Television Academy voters have the chance to right longstanding wrongs at this year’s 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, airing on NBC and streaming on Peacock on September 12. Sandra Oh, nominated once more for Killing Eve, has gotten 13 Emmy nominations over the years but has yet to take home Emmy gold. Issa Rae, in contention for her work on Insecure, has gotten 8 nominations but zero wins. And for the love of Goodman, will someone please give an Emmy to Better Call Saul?
Yes, Better Call Saul got seven more Emmy nominations this year, bringing its nomination tally to 46, and unless it wins a category this year or next, it may go down in television history as one of the most-nominated Emmy losers. Rare is the spinoff that lives up to its predecessor, but Better Call Saul took a fan-favorite scene-stealer from Breaking Bad, Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman, and turned him into a Walter White-level anti-hero.
But then again, we’re talking about the same Television Academy that never gave prizes to the shows below (unless that prize was a much-belated Governors Award). Scroll down to see our picks for TV shows that deserved many moments in the Emmy spotlight and got nary one.
My So-Called Life
One of the many woes of My So-Called Life’ cancellation after a solitary season was that Emmy voters never got to redeem themselves and give this ABC high-school drama — starring Claire Danes, Jared Leto, and Wilson Cruz — the awards it deserved. It ranks high on our list of the 90 Best Shows of the ‘90s, and honestly, how many other one-season wonders still come up in conversation nearly 30 years after their airing?
The Good Place
As if co-creating Parks and Rec weren’t impressive enough, Michael Schur then masterminded this NBC comedy that paired its high-concept premise — Kristen Bell’s character mistakenly gaining entrance to a heaven-like afterlife — with surprising philosophical depth. Several of the series-regular and guest actors were recognized among the shows 13 nominations, but did anyone win? Hell no.
Sons of Anarchy
Despite scary-good performances from Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, and other heavy-hitters of the small screen, this addicting FX drama about a criminal motorcycle gang only ever got (well-deserved) Emmy nominations in technical categories and never took home a prize at the awards show.
We were either cracking up or tearing up while watching this endearing NBC dramedy from Jason Katims. Over six seasons, we bore witness as the Braverman clan grow up, break down, and come together again, with standout performances from Monica Potter, Mae Whitman, and Craig T. Nelson. But the show only ever got one nomination and no wins.
Parks and Recreation
Amy Poehler got six consecutive Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nominations for her portrayal of an idealistic public servant in an oddball Indiana town, and Parks and Recreation itself got two Outstanding Comedy Series nods among its eight other nominations, but did anyone from the NBC show ever win? Knope!
The Emmy Awards were indeed the final frontier for this seminal sci-fi series. It wasn’t until a 2018 Governors Awards that the ‘60s-era NBC show — which served as the Big Bang for a media universe — got any love from the Television Academy. And it was then that cast member William Shatner boldly went where no person from Star Trek: The Original Series ever went before: the Emmys stage.
Critics often hail David Simon’s layered exploration of failing systems in Baltimore as the greatest TV show of all time, including reviewers at Entertainment Weekly, Salon, Slate, and the BBC, to name a few. But the HBO show received a measly two Emmy nominations — both in the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series category — and no wins.