Do you smell the reluctant excitement for awards season in the air? Consider it your countdown for the 74th Primetime Emmys, which will air on NBC on September 12. Hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson, this year’s ceremony could be a big one for several first-time nominees. Can you believe thee Jennifer Coolidge has never scored an Emmy before? Neither has Sheryl Lee Ralph. That could potentially change thanks to their outstanding turns in The White Lotus and Abbott Elementary, respectively. (Here are The A.V. Club’s predictions on who will and should win). Emmy voters do tend to favor repeat winners (see: Veep’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus or shows like Modern Family and Game Of Thrones). However, it’s entirely possible that the Television Academy could further make historic decisions with this year’s winners. Here are some potential big nominees to keep an eye out for:
The thrilling South Korean survival series is the first non-English language TV program to be nominated for Outstanding Drama. It will naturally make history if it wins, setting a new precedent that expands the scope of what’s recognized in this category. With its 14 total nominations, Squid Game season one has the most nods for any Netflix series this year. (Stranger Things comes in close behind with 13). Creator Hwang Dong-hyuk could also be the first person from South Korea to win in the drama writing and directing categories.
If series star Lee Jung-jae wins Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, he’ll set a record as the first South Korean actor (and actor of Asian descent) to do so. Ditto for his co-stars Park Hae-soo, O Yeong-su, and Jung Ho-yeon in their respective supporting categories. It bodes well that first-time nominee/winner Lee You-mi already nabbed the Outstanding Guest Actress trophy at last week’s Creative Arts Emmys.
Euphoria and Zendaya
If Euphoria somehow beats favored winners like Succession or Squid Game as an Outstanding Drama, Zendaya will become the youngest producer in Emmys history to win here. More importantly, the actor might win Outstanding Actress for a second time after her win in 2020, making her the first Black actor to win twice in this category, and the youngest actor to win again at age 26. Much like Squid Game, Euphoria also came in strong at the Creative Arts Emmys, with Colman Domingo winning his first statue for Outstanding Guest Actor.
Abbott Elementary and Quinta Brunson
All hail Abbott Elementary’s creator and star, Quinta Brunson, who could easily make Emmys history. The first-time multiple Emmy nominee would be the second Black woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, a whole 40 years after Isabel Sanford won for The Jeffersons. It also applies to Issa Rae for Insecure, who could bag her first win after several nominations. With Abbott’s own Outstanding Comedy Series nomination, though, Brunson could be the first Black woman to win writing, acting, and producing categories.
Series stars Janelle James, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Tyler James Williams scored their first Emmy nods this year. As a happy bonus: Wendy O’Brien won last week’s Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Casting, too. James, Ralph, or Ted Lasso’s Sarah Niles’ victory would make them the second Black woman to win the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series trophy after Jackée Harry for 227 in 1987. Williams or Ted Lasso’s Toheeb Jimoh, another first-time nominee, could be the second Black Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series winner after Robert Guillaume’s victory 42 years ago for Soap.
The White Lotus
By definition, the Outstanding Limited Series or Anthology category’s nominations are usually new entrants each year. While The White Lotus is defying this with its upcoming second season (also counted as an anthology), Mike White’s HBO drama is poised to win top honors. Both first-time nominees, Jennifer Coolidge and Murray Bartlett have solid chances of winning the supporting actress and actor categories. Not to mention, almost the entire ensemble got slotted in, including fellow first-timers Steve Zahn, Jake Lacy, Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell, and Sydney Sweeney—the latter also scored a nomination in the supporting drama actress category for Euphoria. Connie Britton has been nominated four times for Friday Night Lights and Nashville combined, but this would be her first Emmy win if she took home the supporting actress trophy.
Saturday Night Live
NBC’s long-running sketch series remains the most Emmy-nominated program in Emmy history, with its total reaching a whopping 315 after this year’s nine nods. Of its cast members, two-time winner Kate McKinnon is up for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for season 47, which doubled as her final season on the show. Bowen Yang’s third nomination for Supporting Actor could lead to his first trophy, making him the first actor of Chinese descent to win in this category. Jerrod Carmichael got his first nomination for hosting an SNL episode (despite the egregious snub for Rothaniel), but lost to Only Murders In The Building’s Nathan Lane in the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series category.
First-time Emmy-nominated actors to look out for this year
Melanie Lynskey, Yellowjackets, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Adam Scott, Severance, Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul, Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
J. Smith-Cameron, Succession, Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Elle Fanning, The Great, Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Nicholas Hoult, The Great, Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Amanda Seyfried, The Dropout, Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Andrew Garfield, Under the Banner of Heaven, Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Oscar Isaac, Scenes From A Marriage, Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Himesh Patel, Station Eleven, Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Sebastian Stan, Pam & Tommy, Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Lily James, Pam & Tommy, Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Will Poulter, Dopesick, Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Peter Sarsgaard, Dopesick (Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
Kaitlyn Dever, Dopesick, Supporting Actress in a Limited, Anthology Series, or Movie