×
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

  • Gerald Blum, Inspiration for 'WKRP In

    Gerald Blum, Inspiration for 'Big Guy' Carlson on 'WKRP In Cincinnati,' Dies

    Gerald “Jerry” Blum, the inspiration for the character of radio station general manager Art “Big Guy” Carlson on the long-running TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died Saturday at 86. The Atlanta radio veteran was affectionately transformed into the fictional Carlson by veteran comic actor Gordon Jump on “WKRP,” which ran for four seasons on CBS [...]

  • Arrested Development Season 5 review

    TV News Roundup: 'Arrested Development' Sets Season 5 Return Date at Netflix

    In today’s TV news roundup, the second half of “Arrested Development” season five gets a release date and Netflix announces the voice cast for “Green Eggs and Ham.” CASTING Netflix has announced the ensemble voice cast for the upcoming “Green Eggs and Ham” series executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres and based on the Dr. Seuss book. [...]

  • LA Rams running back Todd Gurley

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Jan. 28: Super Bowl LIII Clobbers Competition

    In a shock to no one, the 2019 Super Bowl handily defeated all of its broadcast competition in the Live+7 numbers for the week of Jan. 28. Live sports typically receive virtually no lift in delayed viewing, and Super Bowl LIII was no exception. The game did, however, rise from a 31.1 rating in adults [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Faces Prison, Career Ruin if He Lied About Attack

    Jussie Smollett is facing prison time and the implosion of his career if it turns out he lied about being the target of a hate crime, legal and public relations experts say. “The best thing that Jussie can do is pray and pray a lot,” said Ronn Torossian, founder of 5W Public Relations. “If he [...]

  • BETTER THINGS "Chicago" Episode 1 (Airs

    TV Review: 'Better Things' Season 3

    A few episodes into the new season of “Better Things,” fed-up mother Sam (creator Pamela Adlon) tries a new tactic to break up one of the countless petty fights between her daughters. Instead of forcing them apart and hoping for the best, she throws up her hands and decides to just let them go at it, [...]

  • Anna Paquin, Sophie Okonedo in Flack

    TV Review: 'Flack' Starring Anna Paquin

    There’s a familiar, acrid aftertaste to “Flack,” Pop’s new drama about the controlled chaos of the publicity industry. The grim behind-the-scenes machinations of the glossy entertainment industry have always been one of TV’s favorite subjects, as are the people tasked with pulling the strings without anyone ever realizing. Over just six episodes, the show manages [...]

  • Jee Young Han

    NBC Comedy Pilot 'Like Magic' Casts Jee Young Han in Lead Role

    Jee Young Han has been cast in the lead role of the NBC single-camera comedy pilot “Like Magic,” Variety has learned. The project is a workplace comedy that follows an optimistic young woman (Jee) pursuing her dream to be a headlining magician in the eccentric and ego-driven world of the Magic Palace. Jee will play Holly. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content