Biggest 2020 Emmy Snubs and Surprises: Reese Witherspoon, 'Watchmen' and More

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The nominations for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards are here -- and they were full of surprises and shocking omissions.

The nominations themselves were as eclectic and diverse as ever, and better reflective of the best TV performances and standout shows amid a crowded and competitive year, from first-timers like Zendaya and Normal People's breakout star Paul Mescal to deserved recognition for Watchmen and Insecure. There was Brad Pitt, earning his fourth Emmy nomination for his brief 60-second cameo as Dr. Anthony Fauci on a remote episode of Saturday Night Live. There were even double (and multiple-time) nominees like Sterling K. Brown, recognized for This Is Us, a drama, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a comedy, and Schitt's Creek's Dan Levy, whose beloved comedy will be going out with 15 nominations.

Of course, there were several head-scratching snubs that just made you go, Huh? Like Reese Witherspoon, who went zero for three in roles that she was in contention for in lead and supporting actress categories. Or Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn, who failed to land on the shortlist for their respective drama acting categories. Sometimes, you just have to shrug. 

Following this morning's Emmy nominations announcement, ET breaks down the biggest TV surprises and snubs.

SURPRISES

Zendaya

The Euphoria star earned her first career nomination for her performance as recovering drug addict Rue on the acclaimed HBO drama about high schoolers navigating love and sex, addiction and apps. It's a major moment for the 23-year-old actress, whose first foray into prestige television earned her a coveted spot on the shortlist for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. "It felt like something special as I was doing it, and I am grateful that people have been able to connect to it the way they have," she told ET at the People's Choice Awards. "It's not about proving anything to the world, but it's really about getting better as an artist and being more in touch with where I can go and how I can do it."

Watchmen

After getting shut down at the Golden Globes, HBO's star-studded limited series led all shows with an impressive 26 nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series and noms for many of its prominently featured cast members. Awards darling Regina King was joined by Jeremy Irons, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jovan Adepo, Louis Gossett Jr. and Jean Smart in receiving acting noms for their respective performances.

The Mandalorian

Disney+'s flagship Star Wars series was a fan phenomenon (Baby Yoda!) but surprised some by landing a nod for Outstanding Drama Series as one of its 15 nominations. The show also scored recognition for Giancarlo Esposito's Guest Actor appearance as Gideon, as well as noms for production design, cinematography, costumes, makeup, editing, visual effects, music and more.

What We Do in the Shadows

No doubt the biggest surprise in the Outstanding Comedy Series category, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi's mockumentary vampire series scored eight noms in total, including three in the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series category. The FX comedy, adapted from the 2014 short film, also earned noms for production design, casting and editing.

Schitt's Creek's Supporting Players

The Schitt's Creek siblings each scored their first Emmy acting nods, earning supporting category nods alongside their on-screen parents, Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy, who were nominated as leads. The show itself also celebrated its final season with a second consecutive not for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Maya Rudolph vs. Maya Rudolph

This is more of a silly inclusion, but the thought of Maya Rudolph competing against Maya Rudolph in the same category (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series) for her role as the judge on The Good Place and for her Senator Kamala Harris impression on Saturday Night Live is just delightful. Rudolph also earned a third nomination for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for Big Mouth.

SNUBS

Reese Witherspoon 

The odds were in Witherspoon's favor to land some type of acting nomination with three very distinct roles in contention: The Morning Show, Little Fires Everywhere and Big Little Lies. Unfortunately, the actress couldn't break through with any of the three roles, going zero for three. But it wasn't an empty showing for the Oscar winner on Tuesday morning. Witherspoon received an Outstanding Limited Series nomination as an executive producer on Little Fires Everywhere.

Viola Davis

After five previous nominations for her role as Annalise Keating on the Shondaland legal thriller How to Get Away With Murder -- four for her leading role, and one for her guest appearance on the Scandal crossover event -- Davis was overlooked for the show's sixth and final season. Nevertheless, the role was a history-making turn for the actress, who became the first Black woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2015.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

NBC's refreshing musical comedy was always going to have an uphill battle breaking through in the major comedy categories as a freshman series. But its heartwarming, emotional story of a young woman with musical superpowers trying to navigate life, love and work while grieving the loss of a parent was received so well that the thought of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist -- and leading lady Jane Levy -- surprising everyone on nomination morning seemed like a real possibility. Fortunately, it will get a second chance next year. Fingers crossed.

Modern Family

Despite its early season dominance at the Emmys, Modern Family earned just three nominations for its 11th and final season, and was snubbed in all of the major categories. The ABC family comedy did earn a posthumous Guest Actor nod for beloved comedian Fred Willard, for his role as Frank Dunphy, as well as nominations for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and  Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation.

Better Call Saul

The Breaking Bad prequel series earned its fifth nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, but stars Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn were notably left out of the lead acting categories. Giancarlo Esposito did, however, earn one of his two Emmy noms for his supporting role as Gus Fring, and the show scored two nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. (Elsewhere in Breaking Bad world, Netflix's El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, returning Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, earned a nomination for Outstanding Television Movie.)

Westworld

While the HBO fantasy series scored acting nominations for stars Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright -- as well as noms in the technical and creative categories, for a total of 11 -- it was left off the list when it came to Outstanding Drama Series.

The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will take place Sunday, Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC. Check out ET Live and ETonline for ongoing coverage of the awards.  

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