Representation matters, but this year’s list of Emmy nominations doesn’t seem to reflect that – at least in some of the major categories.
Melissa Fumero and JB Smoove announced the nominees for the 74th Emmy Awards on Tuesday morning, and they seemed to be particularly sparse when it came to LGBTQ representation, let alone diversity.
For the top prizes of Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Comedy, the Emmys are on the low end of the scale when it comes to queer representation. Of the eight drama series nominated, Yellowjackets and Euphoria are waving the LGBTQ flag, while Hacks is representing on the comedy side with Abbott Elementary and What We Do In the Shadows folded into the mix with its queer storylines and actors. This year, Hacks also took home the trophy for Outstanding New Series at the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards. When it comes to limited series, queer stories are practically non-existent with The White Lotus standing alone among the five nominees.
In the categories of Outstanding Lead Actress and Lead Actor in a Drama, it’s also fairly quiet when it comes to queerness. Although she doesn’t identify as queer, Melanie Lynskey received a nod for her role in Yellowjackets, which has prominent gay storylines. Her co-star Christina Ricci also received a nom for Best Supporting Actress.
Dramas like Killing Eve and Euphoria have queer elements, so we would be remiss not to give a nod to Jodie Comer, Sandra Oh and Zendaya for their noms. When it comes to Lead Actor nominations, there is zero LGBTQ representation.
For Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress on the comedy side, queer representation is sparse. In fact there are no queer-identifying actors nominated at all for Lead Actor. For Lead Actress, it’s pretty much the same story as drama. There are non queer-identifying actors nominated in shows that navigate queer storylines including Quinta Brunson in Abbott Elementary and Jean Smart in Hacks.
However, there seems to be a fairly healthy amount of queer representation (by comparison) in the Supporting Actors and Actresses, Comedy category. Hanna Einbinder was nominated for her role in Hacks, while Kate McKinnon and Bowen Yang received nominations for Saturday Night Live.
For Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a Limited Series, Sarah Paulson stands as the lone queer-identifying performer for her performance in Impeachment: American Crime Story across both categories. Again, it seems there is a wild shortage of queer-identifying actors nominated in lead categories.
Even on the supporting side, Limited Series only LGBTQ nom has Murray Bartlett representing for his performance in The White Lotus, while nearly all of his female co-stars were nominated in the Supporting Actress category.
It seems like it’s all the same story in the Guest Actor and Actress categories as there is a light peppering of nominations for the LGBTQ community. Colman Domingo received a nod for his guest spot on Euphoria while Jane Lynch and Nathan Lane both got some love for their appearances on Only Murders In The Building. Jerrod Carmichael received a nomination for guest hosting Saturday Night Live which was during his much-talked about and thoughtful Rothaniel comedy special.
One huge nomination that should not go unnoticed is for the GLAAD-awarning winning Hulu documentary Changing the Game, directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker Michael Barnett and produced by Alex Schmider and Clare Tucker. The doc, which received a nod for Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking, follows the the lives of three high school athletes-all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives, and unique paths as transgender teens.
RuPaul’s Drag Race continues to take its spot as an Emmy juggernaut, receiving multiple nominations including Best Reality Competition and Best Host for the titular RuPaul, who has won the host trophy numerous times and if he wins this year, it will be his seventh Emmy in the category. If the series wins, it will be its fifth trophy. RuPaul’s Drag Race also won for Outstanding Reality Series – in a tie with HBO’s We’re Here – at the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards.
Also nominated for Host of a Reality Competition is Nicole Byer for the popular and wildly fun Netflix baking competition Nailed It! Comedian and podcast queen Byer has been nominated in the category three times.
Compared to last year, the Emmy nominations for the LGBTQ community aren’t as potent and present. In 2021, it was a big year for the queer community at the Emmys as Pose received a nomination for Best Drama for its final season while Billy Porter was nominated for a third time for his role as Pray Tell, a trophy he won in 2019. In addition, Michaela Jae Rodriguez was recognized for her performance as Blanca in FX’s Pose. This marked the first time an openly trans performer has received a nomination for a Lead category. Before Rodriguez, Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in 2014 while Rain Valdez (Razor Tongue) also earned a nod for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy. On the Daytime Emmy side, Scott Turner Schofield (Studio City) and Rowin Amone (King Ester) scored nominations in 2020 for Outstanding Guest Performer and Lead Actress in Digital Drama Series, respectively.
The aforementioned Fire Island star Bowen Yang earned his second Emmy nomination this morning for his genius in Saturday Night Live. Yang made history becoming the first Chinese-American man to be nominated in a supporting actor category.
In addition to the other nominees in 2021, the Emmys saw a very nice intersection of queer identity and Blackness, with nominees Cynthia Erivo, Carl Clemons-Hopkins and Aunjanue Ellis, who recently came out as bisexual.
We celebrate all of this year’s Emmy nominees from the LGBTQ community, but it seems like a similar song we sing every year: Hollywood can do much better – especially with the continuously growing amount of queer content on TV and streamers.