It's always an honor to be nominated for an Emmy, but one of the downsides of working in series television is that you can rack up those nominations year after year without winning. Sometimes it's just bad luck, sometimes the Emmys have their favorites they can't get enough of (ahem, JLD), sometimes a newbie hotshot comes out of nowhere, sometimes an underdog surprises, and sometimes someone else is just flat-out better.
That leaves a ton of stars empty-handed. A bunch have gone on to win an Emmy for something they're not best known for, but there are many multiple losers who are still awaiting for their first victory (weekly reminder that Angela Lansbury remains 0-18). However, the new voting system, an expanded pool and a plurality vote, has helped some overdue folk, like Jon Hamm and Amy Poehler, win the past two years.
So which longtime loser could follow in their footsteps in 2017?
Real Time with Bill Maher
Real Time will mark the big 2-0 this year, as in 20 losses. Maher's talk show has never won an Emmy of any kind and will once again just have to be content with its variety talk series nod, which is basically a nomination equivalent of a seat-filler at this point. Real Time is a lot of things, but it's not beating Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or defending champ Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. After this year, Real Time will dubiously be only six losses away from dethroning Newhart as the biggest losing program.
We all know Banks should've won two years ago. We also all know that if there could only be one slot for a Better Call Saul supporting actor, it should've gone to Michael McKean. Banks, who's the only person to have been nominated for three different shows in drama supporting actor, is on his fifth nod, but any overdue or make-up prize sentiment will be suffocated by John Lithgow's tour de force as Winston Churchill in The Crown. Plus, for a show that's a spin-off of a series that was immediately embraced by the Emmys, Better Call Saul has had a schizophrenic relationship with the Emmys. Not counting its nine nods this year — its most ever in a single year — it has yet to win any Emmys. And while Breaking Bad won nine acting awards, Saul hasn't been able to garner any acting nominations beyond Banks and Bob Odenkirk.
If Wright hadn't completely botched her episode submission in 2014 (we were all rooting for you, Robin!), she'd likely be in the winners' circle by now. Alas, she went with a brief crying scene in the House of Cards Season 2 finale instead of her showcase in "Chapter 17," and is Emmy-less after five career nods. She has two this year — drama lead actress and as a producer for House of Cards' drama series nod — but neither she nor the show has the heat it once did.
Spacey has double the losses of his co-star, standing at 0-10, with two nods this year, for acting and producing. House of Cards is out of it for drama series, but Spacey has a slightly better shot than Wright, if only because drama actor has seven nominees versus the usual six, which means he needs a smaller majority to win under the new system. He's also the bigger name, but if voters are just gonna go for the name-check — which given Rami Malek's and Tatiana Maslany's wins last year, they may not — there's an even bigger, fellow Oscar-winning name in the field: Anthony Hopkins from a show, Westworld, that co-leads the entire field with 22 nominations.
If the new voting system had been enacted when Saturday Night Live stars were ruled eligible to compete in the comedy supporting races in 2008, the SNL guard of the late '00s (the aught guard?) — Wiig, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader — likely would've grabbed a win or two like Kate McKinnon did last year. Wiig is nominated in guest for hosting SNL, and the good news is that SNL hosts have fared well in those races. The bad news: Melissa McCarthy is also nominated and it's gonna be tough to take down Spicey. Even if McCarthy wasn't in the picture, Wiig would have to deal with Carrie Fisher (Catastrophe), who could pull off a rare posthumous win.
A four-time loser, Sarandon has two chances to win this year: lead actress in a limited series or TV movie and limited series for Feud: Bette and Joan. The former will be tough, as the frontrunners in the Group of Death — which features four Oscar winners (Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon), an Oscar nominee and Emmy winner (Felicity Huffman), and Carrie f---in' Coon — are her co-star Lange and Big Little Lies' Kidman. But Feud, which is the most nominated limited series with 18 mentions, could snag the top prize. It will have to overcome a key snub though: It missed out on an editing nomination, for which every limited series winner this decade has contended.
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Chlumsky is on her fifth straight comedy supporting actress nod for Veep and this is her best chance yet at winning. As we saw last year, vote-splitting is a now factor with a plurality vote. Chlumsky is the only nominee from her show and is up against two Transparent stars (Judith Light and Kathryn Hahn) and three Saturday Night Live stars (Vanessa Bayer, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon). If Chlumsky doesn't prevail again, she'd be two losses away from tying Julia Duffy as the category's biggest loser.
Sure, the Big Little Lies star, who's 0-5, has to contend with two-time limited/TV movie supporting actress defending champ Regina King (American Crime), her co-star Shailene Woodley, two Feud: Bette and Joan stars (Judy Davis and Jackie Hoffman) and the long-awaited return of Michelle Pfeiffer (The Wizard of Lies), but 2017 is the Year of Dern. She's got BLL, Twin Peaks and Star Wars, she discovered she's a meme, and she almost became president (of AMPAS). She's beloved, highly respected, and you can bet a bunch of voters are all #ImWithDern.
Laurie, who's 0-9, probably would've won last year for The Night Manager if it weren't for Sterling K. Brown's revelatory turn in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. He might finally get his for Veep in the guest category, a haven for overdue peeps (see: Newhart, Bob for The Big Bang Theory; Poehler, Amy for Saturday Night Live). Like Chlumsky, he's the only representative from his show, vying opposite Girls' Riz Ahmed and Matthew Rhys, and SNL hosts Dave Chappelle, Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda, so Laurie ought to be praying to the Emmy gods for a vote split. The guest statuettes will be handed out at Sunday's Creative Arts Awards.
The Queen of Peak TV has come up short in her first seven nominations (your weekly reminder that Mad Men went a desultory 1-36 in acting). Moss has could very well go 2-for-2 this year. She snatched The Crown star Claire Foy's, uh, crown as the drama lead actress favorite since the world got a glimpse of her hypnotic, wry turn on The Handmaid's Tale. With two-time reigning champ Game of Thrones out of the mix, drama series is open season. The Handmaid's Tale, which Moss also produces, is one of five new shows nominated, and has the clout and support to become the first streaming series to win the top prize. But like Feud, it will also have to overcome the lack of an editing nomination — only one show this century has won drama series without one, but it also starred none other than Moss: Mad Men in 2008.
The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards airs Sunday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on CBS.
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