Surprise! Emmy Voters Got Their Nominations (Mostly) Right This Year

6 big takeaways from the list of nominees

Every year, when the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announces its Emmy nominations, the reaction is focused more on which worthy shows and performances were left out than who was actually nominated. But this year, in the "Peak TV" era when there are more shows available than ever before, something astounding occurred with today's Emmy nominations: Voters got it mostly right.

That includes finally welcoming long-overlooked shows like The Americans into the major categories, embracing new entires like Mr. Robot, bestowing a slew of nominations on deserving programs like The People v. O.J. Simpson and recognizing streaming sites like Netflix for taking bold risks the broadcast networks wouldn't even dare to consider.

While some voters continue to reflexively vote for shows that are past their prime—Downton Abbey got 10 nominations for its final season, House of Cards nabbed 13 and Modern Family got another comedy series nomination—a surprising number of series that are actually deserving of recognition also made the cut, leading to one of the strongest crop of nominees in Emmys history.

Here are the big takeaways from this year's Emmy nominees. (The complete nomination list can be found here.)

The Americans finally gets its due

With Mad Men finally out of the running this year, voters had no choice but to make room for some new entires. And that meant finally bestowing nominations, five in all, on FX's The Americans, the best drama on TV. For three years, the show had been shut out of all the major categories, but voters finally recognized it for outstanding drama series, and also nominated its superb leads, Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell. Better late than never, especially given that few shows managed to break into the top categories so far into their runs.

Mr. Robot hacks the Emmys

Emmy voters can be slow to welcome new shows into the tent (see: The Americans), but they made room for a refreshing number of first- and second-year shows. Mr. Robot broke into the drama and best actor (Rami Malek) races, with six nominations overall. Netflix's Master of None got four nominations, including outstanding comedy series and for lead actor Aziz Ansari. While UnReal didn't get a drama series recognition, Constance Zimmer did crack the supporting actress category, and the show was also recognized with a writing nomination. And Netflix's riveting Making a Murderer nabbed six nominations. 

Perhaps my favorite nomination of all was for Louie Anderson, who landed a supporting actor nomination for playing Zach Galifianakis' mother (yes, his mother), in FX's quirky comedy Baskets.

Meanwhile, Black-ish had a nice sophomore surge, breaking into both the comedy and lead actress (Tracee Ellis Ross) categories, while Anthony Anderson was again recognized as lead actor.

Netflix is gaining on HBO

It was a big day for streaming services, especially Netflix, which got 54 nominations this year, up from 34 last year (and four wins). That's more than every broadcaster—NBC had 41, ABC and CBS both had 35, Fox had 29 and The CW had 5—and third most overall behind HBO and FX, which jump from 38 nominations last year to 56.

Amazon also saw an increase in nominations. It had 12 last year (with five wins) and 16 this year. And Hulu (two) and Crackle (three) landed their first nominations this year. 

But HBO reigned supreme as usual. With 94 total nominations, it is the most-nominated network for the 16th year in a row. The network had 23 nominations alone from Game of Thrones, which was the most-recognized show of the year, while Veep had 17 nominations and Silcon Valley got 11. (And it's likely already secured a few nominations for next year thanks to its terrific miniseries, The Night Of.)

HBO's streak is in jeopardy, however, especially if Game of Thrones, which could be delayed next year, doesn't make next year's Emmys deadline. As Netflix continues to surge, and with even more shows in the pipeline for next year, the streaming service could pull ahead when next year's nominations are announced.

The biggest fireworks are in the limited series categories

Just a few years ago, the Academy could barely cobble together enough contenders for what was then called the miniseries category. But this year, the outstanding limited series category will the most competitive, as two FX titans go head to head: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (with 22 nominations) and the second season of Fargo (18 nominations). And don't overlook ABC's American Crime, which had a stellar second season and could also walk away with a trophy.

Colbert is the odd man out in late-night

The Daily Show's Emmy streak has officially ended, as the show, which won last year, didn't score a single nomination in its first year with Trevor Noah at the helm. Another perennial late-night nominee was also overlooked this year—Stephen Colbert, whose Late Show with Stephen Colbert was also shut out. Even worse for Colbert: Both of his 11:30 competitors were nominated for outstanding variety talk series, as was The Late Late Show with James Corden, which now seems to have a stranglehold on CBS' late-night momentum.

However, the one true snub in the variety talk series category is Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which might be the most consistently superb show in late night (alongside Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which did make the cut). Full Frontal did land a variety series writing nomination, however, but it deserved more.

A few glaring omissions

While Emmy voters got it closer to right than usual, they still overlooked several deserving shows. Orange Is the New Black, which had 12 nominations in its debut year, managed just a single nomination for Season 3. And a pair of deserving CW shows, Crazy Ex-Girfriend and Jane the Virgin, couldn't turn their Golden Globe recognition into Emmy love. Finally, while I'm thrilled that Louis C.K.'s self-financed, self-distributed drama Horace and Pete got two minor nominees, I would have liked to see it break into the bigger categories.

But those are minor quibbles, and overall, this is a pleasantly impressive list of nominees. We'll find out who wins on Sunday, Sept. 18, when Jimmy Kimmel hosts the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards on ABC.