Emmys 2019: Dark Comedies, ‘Russian Doll’ and ‘Dead to Me’ Prove That the Emmy Awards Are Changing

The 2019 Emmys went off in typical fashion. Fans were excited at the prospect of dark comedies, Russian Dolls and Dead to Me, taking home top honors at the ceremony. That didn’t happen. Both Dead to Me and Russian Doll went home from the 71st Primetime Emmys empty-handed. While the lack of wins was a bit disappointing, the nominations themselves were exciting, and it does indicate that perhaps The Television Academy is changing things up, leading to more exciting future ceremonies.

What categories were Dead to Me and Russian Doll nominated in?

Dead to Me and Russian Doll have several things in common. Both shows are dark comedies produced by Netflix. Both shows approach intense topics with levity, and both shows wrapped their inaugural season during the 2019 eligibility calendar. Dead to Me, a true dark horse in its category, only managed to secure a single nomination. That nomination was awarded to Christina Applegate for her portrayal of Jen in the series. She was nominated in the Oustanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category. It was her third nomination in the category.

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Natasha Lyonne, who has become the sweetheart of Netflix, found herself nominated in the same category as Christina Applegate. She also picked up a nomination in the Oustanding Writing for a Comedy Series category. Russian Doll received two nods in the writing category. The show was also nominated in the Oustanding Comedy Series category, a nomination that took the entire world by surprise. Russian Doll also received a slew of technical category nominations.

Russian Doll did take home three Emmys

While Russian Doll did not manage to take home a trophy from the televised awards ceremony, the show did clean up at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The ceremony, held over two-days, honors that more technical side of television production. Writing, camera work and costuming are all honored during the ceremony, traditionally held the weekend before the Primetime Emmys air on television.

During the Creative Arts Emmys, Russian Doll received recognition for its costumes, cinematography, and production. The series picked up the Outstanding Contemporary Costumes trophy. It also secured wins in the Oustanding Production Design For a Narrative Program category, and the Oustanding Cinematography For a Single-Camera Series category.  

What do the nominations mean for future ceremonies?

Every fall television fans watch with anticipation as their favorite shows battle it out to bring home an Emmy statue. While the awards show is much beloved, it hasn’t been surprising over the last several years. The Television Academy is known for nominating the same players over and over again. For example, Julia Louis-Dreyfus had the chance to become the first actress to sweep a category for her work on Veep. She took home six out of seven potential trophies for her portrayal of Selina Meyer.

While it seems like the same shows and stars get nominated years after year, .this year was a little bit different. The inclusion of the two dark comedies from Netflix could indicate that the Television Academy is loosening up a little bit and are finally willing to consider fresh and unique comedies. Christina Applegate even admitted that she was shocked to find herself on the nomination list. She told People, “I was like, ‘There is no way.’ Yes, people have been really, really complimentary of the show and that’s felt really nice because it doesn’t always happen like that, but still I was like, ‘How’d I squeeze in there?’”

The ”squeeze” she’s referring to, is breaking into a category that has been dominated by premium cable providers and well-known shows. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for six years straight before being ineligible. Last year, Rachel Brosnahan was able to clinch the award for her work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Brosnahan’s win seemed to indicate a new era for the awards ceremony. This year, Pheobe Waller-Bridge secured the upset with her work on Fleabag. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Fleabag both appear on the streaming platform, Prime Video.