Every single blog post or news article that follows an award show focuses on all of the snubs and surprises of the previous evening. Now this may be a silly question, but what makes an Emmy snub a snub? Nominations seem a fairer game to judge, but once a person is nominated, how can you be that surprised? Well, this year, even the winners themselves were surprised, because the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards “snubbed” nearly all of the incumbents, and yet they seemed so well-deserved. 
Let’s check out some newbie wins from this year’s Emmys, and go back in time to remember some snubs we’d rather forget.

71st Primetime Emmy Awards

This years snubs and surprises

The best part about this year’s Emmy Awards was the apparent shift in priorities — where talent meant more than hierarchy. There were a lot of upsets and a lot of fresh faces found themselves giving "thank you speeches." The winners weren’t necessarily underdogs — they were just extremely talented newbies. 

Incredible talent in acting, writing, and directing, reigned supreme. The winners were the individuals that stood out this year, without having a million seasons of popularity fueling their momentum. And that seems well-deserved to me. 

But in the past, the Emmys have often catered to the same (albeit incredible), talent over and over again — most notably, 7-time winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the smash-hit comedy, Veep. Which maybe makes sense why so many incredible new actors on the scene were in shock when they took home the gold. 

Lead Actress in a Comedy

The top winner of the evening went to Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She took home 2 Emmy Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, and Best Writing for a Comedy Series for Fleabag, her hilarious hit series about a woman dealing with sex addiction.

It’s clever, witty, and breaks the fourth wall religiously and hilariously, so of course it won big. Maybe the surprise lies in the fact that fan-favorite shows wouldn’t win based on Emmy history? Even Waller-Bridge was stunned when she stood up on stage, for a second time, claiming “this is getting ridiculous” for her big win for lead actress.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge steals the show

Lead Actress in a Drama

One winner in particular stands out to me. She was so surprised she won, she didn’t even invite her parents to the event. But after seeing Killing Eve, and Jodie Comer’s performance as the psychopathic Russian assassin, Oksana Astankova/Villanelle, how could she not be a front-runner?  The only “surprise-win” here is her own reaction.

And it’s amazing. 

Emmy Snubs - Well Deserved Jodie Comer - Emmy 2019

Comer really, really surprised herself

Here's a quick interview backstage. She's still in shock and that kind of fluster only happens after a true surprise.

Comer talks about her unexpected (deserved) win

Supporting Actress in a Drama

Beating out every supporting actress on Game of Thrones, Julia Garner had a surprise win for Ozark. Though, again, was this a surprise? It’s hard to judge snubs and surprises here. She's insanely talented and GOT has been on for years and years, with each actress having had opportunities to win (though Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke from GOT have absolutely been snubbed). 

But this particular year, Garner won, and if you've watched her, you know why. This her first Emmy win, and most likely not her last. Watch how the New Yorker developed her Southern accent for her role as Ruth Langmore. She was worried she would sound too “cartoonish,” but I guess she made it work...

Julia Garner gets her twang just right

Best Directing for a Drama Series
But even TV veterans like Jason Bateman can surprise themselves, and us. Up against three episodes of "Game of Thrones," "Killing Eve," "Handmaid’s Tale," and "Succession," Bateman took home the gold for his "Ozark" episode, “Reparations.” Watch his reaction below. And please, feel free to watch the slow-mo version.

His reaction was perfect

The next sections focus on what’s actually surprising. Those losses that are true snubs. Why? These actors and iconic characters have been nominated over and over again, but have never taken home the gold. And those other actors who have been in the game for forever, and have never even been nominated.

Biggest Snubs in Emmy History

Nominated but never won

Over the years, we may have found ourselves yelling at the TV when our favorite actor didn’t win. But most of the time, especially if they’re in the game long enough, they usually get acknowledged at some point...or do they?

Here are some of the worst snubs in Emmy history because they’re actually the worst, and I’m still genuinely upset about them. Especially Amy Poehler...Leslie Knope is perfect.

Okay, let’s get into it, these are the actors that have been nominated, but never ever won for their iconic roles.

Emilia Clarke 

Emilia Clarke had one final opportunity to win the Emmy for her role as Daenerys Targaryen on "Game of Thrones." Fans were furious when Jodie Comer went home with the award. I’m personally glad Comer won this year. But Clarke's been nominated four times, and she won’t take it home for this series, but I'm sure we’ll see her again.

