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From ‘The Mandalorian’ to Michael K. Williams, the Emmys Ignored a Great Year of Genre TV

WandaVision Lovecraft Country Mandalorian Emmys
Courtesy of Disney Plus; HBO; Disney Plus

This year at the Emmys, genre series, especially those adapted from comic books, had their strongest showing ever, with 81 nominations across eight live-action shows. During the Creative Arts Emmys, three of those shows — “WandaVision,” “The Mandalorian” and “Lovecraft Country” — picked up 12 wins between them.

So there was every reason to expect that at least some genre TV — including Amazon’s “The Boys,” the first comic book adaptation ever nominated for best drama — would take home an Emmy or two on Sunday night during the primetime telecast.

Instead, traditional dramas dominated the night, leaving all the nominated genre series winless for the evening.

The most surprising omission was easily the late Michael K. Williams, whose deeply felt performance as a closeted gay man in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” was a major favorite for supporting actor in a drama. Instead, that award went to Tobias Menzies’ tightly wound performance as Prince Philip for Netflix’s “The Crown,” a show that won almost every award for which it was nominated on Sunday, including best drama series.

Most Emmys pundits had also pegged Kathryn Hahn to win supporting actress in a limited series for her scene-stealing turn as the nosy-neighbor-turned-scheming-witch Agatha Harkness in Disney Plus’ “WandaVision,” but Julianne Nicholson won instead for HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” on the strength of her wrenchingly emotional final scenes as a mother faced with an impossible choice.

But perhaps the most telling win of the evening was for actor in a limited series. “WandaVision’s” Paul Bettany was, again, a favorite to win here, for a performance that ranged from a powerful superhero to a goofy sitcom dad to an empathic loving husband. But instead, Emmy voters chose Ewan McGregor for his larger-than-life performance as the iconic fashion designer Halston on Netflix’s “Halston” — the only win for the series out of just five nominations, compared to “WandaVision’s” 23 nods.

Genre television has always struggled to gain equal footing when it comes to awards season, but over the last few years, several major titles have pierced that prejudice, especially winners “Game of Thrones” and “Watchmen.”

This year, that pendulum swung back to more traditional fare. Certainly, as Marvel Studios’ first ever TV show, the fact that “WandaVision” earned as many nominations as it did is its own accomplishment, especially considering it took 10 years for Marvel to win the same level of recognition at the Oscars with “Black Panther.”

By the same token, it was hard to escape the impression on Sunday that Emmy voters just really did not want to vote for a show based on a comic book or with actual monsters instead of metaphoric ones.