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The winners (HBO) and losers (movie stars) of the Emmy nominations

‘Squid Game,’ ‘Severance’ and ‘Abbott Elementary’ are some of the new shows to break through in an awards race that’s never been more competitive

This image released by ABC shows Quinta Brunson in a scene from "Abbott Elementary." (Ser Baffo/ABC via AP)

It’s no one’s favorite time of the year: the day of Emmy nominations. This is true even for TV critics, who generally complain that the Television Academy, which votes on the awards, tends to reward the same (middlebrow) fare year after year.

But the Emmys are getting better, and one of the highlights of tracking the nominations is seeing which new shows break through, hopefully giving deserving freshmen a boost in attracting a larger viewership. This year, those shows were “Abbott Elementary” and “Only Murders in the Building” on the comedy side and “Severance,” “Squid Game” and “Yellowjackets” on the drama side.

Here are the biggest winners and losers among the 2022 nods, which reflect industry trends and argue mostly successfully for the Emmys’ continued relevance.

Winners: The overdogs. We won’t be in for many surprises on Emmys night on Monday, Sept. 12. Still the king of the networks, HBO (and its streaming offshoot, HBO Max) ruled over the TV realm with 140 nominations, more than any of its rivals. And based on the cascade of nods bestowed on last year’s comedy winner, “Ted Lasso” (which received another 20 nominations Tuesday), and 2020’s drama winner, “Succession” (which added 25 more nods to its proverbial mantel), the Apple TV Plus breakout and HBO heavyweight are pretty much a lock. (“Succession” ceded the category to “The Crown” in 2021, since it didn’t produce a season eligible for last year’s ceremony.)

Of those two, “Ted Lasso,” which delivered a divisive second season, is the slightly weaker contender, squaring off against stalwarts like “Hacks” (HBO Max) and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon Prime Video) as well as newcomers like “Abbott Elementary” (ABC) and “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu). “Succession” should hold strong against first-time nominees “Yellowjackets” (Showtime) and “Severance” (Apple TV Plus), but there’s a 1 in 456 chance that “Squid Game” (Netflix) pulls off an upset.

As ever, limited or anthology series is the only category where the victor doesn’t feel preordained, with a dead heat this year between Hulu’s Elizabeth Holmes series “The Dropout,” the same streamer’s opioid drama “Dopesick” and HBO’s eat-the-rich satire “The White Lotus.”

The nominees for the 74th Emmy Awards were announced on July 12. “Squid Game” became the first non-English-language series to be nominated for best drama. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

Emmy nominations 2022: ‘Succession’ earns most nods; ‘Squid Game’ makes history

Losers: Movie stars. An Oscar proved no guarantee of an Emmy nod this year, portending the end of the industry trend where A-listers “slumming it” on TV are handed a trophy for their troubles. Julia Roberts got zilch for her turn as tangential Watergate player Martha Mitchell in Starz’s “Gaslit,” as did Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway for their WeWork revisit “WeCrashed” (Apple). John C. Reilly was fantastic in HBO’s “Winning Time,” but the basketball series about an unstoppable team was forced off the court. Michelle Pfeiffer and Viola Davis fared no better with their larger-than-life (or, depending on who you ask, scenery-chewing) performances as Betty Ford and Michelle Obama on Showtime’s shamelessly awards-baiting “The First Lady.” Even freshly minted Academy Award winner Jessica Chastain got snubbed by the TV Academy; only her “Scenes From a Marriage” (HBO) co-star, Oscar Isaac, proved the exception to the rule.

If you can’t drum up much sympathy for the impossibly rich, beautiful and famous, perhaps spare a few thoughts for the smaller snubs that bummed me out: Naveen Andrews, who, as Elizabeth Holmes’ lover and business partner, was at least as great as Amanda Seyfried in “The Dropout”; Brian Tyree Henry, who served as the emotional anchor of a rootless third season of FX’s “Atlanta”; and Sarah Lancashire, who put her own inimitable spin on Julia Child in HBO Max’s “Julia.”

Winner: ’90s nostalgia. It looks like we won’t be done reexamining quarter-century-old scandals anytime soon. Despite a mixed critical reception, Hulu’s revenge-porn tale “Pam & Tommy” scored 10 nominations, including three for stars Lily James, Sebastian Stan and Seth Rogen. The even more coolly received “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” FX’s star-studded but listless retelling of the relationship between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, received five nominations, including a surprise nod for Sarah Paulson, who played Linda Tripp and received flack for the increasingly controversial practice of actors donning fat suits.

Perhaps that’s why the original premise of “Yellowjackets,” which jumps in time between the ’90s and now, feels so refreshing. (That, or the implied cannibalism.) The Showtime genre series garnered nods for beloved former child stars Melanie Lysnkey and Christina Ricci, who play the haunted, middle-aged versions of teenage girls who survive a plane crash and are determined to live at all costs.

Losers: “This is Us” and “Black-ish.” For most of their runs, the NBC weepie and ABC family sitcom kept network programming on the Emmys radar. But both shows were locked out for their valedictory seasons — a notable development especially for the nighttime soap’s buzzy final year, which featured a fan-favorite performance from Mandy Moore. But loyalists of the broadcast networks — if that’s a thing — needn’t despair. ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” the first-year mockumentary comedy set in a Philadelphia public school, has picked up the baton, with (richly deserved) nominations for cast members Quinta Brunson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Janelle James and Tyler James Williams.

Winner: Hulu. Despite its uncertain future as a Disney streaming site in competition with its majority owner’s much larger player in the streaming wars (Disney Plus), Hulu enjoyed a fantastic morning, with multiple nominations for “Dopesick,” “Pam & Tommy,” “Only Murders in the Building” and the Russian royalty comedy “The Great.” If Hulu execs want to make the case to Big Mouse that they should stay an independent venture, they could certainly start with Tuesday’s Emmy tallies.

Losers: Sophomore slumpers. By and large, it’s still the case that Emmy voters tend to nominate the same shows over and over again, no matter how downhill a show goes. (Case in point: the self-indulgent and messy-as-hell second season of HBO’s “Euphoria,” which picked up 16 nods this go-round.) But the Television Academy took note of other shows that experienced significant sophomore slumps, with “The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus), “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max), “Russian Doll” (Netflix) and “Bridgerton” (Netflix) declining precipitously in voters’ regard.

Winner: The widening TV landscape. “Adventurous” certainly isn’t a word one would use to describe the academy’s overall taste. But in recent years, they’ve increasingly demonstrated that they aren’t entirely out of touch with the changes in the industry. They championed Apple TV Plus early, for instance, even if they overcompensated by practically salivating all over “Ted Lasso.”

Academy members have continued their occasional forays beyond the nominees spoon-fed to them by expensive awards campaigns this year, nominating programming from Paramount Plus and the Roku Channel, and, in a pleasant surprise, dipping their toes into grisly genre fare with “Yellowjackets” and “Squid Game.” The latter became the first non-English-language nominee in the drama category recognition that viewers are more willing than ever to overcome the “one-inch barrier” of subtitles, per “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho’s memorable phrasing. But the most homegrown and comforting TV, like “Abbott Elementary,” got some love from the Emmys this season, too. Television should offer many types of excellence, and the Emmys are finally getting closer to acknowledging that.

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