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The 2023 Emmy Awards: Breaking down this year's nominees

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

When actress Yvette Nicole Brown helped announce the nominees for the 75th Emmy Awards today, she couldn't help getting a little excited about some contenders for best actress in a limited series.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

YVETTE NICOLE BROWN: Dominique Fishback, "Swarm"; Kathryn Hahn, "Tiny Beautiful Things" - all my friends, OK - and Ali Wong, "Beef."

FLORIDO: Brown's audible joy, a reflection of how startling some nominations can be - there were some welcome surprises but also unexpected snubs this year. Here to help us sort through it all is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Eric, thanks for joining us.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Yeah. Great to be here.

FLORIDO: Let's get to the news of the moment - which shows got the most nominations and what does that say about the state of quality TV right now?

DEGGANS: Well, HBO's "Succession" got the most nominations of any series at 27, followed in succession by "The Last Of Us" and "The White Lotus," which are both dramas on HBO, and "Ted Lasso," the Apple TV+ comedy. Now HBO and HBO Max got the most nominations of any platform at 127 nominations total, and that's about 24 more than Netflix.

We see "The Last Of Us" joining this new elite of most-nominated TV shows because last year, "Succession," "The White Lotus" and "Ted Lasso" got the most nominations of any TV series. This year, "The Last Of Us" joins that crowd among the only four series to get more than 20 nominations this year. And because of that, we're seeing competition really heat up in the drama and comedy series categories, rather than limited series, which we used to see years ago, where you often saw movie stars leading these one-season shows that had big budgets.

FLORIDO: Well, Eric, you know, we hear a lot about how there are so many shows out there that it's hard for people to keep track. Why do you think that such a narrow group of series are dominating the nominations?

DEGGANS: Well, first, I'd say the TV Academy did a pretty decent job of recognizing performances and new shows like "The Last Of Us," "The Bear" on FX/Hulu, and "Wednesday" and "Beef" on Netflix. But there's always this question of whether the Academy's voters actually watch these shows deeply enough. Look at, like, the best supporting actor in a drama category. There were eight nominations, and they were filled by actors from two shows, "Succession" and "The White Lotus." And in fact, all eight major actors from "Succession's" cast all got nominated for Emmys this year. I mean, in the best supporting actress from a drama category, five of the eight slots went to people from "The White Lotus." But still, we had wonderful surprises. Netflix's road rage story, "Beef," became the first Asian-created show to score a best limited series nomination. And Dominique Fishback got her first Emmy nod for the Prime Video limited series "Swarm." And that's probably why Yvette Brown was so excited.

FLORIDO: Yeah. Well, with these kinds of surprises, there probably come a few snubs. Which ones stuck out to you this year?

DEGGANS: Well, in the matter - in the major categories, it had to be Harrison Ford, who was probably the biggest star who was eligible. He could have been nominated in comedy for Apple TV+'s "Shrinking" and in drama for Paramount+'s "Yellowstone" spin-off, "1923." But he got snubbed in both categories. So did his "1923" co-star, Helen Mirren, and the cast members and people from "Yellowstone." Donald Glover's comedy for FX, "Atlanta," which ended its series run last year, was also shut out of major categories - so some surprises.

FLORIDO: Well, as we speak, Eric, the Screen Actors Guild is nearing a negotiation deadline tonight, with studios in Hollywood for a new contract. The Writers Guild of America is already on strike. If the Actors Guild doesn't reach an agreement today and joins the writers on strike, will the Emmys even air on Fox in September?

DEGGANS: I think it's highly unlikely. It would be tough to persuade the actors to appear at the Emmys if they're on strike. And without famous actors, viewers won't watch. There's been reports suggesting the Emmys could air in November or even move to January of 2024. A long strike lasting into the fall is going to affect the pipeline of new shows. It's possible next year's Emmys won't have nearly the amount of great shows that we have this year. So we should sit back and enjoy and celebrate this great run of nominated shows right now 'cause next year we might not have this many great shows to look back on.

FLORIDO: All right. That's NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans. Thanks, Eric.

DEGGANS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.