What went wrong for ‘SNL’ hosts at Creative Arts Emmys?

Saturday Night Live” hosts have competed in the Emmys’ comedy guest acting categories since 2009, and in that time the show had won one or both races every year, but that changed on Sunday night, when “SNL” was shut out of both for the first time.

Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy represented “SNL” in the Comedy Guest Actress race, but were bested by Melissa Leo, who played a blind date gone awry on FX’s “Louie.”

Justin Timberlake has won four Emmys for “SNL,” including two for Best Comedy Guest Actor. He earned another bid in that category this year for his fifth stint as host, joined by Emmy-darling Louis C.K., nominated for hosting the sketch comedy for the first time. But they both lost to Bob Newhart, who won the first Emmy of his career as Professor Proton on “The Big Bang Theory.”

So what went wrong this year?

“SNL” hosts usually have an advantage in the guest acting races; each 90-minute show is tailored around its host, who plays several broad characters over the course of an episode, showing Emmy voters a full range of comic performances and enjoying screentime often two or three times longer than their fellow nominees. This year, for instance, Timberlake’s sketches and musical performances clocked in at almost an hour, compared to a little over 10 minutes for Newhart.

Perhaps surprisingly, hosts have struggled the most when competing against each other. “SNL” has had multiple guest-acting nominees in a category five times, but only won twice under those circumstances: Betty White prevailed against Tina Fey in 2010, and Timberlake won against Zach Galifianakis in 2011.

Of course, it’s also important to consider the strengths of the actors they lost to. Last year, a pair of “SNL” hosts — McCarthy and Maya Rudolph — were upset by a comparatively brief performance by Kathy Bates playing the ghost of Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.” Bates was a respected Oscar-winner who was overdue an Emmy win after nine previous nominations.

This year, voters honored similar contenders: a respected Oscar-winner (Leo) and a veteran overdue an Emmy win (Newhart).

Will “SNL” resume its dominance in future guest-acting races, or do this year’s losses signal that voters’ affection is on the wane?

7 thoughts on “What went wrong for ‘SNL’ hosts at Creative Arts Emmys?

  1. I’m just happy Melissa Leo won. I’ve pretty much had her picked to win since the night the Telling Jokes/Set-Up episode of Louie aired. She really was the most deserving. Her first time doing a comedy TV show, and she nails it out of the park. She was lucky to have such great dialogue to work with, not to mention the physical comedy.

    I also feel foolish for going with Timberlake. I thought sometimes the Emmys resist the idea of giving someone a win just because they’ve had a lot of losses, like with Newhart. The Emmy voters don’t like being told what to do by the general public, don’t they? But I did think Newhart was pretty funny on TBBT, so good for him. I am very happy for him. Too bad it couldn’t have happened years ago.

  2. The difference between winning and emmy for guest hosting SNL and guesting on a sitcom,on a sitcom you play a fictional character but on SNL you play yourself and show your talent in sketches and monologue for 90 minutes.Both Bob Newhart and Melissa Leo have the performances to back them up and this is why they won.End of story.

  3. Not only were Wiig and McCarthy competing against each other, but overall reactions to their hosting duties were basically: “alright, but not as good as I expected them to be”.

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