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The One-Win Emmys, 2016 Edition

How would Sunday’s results change if winners couldn’t repeat?

Getty Images
Getty Images

A nice surprise: The Emmys were pretty good this year. Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown, and Sarah Paulson winning for The People v. O.J.; Kate McKinnon for Saturday Night Live; Ben Mendelsohn for the Canceled But Not Forgotten American Television Program Bloodline; [fights caps lock fights caps lock fights caps lock] RAMI FUCKING MALEK — that’s a pretty great set of first-time winners. That’s a job well done.

But you know what? I think we could have done even better.

Last week, we asked a simple question: What would happen if the Emmys were one-and-done? What if, once someone won an Emmy in a given category for a given series … they were deemed ineligible to win another Emmy for that same category for that same series? The results from our no-repeater model — which we measured from 1996 to 2015 — were pretty interesting.

If we extended our benevolent no-repeat reign into 2016? Nine of the 27 awards handed out on Sunday night would have changed hands. These are the new results that stand out:

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Tracee Ellis Ross, ‘Black-ish’

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, ‘Black-ish’

Outstanding Lead Actress and Actor for a Comedy Series this year were won by two Emmy stalwarts: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, winning her fifth straight for Veep; and Jeffrey Tambor, winning his second straight for Transparent. Both are incredible performances. But I’m pretty sure the no-repeater model — which swaps out Dreyfus and Tambor for Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson from Black-ish — wins this round, hands down. How cool would it have been to see Black-ish, one of the most hilarious and tender new sitcoms in years, awarded for both of its leads? It feels like 2016 was Black-ish’s breakout year — and the one-and-done rule would have seized this moment. The Emmys went with old favorites.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

‘Project Runway’

Project Runway has been nominated TWELVE TIMES in this category, and never won. The Voice won in 2016, for the third time in four years. Should we give this one to Project Runway?

The No-Repeat Emmys make dreams come true.

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

Aziz Ansari, ‘Master of None’

The no-repeater model finds Jill Soloway guilty of winning the Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Emmy last year, and instead gives this year’s trophy to Aziz Ansari for his directing work in Master of None. Maybe they’ll even let him deliver a speech for this one.

Outstanding Comedy Series


I love Veep. Veep would be my personal choice for this award, every year. But the reason that Veep was shut out earlier this decade, for so agonizingly long, is because of the Old Rules tyranny of Modern Family. It’s time for Veep to pay it forward. With no repeats, Transparent wins in 2016 for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Outstanding Supporting Actress for a Drama Series

Lena Headey, ‘Game of Thrones’

Peace to Maggie Smith, this year’s Outstanding Supporting Actress for a Drama Series for the second time, but the no-repeater model rejects this slice of boredom and gives the 2016 Emmy to …


Long — just kidding, only for this year — may Lena Headey reign.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Sam Esmail, ‘Mr. Robot’

For me it’s this simple: Sam Esmail is a star. And star-making is the kind of business that the Oscars consistently are in — and that the Emmys should get into. Benioff and Weiss are kings; Outstanding Writing to Esmail is a no-brainer.

Outstanding Drama Series

‘Mr. Robot’

The biggest award of the night is probably the no-repeater model in its purest form. Game of Thrones: I love you. But the television show that I will remember most from last year is Mr. Robot. And now it gets an Emmy.