SAG Awards 2021 TV Snubs and Surprises: ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ and ‘Normal People’ Shut Out

SAG Awards 2021 TV Snubs and Surprises: ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ and ‘Normal People’ Shut Out

02/05/2021

Ah, actors. The most visible and oft-praised part of any production, thespians are also an essential element to any awards show. They’re the red carpet ratings draw and sought-after speech-givers. They’re the most coveted aspect of any network even considering to air a live awards ceremony, and categories (if not shows overall) are even created just to get them in the door.

But all that attention isn’t enough for these social butterflies. Members of the Screen Actors Guild have put on their own awards show for 26 years running, and the 27th SAG Awards are just around the corner. They’ll be held Sunday, April 4 at 9 p.m. ET, and the virtual, typically host-less ceremony will air on TNT and TBS.

So, who will be there? That’s the question on everyone’s lips, and Thursday’s SAG Awards nominations announcement (held on Instagram Live, for some reason, and read by Daveed Diggs and Lily Collins), provided our first clues as to what thespians we might see, live, Zooming in from their own living rooms. The class of 2021 offered plenty of correctives to yesterday’s rather upsetting Golden Globes nominations, but there were still a good number of snubs and surprises to discuss, which IndieWire has summarized below.

Just remember: a “snub” does not imply purposeful exclusion; it’s just the accepted term to talk about those wonderful actors who didn’t prove quite as popular as five other peers. For more on this year’s exciting and questionable choices, check out the list below.

Snubs

“What We Do in the Shadows” is shut out

Following a strong showing at the 2020 Emmys, many thought Jemaine Clement’s inspired vampire comedy was primed for success across the awards spectrum. But yesterday, the Golden Globes put a crucifix between themselves and the FX series, and today, the SAG Awards hid in the cold light of day. Even if one reasons it’s too hard to choose a favorite among the sterling cast (there are no Supporting TV categories at the SAGs), that’s what the Ensemble award was made for.

“Normal People” ignored

“Normal People” had two shots at nominations and both were for its two strongest contenders: Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones. Mescal had earned an Emmy nod in 2020, while Edgar-Jones snagged a Globes nod yesterday. Yet this year’s SAGs emphasized how little overlap there is between the latter body and how much time can play a toll on the former’s opinions. Neither performer made the cut, as the actors’ chose to highlight newcomers instead.

No love for the “Lovecraft Country” actors 

Technically, “Lovecraft Country” earned two nominations at the 2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards, which is a very good showing. Before the off-kilter Instagram announcement began, the series was named one of five nominees for Best Stunt Ensemble, and then it went on to wrap the TV side of the Insta Story with a Best Drama Ensemble nod. But… what about Jurnee Smollet and Jonathan Majors? How did the show get a Best Ensemble nod without honoring one or both of its impeccable lead actors? Yes, “Lovecraft” features a solid supporting cast, but to honor the whole cast without spotlighting the hardest working, most prevalent, and outright best performers is another odd wrinkle in a category that’s oft-misinterpreted as “Best Series.”

“Perry Mason” disappoints

At the very least, HBO’s gorgeous reboot was expected to land Matthew Rhys his first solo SAG nomination, if not additional nods for beloved actors like Tatiana Maslany, John Lithgow, and Shea Whigham. Instead, “Perry Mason” went home, hat in hand, rebuffed by the actors’ guild. Considering Rhys never earned a spotlight for his unparalleled work in “The Americans,” perhaps we should’ve seen this coming.

“Insecure” gets overlooked

Following a resurgence at the Emmys, “Insecure” felt primed to finally break through at the SAG Awards, where it has never been nominated. Instead, it was left off the list yet again, with star Issa Rae, Emmy-nominated supporting actress Yvonne Orji, and the ensemble as a whole left out of the Comedy races. With three freshman series nominated for Best Comedy Ensemble, perhaps the actors were only looking at what’s new this year.

Another bad day for “Bad Education” and “TV” movies

Hugh Jackman hasn’t been nominated for a SAG Award since “Les Miserables” in 2013, a streak that was set to end this year thanks to a career-best performance in “Bad Education.” Alas, his highly touted movie role again couldn’t topple TV’s limited series contenders, as Jackman again had to suffer a snub because he’s competing in the wrong category. Given hours and hours to spend with a performer typically can’t compare to the more fleeting attachments made in a less-than-two-hour film, and yet the SAGs, Globes, and Emmys all force TV Movie actors to compete with their serialized peers. At the Emmys, that may be more understandable, given how few TV Movies there are, but at the SAGs and Globes, where film categories are plentiful, why not accept the reality that movies are movies and let Jackman and others compete on an equal playing field?

Helena Bonham Carter can’t compete — with her own cast?

