Emmy Awards: 2016’s Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Geoff Berkshire

While the Emmy voters stood by favorites like “Veep,” “Game of Thrones,” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” there were quite a few surprises and snubs in store this year as well.

SURPRISE: Tatiana Maslany
Going all the way from the top of everyone’s “snub” lists to an Emmy winner, the Canadian dynamo picked up a lead actress trophy on her second nomination for BBC America’s “Orphan Black.” Playing more characters on a regular basis than anyone else on television, Maslany earned this one with four seasons of seamless performances. There’s gonna be a major party in Clone Club tonight.

SURPRISE: Ben Mendelsohn
The Aussie actor (soon to be seen in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) received his second consecutive nomination for Netflix’s thriller “Bloodline,” but few expected him to win — especially considering his significantly reduced screen time in Season 2. Mendelsohn triumphed in a field that included former winner Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington (both of “Game of Thrones”), Jon Voight (“Ray Donovan”), Michael Kelly (“House of Cards”), and Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”).

SURPRISE: Louie Anderson
The veteran stand-up’s performance as Zach Galifianakis’ mother on the quirky FX comedy “Baskets” was critically acclaimed and commanded industry respect (it was the show’s sole Emmy nom). But few expected Anderson to topple previous winners Tony Hale (“Veep”) and Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), Keegan-Michael Key’s final season of eligibility for “Key & Peele,” and much-loved but still Emmy-less Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”).

SNUB: “Fargo
With 18 nominations, FX’s limited series was the third-most nominated program in any category this year. But it only turned two of those noms into wins (sound editing and cinematography — both at the Creative Arts ceremonies), meaning that it scored no victories at all during Sunday’s primetime telecast.

SURPRISE: Regina King
It shouldn’t be a surprise to see a repeat winner (any repeat winner) at the Emmys, and King’s work on ABC’s “American Crime” was certainly solid in season two. Still, many expected to see Jean Smart (“Fargo”) take the prize, while Melissa Leo (“All the Way”) and Olivia Colman (“The Night Manager”) were popular underdogs.

SURPRISE: “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride”
“Sherlock” has a history of pulling off upset wins at the Emmys, but few expected the one-off holiday special “Abominable Bride” to topple HBO’s heavyweight LBJ bio-pic “All the Way.” The unexpected win for TV movie sent “All the Way” home without a single Emmy.

SNUB: HBO’s movies and minis
HBO’s traditional dominance of the longform categories hit a snag with nominations this year when none of the cabler’s limited series were nominated. (It marked the first time since 2007 that HBO was snubbed in the miniseries category.) And then the network struck out again as the winners were announced. The “Sherlock” upset meant HBO’s TV movies “All the Way” and “Confirmation” came away without any wins, in a rare Emmy goose egg for the year’s most nominated outlet.

SURPRISE: Susanne Bier
The celebrated Danish helmer (her film “In a Better World” won the best foreign language film Oscar in 2010) directed every episode of AMC’s “The Night Manager.” But the acclaimed mini was up against stiff competition for outstanding directing in a limited series or TV movie including two episodes of “Fargo,” three episodes of “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” and HBO’s “All the Way.” Still, Bier came away the Emmy champ.

SNUB: “House of Cards”
Netflix’s flagship drama had 13 nominations this year, second only to “Game of Thrones” among drama series — but it walked away winless from the Emmys, and stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are still awaiting their first wins for their roles.

SNUB: “Silicon Valley”
The most nominated comedy series (11 noms) to not win a single Emmy on the primetime telecast, HBO’s tech industry satire is still an underdog when it comes to industry kudos.

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