“The Leftovers” picked up a Best Drama Episode Writing nomination for its series finale at the Writers Guild of America TV Awards on Dec. 7. “The Leftovers” becomes the only comedy or drama ever to be nominated (all) three years by the WGA, but never by the Emmys in either a Best Series or Best Writing category. Its 2014 pilot was nominated for Best Long Form Adapted Writing (where the WGA categorizes feature-length pilots) and the second season’s “International Assassin” was nominated in 2015 for Best Drama Episode Writing.
The final season of another critical darling that was woefully ignored by the Emmys was less fortunate here. “Rectify” was nominated three years ago in Best Drama Episode Writing for its second season, but it now walks away empty-handed for a season that scored 99 on Metacritic.
Nominated in its place opposite “The Leftovers” are WGA favorites “The Americans” and “Better Call Saul,” plus left-field choices for the “Good Behavior” second season premiere and “The OA” pilot, representing the first industry recognition for those two. The episodic categories are relatively adventurous because they are decided by small panels of volunteer judges, as opposed to the series categories that are voted on by the general WGA membership and are more reflective of industry sentiment. The nomination for “The Soviet Decision,” apparently from “The Americans” — the most recent season ended with an episode titled “The Soviet Division” — represents the first episodic recognition for “The Americans,” which won Best Drama Series Writing last year. Double-nominated in Best Drama Episode Writing for its third season, “Better Call Saul” extends its perfect record for leading nominations.
Snubbed is last year’s winner “This is Us,” which was also nominated for Best New Series. On the heels of a Best Drama Series nomination at the Emmys, it was poised to break into the Best Drama Series Writing category here in the absence of “Westworld,” which has not aired a new season since the last WGA Awards. However, Best Drama Series Emmy winner “The Handmaid’s Tale” took that slot and the other nominees — “The Americans,” “Better Call Saul,” “Game of Thrones” and “Stranger Things” — held strong.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is also up for Best New Series Writing, opposite “The Deuce” and “Ozark,” as well as comedies “American Vandal” and “GLOW.” Per Metacritic, “Ozark” is the worst-reviewed Best New Series Writing nominee since “The Newsroom” five years ago. Spun-off from eight-time WGA nominee “The Good Wife,” “The Good Fight” was limited to a Best Promotion Writing nomination for one of its commercials.
Also conspicuously absent from Best New Series Writing is “Mindhunter,” but timing has increasingly been a hindrance with the WGA in the peak television era. Netflix released the complete first season of the latter eleven days before voting opened. “The Crown” debuted during WGA voting last year and was shut out, then went on to Best Drama Series and Writing nominations at the Emmys. “Master of None” debuted during WGA voting two years ago and was shut out, then went on to an Emmy nomination for Best Comedy Series and a Best Comedy Writing win.
Is “Ozark” primed for Golden Globe nominations on the heels of its WGA success? Make your predictions now and change them until nominations are announced on December 11. Predict other awards shows like the Oscars too, as well as reality shows, including “Drag Race.”