The 71st Emmys are underway, and queer women are already crushing it. Last weekend at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Jane Lynch won for her comedic guest role on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Cherry Jones was awarded for her dramatic guest role on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and Hannah Gadsby saw her special “Nanette” win for outstanding writing in a variety special. As the television world gears up for the Primetime Emmy Awards this Sunday, we’re stopping to appreciate the queer women of the Emmys, because they deserve it. And we deserve to see some representational wins!
Let’s get into it with the ladies you came here for: the explicitly and proudly queer actors, shows, and characters. Funnywoman and out lesbian Kate McKinnon will celebrate a sixth consecutive nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy for her time on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend. She previously took home the award in 2016 and 2017, so we’re rooting for another win. Leslye Headland, one of the creators of “Russian Doll” along with Natasha Lyonne (an honorary queer woman) and Amy Poehler, received a nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. And although she wasn’t able to take home a win, Laverne Cox was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in “Orange is the New Black” — the third nom nod for the program. She ended up losing to Cherry Jones, another queer woman, so it’s cool at least that there are enough queer women that we’re finally openly competing against each other!
Rent: Live also saw a fair share of success, with the production winning two of the five awards for which it was nominated: Outstanding Lighting Design / Lighting Direction for a Variety Special and Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special. The show was a live adaptation of the 1996 musical of the same name that features a slew of LGBTQ+ characters, including queer women Maureen Johnson and Joanne Jefferson (played by Vanessa Hudgens and Kiersey Clemons respectively).
Another queer-centered program that’s hoping to see some wins this weekend is FX and Ryan Murphy’s “POSE,” which was nominated for a total of six Emmys. At the Creative Arts Emmys, the show lost out on production, casting, and costume design to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Game of Thrones” (homophobia!), but it’s still in the running for two awards this weekend: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series.
While Netflix’s “GLOW” doesn’t market itself as an explicitly LGBTQ+ show, it brought major queer women representation. Two characters, Arthie Premkumar (Sunita Mani) and Yolanda Rivas (Shakira Barrera), develop a major lesbian plotline in the second season as Arthie discovers her sexuality and the two fall in love. I mean, is it really that surprising that a show about wrestling has queer women, though? Definitely not, so it’s no surprise either that the show was nominated for five awards. While it’s still waiting until Sunday to hear about Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, the show was able to snag the win for Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or Variety Program (aka they won for kick-ass action sequences — very butch).
Finally, would it really be a queer women Emmy Awards guide if we didn’t include “Killing Eve?” The answer is a resounding no! Although the show doesn’t feature explicitly queer characters or really bill itself as anything other than a straight program, it continues to draw us in with incredible Sapphic tension. While I’m happy to mention “Killing Eve” in a queer capacity, I would be remiss to not discuss the possible queerbaiting controversy. In a previous interview with The Gay Times, Oh responded to comments of it being a queer program by saying, “You guys are tricky because you want to make it into something … but it just isn’t.” She was quick to follow up with that idea that, “The fluidity … is what I think people can truly relate to. We are not saying one thing or another because people are not one thing or another.” Although Comer is happy to call Oh’s character her “girlfriend” in season two of the show, it’s still not a fully realized queer show. And while we celebrate the subtext, it’s important to consider the consequences of queerbaiting.
Regardless, the show about an assassin and an MI-6 engaged in a sexy game of cat and mouse managed to rack up a whopping nine nominations this year. Both Jodi Comer (who plays antagonist Oxsana/Villanelle) and Sandra Oh (starring as the titular Eve Polastri) received nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, pitting them against each other and hopefully setting up some IRL tension for us. The amazing leads are also up against Viola Davis for her role as a queer woman in “How To Get Away With Murder.” Perhaps most exciting in terms of queer women in “Killing Eve” is the nomination of out lesbian actress Fiona Shaw for Outstanding Supporting Actress for a Drama Series. She’s also nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her stint on “Fleabag,” another show by “Killing Eve” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge (though, like Laverne Cox, she lost to Cherry Jones).
While The Straights will be fawning over boring men in the same exact suit this Sunday, I’ll be celebrating the fabulous queer women (who will, undoubtedly, be best dressed) of the Primetime Emmy Awards. Will Kate McKinnon win a third award? Will Sandra Oh’s hair look impeccable as always? I can’t wait to find out.