Television's greatest night, the Emmy Awards, is preceded by a television critic's greatest morning, the Emmy nominations. Not because we're excited to see which actors got nominated for the industry's most prestigious awards (but congratulations to them, they deserve it), but because we're excited to see who didn't get nominated. What is a critic without the ability to complain? Nothing!
We combed through the 2022 Emmy nominations and couldn't believe that some of our favorite actors and performances of the last year were straight-up passed over or forgotten about by Emmy voters, so we felt the need to remind everyone about them, since the Emmys blew it.
It's not a surprise that HBO's excellent fact-based crime drama limited series We Own This City didn't receive any nominations.The Wire, the previous Baltimore-set crime drama from creator David Simon, is one of the greatest shows of all time and never got any major nominations, so the little-seen We Own This City never stood a chance. But man, Jon Bernthal should have been nominated for his swaggering performance as corrupt Baltimore cop Wayne Jenkins. He takes up the entire frame with his energy and dark charisma every time he's on screen. And his squawking Ballmer accent is extraordinary. He should have gotten the nod over a couple of people in limited series lead actor category. -Liam Mathews
I can't wrap my mind around this one. The Television Academy was clearly watching Barry's third season; it received a host of nominations, including acting nods for Bill Hader, Anthony Carrigan, and Henry Winkler. And yet Sarah Goldberg, who easily gave the season's most nuanced performance, was forgotten? Sally can be hard to love, sure, but that's what makes her such good TV, and why Goldberg's work is so commendable. She delivers Sally's most ridiculously narcissistic lines with hilarious sincerity, and is mesmerizing as Sally spins wholly out of control when her brief brush with fame gets ripped unceremoniously out of her hands, succumbing to the darkness inside of her because of it. Maybe Emmy voters just didn't get it. -Allison Picurro
Sure, an actor in a procedural would have to dance backward in heels to get the Emmys to notice them in the year 2022, but Evil's Katja Herbers is doing that — if you replace dancing backward with killing a guy, unraveling with guilt, getting trapped in an elevator with a ghost, hallucinating a demonic birth, flirting in bars, and lovingly parenting four daughters. There was not a note that Herbers wasn't asked to play over the course of Evil's wide-ranging second season (the season eligible for this year's Emmys), which kicked off with the revelation that Kristen might be possessed by a demon and got weirder from there. She's funny, terrifying, devastating, and a scream queen all at once. When will the Emmys wake up? -Kelly Connolly
Despite being one of the best comedies on TV right now, The Righteous Gemstones was completely shut out of the Emmys. That's egregious on its own, but for Danny McBride and Edi Patterson, both exceptionally funny as bombastic Gemstone siblings Jesse and Judy, to also get ignored in the acting categories... I mean, where the f--- do our tax dollars even go towards? McBride has somehow never been nominated for an Emmy, despite the fact that few actors possess his innate ability to communicate a character's entire deal in nothing more than a simple jut of a leg, or the way he can make a highly specific line delivery sound like music ("Hi, hello, would you all please come with me? I just killed someone"). And Patterson was the standout of the season, taking Judy's pure, unbridled derangement to new heights in Season 2 as she delivered an utterly unselfconscious performance. She kicked down a bathroom stall door, and the Emmy voters didn't care. I might just have to go pray on this one. -Allison Picurro
This Is Us scored only one Emmy nomination for its stellar final season (Outstanding Music & Lyrics for "The Forever Now"). While that fact is very disappointing across the board, it is downright anger-inducing when it comes to Mandy Moore, who has anchored the show as Pearson family matriarch Rebecca Pearson. It was Moore's work in the show's final episodes that should have cemented her Emmy nomination, as she portrayed Rebecca's final years battling Alzheimer's Disease. It seems This Is Us' intense popularity in its early seasons burned out and kept the Academy from appreciating the nuance and depth of Moore's performance as she played Rebecca in every era of her life, from early adulthood to old age. The truth is that Moore delivered a layered, beautifully heart-wrenching performance that allowed one of the best broadcast dramas in years to stick an incredibly difficult landing. The Academy should have recognized her for it. The pill goes down extra bitter knowing this was their last chance to do so. -Megan Vick
Sadie Sink was called upon to do the best acting of her young life in Netflix's Stranger Things 4, and she levitated to the occasion. Sink's performance as traumatized teen Max Mayfield is the emotional core of Season 4, anchoring the season's best episode, "Chapter Four: Dear Billy," with her vulnerability and determination to survive. She should have earned a Supporting Actress nomination. Even in a season with great performances across the whole ensemble (we see you, Joseph Quinn), Sink was the undisputed MVP. -Liam Mathews
Severance received a whole bunch of well-deserved nods, but it's certainly frustrating that the Apple TV+ sci-fi drama's breakout star, Tramell Tillman, was nowhere to be found in the Supporting Actor in a Drama category. Stacked against heavy-hitters like Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, and Christopher Walken, relative newcomer Tillman still managed to stand out as Mr. Milchick, Lumon's eerily cheerful supervisor. The performance is unbelievable, with Tillman using his inherent charm as a weapon, lighting up the entire break room with his big, empty smile and just as quickly throwing you into a panic when it falls into a frown. If his freaky, animated dancing isn't enough to earn awards recognition, what is? -Allison Picurro
What an absolute relief it was to see Rhea Seehorn finally get her long-deserved Emmy nomination, but we're not forgiving the Television Academy for ignoring the rest of Better Call Saul's outstanding supporting cast. The series has been inexplicably shut out of the Emmys for years, but this time feels especially maddening considering that characters are dropping like flies in the sixth and final season (the first half of the season is eligible for this year's Emmys; part two of Season 6 will be eligible next year). We should talk about the performances on Saul the way we talk about the ones on Succession; every episode provides a masterclass in acting without a single weak link in the bunch. Look no further than Michael Mando's rousing, miraculous final monologue, delivered moments before Nacho met his end, or how, in Patrick Fabian's hands, the vainglorious Howard Hamlin became someone to feel a lot of sympathy for. And what about Tony Dalton, who turned Lalo into TV's most charismatic villain and made it look effortless? Don't even get me started on the fact that Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks, who have both been astonishing as Gus and Mike, respectively, for over a decade and across two different shows, have yet to win Emmys for playing these characters. It's all just one big injustice — a case for Saul Goodman himself, perhaps. -Allison Picurro