LOS ANGELES (AP) – Succession received a leading 25 Emmy nominations on Tuesday, but the satirical drama about the rich and ruthless has a landmark rival in Squid Game, the first non-English language series to vie for television’s top honour.
Netflix’s Squid Game, a South Korea-set drama in which the poor are fodder for brutal games, earned a best drama nomination and 13 other bids for September’s Emmy Awards.
HBO’s Succession captured the best drama trophy and six other awards when it last vied for Emmys, in 2020.
Series creator Hwang Dong-hyuk said he appreciated that Squid Game was chosen as the “first milestone” for a Hollywood and United States (US) change of attitude.
“Instead of just exporting the content around the world, it is now shifting to become a participant in the global content realm to facilitate exchanges of cultures around the world,” he told The Associated Press through a translator.
Ted Lasso was the top comedy series nominee with 20 bids and has the chance to earn its second consecutive best comedy trophy, as academy voters proved undeterred by its sophomore season turn to the emotional dark side.
Other top nominees included the tropical resort-set anthology dramedy The White Lotus, which also received 20 nominations; the comedies Hacks and Only Murders in the Building with 17 bids each, and teenage dysfunction drama Euphoria. Its star, Zendaya, was crowned best actress in 2020 and is nominated again.
Departing series that might have expected salutes were instead snubbed, including the beloved family drama This Is Us, which received one bid, for original music and lyrics. An equally beloved family comedy, black-ish, earned costume and hairstyling nominations.
Ozark, which wrapped its run last season, fared better, with 13 bids including best drama series.
The final season for Insecure earned a lead comedy actress bid for its creator-star Issa Rae, while the return of Atlanta brought its creator and lead Donald Glover a shot at a best actor trophy to bookend his 2017 award.
The crowd-pleasing and acclaimed Abbott Elementary made a splashy debut in its first year, earning seven nominations including a best comedy nod and a lead acting bid for its creator, Quinta Brunson. The recognition for the ABC show was a rare bright spot for broadcast networks, which were otherwise shut out of the comedy and drama series races.
The other nominees for best comedy series are Barry; Curb Your Enthusiasm; Hacks; The Marvelous Mrs Maisel; Only Murders in the Building; Ted Lasso and What We Do in the Shadows.
Best drama series nominees include Better Call Saul; Euphoria; Severance; Stranger Things and Yellowjackets.
The modern vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows and Yellowjackets, a combined thriller and coming-of-age saga that’s created major buzz, showed that Emmy voters have both a sense of humour and adventure. Controversy apparently left them unfazed: Dave Chappelle: The Closer, which drew criticism for its transgender mockery, picked up a pre-recorded variety special nomination.
Only Murders in the Building, a cheery crime romp headed by the charmingly unlikely trio of Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short, earned best comedy actor bids for its veteran stars but left Gomez off the acting list.
Netflix’s global sensation Squid Game followed in the footsteps of 2020 Oscar darling Parasite, also made in South Korea. But Pachinko, a sweeping and much-lauded South Korean family drama failed to garner any Emmy nods.
Emmy rules allow for a non-English language show with a US production partner to compete, but it took the rise of streaming services to make it happen. The Emmys were once dominated by broadcast and later cable shows made primarily for North America, but streamers target that market and a wide swath of others – and are finding that shows made in Asia, Europe and elsewhere can carry worldwide.
The longstanding lack of shows with any dialogue other than English is demonstrated by NBC’s 1980 miniseries Shōgun, based on the James Clavell novel about early 17th-Century Japan. The bilingual production by a US studio was groundbreaking but not a trend-setter when it won the best limited series Emmy and acting nods.
Squid Game boosted rare Asian representation with its five acting nominations, including a lead actor bid for Lee Jung-jae and supporting actress nod for Jung Ho-yeon. The show already had proved a groundbreaker at this year’s Screen Actors Guild, where Lee and Jung received the first guild acting trophies for a non-English language show.
The series was such “a phenomenon that it would have been really odd if it hadn’t done well” with Emmy voters, said Eric Deggans, television critic for National Public Radio. The impressive number of acting nods it received indicates the academy “valued the performances they were delivering as well as the impact of the entire show”.
Other performers of Asian descent received nominations, including Sandra Oh for Killing Eve and Bowen Yang for Saturday Night Live. But there were opportunities missed for Black actors, including the stars of black-ish, and for series recognition of Black-led shows Atlanta and Insecure, said Deggans.
Voters also missed the chance to salute the well-reviewed Native American comedy Reservation Dogs and another series with Native characters and culture, Rutherford Falls, and there’s scant Latino representation in the nominations.
The other nominees for best comedy series actress besides Brunson and Rae are Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel; Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant; Elle Fanning, The Great, and last year’s winner, Jean Smart for Hacks.
Other nominees for actor in a comedy series include: Bill Hader, Barry; Nicholas Hoult, The Great; Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso; Steve Martin, Only Murders in the Building; Martin Short, Only Murders in the Building.
For drama series actor, the field also includes Jason Bateman, Ozark; Brian Cox, Succession; Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul; Adam Scott, Severance and Jeremy Strong, Succession.
The other best drama series actress nominees are Jodie Comer, Killing Eve; Laura Linney, Ozark; Melanie Lynskey, Yellowjackets and Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show.
The limited series nominees are: Dopesick; The Dropout; Inventing Anna; The White Lotus; Pam & Tommy.
The nominees for variety talk series are: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah; Jimmy Kimmel Live; Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The Emmy ceremony is set for September 12 and will air on NBC and stream on Peacock, with a host yet to be announced.