×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Emmys 2018: Celebrating Deserving Underdogs

Each year there are a few programs and performers that sit atop the predictions’ list at the Emmys, and this year, even with incumbent comedy champ “Veep” sitting out, that’s no different (see: “The Handmaid’s Tale” in the drama races). However, predictions are not perfect, and there are a number of underrated nominees that could take the trophy Sept. 17 if the Academy voters want to prove they aren’t so predictable. They did it in the nomination-voting round, after all, honoring veteran comedy king Ted Danson for the first time in over two decades, and Sandra Oh, the first actress of Asian descent to see recognition in the lead drama actress category.

Here, Variety’s staff makes a case for some of those nominees.

Drama Series
The Americans
Given its love for slow, simmering storytelling, it’s not entirely surprising that “The Americans” has only been nominated for drama series twice. But it was nonetheless one of TV’s best shows with stellar performances across the board, and its final season was a masterclass in how to end a story — or, more accurately, many stories — in a way that is both genuinely surprising and completely satisfying.
— Caroline Framke

Comedy Series
Silicon Valley
The window for “Silicon Valley” to seize a best comedy Emmy has likely come and gone. But in season five, “Silicon Valley” proved that the formula that has sustained it for so long holds up and also allowed its characters a win with their new PiperNet product at the end of the season. They broke their perpetual-loser cycle and the show deserves to, too.
— Daniel Holloway

Drama Actor
Matthew Rhys“The Americans”
Over six seasons, Rhys deftly made us fall hard for Philip Jennings. By that climactic finale scene in the garage, Rhys marshaled every ounce of goodwill that his line dancing-loving, EST-attending Philip had with the audience to sell the confession that allowed him to whisk his fractured family to safety (sort of). Emmy voters should cap this career-making performance with a win.
— Cynthia Littleton

Drama Actress
Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
Oh’s tenure on “Grey’s Anatomy” proved she could find the heart beneath the most steely of exteriors. With “Killing Eve,” she proved that she could be wickedly funny, too. The thriller’s cat-and-mouse game would not have worked with lesser actors one-upping each other throughout that deliciously devilish chase. Eve is a character rarely seen on TV, and Oh was more than up to the challenge.
— Debra Birnbaum

Comedy Actor
Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
Danson is back in the comedy race for the first time since 1993, but he hasn’t missed a step. In his role as the secret demon Michael on NBC’s afterlife series, he mastered the subtlety of manipulation and a cunning cackle. Aided by Danson’s inherent charm, the character was even better when exposing unexpected vulnerabilities as he found his own humanity in season two.
— Danielle Turchiano

Comedy Actress
Issa Rae, “Insecure”
At work, Rae’s “Insecure” character is confidently attentive; dealing with men, she strives to be coolly approachable. When alone, though, she exhales, relieved to be done with the ruse but disappointed, a bit, at being her neurotic, unsteady old self again. It’s a sharp performance, a wittily played reminder of how the social-media era prompts us all to perform a heightened, happier version of life.
— Daniel D’Addario

Supporting Comedy Actor
Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”
Thompson has been among the most consistently funny cast members of “Saturday Night Live” not only in his 15 years on the show, but also in its entire history. Yet this marks Thompson’s first acting nom, after keeping audiences rolling with such sketches as “What’s Up With That?” and impressions of pop culture figures including Steve Harvey and LaVar Ball.
— Joe Otterson

More TV

  • Prince Albert II of Monaco (C),

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union's 'L.A.’s Finest' Opens Monte Carlo TV Festival

    Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival on Friday at a glittering ceremony at the principality’s Grimaldi Forum attended by Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. The Hollywood actresses presented the French premiere of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest,” which has just been renewed for a second season. “You typically [...]

  • Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba'L.A.'s Finest'

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union Speak About Horrific 'L.A.’s Finest' On-Set Accident

    Actresses Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba spoke about how the horrific accident on the set of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest” affected them and the crew at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival Saturday. They also paid tribute to the main victim of the incident, executive producer/co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier, whose leg was amputated below [...]

  • Emmys: How a Social Media Campaign

    How a Social Media Campaign to Game the Emmys Led to This Week's 'Block Voting' Scandal

    The Television Academy’s “block voting” controversy has quickly become the talk of Emmy season — and that appears to have been the org’s point. According to multiple insiders, the number of people disqualified from voting in this year’s competition is believed to be small, only around three members (out of nearly 25,000 members overall). But [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Drops Trailer for 'Veronica Mars' Revival (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Hulu dropped the official trailer for the “Veronica Mars” revival and HBO revealed more cast members for “Lovecraft Country.” FIRST LOOKS Hulu has dropped the official trailer for its revival of “Veronica Mars,” set to premiere on July 26. The series will bring back most of the original cast, including Kristen Bell, Jason [...]

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Viacom CEO Bob Bakish

    Bob Bakish Talks Pluto TV, Netflix and CBS-Viacom Merger Rumors

    Viacom CEO Bob Bakish knows that a lot of his peers are in the original content space in streaming, but he believes the company’s ad-supported free service Pluto TV is better off relying on Viacom’s library of content. “We can debate a lot of things about the future, but in the near term, the opportunity [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content