‘SNL’ seeks an Emmy four-peat in a downsized category of 4

Saturday Night Live” had never defended a program Emmy win until 2018, but now it seems like it can’t stop doing it. It’s the favorite to take home Best Variety Sketch Series again for a four-peat.

Despite having been on the air since 1975, “SNL,” the all-time Emmy winner, has surprisingly very few series victories. It nabbed Best Variety Series in 1976 for its first season and in 1993 for its 18th outing, but then entered an even longer drought as late-night talk shows dominated the category for two decades. In 2015, Best Variety Series was split into Best Variety Sketch Series and Best Variety Talk Series, greatly benefiting Lorne Michaels‘ brainchild.

“SNL” has been nominated every year since the variety sketch series category’s creation, losing the first two years to “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Key & Peele.” It garnered its first series win in 24 years in 2017 with its post-election 42nd season and has been unbeatable since.

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Like every single show in production this spring, “SNL” was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, its last regular episode being the Daniel Craig-hosted March 7 installment. It returned in April and May with three remote episodes, the first of which was hosted by Tom Hanks, who had just recovered from COVID-19. The well-received “at home” episodes also featured numerous alums, including Adam Sandler, Tina FeyJason Sudeikis and finale host Kristen Wiig, and appearances from Paul Rudd and Brad Pitt, who played Dr. Anthony Fauci — fulfilling the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director’s wish — and broke character at the end of the sketch to thank the real Fauci and front-line workers.

There is one big change this year: The category will only have four nominees, following the new sliding scale proportional to the number of submissions; only 14 shows were entered into variety sketch series, six shy of the threshold for five nominees. There had been six nominees the past four years and five in 2015.

“A Black Lady Sketch Show,” “Drunk History” and “At Home with Amy Sedaris” are the other three predicted nominees.

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