From 'Killing Eve' to 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,' the 2018 Emmy nominations favored critical darlings

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. (Photo: Amazon)

The nominations for the upcoming Emmy Awards were announced Thursday morning, and Emmy voters — the industry-establishment members eligible to put forward shows and actors they think are worthy — behaved like TV critics. Along with nominations that everyone expected, for shows like Game of Thrones and The Handmaid’s Tale, the newcomers to Emmy nominations came from projects that have received rave reviews and, in many cases, are critics’ darlings. I’m thinking of Sandra Oh’s nomination for her starring role in Killing Eve, of Bill Hader’s nominations for rookie HBO comedy Barry (the show itself also got a nom), and Ted Danson’s nomination for The Good Place. None of these shows are huge ratings hits, and in years past, the traditionally conservative Emmy voters might have passed over them. Now, however, there’s an increased emphasis on shows that create buzz and spark online conversation. BBC America’s Killing Eve has enjoyed a lot of positive analysis for its feminist themes; NBC’s The Good Place benefits from a Twitter presence that far exceeds its proportion in the national ratings.

Sure, there were nominations that were predictable, for shows like This Is Us and Westworld. And some that were drearily predictable: Oh no, more nominations for Shameless, the Showtime comedy that has outlasted its usefulness, and for Larry David’s mediocre return with Curb Your Enthusiasm?

One show in its debut season stands out as a particularly satisfying victory already: The nominations for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and its star, Rachel Brosnahan. The show is from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who has had a tough time over the years, following up Gilmore with a successful new show, so the Maisel recognition is a sweet reward. (Some of us would have given Emmys to Sherman-Palladino’s underrated 2012 comedy Bunheads.) Then too, the Maisel nominations are for a show that appears on Amazon Prime, a streaming service that’s had a difficult time making the breakthrough that Netflix has. Until now, Mozart in the Jungle was the Amazon show that attracted multiple Emmy nominations, and I’d argue that Maisel is its superior in quality.

There were some nice inclusions in this year’s Emmy nods. Issa Rae was nominated for her excellent HBO comedy Insecure — the show itself should have been nominated too. And I was thrilled to see Amy Sedaris get a nomination for her assiduously odd new craft-show parody At Home With Amy Sedaris on truTV. While I ultimately think the Emmy awards will go to a whole bunch of predictables — Game of Thrones, one or two This Is Us folks — it’s nice that some young blood is coursing through the veins of the TV industry now.

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