When the nominees for the 70th Emmy Awards were announced on Thursday, women built on the momentum of last year’s big wins and the #MeToo movement, proving that female-driven stories are not only ratings hits but also players during awards season. This year, The Handmaid’s Tale, which won Outstanding Drama Series in 2017, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were among the most-nominated series of the season, earning 20 and 14 respectively. Meanwhile, Netflix’s Godless earned 12 and GLOW picked up 10 nominations.
Most notably, six female solo or co-showrunners -- Amy Sherman-Palladino (Maisel), Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive (GLOW), Elizabeth Berger (This Is Us), Lisa Joy (Westworld) and Rachael Horovitz (Patrick Melrose) -- were nominated in the Outstanding Series categories, up significantly from 2017.
“It's also about a woman finding her voice at a time when that wasn't expected or encouraged and I think we're living in a moment when so many people are finding voices that they didn’t know they had,” Rachel Brosnahan told ET about why she thinks the show resonated with audiences and the Television Academy.
“I think there’s something also about seeing 14 women in a frame together that is special. It’s not something you see in every show. Maybe people were hungrier for that in this current climate,” Flahive told Variety about the significance of GLOW being nominated.
After Reed Morano made history as the first woman to win the Outstanding Director for a Drama Series in 2017, when three women were nominated in the same category, Kari Skogland was recognized this year for The Handmaid’s Tale. Sherman-Palladino, meanwhile, picked up a nomination on the comedy side and Carrie Brownstein was nominated in the variety series category. All three, however, were the sole woman in their respective categories.
On the writing side, Stefani Robinson (Atlanta), Liz Sarnoff (Barry) and Sherman-Palladino (Maisel) were nominated in the comedy category after Lena Waithe won for Master of None in 2017, while Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve) is the sole female in the drama category.
“I am so thankful to the Television Academy for this incredible honor. This is something I have dreamed of since childhood, and I am humbled to have been chosen in this category amongst such talented peers,” Robinson said in a statement to ET. “I am beyond excited for Atlanta and everyone involved on the show -- they are all true geniuses -- and I am so thankful to FX and Donald Glover for trusting and supporting me. They have changed my life.”
Other female-led (or female-created) series, including The Crown, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Grace and Frankie, HBO's The Tale, Killing Eve and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, received multiple nominations. While other major shows -- American Horror Story: Cult, The Americans, Game of Thrones, Westworld, Will & Grace and Saturday Night Live -- all saw their female stars nominated.
Jane, the National Geographic documentary about scientist Jane Goodall, earned seven nominations.
Elsewhere, At Home With Amy Sedaris, I Love You, America With Sarah Silverman, Portlandia and Tracey Ullman's Show were all nominated for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, with Saturday Night Live -- which saw three of its female stars and two female hosts nominated -- rounding out the category.
Outstanding Music Supervision, which was won by Susan Jacobs for Big Little Lies in its first year, was dominated by women, with Jen Malone (Atlanta), Robin Urdang and Sherman-Palladino (Maisel), Nora Felder (Stranger Things) and Jennifer Pyken (This Is Us) nominated.
During the 69th Emmy Awards, Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale each took home eight Emmys, while shows like Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” and Veep won top prizes in their respective categories. The Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano and Master of None writer Lena Waithe ended longtime male streaks with their wins for directing and writing. Ava DuVernay earned two Emmys for her Netflix documentary, 13th, while The Crown and Feud: Bette and Joan took home multiple Emmys.
“It's been an incredible year for women on television,” Reese Witherspoon, star and executive producer of Big Little Lies, said while accepting the 2017 Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series.
This is not to say that the awards don’t have their shortcomings.
If Roseanne hadn't been embroiled in controversy and subsequently cancelled after its star and co-creator Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet, showrunner Whitney Cummings and executive producer Sara Gilbert may have added to the number of women recognized for their work behind the camera.
After back-to-back wins for Transparent, Jill Soloway, who sounded a rallying cry for Hollywood to topple the patriarchy, was shut out of the Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series nominations last year and again this year. (Transparent also was caught up in scandal when multiple transgender women made accusations of harassment and inappropriate behavior against star Jeffrey Tambor, who was subsequently fired from the Amazon series.)
As a whole, women are still largely a minority in directing and writing Emmy categories, representing only 21 percent of 2017’s nominated writers. In total, women represented 28 percent of the nominees in all non-acting categories. Only seven women -- Jamie Babbit, Alexis Bloom, Kate Dennis, DuVernay, Lesli Linka Glatter, Morano and Elizabeth White -- were nominated between the Emmys’ six directing categories. As for Morano, she could have won two awards, but lost her second -- cinematography for a single-camera series (half-hour) for Divorce -- to Dale Stern of Veep.
“Can I just say, bring women to the front of their own stories, and make them the hero of their own stories. And thank you for that opportunity and for audiences to wrap their arms around us,” Witherspoon continued, with her fellow producer and star Nicole Kidman adding: “So now more great roles for women, please.”
Backstage at the 2017 Emmys, Kidman reflected to ET on the implications of their Big Little Lies wins: “It shows women that you can actually create opportunities for yourself.”
The 70th Emmy Awards, co-hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost and Michael Che, will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 17, starting at 5 p.m. PT on NBC.
Check out the full list of nominees and follow ET’s ongoing Emmy coverage here.
2018 Emmy Nominations: The Complete List
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