×

Emmys: How Political Series Fared With 2019 Nominations

Although the U.S. is gearing up for another election cycle and scripted shows have leaned into topical issue storytelling, Television Academy voters have pumped the brakes a little when it comes to celebrating political fare.

Two stalwarts of Emmys past that have politicians as their central characters drew less attention than they did previously: HBO’s “Veep,” which came to a raucous end this year, garnered nine total nominations — significantly fewer than the previous time it was eligible (in 2017, when it scored 17). Over at Netflix, “House of Cards” picked up only three nominations, the lowest total of its run.

The Good Fight” previously had been nominated in musical categories, but its third season attracted extra attention for tackling President Trump head-on with its satire, including a storyline in which Christine Baranski’s character forms a resistance group to his administration, and one in which the law firm deals with a client who might be his wife, Melania. While some predicted it could crack into the drama series races this year, the CBS All Access series was snubbed completely.

One intriguing question was whether “Brexit,” which scored a nom in the TV movie category, would gain recognition for lead Benedict Cumberbatch, who has a cluster of nominations to his name for “Sherlock” and “Patrick Melrose.” Turns out the actor, who plays Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings in the film, didn’t quite do enough to break into a tough lead actor in a limited series/TV movie category, which included fellow Brits Hugh Grant and Jared Harris. However, Grant also played a politician in “A Very English Scandal,” so in a sense the category did include a small nod to politics.

In terms of series with larger political implications, Ava DuVernay’s Netflix limited series “When They See Us,” about the Exonerated Five, smashed onto the awards scene with 16 nominations, finishing as the streamer’s most-nominated show and seventh most recognized overall. And the first season of FX’s ballroom-culture drama “Pose,” which deals with issues of LGBTQ representation and rejection as well as the 1980s AIDS crisis, scored six nominations, including drama series, right out of the gate. Both series resonated with audiences, and now it’s clear that voters feel the same way. But both are period pieces that don’t reflect the world exactly as it is today. And as the current real world becomes more tumultuous, reel worlds that leaned further into fantasy were more widely celebrated.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen and Martin

    Bruce Springsteen's Director, Thom Zimny, on the Move from 'Broadway' to 'Western Stars'

    Director Thom Zimny is due for a big September: Come Sept. 22, he’ll find out whether he’s winning an Emmy Award for directing “Springsteen on Broadway” for Netflix. Ten days before that, he’ll be at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival to premiere a theatrical feature, “Western Stars,” which he co-directed with his muse and subject, [...]

  • BritBox Is 'Not a Rival to

    BritBox 'Not a Rival to Netflix and Amazon' but Something Different, ITV Exec Says

    BritBox, ITV and the BBC’s joint “best of British” streaming service, is not being positioned as a rival to Netflix and Amazon but offers something those two streaming giants don’t, ITV director of television Kevin Lygo said. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Friday, Lygo said BritBox would be a “different thing” that allowed [...]

  • Stefano Sollima for Web Story

    'ZeroZeroZero' Creator on Making an Old Story New and How Andrea Riseborough Got Hurt (EXCLUSIVE)

    Stefano Sollima, the Italian director known in Hollywood for “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” and TV show “Gomorrah,” is the main creative force behind cocaine-trafficking series “ZeroZeroZero,” which will world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 5. Festival chief Alberto Barbera has praised it as blowing “Narcos” out of the water. Sollima directed [...]

  • Ballers HBO

    'Ballers' to End After Season 5 on HBO

    “Ballers” is coming to an end after five seasons on HBO. Star and executive producer Dwayne Johnson confirmed the news via an emotional Instagram video. “My heart is full of gratitude to all of you for rocking with us every season. You made us HBO’s highest rated comedy for years and most importantly, you helped [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content