“The Crown” had another great day, racking up five nominations to lead all TV programs (alongside “Schitt’s Creek”). But Helena Bonham Carter, who was nominated for the same role last year, found herself left out of the cast party. Season 4 newcomers Gillian Anderson and Emma Corrin took her place in the Best Actress race, and she’ll have to settle for another Ensemble nod. Something tells us she’ll be fine, even if something about her snub just feels wrong.


Isla Johnston and Bill Camp in “The Queen’s Gambit”

Phil Bray / Netflix

Surprises

Bill Camp is the “Queen’s Gambit” flex Netflix was looking for

With only two categories to compete in, the SAG Awards weren’t supposed to be the place where Netflix’s commercial and critical hit, “The Queen’s Gambit,” made its statement. The Globes, after all, offer Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress categories, in addition to Lead and Best Limited Series, so it wasn’t unreasonable to think the beloved chess drama could walk away with four nominations. Instead, it settled for two, the same total as it earned at the SAG Awards, but hoo boy does the actors’ support carry more heat.

Bill Camp, who’s really only in the first episode of the seven-episode series, beat out competition like Paul Mescal in “Normal People,” Hugh Jackman in “Bad Education,” Brendan Gleeson in “The Comey Rule,” and Bryan Cranston in “Your Honor” — among so many more — and landed his first, very well-deserved SAG nomination. As much as I want to believe the guild simply knew they were long overdue to honor Camp’s actorly excellence, his nomination has to also be seen as a huge show of support for “The Queen’s Gambit” overall. It should help Netflix keep buzz alive over the long months ahead, between the end of Winter Awards Season and the start of Emmy Season, which is exactly what the streamer needs to do in order to ensure a proper coronation at television’s most prestigious awards show.

“The Flight Attendant” soars

HBO Max has to be pretty pleased with its first breakthrough original series — and they should be! Kaley Cuoco’s twisty dark comedy helped boost awareness for the nascent streaming service, and now it’s helped earn the WarnerMedia platform its first major awards nominations. Yesterday’s two Golden Globe nods were somewhat expected, as was Cuoco’s solo Comedy Actress nomination at the SAGs, but a Best Comedy Ensemble nod is a bit of a surprise and really speaks to the passion surrounding this series.

“The Great” gets a rare post-Emmys surge

Did the pandemic shut-in boost “The Great” after this year’s Emmy nods, or is it simply a show better suited for voters in the HFPA and Screen Actors Guild? After landing three Golden Globe nominations, the hourlong Hulu comedy went on to snag two SAG nods, for Nicholas Hoult and Best Comedy Ensemble. There’s a case to be made that viewers were just slow to catch up with this one, and the long months spent searching for new shows to watch benefitted the lengthy period piece. Of course, it could just be more friendly to these awards bodies than the Emmys. Either way, expect Hulu to give Season 2 a big push, whenever it’s ready.

“Bridgerton” breaks through

After being blanked by the Golden Globes, the actors rewarded Shonda Rhimes’ first Netflix original series with two nominations: Best Actor in a Drama Series for Regé-Jean Page and Best Drama Ensemble. That should help the series build momentum toward the Emmys, as more guild members are bound to support its impeccable craft work. Having actors in your corner is a huge help, and now the Netflix drama knows it’s got them.

“Ted Lasso” solidifies itself as an awards force

While it would be easy to overlook “Ted Lasso’s” success these past few days — since it’s arguably been the most widely supported original series of the past five months — its two nominations at the Globes and two more at the SAGs are a huge boon for Apple TV+. The streamer was supposed to have “The Morning Show” back in the mix, before pandemic production delays pushed back its release, and other would-be awards players like “Defending Jacob” and “Dickinson” fizzled by the end of the year. But “Ted Lasso” and its Winter Awards haul keeps the prestige branding of Apple’s boutique streamer intact — and sets up a helluva 2021, when both Jason Sudeikis’ comedy and Jennifer Aniston’s drama could be tag-teaming the two main genres honored by TV awards.

Michaela Coel gets her due

Yes, it happened. Yes, it should’ve happened at the Golden Globes, too. Yes, it feels a bit underwhelming, considering “I May Destroy You” only got one nomination when there are seemingly endless facets of the HBO limited series worth honoring. But until the SAG Awards install a Best Limited Series Ensemble award (as they really, really should), this is a ringing endorsement from the actors. Now it’s up to everyone else (cough, the TV Academy, cough) to show their support at the ballot box.

The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be held Sunday, April 4 at 9 p.m. ET. The ceremony will air on TNT and TBS.

[Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story listed Shira Hass’ “Unorthodox” performance as a snub. “Unorthodox” was not eligible for the 2021 SAG Awards, and the mention has been removed.]

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