeVayne, concluding with “Saturday Night Live” music producer Hal Willner. (As a bonus add, the segment also misspells the name of Wilford Brimley.)

This seems obvious, but if you have a series of events taking place over five separate nights, there is plenty of opportunity to create a unique segment for each celebrating the lives and legacies of lost creatives. It makes little sense to reuse the same clip, highlighting the same handful of individuals, and egregious to not even spellcheck the names that you’re including — even if they’re mired in the background.

Surprise: A Thin Blue Line face mask

A “blink and you’ll miss it surprise” was a reference to a somewhat controversial image featured on the mask of Emmy Award-winning director of “The Voice” Alan Carter.

While Carter was giving audiences a (very interesting!) behind-the-scenes tour of the expansive control room used to film the socially-distanced finale of the hit NBC singing series, he showed himself thoughtfully using a mandated mask while indoors, emblazoned with a Thin Blue Line flag.

The imagery can be seen as problematic: Designed as a symbol of solidarity with police forces, the flag has since been co-opted by some white supremacists and used as an unofficial emblem of the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, which suggests that a person’s career choice should be considered as sacrosanct as their race or gender with regards to protections under hate crime legislation.

While supporting the police is not inherently controversial, it’s a curious choice by the Academy to include such questionable imagery in the edit while going to such great lengths to assure everyone that they’re committed to inclusion and boosting the voices of individuals often marginalized within both the industry and society at large. IndieWire reached out to the Television Academy for comment about the inclusion of Carter’s mask.

Chris Hardwick, “The Wall”

Chris Haston/NBC

Surprise: Chris Hardwick Presents After #MeToo Allegations

If you haven’t seen Chris Hardwick around lately, there’s a reason for that. In 2018, Chloe Dykstra, an ex-girlfriend of the “Talking Dead” host, wrote a blog post accusing an unnamed ex of emotional and sexual abuse with enough details that readers ascertained that she was alleging Hardwick.

The post launched investigations at AMC, where Hardwick hosted shows, and Nerdist, which he helped found. Ultimately he was found innocent of wrongdoing. Dykstra did not participate in either investigation.

Hardwick was sidelined for a few weeks before returning to his job duties, and on Tuesday he received the imprimatur of the industry by taking centerstage at the Creative Arts Emmys to present the final two awards of the evening. IndieWire reached out to the Television Academy for comment about Hardwick’s selection.

Snub: “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”

As HBO’s little sketch comedy show that could, featuring the comedic talents of creator Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, and Quinta Brunson, the brilliant “A Black Lady Sketch Show” just couldn’t break through and bring down the Goliath that is “Saturday Night Live.” It’s OK, ladies. You’re all still bad bitches.

Justin Theroux in “The Leftovers”

Ben King/HBO

Surprise: Two-time Emmy Winner Justin Theroux.

And finally, some actual good news. It wasn’t the way we expected but Justin Theroux, who had his titanic performance on HBO’s “The Leftovers” overlooked in each of its three seasons — he wasn’t even nominated — now has two Emmy Awards, all thanks to Norman Lear. Theroux serves as an executive producer on the live variety specials and newfound Emmy darling “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” and for his efforts has been roundly rewarded.

One more, guys. Then we’re even.

Monday, September 14

“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”

Netflix

The Television Academy introduced a Creative Arts Emmy ceremony like no other Monday night, a pre-taped affair that ran less than an hour and awarded 17 different categories for Reality and Non-Fiction programming. The event was the first in a weeklong effort to present socially-distanced ceremonies that celebrate the art of TV while still encouraging safety and sanity in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

And while the ceremony itself may have looked different than previous years, there were obvious upsides, including the fact that this year the viewing public actually has the opportunity to see each and every Emmy awarded — something not possible in typical circumstances, where the Creative Arts Emmys would be dispensed over two nights in a non-televised ceremony with a cut-down version maybe running on a cable network.

What is the same to prior years, however, is the inevitable snubs and surprises revealed with the announcement of winners — and subsequent losers. If you’re a busy person that just can’t make time for a 56-minute ceremony, here’s the six snubs and surprises in the wake of Monday night’s event:

Surprise: Netflix is king, but “Tiger King” isn’t.

With a record 160 Emmy nominations this year, it’s not surprising that Netflix ended the first night of competition with the most wins. But what may come as a shock to some is the fact that not one of the streamer’s five wins came from its infamous documentary series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.”

Perhaps the first breakout hit of quarantine, “Tiger King” took the world by storm as viewers were drawn into an unseemly web of exotic animal hoarding, missing limbs, and murder for hire. The endeavor was such a hit there are now not one, but two different projects currently in development to adapt the greater “Tiger King” narrative into a series, starring Nicolas Cage and Kate McKinnon, respectively.

It appeared that Emmy voters were not immune to the off-kilter charms of the series, awarding it with six nominations, but as “Tiger King” went 0-for-3 on Monday, it seems like there might be a limit to the TV Academy’s love.

Instead, Netflix’s wins spanned a number of different offerings, including, “Queer Eye,” “American Factory,” “Don’t F*** With Cats,” and “Cheer.”

Surprise: David Attenborough Three-peat

When Emmy nominations were announced at the end of July, it was a delight to look at the nominees for Outstanding Narrator and witness a host of diverse voices, including stars of film and, uh, sport, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Of course, those nominees were competing against a ringer in David Attenborough who, with his Monday victory for BBC America’s “Seven Worlds, One Planet,” has now won the category in three consecutive years.

In fact, many of Monday’s winners were whiter than a person might expect given the seemingly increased inclusiveness of the year’s nominees — to the extent that the ceremony itself had at least one segment dedicated to boosting underrepresented voices in the below the line fields that populate so much of the Creative Arts Emmys.

“Apollo 11”

CNN

Surprise: Apollo, Apollo

It was just a really good night for projects with the word “Apollo” in the title, including CNN’s “Apollo 11,” which took home three awards, as well as HBO’s “The Apollo,” which won Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Special.

Snub: “The Last Dance” Benched

Another documentary series that took the pandemic by storm, ESPN’s “The Last Dance” didn’t manage to clinch any victories at Monday’s ceremony. The series, which was pushed up two months in part due to audience demand, traced the final season of Michael Jordan’s tenure with the Chicago Bulls as they pursued a sixth NBA championship. Paired with the blanking of “Tiger King” and Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” maybe voters found themselves put off by hype.

Snub: Beastie Bust

Similarly, Apple TV+’s much-touted documentary “Beastie Boys Story” went 0-for-5 at Monday’s ceremony, completing its Emmy journey almost before it began. But Apple TV+ wasn’t the only brand new player yet to strike first blood at the Emmys. Though nominated for far fewer awards for the first night of the Creative Arts Emmys, Disney+ also went home empty-handed, a disappointing launch for the streaming heavyweights.

Surprise: A Good Night for Network

Sure, Netflix was the outlet that scored the most awards on Monday, but it was also the only streamer to get any play at the ceremony. If Netflix won five awards, that means that 12 of the 17 prizes went to traditional network TV programs. While it can often seem as though streaming television is the primary place to turn for TV these days, networks including NatGeo, CNN, VH1, and others prove that your computer isn’t the only choice for getting quality programming, particularly if that programming is non-fiction.

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