The Category Is “Shut Out of the 2020 Emmys” and the Winner Is Pose, the Reason Is Transphobia

Ah I love the smell of fresh Emmys announcements in the morning!

But seriously, the 2020 Emmy Nominations were announced this morning, and there are a lot of feelings to be had. This year, there are 11 nominated lesbian, bisexual, queer or trans actresses being honored for their work! There’s 15 nominations going to LGBT women’s roles on screen. It’s perhaps becoming cliché to say that #RepresentationMatters, but it remains true that we all look for ourselves in the stories we tell. That seeing a little bit of yourself, out there in the world, in your full messy humanity, makes it that much easier to just be in your everyday life. Television may be a billion dollar industry, but its one that’s still built on the art of connection.

Nevertheless, the Television Academy — like Hollywood itself, and mainstream TV criticism — continues to commanded by the tastes of mostly straight white cis men. This year, as the year before, that became most prevalent in the near shut out of critics’ darling Pose in almost all major acting, directing, and writing categories, save Billy Porter’s nomination for his magnificent portrayal of Pray Tell as Lead Actor in a Drama.

It takes nothing away from the resplendent performance brought forth by Porter (who last year became the first out gay Black man to win in his category in Emmy history), to also note that when only the cis performer is deemed “worthy” of nominating from a show like Pose — which is created by, for, and centers the experience of Black and Brown trans women — there’s a problem afoot. It sends a message that no matter rich talent put forth — trans women who are the protagonists of their own stories aren’t worthy of recognition.

Pose does not work without Mj Rodriguez’s lead role of Blanca; she’s masterfully become the heart around which everything else revolves. It does not work without Indya Moore’s performance of Angel, the breakout role that turned the non-binary actor into an A-list Hollywood star. It does not work without the scalpel-like precision that Angelica Ross brought to Candy’s many layers, rising above any tragedy. It doesn’t work without Our Lady J and Janet Mock at the helm, writing scripts and directing.

Last year the Television Academy nominated Pose in the Outstanding Drama category without acknowledging the trans creators and talent that’s turned it into generation defining art. This year — they couldn’t even be bothered do that. And they should be rightfully shamed for it, because this isn’t about a lack of talent; it’s about transphobic gatekeeping. Their work is greatly missed from the nominations below.

Collage of Pose Executive Producer Janet Mock, Pose actor Indya Moore, Pose actress Mj Rodriguez, and Pose actress Angelica Ross

The Category Is: I C O N S

Now, on to the rest of the nominees!

Congratulations are of course in order to Jodie Comer for her Lead Actress in a Drama nomination for the deadly bisexual assassin everyone loves and fears, Vilanelle, in Killing Eve along with her partner and playmate in the erotic cat-and-mouse, Sandra Oh (who remains the only Asian actress to ever be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama). Rounding out the Lead Actress in a Drama category is Zendaya, who wrecked hearts as Rue Bennet in the queer coming-of-age drama Euphoria, scoring her first Emmy nomination in a career that she’s been working overtime at since she was a tween.

Samira Wiley scored yet another Supporting Actress in a Drama nomination for playing Moira, a lesbian who’s leading the revolution, on The Handmaid’s Tale. While Alexis Bledel was also nominated for playing — yes, really — another lesbian leading the revolution on The Handmaid’s Tale, Emily, in the Guest Actress in a Drama category. Lesbian actresses Fiona Shaw and Cherry Jones are nominated in the Supporting Actress and Guest Actress in a Drama category, respectively, for their work on Killing Eve and Sucession. Laverne Cox was nominated in the Guest Actress in a Drama category for her goodbye as Sophia in the final season of Orange is the New Black. Finally, we have Killing Eve andThe Handmaid’s Tale both nominated to take home Outstanding Drama Series.

Over in the comedies, Linda Cardellini was nominated for her queer lead role Judy Hale in the biting dark comedy, Dead to Me. Alex Borstein was once again nominated in the Supporting Actress in a Comedy Category as Susie (whom they still haven’t made gay, the cowards!) on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Speaking of Mrs. Maisel, Wanda Sykes received a nomination for Guest Actress in a Comedy for her brilliant work was Moms Mabley in the show’s third season (she’s also nominated for her voiceover work on Cranky Yankers). Trans actress Rain Valdez was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her work in the comedy, Razor Tongue. And of course, perpetual home team favorite Kate McKinnon is bringing in her SEVENTH Emmy nomination in the Supporting Actress category for her steadfast work on Saturday Night Live. Meanwhile, Mrs. Maisel and Dead to Me are each vying for Outstanding Comedy Series.

