2023 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Scripted Variety Series


We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. Afterward, final voting commences August 17 and ends the night of August 28. The 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will now take place Monday, January 15, live on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our previous thoughts on what to expect at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards here.

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The State of the Race

What has been sort of the beauty of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” being such an Emmy magnet (it is coming off seven series Emmy wins in a row) is that HBO has been able to focus on the awards campaign for the final season of “A Black Lady Sketch Show” instead. When the premium cable brand had a Crafts and Champagne event recently, its panel featuring its co-executive producer, editor, and production designers had a plum spot following up a blockbuster “The Last of Us” panel. Not only did the series’ various feats read as impressive, there was so much talk about how great a vibe it was on set, and how much the group who worked on it will miss it.

Even more than talk series, the number of contenders for Outstanding Scripted Variety Series are rapidly decreasing. Again, this year was the last eligible year for “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” plus “Ziwe” was canceled, “Inside Amy Schumer” was taken off Paramount+, and who know when or if “History of the World: Part II” or “Random Acts of Flyness” would ever come back.

Yes, on one end it’s easy to make the case for why “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” or “Saturday Night Live” is deserving. Both are still on winning streaks, having competed in different Emmy categories the last few years. But a parting gift to “A Black Lady Sketch Show” would be a statement to networks that there is still a demand for scripted variety series outside of the establishment. Otherwise, we may be looking at “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” versus “Saturday Night Live” every year, in perpetuity, with no other shows even nominated.

Power Rankings:

  1. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

  2. “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

  3. “A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)

Will Win: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
Could Win: “Saturday Night Live”
Should Win: “A Black Lady Sketch Show”

More Category Predictions:
Outstanding Animated Program
Outstanding Talk Series
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: “Saturday Night Live”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: “Saturday Night Live” has a five year winning streak right now, benefitting from the split that happened in the Variety Series category in 2015 (it became the Variety Talk and Variety Sketch categories). However, when that split first happened, it was Comedy Central that had the initial winning streak with “Inside Amy Schumer” winning in 2015, and “Key & Peele” winning in 2016, so NBC’s long-running late night variety series is not unbeatable.
Notable Ineligible Series: “Documentary Now!” (submitted as a Limited Series); “I Think You Should Leave” (submitted as a Short Form Series)

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