For the past five years, “Saturday Night Live” has been on a winning streak. The most nominated program in the history of the Emmy Awards — the series has 315 bids for its 47 seasons — has taken the title of Best Variety Sketch Series since 2017. But at the Creative Arts Emmys this past weekend, the series stumbled, not winning a single trophy out of its below-the-line nominations. Does that signal that the legendary sketch program might be headed for its first loss in recent memory? If so, that’d be good news for the only other nominee, “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”
The writing may have already been on the wall since July when Emmy nominations were announced, when “SNL’s” total number of bids shrunk year-over-year from 21 to just 10, which includes its Short Form bid for “Stories From The Show. ” Notably, the Emmy magnet went from 11 acting nominations last year to just three this time around, underperforming our expectations. Our combined odds for the nominations round predicted it would net eight.
WATCH our stream of the Saturday’s Creative Arts Emmys revealing all 45 winners
On Saturday, the NBC late night staple took a pummeling in the technical and design categories, too, losing all seven awards it was up for. While it lost in categories like Sound Mixing and Production Design to specials and competition programs like “Adele: One Night Only” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the real bellwether might be in the Variety Series Directing category. This year marks the send-off of the famed “SNL” director Don Roy King, who has 16 career nominations and 11 wins for the show, including the last five years consecutively. For his final season, he shared the nomination with Liz Patrick, who worked alongside King before taking over for him in the back half of the season. They were bested by Bridget Stokes for directing “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” which took home this prize for the first time of its run.
If the Variety Sketch Series category had three or four nominees, that loss might not be so meaningful. But just like last year, “SNL” and “A Black Lady Sketch Show” are the only two contenders vying for the title. The first-time victory for HBO’s sketch show in directing, when coupled with its second win for the picture editing team, could be the tell-tale sign that voters are ready to move on from “Saturday Night Live” for the top honor. There are years before 2017 where “SNL” did better than it did this time around at the Creative Arts and still lost the top honor, which could also be a sign of a changing of the guard.
SEE Emmy nominee profile: Kate McKinnon (‘Saturday Night Live’) would be fifth 3-time Best Comedy Supporting Actress champ
Even if “A Black Lady Sketch Show” wins, “SNL” shouldn’t fret too much. With the United States’ midterm elections on the horizon and coinciding with the debut of the 48th season, the veteran series could hit the sweet spot of political satire again and come roaring back at the 2023 Emmys.
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