Are This Year’s Emmy Awards Actually Going to Be…Good?

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Many of us have had the same complaints about award shows for years, if not decades; they’re formulaic, they’re often boring, they go on way too long, and frankly, they’re…very white and male. While it’s unlikely that all of those issues will be totally erased by this year’s Emmy Awards, the list of nominations is at least looking pretty promising, with a record-breaking number of nods to performers of color.

One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s Emmys is, of course, the nomination of Pose actor Mj Rodriguez for outstanding lead actress in a drama series, which makes her the first trans woman to be recognized in a lead-acting category. Anyone who watched this season of Pose probably has all their fingers crossed for Rodriguez already—her performance as ballroom house mother Blanca was alternately subtle and devastating. But even those who aren’t fans of the show can appreciate the significance of Rodriguez’s nod, particularly in a media landscape where many trans and nonbinary performers still struggle to get the recognition they deserve.

Rodriguez isn’t the only bright spot on the horizon, however. Saturday Night Live comedian Bowen Yang became the first featured player from the variety show to be nominated in an acting category. Yang, who is nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, is also one of the first Chinese Americans to receive an Emmy nomination for acting, and it’s well deserved after the year he’s had: Yang’s SNL characters, which have included Fran Lebowitz and the iceberg that sank the Titanic, were highlights in a mostly meh season. (Elon Musk as a guest? Seriously? Sorry, but I’m still not over it.)

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It was a big year for Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page as well; although the British actor won’t be returning for the second season of the Netflix show, he snagged the show’s only acting nomination. Other fan-favorite series that received recognition include Hacks (the Jean Smart renaissance continues apace!), The Flight Attendant, The Crown, and finally—blessedly!—Michaela Coel’s masterpiece I May Destroy You, which was inexplicably overlooked for a Golden Globe.

Of course, it’s totally possible for an awards show with a slate of top-shelf nominations to go awry or enact a series of snubs that leaves everyone wishing they hadn’t stayed up to watch. (Seriously, if this thing goes one minute past 11 p.m., I will turn the TV off and feel absolutely nothing.) Still, it’s exciting to see so many genuinely genre-bending, brilliant, and diverse performances get a nom. I’m not ready to forgive the concept of awards shows in general after spending what feels like years of my life watching only white men take home the gold, but this year’s Emmys certainly feel like a good start.

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