Brad Pitt's Emmy nomination for 'SNL' is as silly as it gets

  • Brad Pitt received a Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy nomination for playing Dr. Anthony Fauci in a "Saturday Night Live" sketch.

    Brad Pitt received a Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy nomination for playing Dr. Anthony Fauci in a "Saturday Night Live" sketch. Courtesy of NBC

Posted7/30/2020 6:00 AM

There are many reasons to be happy with Tuesday's Emmy nominations, beginning with the leading 26 nods for Damon Lindelof's improbably great, incredibly prescient "Watchmen" sequel series for HBO. Fans of FX's vampire farce "What We Do in the Shadows" and the "Star Wars" series "Baby Yoda" -- er, I mean, "The Mandalorian" -- had to be overjoyed with their surprise nods in the Outstanding Comedy Series and Drama Series categories, respectively.

But there is one big reason to be annoyed, a show that has been a plague upon the comedy acting categories for a few years now: "Saturday Night Live."


While the show itself still competes in the variety category, a 2008 rule change means its performers can be nominated in the traditional comedy acting categories. This was exciting at first. Sketch-comedy stalwarts such as Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader were suddenly on the Emmys' biggest stage, competing for Outstanding Supporting Actress/Actor in a Comedy Series.

Then Kate McKinnon, who has been the show's biggest star for the last five years, won the statue in 2016 and the dam burst. "SNL" began its hostile takeover.

She won again in 2017 over fellow cast members Leslie Jones and Vanessa Bayer. And the Supporting Actor category crowned Alec Baldwin -- yes, an uncredited, unofficial member of the "SNL" ensemble won a major acting Emmy for playing the president in one sketch a night.

If you think that's silly, wait until Brad Pitt wins Guest Actor in a Comedy Series this year for playing Dr. Anthony Fauci in a sketch "filmed" from his home during coronavirus quarantine. At least fellow guest category nominees Eddie Murphy, Adam Driver and Phoebe Waller-Bridge actually hosted the episodes for which they're nominated. (Maya Rudolph is nominated for a one-sketch appearance, too, as Sen. Kamala Harris.)

There are hundreds of guest stars who did far more than spray their hair gray and mug into a webcam in the past year, but their names aren't Brad Pitt. The TV academy needs to find a way to stem the "SNL" tide -- last year it had four of the seven Guest Actor nominees -- and spread the wealth even more than it already has. There are so many great performers doing great work across hundreds of channels and platforms, and "SNL" (and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," it must be said) is forcing far too many of them out of TV's biggest night.

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald assistant news editor who was a huge "SNL" fan before satire died a few years ago.

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