In the limited series category, our surprise queer hit of spring, Little Fires Everywhere, had a strong showing. Not only is the show nominated for Outstanding Limited Series, but also Kerry Washington is nominated for Lead Actress in a TV movie/Limited Series as Mia Warren, the queer bohemian artist with, excuse the pun, a “fiery” past. Little Fires Everywhere bisexual director Lyn Shelton also earned a posthumous nomination for her work on the series. Shelton directed four episodes out of Little Fire Everywhere’s eight, including the season finale, “Find A Way,” that earned her the nomination. We’re sending our congratulations and support to her family at this time.

For Variety Shows, lesbian comedian Hannah Gadsby was nominated for both Outstanding Variety Special for her stand-up set Douglas and also for Outstanding Writing for the same show. A Black Lady Sketch Show, which stars and is written by bisexual actress Ashley Nicole Black, was nominated for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.

Collage of 2020 Emmy Nominees: Wanda Sykes, Samira Wiley, and Kate McKinnon

Emmys 2020, Pandemic Edition! May the odds be ever in your favor!

We’re sending our extra love and congratulations to all the out LGBT creators and actresses nominated this year: Ashley Nicole Black, Laverne Cox, Hannah Gadsby, Cherry Jones, Kate McKinnon, Fiona Shaw, Lyn Shelton, Wanda Sykes, Holland Taylor, Rain Valdez, and Samira Wiley. You’re deserving of all your recognition and we look forward to seeing you shine bright in September.

Check out the list of nominations below. You can also read the longer, complete list including film shorts and production nominations on the Emmys website.


Drama Series

“Better Call Saul”
“The Crown”
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Killing Eve”
“The Mandalorian”
“Ozark”
“Stranger Things”
“Succession”

Drama Lead Actress

Jennifer Aniston, “The Morning Show”
Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
Laura Linney, “Ozark”
Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
Zendaya, “Euphoria”

Drama Lead Actor

Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”
Steve Carell, “The Morning Show”
Brian Cox, “Succession”
Billy Porter, “Pose”
Jeremy Strong, “Succession”

Drama Supporting Actress

Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown”
Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”
Julia Garner, “Ozark”
Thandie Newton, “Westworld”
Fiona Shaw, “Killing Eve”
Sarah Snook, “Succession”
Meryl Streep, “Big Little Lies”
Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Drama Supporting Actor

Nicholas Braun, “Succession”
Billy Crudup, “The Morning Show”
Keiran Culkin, “Succession”
Mark Duplass, “The Morning Show”
Giancarlo Esposito, “Better Call Saul”
Matthew Macfadyen, “Succession”
Bradley Whitford, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Jeffrey Wright, “Westworld”

Drama Guest Actress

Alexis Bledel, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Laverne Cox, “Orange Is the New Black”
Cherry Jones, “Succession”
Phylicia Rashad, “This Is Us”
Cicely Tyson, “how to Get Away with Murder”
Harriet Walker, “Succession”

Drama Guest Actor

Jason Bateman, “The Outsider”
Ron Cephas Jones, “This Is Us”
James Cromwell, “Succession”
Giancarlo Esposito, “The Mandalorian”
Andrew Scott, “Black Mirror”
Martin Short, “The Morning Show”

Comedy Series

“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“Dead to Me”
“The Good Place”
“Insecure”
“The Kominsky Method”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Schitt’s Creek”
“What We Do in the Shadows”

Comedy Lead Actress

Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Linda Cardellini, “Dead to Me”
Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek”
Issa Rae, “Insecure”
Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”

Comedy Lead Actor

Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”
Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
Eugene Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Ramy Youssef, “Ramy”

Comedy Supporting Actress

Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
D’Arcy Carden, “The Good Place”
Betty Gilpin, “GLOW”
Marin Hinkle, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Annie Murphy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Yvonne Orji, “Insecure”
Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live”

Comedy Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, “Ramy”
Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”
Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Sterling K. Brown, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
William Jackson Harper, “The Good Place”
Daniel Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”

Comedy Guest Actress

Angela Bassett, “A Black Lady Sketch Show”
Bette Midler, “The Politician”
Maya Rudolph, “The Good Place”
Maya Rudolph, “Saturday Night Live”
Wanda Sykes, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Saturday Night Live”