Dragons didn't make her legendary, her acting did, (well, also dragons)

Lena Headey

Speaking of "Game of Thrones," I don’t know of a more evil, villainous character than the one played by Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister. Nominated nearly every year for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, I’m in shock nearly every year when she doesn’t win.

Shame, shame.

Lena Headey talks about playing Cersei

Sandra Oh

Sandra Oh had a Golden Globe streak with "Killing Eve," but it is a little surprising she hasn’t won an Emmy for the role. Jodie Comer was just too good to pass up this year. But regardless of her loss, her performance in this particular show has made her a front-runner for hopefully more lead roles to come.

That time an assassin sneaks into Sandra Oh's house

Amy Poehler

My favorite character on cable television. Poehler was nominated six times for her role as Leslie Knope on "Parks and Recreation," yet she never saw a win. The character’s perfectionism makes this ironic, and also kind of sad. Because she was hilarious.

Luckily, a year after the show, she grabbed a Creative Arts Emmy for hosting "SNL" in 2016. I think that’s kind of ridiculous, so I’ll award this a true snub.

Steve Carell

Another true snub. A staple of "The Office," the character of Michael Scott, a.k.a Steve Carell, was never once praised with that little statue...in real life anyway. "The Office" did receive several awards for best series, best writing, and directing.  

Martin Sheen

I miss Martin Sheen as our president. But regardless of who’s with me on this, his six nominations for "The West Wing" never actually amounted to a win. 

Jerry Seinfeld

In terms of Emmy awards, Jerry Seinfeld never won the award playing himself on the hit show, "Seinfeld." Nominated five times, he and Jason Alexander sat and watched as co-star Michael Richards took the gold on three separate occasions.

I love me a Seinfeld mashup

Michael C. Hall

One of the craziest snubs of all time. Could you picture anyone else ever playing Dexter? Yeah, me either. Five nominations never led to a win, but we’ll never forget him as our favorite serial killer. Hmm.

Angela Lansbury 

"Murder, She Wrote" was so great! Nobody? Anybody? Well, even if you’ve never seen an episode, the fact that Lansbury’s long-standing role as Jessica Fletcher landed her 12 nominations, it’s really strange to think she never won, not even once. My Nana was mad every time.

What a Real Snub Looks Like

Never nominated for acting or series

I know stupid gold statues don’t determine talent, not even a little, but some of these are just nonsense. Not even a nomination?

Courteney Cox

"Friends" got a ton of Emmy nods during its beloved run, but somehow Cox, who the show originally centered around, was the only actor of the six main characters to never get a nomination. Another true snub.

Monica Geller in an extended scene

Desi Arnaz

Everybody loved Lucy (and rightfully so), but what about Desi? Without Ricky Ricardo’s vivacious character, the show would have been very different. It was Desi Arnaz himself who pioneered the three-camera method for filming sitcoms. Several years after his death, he was acknowledged in the Television Hall of Fame.

The Wire

The only Emmy nominations ever received for one of the best police shows on television was for writing. Which we’re happy about, of course, but the incredible cast, including Idris Elba and Wendell Pierce, never received a single nomination across its five-season run.

The Wire Season 1 trailer

Jane the Virgin

This show was under-appreciated by Emmy voters. Was it too much to juggle? A comedy, interspersed with melodramatic scenes — a unique storytelling voice that is a critic and fan favorite?

For some reason, it seems this series has dealt with judgements of fluffiness, a level of silliness — judgements that don’t actually make sense when you watch the show. They have been nominated for Outstanding Narrator, which...well, makes it a true snub.

The Leftovers

And lastly, what’s left. Ugh. It reminds me of "The Wire." Incredible writing, beautiful directing, and a stellar cast. The only nomination it did receive was for Ann Dowd, who guest-starred on the show. 

There’s probably a ton more that we missed. "Orphan Black" never get a nom, Lauren Graham, and I can’t stop thinking about how Courteney Cox got robbed. Okay, okay, I’ll let it go. Thank god a little golden statue has absolutely nothing to do with talent. 


Famous comedians and stage fright

Overcoming stage fright is a real necessity if you want to take your career to the next level as a performer. Next up, a few famous comedians chat about their anxiety and how they (try to) get over it. 

Up Next: Overcoming Stage Fright →
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  • Alyssa Maio is a screenwriter from New Jersey, now living in Los Angeles. She works as a copywriter here at StudioBinder.

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