Emmys 2019: A Year of Firsts

The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards happening Sunday has already delivered an abundance of firsts. Along with a slew of first-time nominees, there was a new record set for most nominations for a network in a single year, and the possibility of one big record-breaking win.

Perhaps the most obvious first for the awards show this year – which has been broadcast since 1949 – will be when the curtain goes up the ceremony will progress without a dedicated emcee. Perhaps the Television Academy powers-that-be were swayed in their decision by this year’s enjoyable and well-received Academy Awards show that also went without, following backlash over proposed host Kevin Host’s past homophobic tweets and comments. Hart stepped away from the gig, and sans host the pacing was snappy and the running time abbreviated.

Not only is “Game of the Thrones” the juggernaut to beat with 32 nominations for its divisive final season, that tally helped push HBO to a record-breaking number of nominations in a single year for a network. The fantasy hit already has 57 Emmys to date and has been nominated 160 times.

First-time nominees include Billy Porter, up for lead actor in a drama series for his work as outspoken ball emcee Pray Tell in FX’s “Pose.” Porter, who will mark his 50th birthday Saturday, only a day prior to the ceremony, is the first openly gay black man to be nominated to the category, according to Deadline. Porter told People magazine receiving the nomination is “profound and special” and that he does “not take it lightly.”

Other first-time nominees include a surprising number of well-known acting names including Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”), Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”), Stellan Skarsgard (“Chernobyl”), Mandy Moore (“This Is Us”), Michael McKean (“Better Call Saul”), Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell (“Fosse/Verdon”), along with Fiona Shaw, who received two acting nods for her work in “Killing Eve” and “Fleabag.”

Sophie Turner, Alfie Allen and Gwendoline Christie all received first nominations for their respective acting work on “Thrones,” joining Sian Clifford (“Fleabag”), Michael Angarano (“This Is Us”), Anthony Carrigan (“Barry”), Jody Comer (“Killing Eve”), Joey King (“The Act”), Kumail Nanjiani (“The Twilight Zone”), Ryan O’Connell (“Special”), and Aunjanue Ellis, Asante Blackk, Jharrel Jerome and Marsha Stephanie Blake (“When They See Us”).

Nick Offerman received his first Emmy nod for outstanding host reality/competition for NBC’s “Making It.” Offerman is up against fellow newbie Marie Kondo for “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

If Julia Louis-Dreyfus is named leading actress in a comedy series for her role as Selina Meyer on “Veep” as she has for the previous six seasons ahead of this year’s finale, another win will give her the record she currently shares with Cloris Leachman: that of performer with most individual wins in Emmy history. Both actresses currently have eight Emmys each. “Veep” was not in contention for the 2018 Emmys due to an extended hiatus as Louis-Dreyfus was underwent treatment following a breast cancer diagnosis.

Louis-Dreyfus recognizes the importance of her many wins but that having all her Emmys on display would lack a certain subtlety. “I don’t want to keep them all in one spot – that sort of feels show-off-y,” she told Porter. “So I have some out … but the others are tucked away under a bed.”

The Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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