It’s a numbers game with “Saturday Night Live” at the Emmys this year. It’s going for its seventh Best Variety Sketch Series win, which would also be a five-peat, and it would just have to beat one other show to do it because the category will only have two nominees. Still with us here?
Due to the sliding scale, now in its second year, that stipulates the number of nominees be proportional to the number of submissions, Best Variety Sketch Series will only have two nominees as only nine shows were submitted. Any category with eight to 11 submissions will have two nominees. The category had three nominees last year. Both are a dramatic swing from 2016-19 when the category boasted six nominees.
Given its brand name and the fact that it’s the four-time defending champ, “SNL” feels like a shoo-in for one of those slots and likely the win for the seventh time. Though it’s been on the air since 1975, “SNL,” the all-time Emmy winner, has way fewer series trophies than you might think. It took home Best Variety Series in 1976 for its first season and in 1993 for its 18th installment, but it then entered an even longer dry spell 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, which has been a windfall for the Lorne Michaels series.
“SNL” hasn’t missed a nomination since Best Variety Sketch Series was created. It lost the first two years to “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Key & Peele,” respectively, but it’s been all “SNL” since then. Its victory in 2017 — its first in 24 years — was for its resurgent 42nd season that covered the 2016 election. Last year, it beat “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and “Drunk History” with its 45th season, which was truncated due to the pandemic and concluded with three remote “at home” episodes.
For its 46th season, “SNL” returned to Studio 8H with a limited studio audience and once again made hay out of the election and produced several viral sketches, including Bowen Yang‘s Iceberg That Sank the Titanic. It also closed out the season with an emotional episode that may or may not have been several longtime cast members’ final bow.
“SNL” is the early favorite to prevail at 19/25 odds over “A Black Lady Sketch Show.” With “Drunk History” over, it’s not entirely shocking that the other two nominees from last year are not just the top two but the entire predicted lineup. The seven shows behind them are “The Amber Ruffin Show,” “How To with John Wilson,” “Ziwe,” “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, “Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready,” “Studio C” and “That Damn Michael Che.”
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