Comedy Guest Actor

Adam Driver, “Saturday Night Live”
Luke Kirby, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Eddie Murphy, “Saturday Night Live”
Dev Patel, “Modern Love”
Brad Pitt, “Saturday Night Live”
Fred Willard, “Modern Family”

Limited Series

“Little Fires Everywhere”
“Mrs. America”
“Unbelievable”
“Unorthodox”
“Watchmen”

TV Movie

“American Son”
“Bad Education”
“Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones”
“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie”
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend”

Limited/TV Lead Actress

Cate Blanchett, “Mrs. America”
Shira Haas, “Unorthodox”
Regina King, “Watchmen”
Octavia Spencer, “Self Made”
Kerry Washington, “Little Fires Everywhere”

Limited/TV Lead Actor

Jeremy Irons, “Watchmen”
Hugh Jackman, “Bad Education”
Paul Mescal, “Normal People”
Jeremy Pope, “Hollywood”
Mark Ruffalo, “I Know This Much Is True”

Limited/TV Supporting Actress

Uzo Aduba, “Mrs. America”
Toni Collette, “Unbelievable”
Margo Martindale, “Mrs. America”
Jean Smart, “Watchmen”
Holland Taylor, “Hollywood”
Tracey Ullman, “Mrs. America”

Limited/TV Supporting Actor

Yahya Abdul-Mateen, “Watchmen”
Jovan Adepo, “Watchmen”
Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend”
Louis Gossett Jr., “Watchmen”
Dylan McDermott, “Hollywood”
Jim Parsons, “Hollywood”

Variety Talk Series

“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”
“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

Variety Sketch Series

“A Black Lady Sketch Show”
“Drunk History”
“Saturday Night Live”

Variety Special (Pre-recorded)

“Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones “
“Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize For American Humor “
”Hannah Gadsby: Douglas”
“Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill”
“John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch”
“Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah”

Competition Program

“The Masked Singer”
“Nailed It”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race”
“Top Chef”
“The Voice”

Carmen is Autostraddle's Deputy Editor and a black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 211 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. I really hope Billy Wins it again & then calls the award show out for not nominating the rest of the Pose cast. Cause that one scene at that restaurant while having a girl’s trip, Dominque Jackson just stole it.

  2. I am a die hard Star Wars fan and I can’t even justify that many nominations for the Mandalorian. Pose should have been in for Best Drama instead. All the ladies of Pose deserve better. I was happy about Killing Eve and pissed as hell about the lack of respect for Pose.

  3. YES to this! I’m happy to see that D’arcy Carden, aka my best not-a-girl-not-a-robot Janet, finally got her nominiation, and a few other (queer) favorites as well. But the whole cast of Pose is so wonderful and talented, and I am beyond pissed off that the trans women who are at its heart were not included.

  4. I don’t know. What I was thinking?! Nominations for “Pose” and “Euphoria” for the Outstanding Drama, despite their last summer broadcast, seemed like a safe bet, especially now. Also, Hunter Schafer was one of the most critically-acclaimed breakout stars of the year. The Supporting Actress nomination for Schafer is a formality, I thought, but maybe – maybe – they will also recognize Dominique Jackson, that would be an exciting surprise, she and Billy Porter are cut from the same cloth in terms of energy and charisma, they gave him an Emmy, now it is time to make history. But nope.

    I loved “Killing Eve”‘s third season; it’s fearless, it’s risky, and beautifully crafted, probably the boldest in the category (or one of the two, I haven’t seen “Better Call Saul”). But the fact it is the only queer show in the category feels bitter. I wasn’t expecting miracles, like “Work in Progress” or “Los Espookys” nominated to the Outstanding Comedy. But “Pose” and “Euphoria” were bloody hits.

    Don’t get me started with the writing/directing categories.

    Laverne Cox’s nomination also feels weird; Sophia wasn’t a big part of the 7th season. Actually, she wasn’t a big part of the series at all, since the phenomenal plot in the 3rd season (which still feels ground-breaking in my memory). It also reminds us how the Academy lost interest in this series, and how many performers were never recognized (Laura Gómez, for example).

    On the bright side, of course, the Outstanding Limited Series category is a big shift. Maybe they realized they robbed Ava DuVernay last year.

    And thank you for reminding me about “Little Fires Everywhere”!

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!